50 years ago, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee had a dream - a dream of a world in which comics would be seen as a great art form in their own right. They believed passionately that such a world would come to be, and that it would do so not just because of the efforts of comic book creators, but as a result of us, the readers, making it something more than the much-derided funny pages.
They first expressed this dream in Fantastic Four #24, way back in March 1964:
By the way, many readers say they don't like references to our mags as ¨Comic¨ mags. We understand their feeling, but we must disagree! It is our intention, here at Marvel, to produce comics which are so well-written and well-drawn, that they'll elevate the entire field in the minds of the public! After all, comic magazines are an art form, as creative and enjoyable as any other! It is up to us, the producers, and you, the fans, to make comics something to be proud of. And, in that regard, we want to praise the fine work done by so many of the fanzines and the fan clubs. More about that in future issues.
You can find the original version here.
That world they talk about? That's the one in which we now live. Those fanzines and fan clubs evolved into a huge global community of fans, committed not only to great comics, but to ensuring that those comics were an equal art form to any other. Those fans are you, and every one of us.
Together, we've built a world in which great art and commerce can combine to create Marvel Studios. We've seen to it that Alan Moore can create Watchmen, Neil Gaiman the Sandman series, and Frank Miller Sin City. In that same world, those same creators have been able to work with the established Golden and Silver Age superheroes, and turn them into exactly what they were first intended to be by Kirby, Lee and their generation: great art of their time.
It's easy to forget that 50 years ago, our most treasured comics - the works of Kirby, Ditko and Eisner, and later, of Byrne, Claremont and Simonson - were treated as something childish, as something less than art.
And now? We - every one of us - have made them legends. We all live in a world of Comic-Con, of 'geek' not being an insult, of Graphic Novels that push the very boundaries of what art can achieve.
We live in Kirby and Lee's future, one that you helped them to build - and that is a world we should all be proud to live in.
What do you guys think? Do we really live in that future? Let me know below!