This should probably be on the Marvel board, but...
No, I have not read the book, but I have looked into and thought long and hard about this subject.
I believe because of the, nature of comics there is a need to say it was one genius who did it all . That because there are heroes and villains in comics, it must be the same for behind the scenes...right? They can;t just be people.
My guess is that the book did not mention Jack Kirby's attempt to not compensate people, did it?
Yeah, in the 50s Kirby had a comic strip called Sky Masters. It was Kirby's ideas, but the art was mostly by Wally Wood, and the writing was by DIck and Dave Wood (no relation to Wally).
He tried to screw Dave Wood out of royalties on the property.
I am not trying to do a hatchet job on Kirby, but get to the deeper point, he was a man... not a god.
He was an amazing creative talent, but he had clear weaknesses Stan compensated for.
He was bad with dialogue, and his people didn't seem quite human when left to his own devices.
I love the New Gods, but there is a reason it was cancelled after 13 issues.
His 70s Captain America, when he also wrote and edited, is unreadable. The dialogue is awful, and Cap and Sam don't feel like full characters, not ot mention plots that took cool ideas like the Mad Bomb and tied them with complete nonsense... even for a 70s comic.
Machine Man was what he essentially WANTED Silver Surfer to be, how did that end?
Devil Dinosaur, Eternals, Captain Victory, I have read them all. I have enjoyed them all. However, that means I can ell you that they may be fun and creative, but they are not great works of fiction by any means.
He is certainly a man to be revered in the field of comics, but pretending that he was just some victim who was pout-upon by the world, doing all of the work for none of the credit... his true genius hampered... is just wrong. It is just a narrative. One that may be entertaining, but not one based in reality ant more then the inverse.
Was he screwed as a freelancer? Probably. As some one who has been a freelancer since the age of 19, I can tell you it happens a lot. Even by good bosses I like, trust, and respect. It is the nature of the system, it needs to be reformed, but criticize the game not the players.
If it makes you feel any better, Will Eisner, maybe the biggest advocator of creator rights in comic history, was friends with Stan Lee and was the first to hire Jack Kirby in comics. He also said that Jack thought himself a writer, but was more a creator. And that Stan thought himself a creator, but was more a writer.
You said you ditched the rose color glasses of Stan Lee and Marvel comics. Great, that is perfectly healthy. Maybe it is time to do it for Jack Kirby as well.