Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The Walking Dead Wrong Bag!

It’s funny (but not in the “ha ha” sense) that all other media loves to massively rip-off the comic book industry’s stories, ideas and iconography, but very often refuse to acknowledge the source material, and with little recourse. This is not a new story, as it traces back to the earliest days of Pop Art with the likes of Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol ripping off comic artists work as “found art”—a tradition that Jeff Koons, and many other “fine artists” keep alive today. But it extends far wider than just art. When director Sam Mendes released the excellent Road to Perdition movie he was seriously begrudging about admitting that the idea may have come from something so lowly as a comic book; and yet he still plunders the four colour funnies for new ideas (most recently looking at producing The Boys by Garth Ennis and Darrick Robertson). And, of course, rave flyers, back in the Eighties constantly stole iconography from comics whether it was The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, Brian Bolland’s The Killing Joke art or covers to 2000 AD. And it looks like the fashion industry is no different.

Take this recent example above, for instance. I was walking down the street one day, in the very merry month of February, when I looked in the window of a trendy clothes shop in the fashionable part of Brighton. What did I see? A woman’s large handbag with very familiar comic panels all over it taken from The Walking Dead. Now, the artist, Charlie Adlard, is a good friend of mine and so his art style was instantly recognisable, except that the company that had made the bag—Living Dead Souls, their website says it all—had gone and put a whole load of completely inappropriate sound effects and crap speech balloons that are completely out of keeping with The Walking Dead comic, such as “Thump” “Blam” “Zap” and the character, Michelle, saying “Dudes, follow me!” Not to mention the terrible colouring. All obviously created by someone who’d never read the comic.
Charlie Adlard's interior art from The Walking Dead. Look familiar?

Tony Moore's original artwork to The Walking Dead #19. Look familiar? Moore based his cover on Adlard's interior art.

Needless to say I smelled a rat and contacted Charlie and Robert Kirkman to confirm if they’d licensed The Walking Dead into a line of female accessories. They hadn’t. 

The most laughable aspect of all this is the Living Dead Souls tag on the bag that claims, “All characters, images, print and design work of this item are copy right (sic).” 

Yeah, but not to you! 

“Any infringement or passing off this will be dealt with severely.” I’m hoping that Kirkman’s lawyers are dealing with them severely right now.

Still, I guess it works both ways. Here’s Dave Sim ripping off a fashion magazine for his Glamorpuss comic. Plus ça change!

"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine


ReasonableMan said...

With regards to Sim, what he is doing is considered parody.

TimTrue said...

With hindsight you are right and I did go and check the Glamoupuss website in more detail. I know that the rule of Parody gets you out of al sorts of trouble, but I do think Sim is a better artist than just tracing fashion magazines and adding witticisms in word balloons. Seems like a waste of talent to me! I wonder if Living Dead Souls could try and pass off their thievery as "parody"? I'd love to hear that argument!

Helen said...

If time-pressed artists couldn't use photos appearing in the press as reference we would have much less work form them ... although it's true that confusion arises between where reference and parody end and ripoff begins. (Clue: it begins before you get to the point of tracing-the-whole-bloody-page...)

In these days of online piracy, it's easier to prevent theft as class/generational war than irony anyway.

Mai said...

I bought the bag yesterday, I absolutely love it, and because of it I discovered the artist and am most certainly going to buy the comics, so not all bad things come from it. Besides, the artist can claim his rights, and sue living dead souls for unrightfully using his material.

I hope he gets his share of the profit.