This is the forty-first in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous forty.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Jack Kirby sued Marvel Comics.
The notion that Jack Kirby has sued Marvel in the past has become so prevelant that even fellow creators think that it is for real! In an interview at Comic Book Resources (I'd give you a link, but the link is busted), Gene Colan commented "I think Steve [Gerber] sued Marvel for ownership of Howard. Come to think of it, I think Jack Kirby did as well since he created most of the characters." In reality, though, Jack Kirby never sued Marvel Comics.
For further info, let me direct you to a resource I have been meaning to hype here, Mark Evanier's The JACK FAQ, where Evanier keeps track of frequently asked questions related to Jack Kirby.
Here is Evanier on the topic:
There were a couple of points where he was seriously considering it and talking to attorneys, and there were also other times when he threatened it - to Marvel or in the fan press. Ultimately though, he and Roz decided that neither his health nor bank account could withstand what could have been a very long, expensive and emotional war. Still, one sometimes hears - even from folks who worked at Marvel and should know better - that Kirby sued and lost, sued and won or sued and settled. None of these happened. I think the problem was that Marvel's lawyers always overreacted. They were constantly trying to strong-arm Kirby into signing this or that, or even threatening to sue him on some trumped-up claim. Whenever he threatened them back, they got hysterical and ran around yelling, "Jack Kirby's suing us," even though, at least on those occasions, Jack wasn't considering the possibility.