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Most comic fans probably remember that President-Elect Barack Obama’s first comic book appearance didn’t come in this week’s Amazing Spider-Man #583. Last year IDW published their biography of Obama in October, and he appeared in Savage Dragon #137 last August.
It’s that second one that’s causing a stir over on the Comicon.com message boards, in a thread titled “The house of stolen ideas.” “Bendrix,” who started the thread, says that Marvel promotion ripped off The Savage Dragon’s “publicity stunt.”
A few pages in, creator Erik Larsen shows up in the thread to say he feels betrayed by Marvel:
As far as Marvel goes– I can’t help but feel very betrayed. They duplicated the incentive cover–and preempted my upcoming one–and even used the “terrorist fist jab.” Clearly those in the “house of ideas” looked at what I did and found inspiration.
I hear that they’re even doing a story similar to the one I did four years back, where an image-altering villain disguises himself as the President (in my story the Impostor replaced President Bush and took his place for a speech–in theirs the Chameleon, the shape-shifting villain, is going to spoil a speech being given by President-Elect Obama). The whole mess just feels really underhanded. I feel betrayed and, frankly, ripped off and in the real world–the one outside our funnybook bubble–Marvel will spin themselves as these great innovators who came up with this terrific publicity stunt–instead of the thieves they are.
And I know what they’re saying when they’re called on it–“Presidents have appeared in comics before” and “Erik didn’t create Barack Obama” and blah, blah, blah.
The thing that Marvel is attempting to do is to frame the argument. To say “we’ve featured presidents in the past–this is what we do–it’s part of a pattern.” But that’s a false argument. The “stunt” was an alternate cover featuring Obama– which was something no publisher had done with any president in the past and one that received a lot of press when I did it. If Marvel had done alternate covers with Bush and Clinton or any of the others– they could legitimately claim that they were following a pattern and doing what they’ve done in the past– but that wasn’t the case. And theirs is not simply the appearance of a president in a comic book but one on an alternate cover– and one concocted to try and get some of the same attention that got. I did not create Obama– I did, however, have a character endorse him, long before he was elected while Marvel played footsie with Stephen Colbert– a joke candidate.