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Home > Letters to CR

Stefano Gaudiano On Roy Lichtenstein And Hilary Barta
posted May 20, 2012
 

Thanks for posting the link to the Barta/Lichtenstein article. About 10 years ago I dropped a Lichtenstein-like painting in the background of a Batman comic -- It wasn't meant as a statement, just suited the location and historical setting of the scene. My editor called and asked to remove that detail from the panel, as DC's legal department had expressed concers about opening themselves to lawsuits from the Lichtenstein estate. I reassured him that the image was altered enough to defeat potential infringement claims, and suggested that rather than deleting the detail, we should consider using it as a cover image, and see what kind of mess the Lichtenstein estate would find itself in if they dared to sue a comics publisher for appropriation of a Lichtenstein comics-based image.

The experience was helpful in shaping my thoughts about the ownership of images and intellectual property. Framing the issue in terms of "who owns what" ends up thickening the smoke screen around the root issue of how resources are managed and allocated in a thoroughly interconnected culture.

image

Source: BATMAN: FAMILY #2; Jan 2003, DC Comics

Credits: Scene written by John Francis Moore; panel layout by Rick Hoberg, revised by Stefano Gaudiano and inked by Damon Brown (Damon was uncredited in the book); colors by Carla Feeny (with color separations by "Heroic Age"); lettering by John Workman. Matt Idelson, assisted by Nachie Castro, edited the book and took in good stride my defense of the Lichtenstein riff in this panel and my wish for a declaration-of-war between DC Comics and Lichtenstein's inheritors (somrhting i would still very much like to witness in my lifetime).

Bob Kane is listed in the credits as creator of Batman, though we all know that's not the whole story.

This just occurred to me: you and I have argued over how much of an issue to make over conservative muslims cultures' obsession with how the prophet Mohammed should or should not be portrayed. Not long ago, Matt Southworth and I were lamenting the absurdity of having to edit out company logos from the backgrounds of movies, comics, tv shows, in deference to laws that we can barely comprehend. I had not noticed the connection between these old-religious and modern-corporate forms of image control, and seeing it now makes me like even less the current environment of legislation regarding "intellectual property."