Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
This past weekend saw the opening of Gallery 1988: Melrose‘s “Memes” show, celebrating the gallery’s eighth year by having 100 artists pay tribute to “the Internet’s greatest creations.” One of those artists is Xombi writer John Rozum, who, in addition to writing scary comics, is also a talented maker of cut-paper art. For his meme, he recreated in collage form the painting that went around a year or so ago by an unknown artist that featured Batman fighting a shark with a lightsaber. And since he included a word balloon suggesting a larger group of events, I’m going to go ahead and stand by that statement that this is a Rozum story.
Last year around this time, Calamaties of Nature creator Tony Piro posted a pointed parody of A Charlie Brown Christmas. It was well received, but, imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, it was also copied, altered and posted all over the internet without attribution.
Yesterday, Piro noted the problem:
My use of the Peanuts characters, in a comic that I drew and wrote myself, is allowed as a parody. But when people grab my art, change a few words, and label it as their own, it amounts to theft. Of course people are free to make their own parodies, but they should use their own art and writing. I could attempt to police these copies, but ultimately this is impossible to do on the internet, especially once images start spreading on social sites like Facebook.
Of course, if his appropriation of Charles Schulz’s characters is allowable as parody, couldn’t some of his imitators claim the same thing about their appropriation of Tony Piro’s comic? Semantics aside, Piro realizes the futility of trying to stop the appropriators, so his solution is to ask his readers to post his version of the comic, with attribution, in a sort of good-information-crowds-out-bad strategy. To show that he’s no Grinch, Piro will donate $1 to Doctors Without Borders for every 500 extra page views the comic gets.
And to round out this Christmas story, someone popped up in comments to apologize for unknowingly using an altered version of the comic. Of course, the trolls were there too…
Just last week, Techland’s Douglas Wolk tracked the trend of Tumblr blogs dedicated to very specific kinds of comic-book imagery: UnMasquerade (heroes and villains unmasking themselves), A Nice Cup of Comics (comic-book characters drinking tea), A Moment of Moore (a daily dose of something Alan Moore-related), and Superheroes Lose (covers or promo images featuring defeated superheroes — run by yours truly!). And I know I’m late to this party, but I think we may have reached the apotheosis of the genre: Kanye + Comics, a site dedicated to combining superhero imagery and Kanye West lyrics. The results are often hilarious, and sometimes even profound. Kinda like Kanye himself!
The site accepts reader submissions, so like My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, it’s a collaborative affair. My favorite Kanye/comic mash-ups are above and below; what are yours?