Comic Book RIP-OFFS Are NOT a Big Deal! || Comic Misconceptions || NerdSync
(cosmic ping) – We’ve had a few episodes[br]about comic book characters who may or may not be rip-offs of other pre-existing characters. But it seems the comments section always boils down into three camps: said characters are a rip-off,[br]they aren’t a rip-off, and does it even matter? (driving rock) Welcome to Comic Misconceptions. I am Scott, and you know there[br]are really a few key things to get comics fans to[br]fight with one another, but it usually has to do with pitting two or more characters against each other. Whether it’s who would win in a fight, who’s the smartest, fastest,[br]strongest, whatever, or my favorite, what characters are just lazy rip-offs[br]of other characters. And while I believe that[br]the definitive title for the smartest, fastest,[br]strongest character is simply whoever the writers[br]want it to be this week. I do think that we can at[br]least address the issue of these so-called rip-off[br]characters in comics. I think there’s a lot of[br]interesting stuff to discuss here. So, by all means, just ignore everything I’m about to say and go into the comments to rant about who ripped[br]off your favorite character. Neil Adams once said that within a year, you had Superman, who was so powerful he could move planets,[br]and then you had Batman who had no powers at all. He was the exact opposite. All other superheroes would fit in-between these two characters. So in that sense, just about[br]every comic book character could be considered a rip-off of these two in some capacity. But it’s not like the idea[br]for Superman and Batman came out of nowhere, Siegel and Shuster were inspired by Hercules and Sampson[br]when they created Superman. And his costume drew inspiration from Flash Gordon and aliens[br]from old pulp magazines, mixed with a little bit[br]of circus strong man thrown in there with the red trunks. Batman creators Bill Finger and Bob Kane also had a slew of influences,[br]from The Shadow, Zorro, The Phantom, Dick Tracy, Sherlock Holmes, and the list just goes on. And everyone of those were inspired by something else as well. The Shadow, for instance,[br]was partly inspired by Bram Stoker’s Dracula,[br]which was partly inspired by Varney the Vampire, which, hey, also went around and[br]inspired a Marvel character named Varney the First Vampire. It’s actually kind of a fun game, trying to backtrack[br]influences and inspirations, and it happens with[br]everything that people create. Take a look at this show[br]you’re watching right now, the always wonderful Comic Misconceptions. My influences, probably obviously, were Variant, Idea Channel, Game Theory, Cracked, and a lot of others. And maybe that’s the idea for creation to have lots of influences,[br]instead of just one. Perhaps that’s what makes a rip-off seem less like a rip-off. Playwright Wilson Misener once said that if you copy from one[br]author, it’s plagiarism. If you copy from two, it’s research. Author Austin Kleon said[br]that art is 99% robbery, and even outlines what[br]is good and bad theft in his book, Steal Like An Artist. One of the key traits[br]is to steal from many while also being sure to transform[br]and remix what you steal. We’ve talked before about how the creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Kevin Eastman and Peter[br]Laird, were openly copying and parodying other comics like Daredevil, Ronin,[br]New Mutants, and Cerebus. They took from many sources, while still giving it their own spin. And now, we have the[br]heroes in a half-shell, so obviously the stealing stuff works. But why is stealing even[br]necessary in the first place? Why don’t comic book writers[br]and artists just come up with their own 100% original creation and avoid stealing altogether? Well, to put it frankly, there is no such thing as originality. As Kleon puts it, “Nothing[br]comes from nowhere. “All creative work builds[br]on what came before. “Nothing is completely original.” Creativity requires influence. You need a foundation of[br]knowledge and understanding before you can even begin to be creative. Musicians practice scales,[br]and cover other artists’ songs before they can start making their own. Great authors read a lot, and so on. So is it really any surprise[br]that comic book writers and artists are often accused of stealing from other writers and artists? When you think about it comic books, at least how we know them[br]today, are fairly new art form. Where music dates back many millennia and it’s had plenty of time[br]to evolve and branch off into drastically different genres, the comic on the other[br]hand only dates back to the 19th Century with superhero comics seeing a boom in the early 20th Century. And you really can’t argue[br]that superhero comics are, by far, the most successful type of comic, especially during the[br]incredible Silver Age, when Marvel and DC[br]started dominating sales with their costumed characters, since the Comics Code[br]Authority helped shut down other popular genres, like[br]crime and horror comics. So when you have these[br]comic writers and artists who are all reading other[br]comics that predominantly feature superheroes, that’s where they’ll pull their inspiration from. If you’re a musician, and[br]all you ever listen to is one genre, like Country music, then of course your songs are going to sound like Country music. You could copy elements[br]from different artists, but it’s still gonna be Country, and the Internet is still[br]probably gonna make fun of you. When your list of influences is small, then your creations start to seem like rip-offs instead of remixes. Now simply acknowledging[br]that nothing is original and we all steal ideas from somewhere else sounds like a good idea in theory, it’s nice in sentiment, but what if the tables were turned? What if you are the one being robbed? In his documentary, Everything is a Remix, Kirby Ferguson explains that people tend to put a higher value[br]on losses than gains. So when we steal from[br]others, it’s no big deal. It’s just how things work. But when we are the[br]ones being stolen from, then suddenly we’re gonna get territorial. In the simplest of terms,[br]copying is absolutely fine so long as we’re the ones doing it. As we discussed at the top of the show, Superman was heavily inspired by others that came before him. But when Superman started[br]growing in popularity, DC made it a point to sue anyone who copied any aspect of the character in order to protect their property. You’ll recall that this is what happened with the Fawcett Comics[br]and Captain Marvel case. And I think this not only applies to the creators of comic book characters, but also to the fans of these characters. Fans of Green Arrow can accept that the Emerald Archer is[br]really just a simple cross between Robin Hood and Batman, but Hawkeye is totally a rip-off. Even though we, as fans,[br]aren’t actually losing anything when our favorite characters are taken and remixed by others, it[br]still feels like we need to defend and protect them. Our favorite characters are kind of like a part of our identity. And maybe when someone[br]say’s they’re unoriginal, we sort of feel like they’re[br]calling us unoriginal, and that’s why we get[br]into these crazy debates about whether or not Deadpool[br]is a rip-off of Deathstroke. Now I know what is probably been on your mind since the start, “Scott, there is a[br]difference between characters “who were inspired by[br]others, and characters “that were just obviously[br]shameless rip-offs.” I completely understand what you mean, but I personally kind of find that distinction to be irrelevant. I think we just need to[br]accept that everything was inspired by something[br]that came before it. So it shouldn’t really[br]matter if one character seems like they’re just a carbon copy of one that came before them. It’s not important how a[br]character was initially created, what’s important is what the writers do with that character that will make them even just a little bit different. So let’s stop being caught[br]up in all these arguments about who is and isn’t[br]a shameless rip-off. As Nobel Prize winning[br]author Andre Geim said, “Everything that needs to be[br]said has already been said, “But since no one was listening, “everything must be said again.” What do you guys think? Does it really matter if[br]certain comic book characters are rip-offs of other[br]pre-existing characters? Do you ever think we’ll stop[br]fighting over this stuff? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. And, just for fun, I would[br]love to see you trace the influences for your[br]favorite comic book character as far back as you can. That might be super interesting. And if this is your first time hanging out with us here at NerdSync, we[br]make new videos every week that ask questions and examine[br]comic beyond the surface, cause we believe that doing so can actually enhance your[br]comic book reading experience. And make comics just a[br]little bit more awesome. So make sure you hit that[br]big, sexy subscribe button so you don’t miss out on anything. Once again, I’m Scott. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram, and I’ll see you right here on Friday, I better see you right here on Friday, for a tie-in video. Alright, see ya.