Friday, May 23, 2008

Kirby, Bliss, & Homage Etiquette

The great and wise JK Parkin is covering this over on Blog@Newsarama, but I wanted to add my two cents. Apparently, a university professor has identified a New Yorker caption contest piece as a Kirby swipe, with Jeff Trexler and Mark Evanier (recognized authority on all things Kirby) jumping up to defend it as being so obvious an homage as to not have been any sort of lapse in ethics.

I really don't see why some are playing favorites with this artist. Yes, I'm sure his intentions were fine...but it takes nothing to put an "After Kirby" in there to acknowledge for the world that it is an homage. There was a time that people went nuts anytime there was an homage cover ON A COMIC BOOK (where, you know, everyone points out that we'd recognize an obvious Kirby homage) without an "After ____" on it.

If the artist can sign his own name to it (as you can see in the New Yorker image), then he could have put an AFTER KIRBY and told the world it was an homage instead of just letting it be a cool little secret between him and people familiar with the source material.

I mean...I know 95% of the New Yorker audience are comic book fans, right? So he'd only be doing it for that 5%, but it'd still be the right thing to do...

Oh, there was eventually an AFTER KIRBY added to its posting on the internet, by the way...after the professor bitched and moaned about it, I believe.

I'm not saying it was a huge deal. But pissing on the professor for pointing out that it was an unacknowledged homage (which, by normal definitions, means you can classify it as a swipe) by the legal and comic book scholars just isn't right. How is the professor to know what the artist's intentions were if the artist didn't do anything proper to publicly demonstrate those intentions?

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