Simmons responds: Plagiarism or creativity in the age of borrowing?

Nick Simmons
Cartoonist/reality star Nick Simmons issued a statement yesterday regarding being caught redhanded lifting images from Bleach and other very well known manga:

“Like most artists I am inspired by work I admire. There are certain similarities between some of my work and the work of others. This was simply meant as an homage to artists I respect, and I definitely want to apologize to any Manga fans or fellow Manga artists who feel I went too far. My inspirations reflect the fact that certain fundamental imagery is common to all Manga. This is the nature of the medium.

“I am a big fan of Bleach, as well as other Manga titles. And I am certainly sorry if anyone was offended or upset by what they perceive to be the similarity between my work and the work of artists that I admire and who inspire me.”


Hm, does anyone remember back in the day when Rob Liefeld admitted to “tributing?”

Unsurprisingly, this lawyer-vetted non-apology has ignited even more outrage at his blatant lifting — while, as we noted, an outrageous fake Nick Simmons on Facebook was widely quoted last week, the real one isn’t much better.

While a lot of manga fans are calling for the 21-year-old Simmons to be publicly shamed in more painful and scarring ways than he’s experienced thus far, some are lumping him in with other youthful appropriators, such as 17-year-old German novelist Helene Hegemann, who was caught lifting huge passages of her book from other writers, but defended the practice with a credo for the Post-Sampling Age: “There’s no such thing as originality anyway, just authenticity.”

An article on Hegemann and other literary swipers in the NY Times, looks at the generational phenomenon of literary sampling:

The news made waves in the United States with an almost novelistic kind of timing, just before the publication last week of a highly anticipated book by David Shields, “Reality Hunger,” a feisty literary “manifesto” built almost entirely of quotations from other writers and thinkers. The borrowed words are marshaled to make a case against what Mr. Shields sees as boring fiction and in favor of genre-bending forms like the lyric essay. Mr. Shields, a novelist who migrated to nonfiction, has called it “far and away the most personal book” he has ever written. And though publishing-house lawyers required him to include an appendix listing his sources (at least those he could remember) Mr. Shields asks the reader to honor the spirit of the book by taking a pair of scissors and giving it an appendectomy.


While Radical, publisher of Simmons’ INCARNATE, have pulled the book for now, an experienced eye can also justifiably ask: “Where was the editor?” Anyone vaguely familiar with manga should be familiar with Bleach, and the stylistic swipes were so blatant that an actual manga editor might have caught them before this all came out in the wash.

While questions of whether it’s art, homage, tributing, or just plain ripping off continue to swirl, as usual Simon Jones has a debunking of some of the common misconceptions about the matter.

Finally, Bleach creator Tite Kubo is aware of the controversy and responded on Twitter “I’m more interested in the fact that Gene Simmons’ son is a mangaka than whether he’s plagiarizing me or not.”

Comments

  1. This all makes me so angry that I can’t even think straight. And before 9am.

    Sigh.

  2. Blackeye says:

    Even though I find Simmons actions repulsive, why isn’t there more outrage over other artists? Greg Land has a made a career out of “referencing” other’s work. David Mack traces photographs and swipes Adam Hughes and Alex Maleev’s panels (why is he considered a comic book artist, I’ve never seen an ability to tell a story through panel continuity). Billy Tucci creates whole issues of Sgt. Rock based on montages of photos of people in costumes. Alex Ross stages and photographs everything he paints. What is considered acceptable? Everyone “cheats” to a certain degree.

  3. A “tribute” or an “homage” should be subtle, but apparent. What Nick Simmons did reeks of trying to get away with no one noticing. It’s unfortunate that he feels no shame about his actions.

  4. Kate Fitzsimons says:

    Blackeye, I’m not sure what the problem is with Alex Ross drawing from photographs, given that they’re photographs that he himself has taken for that very purpose. It’s not traditional hand drawn art as we know it – more of a hybrid artform – but the work is all his own.

    Personally, the problem I have with Simmons’s comic is not so much that he repurposed pre-existing art, but that he did it without crediting the original artist, for profit and without consent. If he had made his own little mashup comic for his own amusement using the art, but hadn’t sold it as his own work, I don’t know that would have been wrong. But to use someone else’s work for profit without credit or consent is pretty low.

  5. I haven’t read Simmons’ book, so I can’t really comment on that, but as I said in response to a post last week, this type of “sampling” a disturbing trend across the board in the creative arts.

    What bothers me most about it – more than the infringement on others’ creative work even – is that the overuse of appropriation in the arts of late points to laziness a complete lack of creativity on the part of appropriator. For example, if you need to lift a page whole from another book (as Hegemann did), you shouldn’t be writing in the first place.

    Worse that that – and even more disturbing – is that, according to the NYT article, she is winning accolades for this. What?

    I guess the upside is that pretty soon we’re going to run out of stuff to rip off, at which point we’ll be forced to value the new.

  6. Katherine Farmar says:

    Greg Land has a made a career out of “referencing” other’s work.

    And there has been outrage about it, albeit nothing as loud as the Simmons imbroglio, perhaps because Bleach fans have more overlap with readers of Incarnate than Marvel fans have with… whatever magazines Land is using for reference these days. And the outrage is just as often to do with how ugly and static the art looks as a result of the swiping, and less to do with the ethical aspect — again, presumably because the readers of the comics don’t recognise the specific poses and can’t name a specific person who’s being ripped off.

    (That last link goes to the Robot6 front page; I think it’s meant to point to this entry.)

  7. I hear that pop will eat itself.

    By the by, artists have been using tools and shortcuts for as long as they’ve been artists. Try looking up the camera lucida sometime, which was a method for taking the image of a model and tricking the eye into seeing it on the page. Artists have been using them since the 1500s, if memory serves.

    However, when it comes to writing, if you’re having to use someone else’s words to say what you want to say, you might want to consider a different line of work.

  8. Synsidar says:

    Several articles I looked at concerning Hegemann indicate that a significant number of German writers don’t think she did anything wrong, at least if she identifies the sources, somehow. They see it as the equivalent of music sampling, and if she uses the “sampled” text to create something new, that’s great.

    SRS

  9. I concur. It is a disturbing trend, and I think the “free content” culture of the internet is in part to blame. Just because you can READ or VIEW something for free doesn’t mean you can reproduce or appropriate it yourself for free. A common attitude I’ve encountered in kids is a “because I can copy it, I can do what I want with it” attitude. That’s fine and dandy to share what you enjoy (free advertising!!), but to plagiarize or profit off something that’s not yours, well, that’s just wrong. Unless there’s some sort of direct consequence (legal, social, whatever), situations like Simmons and Hegemann are going to keep happening. We don’t need to get all RIAA on them–that does more harm than good–but I vote we actively discourage it with intelligent discourse, redirected purchases, mockery, humiliation, and stocks. Okay, I’m joking about the stocks. Sort of.

  10. I could make an argument about Hegemann’s work (what little I know of it) being basically indistinguishable from criticism and therefore unsurprised that critics would heartily embrace it.

    Geez, three comments on this thread. I guess I feel pretty strongly about it.

  11. Rich Johnson says:

    I can see being inspired and influenced by another artists work, but I think getting the art using tracing paper is wrong. I think the solution should be some sort of financial reparation paid to the creators he copies from and Radical should be allowed to continue the publication to earn more money to be collected for the creators of Bleach, One-Piece, Hellsing, and Vampire Hunter D. The sad part is that Mr. Simmons seems to be a talented guy who has a high profile name and may indeed represent the next stage in manga influenced comics in America. I think he should be forgiven. As long as money is paid to the harmed parties he can rise above this and maybe find his own artistic voice.

  12. Chris says:

    I think there is HUGE difference between what Alex Ross does and what Nick Simmons did. Alex Ross draws and paints from a photo, he doesn’t trace it on a lightboard or from a computer scan.

    That’s like complaining about someone drawing a landscape and looking at the landscape, and not drawing straight from imagination or memory.

    As for Greg Land and what he seems to be doing, his work is derivative of someone else’s photos. You’d hoped he be a talented enough artist to approximate/ballpark/ freestyle draw a pose or facial expression without actually having to trace. It makes you question his talent and professionalism [if you're tracing, shouldn't you be able to "draw" a monthly book].

  13. Nick Simmons’ whole “My inspirations reflect the fact that certain fundamental imagery is common to all Manga.” thing, shows his ignorance.

    When it boils down to it, Simmons doesn’t know how to draw. He learned to “draw” from looking at manga. He doesn’t understand that the good comic/manga/whatever artists, even the the most cartoony-est ones, have an understanding of life drawing.

    Do our influences show up in our work? Yes. But with a fundamental drawing background, it becomes your own. When I look at Peter Bagge’s work I can see the Crumb influence… but it’s still Bagge’s own style.

    He made the mistake a lot of young want-to-be comic artist make… he lacked onto an artist, and copied their work in an attempt to make his own comic. If he wasn’t the son of a celebrity, he would have posted his work on deviantart, got feed back. Then would have either given up after a number of years when no one is interested in his work, or would have figured out he needed to go beyond his influences.

    But because of who his father is, Simmons’ got a publisher and may now (and rightfully so) be changed with plagiarism.

  14. Alex Ross and Billy Tucci shoot photos and draw from them. Its their photos…so really, who cares about that. I cant tell you how many times i have posed for people that needed an angle or shot in a certain pose.

  15. I agree with Evan Dorkin.

    Let me also add…when someone starts swiping ME in a mainstream comic book…then we will know that “homaging” and “tributing” are irrevocably,once and for all, out of control.

    And Hell has finally frozen over!

  16. Kenny Cather says:

    Did anyone read Helene Hegemann’s novel, or is everyone throwing her under the bus because it seems like something to form a lynch mob over?

    As for Nick Simmons’s book, I just don’t understand all the anger and rage. I mean, the dude got caught tracing – ok. Great…and I should be upset because…? I guess I don’t get the why. I mean, I kinda do – people on the whole are self-righteous and raking someone else over the coals makes most people feel better about themselves. But besides that – I don’t get it. If anything, I think it’s pretty cool that new comic artists are primarily influenced by manga.

  17. Al™ says:

    We have all seen comic artists who have lifted a pose or a facial expression once in awhile, and to me, that goes with the territory. They still have to draw it themselves in their own style. But when you suspect that the artist has copied or traced panel after panel of another artist’s work without acknowledging it, that just HAS to be wrong.

    If an artist is using photo reference, his approach is like that of an illustrator more than a cartoonist. If he’s tracing or scanning and drawing over his own photos, and his models have obviously agreed to pose for him, (ie: they’re not grab shots of unsuspecting people) there’s nothing wrong with that, is there?

  18. Xenos says:

    So if I pay homage to Kiss by doing a recording of some of their songs and give no credit to them at all and say that I created “God Gave Rock & Roll to Me” myself, Nick’s dad won’t mind? I mean it’s just a homage. Oh and I never bought the Kiss album, just downloaded it on a torrent and then sampled it into my own version of the song. Cause you know there’s just fundamental lyrics to all rock and roll, right?

    Also if you download my stuff and steal my songs you will pay. In cash. Spank you very much and good night.

  19. Artists have long used posed photo shoots and models for their work and equating that to this situation strikes me as about as ignorant a comparison as one could make. Many of the EC artists took reference photos (some have been reprinted in the Cochran EC slipcase sets), P. Craig Russell has worked with photo shoots, Alex Ross as mentioned, Milton Caniff, Eric Powell took photos for a Goon episode, etc. And a host of magazine and pin-up illustrators worked this way, and I’m sure still do. Some base much of their finished work on these set-ups, some use it to solve tricky lighting, drapery or costuming problems.

    I don’t equate this with what Greg Land and others do, which is to use existing photographs as a shortcut and to work heavily with those images, a dull, almost always obvious shortcut even if you’re unfamiliar with the original image. It’s debatable hoe ethical this is, especially if someone’s photo is heavily utilized down to details, but that’s still not the same as tracing/swiping/importing another creator’s line work (and dialogue, for that matter) to make images which you then publish as original. What Simmons has done here is unethical, uncreative and just plain stupid.

    Making matter worse, his response has carefully placed the “blame” for this flap on others, on the perception of the work, not the work itself, and his decisions in “creating” it. He has signed contracts to be on television, his father lives in a world of intellectual properties, litigation, creative decisions and fallout, this is 2010 and we have the internet, how ignorant or stupid is he to believe what he’s done is a tribute to the work of others? If I put a song out there with riffs from Detroit Rock City and lyrics from Love Gun, and said it was a tribute, and tried to distribute it, I would be ceased-and-desisted or worse.

    I really don’t know what there is to debate about when it comes to his work. He ripped some folks off. The fact that the creator of Bleach doesn’t seem to care shouldn’t mitigate that. The fact that his dad is famous and he’s on tv is, as far as the comic itself goes, largely unimportant. Greg Land doesn’t enter into it. In this case, on this comic, Nick Simmons clearly crossed the line. The end.

  20. And to Kenny Cather -

    When you do work others feel like ripping off in order to benefit their own career and finances, then maybe you’ll understand why some folks see this as a problem. Your cavalier attitude is depressing, and all-too typical of many people who don’t think beyond “what’s the big deal?”. You seem to place more of an onus on the people calling foul on this behavior than the actual behavior. Which is, again, depressing.

    I think it’s pretty cool that young creators are influenced by manga, too, I think Brian Lee O’Malley’s pretty cool, he’s influenced by manga. And he doesn’t lift images and call them his own and blame readers for catching him on it. A lot of other manga-influenced creators don’t resort to tracing paper and photoshop, either. Stealing is unethical. Blaming others for your actions is immature and deceitful. I’m sorry you don’t see a problem here.

    Self righteously yours.

  21. Army of Dorkness says:

    “Tite has more than just the copyright, it’s his work. And Tite doesn’t care. If he can’t be bothered to be morally outraged, why should anyone else? ”

    Because we all have different sets of morals. I had a marginal interest in Incarnate before this but not anymore. I’m not even morally outraged. I’m just not going to support such blatant swiping. I don’t like Greg Land’s work or Greg Horn’s work because they’re swipers. Shoot your own reference photos like Alex Ross or Tim Bradstreet. Some of us think pictures of models in advertisements or wherever look terrible as it is, so tracing that and covering it with a Marvel costume only makes it worse.

    “I just see this incredible parallel to Tiger Woods. ”

    Not even close. Tiger Woods didn’t pass off his affairs as his own marraige. The only people he betrayed or owed anything to are his family. His breaking of his promise to his family has no affect on how I view his commercials or the companies he shills for, but then again, I view all advertisements as lies so it’s not surprising to have a liar in them. What Nick Simmons did was a betrayal of his publisher and his audience and members of both groups have a right to be outraged if they want to be or unaffected if they want to be, and he also betrayed his integrity to any future or potential audience as well and as a member of that group I am not happy about it so I will voice that displeasure by not buying his product.

    Swipery should be taken on a case by case basis. Swiping a background character or two to make a deadline is no big deal, but copying nearly entire panels over an entire storyline from various sources and passing it off as your own is a different story. To me, Simmons fails, and as a result he gets no money from me. If I were running Radical, I would drop him and his book and ask for any money paid to him to be returned. I’m not saying they should do that because it’s not my company and they can do what they want and if they didn’t drop him and/or his book, it wouldn’t prevent me from buying future Radical products. I can’t make that choice for them. If I could, though, I’d drop him and the book immediately.

  22. Tom Spurgeon says:

    If anyone from Radical is out there reading this, I’ve been inspired by the universality of Nick Simmons’ world manga approach and the ubiquity of bootlegged versions of Photoshop to create a possible replacement for Incarnate in their publishing line I’m calling “Manifest.” Because the lynch mobs and haters out there can’t be trusted, I’m offering the work under my new pen name, “Nick Simmons,” which I think we’ll all agree are two pretty common names.

    I can guarantee that there will be no photos referenced in the creation of Manifest’s art.

  23. Interesting grist for the mill: before Nick Simmons retooled the series as Incarnate, IDW published a preview book of the series way back in 2007 under the title “Skullduggery.” Granted, he drew it when he was what, 18? But still…it looks WAY different, and not like Bleach at all.

    http://forum.superpouvoir.com/showthread.php?t=6315
    http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=110559

  24. Kenny Cather says:

    Evan Dorkin,

    Tite’s position mitigates this. Tite’s position is the only one that matters at all – it’s his book. People like you getting upset on Tite’s behalf is self-righteous on your part.

    Here’s where I would care – if Nick Simmons was reproducing Bleach page for page and saying, “This is mine,” if he was ripping the paychek out of Tite’s hands (a la DC & Alan Moore), or if Tite was upset. OK, I get that. But a page or two here or there – no, I don’t.

    I liked the insult you threw my way: “When you do work others feel like ripping off in order to benefit their own career and finances, then maybe you’ll understand why some folks see this as a problem.” Wow, nice – you don’t even know what field I’m in or what I do for a living, yet you’re willing to judge the quality of my work all because we disagree on how big a deal Nick Simmons’s lack of creativity is. Stay classy, Evan.

    Anyway, I voiced my opinion. I feel better now. I’m sure you and a bunch of others will insult me and tell me how I’m somehow endorsing theft and extrapolate that to how I’m a sad human being. Yay for you. I hope it makes you guys feel better, too.

  25. Alexa says:

    Well, Evan said everything I was going to say, but–

    Kenny: Tite has the copyright. He doesn’t have to get nasty on Twitter to send his lawyers after Simmons. A snarky comment on Twitter does not an official statement of an assertion of moral rights make.

  26. Kenny Cather says:

    Alexa,

    Tite has more than just the copyright, it’s his work. And Tite doesn’t care. If he can’t be bothered to be morally outraged, why should anyone else?

    Why? Because people are self-righteous. I would be willing to bet every single person at one time or another has turned in work – whether at school or at a business – that incorporates another’s ideas. Simmons just happened to get caught in a very public way.

    I just see this incredible parallel to Tiger Woods. Was what Tiger Woods did immoral? Yes, but the vilification of him should begin and end with his family. Everyone else can decide whether or not they want to buy products he continues to endorse, but they were already doing that in the first place.

    So, with Simmons – stop buying his book if you want, but you already had that option. Let Tite get morally outraged.

  27. I’ve been noticing art swipes in the various Spider-Man comics for years. I’ll recognize poses from Steve Ditko, John Romita, and other illustrators from the 1960s and 1970s. It’s one thing do an homage, occassionally, but I some point I wonder what’s the point? Use the old Ditko/Romita stock-shots of Spidey swinging through the city, get the modern illustrator to create new images for the storyline, and cut his/her paycheck in half.

    There’s some new Spider-Man pocket book coming out … the illustrator (on his blog) shows the cover and the thumbnails, and accepts the accolades. But there is no acknowledgement of about four other classic Spider-Man illustrators that he’s lifting elements from.

  28. Kenny,

    What I and I would think most other creators personally find appalling is that Simmons has been given a chance to make comics, to create something and put it out into the marketplace, and instead of paying his dues, and putting in the long, long, long hours necessary to earn the trust of a publisher willing to foot the bill to produce, market, and distribute his work, he has simply and plainly stolen the work of others.

    As someone who spends HOURS, DAYS, and MONTHS of every year attempting to create NEW stories, to give those stories heart and depth and mystery AND THEN spend countless more hours submitting queries, preparing manuscripts, and making connections without the benefit of a famous daddy, I can still on some level understand what Simmons did. What I cannot understand, what I feel sorry for, and what I cannot feel anything but disgust for, is that fact that he has, like James Frey, like Jason Blair, like Cassie Edwards, been willing to associate themselves with work which honestly and truly did a disservice to who they are. He will carry this stigma around for life, always under suspicion and never be able to look at a work of any kind free of the question of whether he has again stolen the work of another.

  29. Kenny,
    you can’t be anymore wrong. He didn’t just ‘incorporate’ tites work, he blatantly ripped it off for his own financial benefit. Money aside (and tites opinion as well), how does Radical feel. I bet embarrassed, angry, and had. Don’t blame everyone else for having the problem and come up with some insipid moral equivalance example. He damaged reputations besides his own. To pass off copied homework is really wrong, but to dupe a company into an investment thinking it’s your own body of work is really really wrong.

  30. Alexa says:

    Kenny, are you really that thick? Tite making a snarky joke on Twitter does not mean he “doesn’t care” about Nick Simmons tracing his work and calling it his own. A lack of open display of umbrage is far from the same thing as “not caring” about being plagiarized.

    He knows he has all the power in this situation, so he doesn’t NEED to get upset about it. But he can still set his lawyers on Simmons.

  31. To say that what Simmons did is unethical is pretty obvious. What I don’t understand are the voices that he “got away with it” and that an “injustice” is happening. Simmons’ comics debut sold 3600 copies (issues 2-3 didn’t rank in the top 300) and they seem likely to go uncollected in trade in light of the controversy, so it’s not as if Simmons is laughing all the way to the bank. He opened himself up to lawsuits should any grieved party chose to pursue it (Simon Jones makes a good case for why that’s unlikely on his blog). His reputation in the industry is on the rocks after 3 months and 100 pages. If Simmons continues to pursue a career in comics, it will be a steep climb because his name will forever be linked to this controversy. Justice has been (well, is still being) meted, and the good guys won. If Simmons wants redeem his credibility, an acknowledgement at least would be a good first step, but that’s up to him. Justice doesn’t require an apology.

  32. Seems to me Swiping goes back as far as comics do. Hell, If an old TCJ Swipe File is correct, an up and coming Jack Kirby got caught swiping. Not to compare this douche with him, but to level the boom on the kid is going too far. The Facebook group trying to incur legal action was for shit. Exactly what is supposed to happen happened. The kid got caught, he has been shamed in front of the world and he’s going to lose his job over it. Anything more then that is being a dick, not to mention contributes to our already overly litigious society, a trait perhaps the Japanese don’t share. The saddest part about this whole thing is that now his books will be worth 50 cents more on the collectors market.

    Like Dorkin, I have no idea where the idea that drawing from photo reference is a cheat in any way. If anything it’s become more essential and prevalent with the invention of the digital camera.

  33. I agree with Evan Dorkin.

    And let me add….if the day ever comes that some young up and coming Jack Kirby is swiping from ME…we will know that the era of “homaging” and “tributing” is irrevocably, for once and for all, part of the business.

    Of course, it will be irrelevant because Hell will have frozen over.

  34. Kenny Cather says:

    Alexa,

    “Kenny, are you really that thick?” Stay classy, Alexa.

    Bill,

    “As someone who spends HOURS, DAYS, and MONTHS of every year attempting to create NEW stories, to give those stories heart and depth and mystery AND THEN spend countless more hours submitting queries, preparing manuscripts, and making connections without the benefit of a famous daddycan still on some level understand what Simmons did”

    It sounds like your issue isn’t that Nick Simmons did something wrong. Rather, it sounds like you have an issue with who Simmons is and who his father is. I’m not on board with that.

    Phil,

    Radical is run by grown ups. They don’t need my sympathy or empathy. They need to hire better editors. I’m still not on board with the moral outrage.

    Army of Dorkness,

    This issue is analogous to Tiger Woods. Woods committed an act that most people feel is immoral, but a lot of people not directly affected by Woods’s actions have been expressing a lot of outrage. Similarly, Simmons committed an act that most people feel is immoral, but a lot of people not directly affected by Simmons’s actions have been expressing a lot of outrage. So, just like I’m not on board with the Tiger Woods outrage, I’m not on board with the Simmons outrage.

    My opinion is pretty simple – what Simmons did was wrong, but let Radical and Tite Kubo and anyone else directly involved hash it out with him. Simmons doesn’t owe me any apology and unless you’re a party directly affected or you bought his book for his illustrations thinking it was his work, he doesn’t owe you one, either.

    I’m having fun here, guys. I’m hoping when I check back tomorrow, there’s a third person who felt a need to insult me, too!

  35. Well Kenny I’m certainly at peace that you seem so above it all. But, in a noninsulting way, you
    do seem pretty thick and dare I say….trollish? But I’ll indulge anyway without the ivory tower pretense.
    Yea Radical is run by grown ups and by and large have handled an embarassing situation pretty damn well. That doesn’t mean they weren’t wronged professionally. I think you’re mistaken when you feel this is just a moral issue. You really shouldn’t get angry at those who say it’s wrong to do what simmons did. Especially Evan, who is nothing but a consumate pro that has insight into this industry.

  36. Kenny, I think the hostility you’re feeling is due to the fact that plenty of folks ’round these parts make their living as artists. Artists (and writers) go through great, even agonizing, pains to master their craft and develop their own, unique style (or voice). They may learn by copying, but only in the pursuit of something original. They’re taught that stealing is a cardinal sin.

    When you invest that much effort into originality, someone who comes along and gets attention (if not sales) for straight-up copying is truly a threat to your livelihood. There’s room on those shelves for only so many books — which means everyone who gets a book by stealing other artists’ work is doing so at the potential expense of someone who values originality and creativity.

    That’s going to raise temperatures a few degrees when someone shows up and says, “What’s the big deal?”

  37. bad wolf says:

    “Stay classy, Kenny!” Or perhaps you were just doing an homage to your previous witty rejoinder when you used that tired line again.

  38. Army of Dorkness says:

    “This issue is analogous to Tiger Woods.” for the second time.

    No, it isn’t. You can say that they both were the subject of opinionated disapproval over what they did, but what they did isn’t similar. Your phrasing is the problem, I think. This situation isn’t analogous to the Tiger Woods situation, but there might be a case for the similarity of the surrounding opinionated disapproval… but then again, that would make this like EVERY other situation which people don’t like but aren’t directly involved.

    Tiger Woods had a family issue. Nick Simmons has a legal issue. If it turns out that Nick Simmons doesn’t have a legal issue, then the situation might become similar. Tiger Woods didn’t owe anyone but his family anything. Nick Simmons might still owe someone, and he will pay. In cash.

    “Radical is run by grown ups. They don’t need my sympathy or empathy. They need to hire better editors. ”

    Yeah!!!! Those stupid Radical editors!!! It’s all their fault that they didn’t notice Nick Simmons stealing art and passing it off as his own!! They should totally get fired for what Nick Simmons did that I am not morally outraged about at all, but is totally wrong(moral judgement)!!! That’s only fair, right?

    Ri. Dick. U. Lous.

    “Simmons doesn’t owe me any apology and unless you’re a party directly affected or you bought his book for his illustrations thinking it was his work, he doesn’t owe you one, either.”

    I agree with this. He definitely could have done a better job of crafting a statement to the press though, but what did anyone expect from a thief who got caught? I don’t need an apology and I don’t think he should apologize to the creative community or comics fandom at large either. In fact, I hope he doesn’t. He can just disappear until he has some actual talent to showcase instead of passing off the talent of others as his own.

    It’s not like Tiger Woods can hit the ball and then insert video of somebody else’s ball going into the hole when his came up short. You want to keep with this Tiger Woods analogy? I can keep proving it false.

  39. Herb Finn says:

    Bob Kane is the most famous “swiper” of them all – most of the artwork of The Batman story in Detective #27 was swiped from a “Big Little Book” – and even the story itself was taken from a Shadow story!

  40. John Wagner says:

    So Kenny you have absolutely nothing to say against or for Nick Simmons but you have been spending a good chunk of your free time trolling here to say that you don’t care. When you don’t care about something you want everybody to know about it? You’re a classy dude.
    Now go away and let people talk about the real issue: how Simmons is stealing and lying to his employer Radical to make a buck.
    Because that is a real issue. If you go around selling something that is not yours that makes you a thief, or at the very least a crook. That’s what Simmons did: he sold something that is not his to Radical.

    Now of course Radical is not going to do anything about it seeing how Barry Levine and the Singaporean company that owns Radical are financing a big Kiss show that supposed to tour and become a Vegas staple. They’re not stupid. So they’re going to put Incarnate to sleep, wait for the fire to die down, and carrying on business as usual. And don’t expect Viz or Tite to sue either: who can afford to sue?
    Too bad.
    Nick Simmons can go to Hell.

  41. A comics artist once told me that if he could really draw everything “from scratch” like everyone thought he could, it would have to be magic. “I can’t draw a truck,” from memory,” he said. “I bought Matchbox cars.”

    It’s not the same, nor am I saying what Simmons did is ok (why is it so obnoxiously blatant??) but this seems something endemic to comics too where people don’t come from (always) a fine arts background. Even that training though is based from drawing ‘from life.’

    And I’ll see your Kirby and Kane: Joe Shuster swiped a large percentage of the art for the million-dollar Action Comics #1, including the famous pose on the cover. Good thinking on his part for not getting into art school or plagiarism? Where’s the line?

    What Simmons did is def. plagiarism in its strictest definition. If he did this in art school, what would happen to him?

  42. I understand the appeal of “remixes” and “collage” and “sampling” or whatever you want to call it, if that’s what, say, Hegemann had in mind, as she claims.

    I’m sure nobody would have minded AXOLOTL ROADKILL if it had been presented as a “mash-up” or a “collage” of existing texts and included a full list of sources.

    What I don’t logically understand is how taking credit for other people’s work is supposed to be a necessary part of the proceedings.

  43. Kenny,

    Weren’t you bitching early on in this post about how people were going to attack you and make presumptions about you? Your bland inferences about my feelings on nepotism being somehow directed personally towards the Simmons’ aside, you still seem to be missing the point.

    Simmons’ stole. In doing so he has been incredibly unprofessional, which, believe it or not, actually means something to me and to a lot of other people, and because his bullshit book WAS published, another book WASN’T. Those resources of editors, and production and marketing people, and paper and ink and shipping manifests, all of it was for shit instead of it being put toward the word of an honest creator with integrity. THAT is what my problem is. Hopefully this clears up your confusion.

  44. Good lord, I just stumbled into a time warp. It’s the 1917 exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists. Someone has entered a urinal? We are appalled. Appalled! Seriously, I honestly thought you visual artists had long ago resolved any moral or ethical issues regarding appropriation and remix of existing content. And tracing? Are you really upset about that? I recently read that the stunning detail captured by some of the Masters may be the result of using a camera obscura. I’m genuinely fascinated to see that this topic can still create such a stir. I love all of your comments. They are very thought provoking and well expressed. Clearly the issue of copyright adds another element to the discussion, moving us away from strictly moral and ethical issues to legal rights. That’s why I recently lifted copyright protections on my novel. I’d like to see what happens to the written arts in those situations where a creator is comfortable removing legal protections in order to open the door to visual-style appropriation. What do you think about this type of situation (that is, where copyright has been taken off the table)? Do you object to someone who copies or traces? Does it matter if they provide attribution of the orignal source?

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