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 F@#K Lichtenstein

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Joe Lee
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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Sat May 25, 2013 5:20 pm

That' a fair argument, and I respect your point of view.

I just disagree that he did any work or took any risk, beyond servicing his own agenda. We don't credit car thieves for degree of difficulty. Any more than we respect comedians, satirists, or editorial cartoonists for stealing jokes, just because they chose the best, and edgiest material. Their is respect for the source.

And copying a work doesn't make it dirivitive.

If Lichtenstein had created new works in a style he dirived from his research, it would have been dirivitive. And a more defendable pragtice. He didn't do that, Lichtenstein copied whole panels with so little editing, the original pieces are still present and obvious.

Lichtenstein wasn't bringing respect to comic art. He used comic art as a stooge, allowing societal disrespect of his subject matter to give his theft credibility. As if society were to say, "look at how great and insightful Lichtenstein must be to find beauty in this trash. Because if the general public that approved of Lichtenstein had respected comic art, they would have seen his copying of orher works, as what it was. Theft.

Sounds like we may just have to agree to disagree on this, but i do enjoy the discussion.

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Terry M (Ditko Fan)

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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Thu May 30, 2013 12:30 am

Pop culture, like comics, was perfectly capable of self-satire, self criticism etc. Just like when a political satirist stays quiet to let the politicians words echo. No input needed. The commentary is in the reality, all on it's own.

Charlatans like Lichtenstein just inserted themselves in the process by adding a step, duplicating the art so they could take credit for it. They didn't push things to a new level they were just observing and could have chosen photography instead of painting.
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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Thu May 30, 2013 7:36 pm

Yeah, if Lichtenstein had taken the imagery he found in comics and created new images, taking what he learned and then creating new panels, then i would agree with Peter on some things. I suppose I might even go further. His works would be derivative sure, but original, and they would have a single author. Lichtenstein.

But, he didn't go that way.

Peter Urkowitz wrote:
Things that had been called trash, or trivial, were put up on art gallery walls, with the declaration "This is art." We can look back now and say that was too easy, but it wasn't easy at the time.
I don't remember what was hard about it at the time, what I recall from my art history class was there was a lot of bandwagon jumping. A lot of people thought it looked easy, any truly "hard" part was standing out from the herd of hacks stapling their "trash" to the walls.

Peter Urkowitz wrote:
These were derivative works, but they were also profoundly transformative. They brought to the foreground issues of color, space, composition, whereas the original comics panels subsumed all those qualities in the service of telling a story.
All those qualities existed in the panels already, taking them out of context is not an act of creation in and of itself.

I went into greater detail above, but "derivative" is a gross understatement. If a musician uses a classical music piece as the basis for a melody of his next pop hit, it is derivative. If he just remakes the song it is the same song. Nothing derivative about a cover song, it is the same thing, any difference is done to style or interpretation.

Peter Urkowitz wrote:
And the paintings forced the viewers to look at these images that had been ignored before, and to think about them in a new way, as art.
No, just like the musician in the example above, Lichtenstein took works familiar to one audience, and introduced them to another audience that was largely unfamiliar with them, and in fact pretty disdainful of them.

Peter Urkowitz wrote:
Now, do I wish that Lichtenstein had properly credited the original artists? Yes, of course, I wish he had. He should have paid them a portion of his profits, even. But his artistic labor, the thought that went into it, deserves credit too.
Credit as a curator maybe, but not as an artist, even co-artist doesn't fit, and here's where the musician theme breaks down, cover bands pay royalties, they are musicians to be sure, but they are not songwriters! Even if they hand copied the lyrics to another sheet of paper themselves.

Their is a clear distinction in our creative fields over the act of creation and production.

Typesetters didn't write the novel. Playing music on a radio doesn't make you a musician. Copying a panel out of a comic doesn't make you the person who created the "color, space, composition" of that panel. It makes you the person who copied it. There is nothing noble in that.

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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Fri May 31, 2013 12:11 am

Terry M (Ditko Fan) wrote:
They didn't push things to a new level they were just observing and could have chosen photography instead of painting.
Y'know I would be Ok with that. If Lichtenstein had photographed the comics pages and blown them up to the size he wanted. I would have been OK with that.

By re-painting the panels Lichtenstein was attempting to take creative credit for the panels. It's an implication inherent in the medium. As a photographer their would be no implication, in fact it would have been the exact opposite implication.
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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Fri May 31, 2013 5:45 pm

I think part of the thing that always bugged me about Lichtenstien's paintings is that they looked crude. They looked like they were done by an amateur with an Art-O-Graph. And that especially comes out comparing the paintings to the panels they were swiped from

Now in the case of some of them, one might make the argument that he was stylizing the panels and reducing them to their simplest visual elements. But in other cases he stripped out the nuance and the artistry that was already there.

I just always got this vibe -- and maybe I'm doing him an injustice -- that Lichtenstien wasn't celebrating something he loved as much as condescending to maker Art out of something he regarded as trash.
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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Fri May 31, 2013 8:32 pm

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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Fri May 31, 2013 10:42 pm

kurt wilcken wrote:
...I just always got this vibe -- and maybe I'm doing him an injustice -- that Lichtenstien wasn't celebrating something he loved as much as condescending to maker Art out of something he regarded as trash.
No, no you're right. He only started doing comics because his kid challenged him. Not any respect for comics. If i did my math right, the six year old pointed to a Mickey Mouse comic and said, "I bet you can't paint as good as that, eh, Dad?"

Here's a really good article that goes into detail and has a lot of side by side art...

http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/02/02/deconstructing-lichtenstein-source-comics-revealed-and-credited/

My favorite...
Art Spieglman wrote:
"Lichtenstein did no more or less for comics than Andy Warhol did for soup."
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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Sun Jun 02, 2013 12:49 am

Joe Lee wrote:
...cover bands pay royalties, they are musicians to be sure, but they are not songwriters! Even if they hand copied the lyrics to another sheet of paper themselves.

Their is a clear distinction in our creative fields over the act of creation and production.

Typesetters didn't write the novel. Playing music on a radio doesn't make you a musician. Copying a panel out of a comic doesn't make you the person who created the "color, space, composition" of that panel. It makes you the person who copied it. There is nothing noble in that.

Bands don't pay royalties, for playing songs. Cover Bands, or tribute bands usually don't pay songwriter royalties. I assume you meant bands if they record and sell a cover song. I don't believe most cover bands/tribute bands, or even a band doing a cover version pay anything for playing a song on a gig. BUT I agree they are musicians, they are not songwriters. Which was the greater point you were trying to make. I just wanted to clarify.

I assume in your argument, Lichtenstein would be "covering" a specific comic panel and therefore was not the "author" or creator?

But isn't it more like he's taking one line out of the context of a longer a song, and claiming he found art within the song? He's seen something that isn't just part of a larger piece, he's found a chunk of art that could stand on it's own. He's not avoiding giving credit, he's convinced himself that by taking the panel out of the comic book, he has to recreate the found art to size and make it gallery ready. He's "created" something. In his mind he's done more work than most photographers would have upon finding a wall with posters in various states of decay, creating new words and patterns from the old.
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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Mon Jun 03, 2013 8:19 pm

I certainly appreciate this conversation, too, and totally respect all the points of view being expressed.

For one example of a graphic element that I think Lichtenstein brought to the forefront of his images, which had been ignored before, I would point to the big color dots, now recognized as an iconic part of comic art (though, sadly, abandoned by modern printing techniques). I don't think anyone had made those dots a visible, positive part of their work before him, had they?

Kinda funny that Art Spiegelman would denigrate Lichtenstein's work, since Spiegelman's own work is one of the first I think of as owing a debt to Lichtenstein. Spiegelman uses those dots too! He uses that same method of ironic repurposing of older images! He also makes the ink marks and colors on the page more real and present than the objects that the marks are supposedly representing.

http://thebristolboard.tumblr.com/post/44099312600/classic-back-cover-painting-to-read-yourself-raw

So I sorta think that Spiegelman may have been joking in that quote.

But still, I think that Elsinore cover is total turnabout-is-fair-play, a genius bit of mischief. And since they are still selling it three years later, it looks like Lichtenstein Estate lawyers must have been forced to back down when their bluff was called. Rightly so!
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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Mon Jun 03, 2013 8:47 pm

Eddie Campbell has talked about this, and it sounds like I've been stealing ideas, if not actual lines, from him:

http://eddiecampbell.blogspot.com/2007/02/lichtenstein_04.html

Also, look at this:

http://superitch.com/?p=36

It's Mort Walker's tale of the time that Lichtenstein visited the National Cartoonist's Society and charmed them all!

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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Mon Jun 03, 2013 8:50 pm

Terry M (Ditko Fan) wrote:
Bands don't pay royalties, for playing songs. Cover Bands, or tribute bands usually don't pay songwriter royalties. I assume you meant bands if they record and sell a cover song. I don't believe most cover bands/tribute bands, or even a band doing a cover version pay anything for playing a song on a gig. BUT I agree they are musicians, they are not songwriters. Which was the greater point you were trying to make. I just wanted to clarify.

I assume in your argument, Lichtenstein would be "covering" a specific comic panel and therefore was not the "author" or creator?

But isn't it more like he's taking one line out of the context of a longer a song, and claiming he found art within the song? He's seen something that isn't just part of a larger piece, he's found a chunk of art that could stand on it's own. He's not avoiding giving credit, he's convinced himself that by taking the panel out of the comic book, he has to recreate the found art to size and make it gallery ready. He's "created" something. In his mind he's done more work than most photographers would have upon finding a wall with posters in various states of decay, creating new words and patterns from the old.

Cover bands and such *do* pay royalties for cover songs. Live performance has long been covered by the rules of the big music publishers, who count the money in half-pennies and quarter-pennies and make sure to count the ticket sales for even the most basic bar band. When Paul McCartney plays [Beatles song] before a crowded stadium, Michael Jackson's estate (or whoever owns the catalogue now) gets paid for [Beatles song.]
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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Tue Jun 04, 2013 3:45 pm

Pete, I can't get the Mort Walker link to work for me, but maybe that's just me.
The arguments about what Lichtenstein brought to the mix are valid enough I suppose, and if it floats your boat then it works for you. One reason you probably won't get too many converts though is that what Lichtenstein did hits us somewhat close to home. We see his work partially as theft, but it's theft against what amounts to a beloved uncle who worked hard all his life and didn't deserve to have his wallet lifted. Yes, I know, 'no comic artists were harmed in the making of this painting' and there was no actual money loss via Lichtenstein's paintings, but this is Uncle Jimmy we're talking about!

Anyway, in what is something like an objective sense, the nod has to go to your argument because Lichtenstein's place in Art History is indeed secure and for all the reasons you rightly mention. Personally, I'm just not that bowled over by what is essentially a subtractive process of other artists' work. That he spent 30 plus years making the same point (imperfectly IMO) is not impressive. The way Picasso and Salvador Dali blazed through or created art movements, new perceptions and vocabularies in a staggering number of media is. OK, that is setting the bar impossibly high and by that standard most modern artists appear to be pigeon-holed into very narrow artistic exercises which, come to think of it, is how many of them appear to me. In some ways, merely one trick ponies. Credit where it's due, he produced something new, or a new way of seeing it at least, and that is a major accomplishment. You can't argue with success, but I don't think Jack Kirby would've been satisfied with only one new idea.
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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Tue Jun 04, 2013 4:21 pm

Peter Urkowitz wrote:
For one example of a graphic element that I think Lichtenstein brought to the forefront of his images, which had been ignored before, I would point to the big color dots, now recognized as an iconic part of comic art (though, sadly, abandoned by modern printing techniques). I don't think anyone had made those dots a visible, positive part of their work before him, had they?
Big color dots? I think you have an idealized understanding of the technology.

Those dots were not enlarged to be brought to the forefront of the image. The whole panel was enlarged by a projector, which projected the tiny panel onto a much larger canvas.

Any given panel was a few inches tall, to start. Then enlarged by Lichtenstein to enormous proportions. The dots were enlarged proportionally along with everything else in the panel as one image. Projected on the larger canvas.

In the old days, in order to reproduce a photograph or create colors at the time, SCREENS were used to convert them into "dots." One of my first jobs was at such a small shop, I had to make all my own half tones, (shoot b&w photographs through a screen on a stat camera, to get a version made from "dots" ). I started in the industry back in the late seventies/early eighties, just before desktop publishing was integrated into the process, and about two decades before direct-to-plate technology became the standard. I was exposed to a lot of the earlier tech, and this technique wasn't "abandoned by modern printing techniques," it was state of the art at the time. But the technology has developed over time, so the process is now more sophisticated. Look at magazines or a newspaper with a magnifying glass, the patterns are smaller and more sophisticated.

Color separations that once took multiple steps, are now nothing but an afterthought. At one time it took the darkroom staff thirty or more steps to create a real duotone, today the graphic artist can create a duotone in photoshop in seconds. Just like you can create realistic retro-comic "dot" patterns in Photoshop. So the "technique" isn't so much abandoned, but instead of a byproduct of the process, it's an artistic choice.
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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Tue Jun 04, 2013 4:47 pm

Peter Urkowitz wrote:
Kinda funny that Art Spiegelman would denigrate Lichtenstein's work, since Spiegelman's own work is one of the first I think of as owing a debt to Lichtenstein. Spiegelman uses those dots too! He uses that same method of ironic repurposing of older images! He also makes the ink marks and colors on the page more real and present than the objects that the marks are supposedly representing.
In what way is it the same? Lichtenstein enlarged comic panels created by others, and claimed it was commentary. Spiegelman didn't copy the central image below, he created that as well, inspired by comics...
http://24.media.tumblr.com/845b327f8303bcf6d0aaddd0ba385740/tumblr_mit17wJCLW1rhjbado1_500.jpg
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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Thu Jun 06, 2013 12:12 am

Joe Lee wrote:
Peter Urkowitz wrote:
For one example of a graphic element that I think Lichtenstein brought to the forefront of his images, which had been ignored before, I would point to the big color dots, now recognized as an iconic part of comic art (though, sadly, abandoned by modern printing techniques). I don't think anyone had made those dots a visible, positive part of their work before him, had they?
Big color dots? I think you have an idealized understanding of the technology.

Those dots were not enlarged to be brought to the forefront of the image. The whole panel was enlarged by a projector, which projected the tiny panel onto a much larger canvas.

No, no, I understand all that, though thanks for your more detailed explanation. I shouldn't have forgotten who I was talking to! Smile

Although my understanding of Lichtenstein's actual painting method is that sometimes he used a projector, sometimes he used other techniques. The dot patterns were sometimes created using stencils. In any event, whereas in the comics the dotscreens were a shortcut, meant to fade into the background, in Lichtenstein's paintings they were meant to be seen and noticed.

Quote :
Just like you can create realistic retro-comic "dot" patterns in Photoshop. So the "technique" isn't so much abandoned, but instead of a byproduct of the process, it's an artistic choice.

Yes, and we have Lichtenstein to thank for pointing out that we have that choice.
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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Thu Jun 06, 2013 2:04 am

Peter Urkowitz wrote:
In any event, whereas in the comics the dotscreens were a shortcut, meant to fade into the background, in Lichtenstein's paintings they were meant to be seen and noticed.
For comics they were a way to produce specific colors. Colors were created by various combinations of screens in the four color process using Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK). My understanding is Hal Foster would really push envelope the color usage and drive the color separators nuts.

Peter Urkowitz wrote:
Yes, and we have Lichtenstein to thank for pointing out that we have that choice.
I'm not sure I follow you there. I might be willing to agree, that as a byproduct of Lichtenstein blowing up the original panels, that culturally we became more aware of the dot patterns. He wasn't the first but there is significant use of enlarged dot patterns by other artists, subsequent to his popularity.

I know he made some subtle compositional changes to the images he would enlarge, but nothing beyond that. So if you have anything regarding his specifically altering the dot patterns separately and significantly differently from the enlarged images, I'd love to see it. My understanding is the dots were enlarged as the image had been enlarged. This conversation has got me digging out my old Art History texts and I'm having trouble finding Lichtenstein going anywhere beyond minor alterations. Just like the above link showed with the side by sides.
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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Thu Jun 06, 2013 2:58 am

edquinby001 wrote:
Anyway, in what is something like an objective sense, the nod has to go to your argument because Lichtenstein's place in Art History is indeed secure and for all the reasons you rightly mention. Personally, I'm just not that bowled over by what is essentially a subtractive process of other artists' work. That he spent 30 plus years making the same point (imperfectly IMO) is not impressive. The way Picasso and Salvador Dali blazed through or created art movements, new perceptions and vocabularies in a staggering number of media is. OK, that is setting the bar impossibly high and by that standard most modern artists appear to be pigeon-holed into very narrow artistic exercises which, come to think of it, is how many of them appear to me. In some ways, merely one trick ponies. Credit where it's due, he produced something new, or a new way of seeing it at least, and that is a major accomplishment. You can't argue with success, but I don't think Jack Kirby would've been satisfied with only one new idea.
I think you are asking the right question here. If he was so innovative why was he only able to make the same statement repeatedly. Why is his larger body of work not filled with similarly significant social commentary?

I would disagree that, "Credit where it's due, he produced something new, or a new way of seeing it at least, and that is a major accomplishment." Lichtenstein took art that had an appreciative smaller audience and exposed it to a larger audience in a new context. That audience may have been aware of the art in general but Lichtenstein asked them to give it another look. As a curator might do, or a conductor staging a symphonic Beatles retrospective. Lichtenstein's flaw was taking personal credit for the art. In much the same way someone might take credit for a recipe they discovered.

The fact that he was "a one trick pony" as you say, tends to support the theory Lichtenstein just got lucky. He was nothing without copying from others. He was a fluke, a hack exploiting the work of others and if his small child had not challenged him to paint better than a Disney comic, Lichtenstein would never existed on the public stage, given the strength of his remaining works which quite often were also copies.

In Lichtenstein's later career he reproduced masterpieces by C├ęzanne, Mondrian and Picasso, and my personal fav, Vincent van Gogh's Bedroom in Arles. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bedroom_at_Arles

His only significant contribution to the art world, was based on the work of other artists, and his remaining works would not a career made.
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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Thu Jun 06, 2013 3:04 am

I just can't see past the sheer volume of copying works, from comics to great masters, there is no love of the originals, there is just a means to an end.

And here (link below) is a whole series of paintings and sculptures based on one comic? Why did it take so many versions of the exact same thing to say what he was saying with the same gimmick for 32 years? The simple answer is often the truth. He had nothing to say, he just repeated a gimmick that worked for him. Taking "inspiration" from the work of others.

"The source for the entire Brushstrokes series was Charlton Comics' Strange Suspense Stories "The Painting" #72 (October 1964) by Dick Giordano."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brushstrokes_series
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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Thu Jun 06, 2013 4:52 am

Sorry i keep rambling on about this. This was a huge topic of debate at the art school i went to, with most faculty taking the Lichtenstein side, so it was better to discuss at the bar after class.
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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Thu Jun 06, 2013 3:20 pm

Very interesting to see Lichtenstein's version of the Van Gogh, Joe, I didn't know about that. He even ' fixed' the perspective, yow!
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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Thu Jun 06, 2013 8:26 pm

Okay. The van Gogh hommage is cute. I can get behind that. After all, I once did a van Gogh pastiche myself (a parody of Norman Rockwell's triple self-portrait done in an attempt at van Gogh's style). We don't get the pretentious vibe that I get from many of Lichtenstein's comic book panels that he is somehow elevating something trashy.

My "Vincent Rockwell" painting was an artistic joke, as is Lichtenstein's Room. And perhaps this is how we should think of Lichtenstein: as the "Weird Al" Yankovic of art, doing parody covers of existing material.

Except that "Weird Al" is usually clever with how he repurposes his sources. And he also does original material as well.
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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Fri Jun 07, 2013 4:06 pm

kurt wilcken wrote:
And perhaps this is how we should think of Lichtenstein: as the "Weird Al" Yankovic of art, doing parody covers of existing material.
But wouldn't parody be more than simply enlargement?
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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Fri Jun 07, 2013 4:17 pm

The new owner of my friendly neighborhood LCS and I came up with an interesting idea yesterday.

We were talking about Gary Friederich and the Marvel lawsuit regarding convention sketches. And with this Lichtenstein discussion still fresh in my mind. And we came up with a possible work-around.

If Gary Friederich and others are now possible targets of lawsuits, for selling convention sketches etc., BUT Lichtenstein making nearly exact copies of individual panels is creating new art, commenting on it's source material, couldn't comic book artists just blow up their own panels Lichtenstein style, selling prints and originals of these new creations?

Instead of selling a sketch for $50 you autograph a print

An artist could choose a panel, (or several panels), make one Lichtenstein painting each and 500 prints of that painting, safe within the protection of it being fine-art, Lichtenstein style, there would even be more money. $200 or more for the painting, $20 per print

Writers could commission their artist/collaborator or commission an actual fine artist to do an Lichtenstein style original, from one of their favorite panels that they scripted, sell the prints and original as well.

This would force Disney to sue Lichtenstein or back away from artists using the Lichtenstein method wouldn't it?
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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Fri Jun 07, 2013 9:26 pm

Probably not. It's a different artist doing it. The law is fine-tuned about those things.

It's not an original idea - or a bad one - that artists should be able to sell prints of their work. I think the first place I saw it was Dave Sim, speculating that older artists - and everybody else, but he was talking about older artists - should be given limited reprint rights, singling out Marie Severin "Aquaman" covers as something that he would immediately open his wallet for, as long as Marie Severin was the one authorized to sell them and profit from her own work.

As far as doing it Lichtenstein-style, then you would run afoul of the hundreds (thousands?) of laws regarding intellectual property that have been written since the Pop Art period and today. Many lawyers were well-paid to think about the toy based on the video game version of the movie that includes specific reference to these comics. Even if it's a dramatic-looking panel, the big companies still have a reason to protect their rights to Unnamed Background Character B shouting "Look! Up in the sky!"
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PostSubject: Re: F@#K Lichtenstein   Fri Jun 07, 2013 11:34 pm

There has got to be a work around.
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