This week, Dr. Peter Coogan of the Institute for Comic Studies stopped by and dropped off this week’s Poll of the Week the pits the tag team of John Lennon and Paul McCartney against Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

Both these teams of creators worked in the 1960s and produced a solid body of work that laid the groundwork for much popular culture that came after them, and in both pairs each member seems to have brought the best in the other member.  Think of McCartney’s work in Wings vs. his work in the Beatles, or Kirby’s solo work–neither accomplished alone what he accomplished while working with his partner (the same is true of Lee and probably Lennon too).  But which team is better, more influential, which raised their chosen genre higher relative to what it was when they started and in comparison with others, etc.

Time for you to respond Spoilerites! Which team takes the crown?


POW! Which team made the greater contribution to their field?

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  1. Blackthunder01 on

    I can’t vote in this topic because I don’t feel like the two mediums are comparable. They are both giants in their fields, but which is the greater contributer? … can’t choose, won’t choose. Since you can argue that both are the embodiment of the best of their trade, it’s really a question of which TRADE is better/more influential to you. Comics or Music. I’d have to pick music if that were the question.

  2. Having been around when the Beatles were the hottest thing on the planet, I feel qualified to put my 2¢ worth in. When you get right down to it, The Beatles didn’t do anything unique. There were rock and roll groups before the Beatles and rock and roll groups after them. The major difference was that they had better agents and therefore better press, and the Beatles were, arguably, better musical technicians than most other rock and roll groups of their era. After a few years with every other groups trying to imitate the Beatles, other bands went out of their way to produce music that was as unlike the Beatles as possible, and the Beatles themselves swerved off into druggie music. Their later albums bear little resemblance to their early work.

    As for Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, I’d have to give them top marks for consistency. Jack Kirby’s early work looks just like his last work. Wide faces, squared off jaws, downturned mouths, squared off heads, squared off muscles, squared off eyeballs, etc. In fact, the only way to tell one Jack Kirby hero or villian from another is by the color of their costume and the shape of their hats. To be honest, I have always detested Jack Kirby’s art, though not as much as Steve Ditko’s art. Stan Lee, what can I say about Stan Lee? He’s become the Samuel Clemens of the comic book set and should get full marks for sheer bloody-minded longevity if nothing else.

    This poll is like comparing apples to oranges, but I’d have to make it simple. I think Jack and Stan were more influential because there were a lot more people who liked their work over a longer period of time than who liked the Beatles. You don’t hear very many bands doing “she loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah” music any more, but there are more comic book companies today than ever before, and you don’t have to look far to find art or story that was influenced in one way or another by Stan and Jack. The fact that the superhero genre has taken over the medium proves this. Just try to find a “True West” or Romance comic book on the store shelves today, much less a kiddy comic like Little Lulu or Casper!

    • You also don’t have to look very far to today see a band doing something influenced by the Beatles. Even basic concepts that define how we view a rock/pop band should work – things like the fact they should write their own songs – largely are the established standards because they were popularized by the Beatles.

      • To pile on, here, you don’t just see artists inspired by the style of music from Lennon and McCartney, but also by the music itself. You can see references to their music (either directly or indirectly) across ALL genres of popular music. Additionally, their impact was more globally felt. Kirby and Lee had enormous impact on American comics, and their creations have been copied into other styles in other countries, but I don’t believe their creations have had the depth of impact into non-American comics as The Beatles did on non-American music.

  3. This isn’t really a fair comparison. The Beatles unquestionably influenced music, leaving a lasting impact. But not counting remixes or remakes, the music is there and done. Jack and Stan’s creations, however, are still works in progress. Every writer, artists, etc. that works on them is adding another layer to the “final” product. A huge number of characters created after were inspired by these creations, or even came to be because of a connection to these characters.

    But again, it’s not a fair comparison. It’s like comparing apples to steak.

  4. I’m not a comic creator, so I can’t really speak on how much Kirby and Lee still influence the creators in that field, but as a musician I can tell you that every band I played in and nearly every band I had much contact with were influenced to some degree by the Beatles.

    But it is very much apples and oranges. The Beatles recordings seem to be much more popular/promenet in the current music world than the comics Lee and Kirby did together back in the 60’s. Compare the response to the Beatles remastered CD’s to the response to the Marvel Masterworks collections of Lee’s and Kirby’s work.

    But on the other hand, the actual characters that those two created live on in a much more tangible way than anything the Beatles created. Bands “borrow” from the Beatles all the time, but current comic book creaters actually use the characters Kirby and Lee created in their own work (albiet in very different forms sometimes).

    They are good comps for each other, though.

  5. It’s Jack and Stan. Though Lennon and McCartney are giants, and influenced generations of artists, the creations of Jack and Stan have spawned numerous cartoons, imatations, multimillion dollar movies, and work in progress that is nearly 50 years old. I really love what both duo’s have done in their prospective field, but enjoy what Stan and Jack have done more so.

  6. You people are insane. John and Paul didn’t just create music. They created culture. They influenced generations.

    Stan and Jack are the titans of comics and they also continue to influence culture within the entertainment space.

    But its the Beatles. John was bigger than Jesus. And Paul isn’t far behind.

    • But the question was who made a greater contribution to their particular field. Obviously the Beatles had much more of a cultural impact, but that’s just a function of the fact that they were a rock band not comic book creators.

  7. I don’t think this poll will work out properly here on Your asking on a comic book content site if musicians or comic creators were more influential??? You may as well ask at a Republican Convention who was the better president Reagan or Clinton? I think your results may be a bit one sided.

  8. What M(&^$#@# F(%@iN crackhead voted for Kirby & Lee over Lennon and McCartney?
    I could understand Lenin and McCartney losing, but not Lennon & McCartney.
    Oy Vey!

  9. Oh, hell, I though it was Lenin and Joe McCarthey! My bad! I stand by what I said earlier. I don’t recall the last time I intentionally sat down to listen to a Beatles song. Saw a Stan Lee comic just a week or so ago. To quote Stan the Man – ‘Nuff said!

  10. yeah, sorry. won’t be voting on this one.

    Just a query though, by “field” did you mean music and literature or pop music and comics respectively?

  11. You put Stan and Jack up against anyone else and I’ll probably choose them, I mean even against Ghandi and Mother Theresa; Stan and Jack! This was hard as hell to choose. I know you chose this because it would be hard and would open up discussion, but wow tough. I voted for John Lennon and Paul McCartney. I agree with greyman24 that the Beatles impact was definitely felt much harder on a global level than Stan and Jack. Also, Beatles were adored and idolized during their time and even more so after Lennon died and after the Beatles were no more. Also, the Beatles were the voice of a generation, and a tumultuous time at that. Yes, Spider-man and other characters are still used today but I think in a more mainstream viewpoint the Beatles are still more widely liked and respected on a larger scale. Simply having Beatles music available to download on iTunes is newsworthy information.

    I love them both, or all four, whatever.

  12. the influence from the beatles is way more widespread than the influence from kirby and lee. I don’t think that jack and lee made a big impression in europe before the recent movies. Overhere when talking about influential american comicbook creators people talk about hal foster, will eisner and the guy who did that comic about the kid in sleepingclothes who visits dreamland.

    Nobody overhere would argue with the influence the beatles have on the musicscene.

  13. Add me to the people who fail to see any sort of valid comparison other than uses in similes and who must skip this poll. There’s really no comparison at the most basic level between the two creative fields, since the expectations & audience reaches are so different. Did both teams make massive, still-lasting innovations on their respective fields? Hell, yeah. It doesn’t make one more valid than the other, however.

  14. No doubt about it, Kirby and Lee did more to revolutionize comics than the Beatles, great as they were, did for rock music. It could be argued that the Beatles made a greater contribution to popular culture,but the question is “Which team made the greater contribution to their field?” and for their field it was indeed Kirby and Lee.

  15. My suggestion for the next Poll of the Week then is the MSP Crew, Stephen, Matthew and Rodrigo vs. The Three Stooges.

    If you want to pair them up one-on-one, then I think it’s fitting if it’s Stephen vs. Curly, Matthew vs. Moe and Rodrigo vs. Larry. And maybe throw in Skrull Bryan vs. Shemp.

    • If you want to pair them up one-on-one, then I think it’s fitting if it’s Stephen vs. Curly, Matthew vs. Moe and Rodrigo vs. Larry. And maybe throw in Skrull Bryan vs. Shemp.

      But who gets to be Joe DeRita?

  16. I forgot all about Curly-Joe, I was never a big fan of his, I always liked the other Curly better. I also forgot to account for Joe Besser as well. Possibly just like your favorite Doctor and favorite Satellite of Love inhabitant, your first is your favorite. My first Stooges movie was probably Disorder in the Court. Maybe Dante vs. Joe DeRita.

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