After feedback on my previous post via e-mail and from the Jack Kirby mailing list, I'd like to clarify a couple of points on my objection to using the name and legacy of Jack Kirby.
First, I have no problem with people paying tribute to Kirby in their work. I didn't see anything wrong with Alan Moore or Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird creating characters in their own comics that were meant to be Kirby himself. (Click on those links: that second one is an absolute gem.) Joe Casey and Tom Scioli have had huge success with a series called GØDLAND, a tribute that works best for fans who recognize the allusions they're making to vintage Kirby comics. What Grant Morrison just did with the Kirby characters Klarion the Witchboy, Mister Miracle, and the Guardian in his Seven Soldiers series was quite lovely. And then there are the artists who can "do Kirby" and visually quote from his work in the process of doing their own thing. To me, these are all ways of saying "That guy was a giant! People like us who came later owe him a huge debt!"
(By way of full disclosure: I've also written the script for a Kirby tribute comic...and it occurred to me that I might be setting myself up for a "Hypocrite of the Decade" award somewhere down the line if it seemed like I was condemning the very thing I was doing myself.)
On the other hand, to have "Jack Kirby's" in the title of a new book by other people gives the impression that it represents his work or carries his informed blessing. If Jack's name wasn't in the title or on the cover, this objection wouldn't apply: it would simply be a comic by Lisa Kirby and Mike Thibodeaux, with a line on the credits page reading "based on an idea by Jack Kirby" and that would be entirely appropriate.
An excellent point was made on the Kirby mailing list regarding the "Kirbyverse" comics from Topps, a line of comics based on concepts and character sketches by Kirby. The actual comics all had Kirby's name on the covers but were largely or entirely the work of other people. And of course there were other times Jack had no problem with other people taking over characters he created -- we're talking about the guy who alone or in collaboration with others invented Captain America, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, and several thousands of others. But the arrangement with Topps came at a very specific time in Kirby's life: a time when he was locked in a legal struggle with Marvel Comics over creative credit for his work and the ownership of his original artwork. There was an immediate pressing reason to raise his name recognition as a creator of characters at that particular moment. For me, the bottom line is that Jack decided the Topps arrangement was appropriate then, that one time, and was available to personally approve of having his name on the finished product. That isn't the case now, and there are a different set of concerns today.
Jack Kirby didn't need to think in terms of what his legacy would be years after his death; he was concerned with providing for his family. Now that he's gone, the family's concern should be preserving his legacy in the decades to come. They can do this through the Kirby Museum and by working with publishers to make sure Kirby's actual work is always available to those who want to read it. The Kirby Estate doesn't need to quickly elevate Kirby's name recognition in the short term. If anything, it needs to do the opposite of this, and be more protective and conservative about his reputation and keeping the use of his name away from things he did not participate in. In short, the family needs to take a long-range view. It's not a question of "does the Kirby family have the legal right to make any deal they want?" -- obviously they do -- but my personal feeling that this isn't in the best interests of the Kirby family or in the best interests of preserving Kirby's reputation.
I hope this clears up any potential misunderstanding...and I want to emphasize again that I mean no personal insult to anyone involved in this project. If my best friend in the world were working on this project, I would say the same thing.