British-based company HeroicArt has removed a number of artworks for sale from its web site, after comic creators complaints that the work offered was based on their own.
The company told downthtubes.net that two items – a “Hulk versus Thing” artwork, first noticed on eBay by Cardiff-based Simon Williams, who drew the original, and artwork based on Brian Bolland‘s acclaimed version of Judge Dredd – are to be removed from the company’s catalogue after copyright issues were raised.
We voiced our concerns about the art with HeroicArt direct, explaining our contacts with many British comic artists and our concerns that the “Hulk versus Thing” art they were selling was not the work of the original artist – in this case, Simon Williams.
First drawn in 2003 for Issue 100 of Britain’s Spectacular Spider-Man title, Simon describes the art as his all-time favourite panel of his comic work, and the one he had waited all his life to draw.
The company states on its site: “This website and everything on sale from it is a tribute and our painters representation of original work from the world of comic book and open media. All characters and representations referred to and artwork produced remain trademark and copyright of their respective owners.”
We argued that this disclaimer does not excuse the copying of original artworks, which is breach of copyright, whether they feature characters owned by a third party (in this case, Marvel) or not and HeroicArt was infringing the rights of the original artwork’s creators.
In an email to downthetubes about the two items this morning, a spokesperson for HeroicArt said: “Please accept our apologies for any distress caused, we will remove both items from sale later this afternoon.”
There is a general understanding among comic artists that you can sell prints of your depictions of comic characters that are the copyright of others as long as you sign them, the reasoning being that you are selling your signature.
“A one off original piece is fine as its an artists interpretation,” one British comic publisher told us. “Obviously if they are just tracing from scans they should be ashamed of themselves – but it’s not illegal. However the moment they reproduce prints of them and sell them on eBay they are infringing the rights of the [copyright] owner.”
Simon has been a professional comic artist since 2003, working on Spectacular Spider-Man Adventures, The Incredible Hulk, Death’s Head, Transformers and Marvel Heroes. Now he’s bringing his creator-owned Discotronic Funk Commandos to the pages of Retro Tales, along side some fun new characters (and some super special guest-stars) for some classic, old-school comic book fun and adventure… suitable for all ages.
Simon Williams is, of course, always happy to accept private commissions – and commissions from publishers!
• Simon Wiliams’ blog: http://soulmaninc.blogspot.co.uk/
• Simon Wiliams on deviantart: http://soulman-inc.deviantart.com