Yesterday I was talking about classic comic book artist Russ Heath with a friend. (Heath will be at the San Diego Comic Con this year. Most famous for his war comics, I’ll always have a soft spot for Heath’s Robin Hood art in The Brave and the Bold comics of the 1950s.) Anyway, I mentioned that some of his art was … borrowed … by Roy Lichtenstein, and I thought I’d do a quick rant about that.
First, thanks to the efforts of David Barsalou, an art teacher … here’s a comparison of some comic panels by Russ Heath that fetched Heath only a subsistance wage and the pop art of Roy Lichtenstein that has fetched millions. (Lichtenstein’s work is in the corner.)
And here is Barsalou’s side-by-side comparison of several other Lichtenstein works — borrowed from numerous comic book artists.
I’ve always admired the large pop-art versions of these images. And I won’t deny Lichtenstein a share of the credit. But it annoys me to no end that he did not share credit or cash with the people whose art he borrowed. It’s one thing to repurpose comic art — that I doesn’t bother me. But to claim it as solely your own … that pisses me off.
And as some other blogs have mentioned, it’s just plain ironic that the Lichtenstein Foundation uses a “Lichtenstein” image borrowed from Joe Kubert — another comic book legend — to warn against copyright violation. Hypocrisy incarnate.
Also, I often think the original art has more expression in the faces.