Thursday, March 04, 2010

Comic Book Plagiarism

If you write books, you probably know about plagiarism and to make sure you don’t unintentionally “steal” words or plots from books you’ve read. Not being a comic book fan (although my son is), I had not thought about plagiarism in comic books. But apparently it happens. There’s a big hubbub going on now about a comic series called “Incarnate,” written by Nic Simmons (son of Gene Simmons). The claim is that Simmons stole from Tite Kubo’s best-selling manga, “Bleach.”

As with a lot of things in today’s world, the claims began on the Internet, on fan websites comparing the two works. Fans began to compare the panels, design, story and dialogue between the two. The outcry became so loud, Radical Publishing stopped releasing “Incarnate.”

What complicates the issue is that “swiping” has been accepted in the past. Artists/writers would take a panel or a bit of dialogue from someone else, then pay homage to the original. The problem is that this appears to be a case of taking without admitting.

If you’re interested in this, I’d recommend you read an article on Comic Book Resources which goes into detail about plagiarism and its history in comic books, plus it has panels from Tite Kubo’s “Bleach” and Nic Simmons’ “Incarnate” side by side for comparison.

Even if you not interested in comic books, it still reminds you of the recent rounds the book industry has had with plagiarism, including the much publicized Frey incident. What are your feelings on lifting from other books?
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22 comments:

  1. Stealing is stealing whatever fancy name you give it. And nothing can condone stealing, unless you are stealing for food or medicines.
    Sorry if I am being too harsh, but I feel stealing another (wo)man's work is up there in the Seven Deadly Sins.

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  2. Yep - all these excuses and 'you don't understand the sub-culture hoo-haw' is just sophistry. Taking without asking is a no-no in every culture. A friend of mine, long ago, took a photo that I'd done and made a painting and then a print out of it. Although she is an artist and totally gets this as a no-no, she had a blindspot - maybe because I wasn't a 'real' artist? Who knows. It was theft and I'm still annoyed with her although we've mended fences somewhat. She just doesn't get it. When we want something - we will go to amazing lengths to justify it.

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  3. If you take a little something (line, design) from someone else and use, you should give them complete credit for it.

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  4. I am amazed at the changing attitudes concerning plagerism, especially the awards committee condoning the 17 yr old's lift. Unintentional plagerism is something that I dread on a daily basis in my writing.

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  5. We seem to use words that soften the crime that's been done - lifting, borrowing, homage, words that make it seem less onerous.

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  6. Stealing is stealing, no matter what name we give it. As well as being wrong, it's a reflection of the individual's flawed character and shouldn't be condoned in any way, shape or form.

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  7. It's wrong and shouldn't be condoned. If you use someone else's words or art or design or anything else, you should give them credit for it. And ask permission to use, if at all possible. I think another problem crops up for those of us who are writers. We read a lot. I'm always afraid I'll use something I've read maybe years ago and forgotten about, yet when I'm in search of something 'new and fresh' whatever had been forgotten will pop to the surface and I'll think, "Oh, wow. That's pretty good." And type it as my own. That's what scares me.

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  8. Taking someone else's idea or words or images without giving credit is blatantly wrong and shouldn't be condoned.
    Karen

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  9. Yup, it's stealing. But like Carol Kilgore, I worry about what is lurking in my mind from long ago that could bubble up and make me think it's my own idea. Then there is the theory that "there is nothing new" just new ways to write about that which has been written before, and I worry about crossing boundaries there too. But whatever you call it, lifting, borrowing, just don't do it.

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  10. I'm with you, Joanne. Plagiarism should not be a gray area, as is the way our world has gone lately. I find it refreshing to read here that right is still right and wrong is still wrong, that folks still live by their conscience. Thank you, Helen.

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  11. Plagiarism sometimes happens unintentially. If a writer reads something and later uses it, thinking it's an original thought, is it really theft? In the case of Janet Dailey, who plagiarized an entire book because she was up against a deadline and couldn't come up with another original plot, it was outright theft.

    My Casper Country book, which took four years to research and write, has been plagiarized a number of times, but a work of nonfiction is considered a resource book, so quoting it usually isn't considered plagiarism.

    Jean

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fans-of-Jean-Henry-Mead/334147262834?filter=3

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  12. There was a guy recently who had lots of stories on the crime and horror ezines and it turned out he'd stolen whole passages from famouus writers- Stephen King?!- and lots of online writers.
    Angel Zapata spotted it and blew the whistle at his blog.

    Why do it, though? You know, if there was oodles of money in it i could understand the motivation but people who write for the ezines get nothing from it appart from staisfaction and kind words- if we're lucky.

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  13. This seems a far more cut and dried case than most writing ones. Actual panels seems 'provable', and is SO WRONG. (and with a son of Gene Simmons, it wouldn't shock me at all if he was lacking in morals--the man is a jerk)

    I am with Liza though, on how our brains can integrate things we see, hear and read, and come bubbling back to the top unintentionally. My short term memory is lousy, and knowing where an idea comes from is this vast abyss. BUT, this idea from here and that idea from there, all combined in a new way is what all writing is anyway. (I still like to give credit for influences, but if they aren't intentional, what can you do?) I just see it as harder to prove at a book level, even if it's wrong.

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  14. 'apart from satisfaction' ... I was getting too excited!

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  15. I blogged on the plagiarism topic not too long ago because I think it is wrong, wrong wrong. No excuses. If you are going to use someone else’s work, give that person credit. If an author can’t come up with their own ideas or words, perhaps they need to be in a different line of work.

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  16. It's wrong!
    I'd heard about the Simmons situation. Did he think was above reproach?

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  17. I have so many original ideas in my head right now that I've no need to steal someone else's!

    That is so wrong. Glad the publisher stopped shipping the comic.

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  19. here's the link to Angel's blog:
    http://arageofangel.blogspot.com/2009/09/ive-been-plagiarizedand-im-not-alone.html

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  20. Thanks for the link, Paul.

    I know what y'all are saying about reading hundreds of books and hoping you don't steal an idea or even words.

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  21. In many cases it's plagiarism, in some cases the same idea has appeared to more than one mind independently, both in art and in science.

    An example from mathematics is calculus (differentiation), which was developed independently by Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibnitz in the 17th century

    Some artists, like Gioachino Rossini and Edvard Munch, even plagiated them selves, reusing ideas. For instance, there are 5 painted and several lithographic versions of Munch's famous "Madonna"

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  22. Interesting stuff. There's always a case about plaigerism floating around.

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