Partners In Design


Comic Book Spotlight: Inspiration or Swiping?

So the past couple of weeks have been quite a doozy on editors over at Marvel Comics, but for reasons that are a little more complicated than one would anticipate. Just a few weeks ago, particular fans of Marvel went into an outrage over their realization that one of the upcoming issues of 'New Avengers', penciled by artist David Mack was overly 'inspired' artistically. The problem lies in that the artist seemed to blatantly steal the work of another artist in order to lay his panels out, which is what initially took the comic book fans by storm. But aside from the overt swiping of another artist's work, the man himself made a response to the issue, which enraged fans even more. Here are some excerpts to his 'process':

" thought it would be a subversive storytelling device to make each image of Daredevil based on an image of the actual Daredevil drawn in DD by DD artists. He'll look like DD but in the back of your mind you kind of think something is a little strange here. He's stiffer, he's smiling at the wrong
time...maybe in the back of your mind he's more like a mimic of the Daredevil you are used to seeing instead of the actual Daredevil comfortable in his own skin. That’s why I started with that iconic cover image of DD and even telegraphed it by using the similar buildings. You don't necessarily pick up on this immediately in the story, but maybe he seems to act and look a little off...and then when the reveal happens and you go back
and re-read the story, it dawns on you. That wasn't Daredevil at all, it was a copy of him. And that’s one of the reasons, I couldn’t speak on this until the issue came out."

"In this issue I was returning to the character, but
she was now an Avenger. A member of a super team, and
around a variety of super hero characters with a
multitude of abilities.
So I wanted her to be visually different this time. I
wanted her body language to feel colored by the
accents of all the other styles and super moves that
she would have absorbed. Where I had painted her
realistically before and drawn and painted her as a
variety of iconic fine art imagery throughout the ages
that she had absorbed, I now wanted to embrace the
comic book super hero aspect of her, and draw her in a
kind of iconic comic book style and figures. I didn't
want it to be overly glaring at first, but something
that would seem absorbed into her and that you would
catch after the fact. So, like I drew her in
references from my favorite fine art masters in the
past, I referenced her from some of my favorite comic
book artists in this story."

But as you can see in the images I posted above, there's a very thin line between what he mentions and what is reality in terms of one's work in comparison to another's. For instance, and many of you know this artist through posts on this blog, Greg Land has similarly gone through some major controversy for the same reason. Land has become infamous for taking photography and using it almost literally as reference. He, on the other hand, fesses up to it and creates some sexy covers in the process. Below is also a comparison of his work:

On an end note, the issue in question was a spectacularly written issue and played out beautifully. The art a bit inconsistent and the artist put the oddest schnoz on a latina character ever, but it was a great issue.

So PIDers, what are your thoughts on this?
Speak up!!


Paul said...

Reading the excepts you posted are like reading french....for some reason none of it makes sense to me. I don't know who these characters or artists are.

But looking at the comparison image....stealing is wrong.

Alexandra said...

As a comic book artist, you need to look up plenty of reference, especially since you can't possibly know how to draw EVERY pose the human body can make, especially when you add a hard perspective and foreshortening. And I know for a fact we all look at Corbis to find reference for drawings as well. I think as long as you only use a photograph reference as a base for your drawing, all is well.

Having said that, this guy directly copying other artists' exact drawings is completely wrong, especially if he does not give them credit (especially covers). He is not creating fan art, he is supposedly making his own images for these comics.

There is all this gray area involved in this quandary, because it depends on what you consider referencing and ripping off.

Laz said...

*Hands Paul the pamphlet on reading comic book related posts*

I guess as Alex says, it's very relative to a sense. And of course MANY comic book artists use reference in some shape or form, more particularly, cityscapes and foreshortening.

In this case, I support Greg Land much more. He blatantly references, which makes most of his work stiff and inconsistent, but he still manages to recreate the image and cater to the subject matter. Not to mention being the king of iconic covers.

Mack was certainly in the wrong by copying the works of another artist, and doesn't deserve as much credit as he has in the past. As a matter of fact, I could be wrong, but I believe Mack won an Eisner Award for his work on 'Alias', another Marvel title. Which makes the situation even sadder.

And does the post actually make no sense? I thought it was explained.. lol