Friday, June 06, 2008

Rip Off Man!

Some years back I knew a failed comic book artist who was constantly whining about his inability to support his wife and children. I found him work whenever I could, but I really didn’t have that many connections. When anyone would mention to him the fact that he could go out and get a real job, he would scream and yell that he was far, far too talented to do that. And I’m not exaggerating. He really would yell about it. Sometimes he would even hint that he was a new Messiah.

The fact is that he was talented, but not so talented that he couldn’t go out and get his hands dirty to feed his family. But he thought so. He was quite willing to allow his children to go without than work as a laborer, the only job for which he had any qualifications. (It also didn’t help that he’s as crazy as a shark in a tub of blood—and his breath stank like a chimpanzee’s cancerous ass.)

At some point, when no more comic book jobs could be had, as he’d burnt all those bridges, he found himself with a happy decision at a happy time as the Internet exploded and cheap computers became accessible to one and all. At that particular moment, he decided to start plagiarizing the work of Frank Frazetta. He did fairly well at this—plagiarizing Frazetta’s work, I mean. At first, the rip off work sold briskly and he soon had a regular line of folk waiting to buy their Frazetta rip offs.

And then, apparently, he began to rip off Jack Hamm, telling folk that he was going to do a revolutionary sketchbook that ended up being…you guessed it: a plagiarized and slightly different version of a Jack Hamm sketchbook.

And now, from samples recently shown to me by an art fan as sick of this plagiarizing dog as am I, he’s ripping off the work of Robert McGinnis, who made his fame in the 1960s doing kick ass paperback covers that wowed customers and made many a best seller out of tepid potboilers.

How is it that an artist is allowed to plagiarize another person’s style, even down to stealing whole figures and entire paintings, slightly moving limbs about, or changing the attire of persons, or altering various aspects of the original, but still producing an obvious fake version of someone else’s work? If a writer did that, he’d have his books confiscated and his ass before a judge. But an “artist” can do this at will and go about his way.

How does Frank Frazetta feel about a second-rate rip off copying his style and reproducing his paintings and illustrations almost line for line? How does Robert McGinnis feel about some worthless egotistical maggot taking his unique way of laying down color and figures and calling it just another step up the ladder?

Alas. Well, maybe when this scumbag's mommy dies, there'll be no one left to pay his overdue taxes at the end of the year. Maybe there will be blood. I laff.

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