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Tue, January 27th, 2009 at 2:28pm PST | Updated: January 27th, 2009 at 2:38pm

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

OBAMA UPDATES

We have some interesting updates on last week's story about the Obama photo rip-off. And, yes, they get back to comics in a big way.

First, the photo that everyone was pointing to last week may not have been the photo Fairey used, after all. Now, people are pointing to an unflipped photo of Obama sitting next to George Clooney, of all people, as being the source. And, sure enough, the metadata on the photo shows it being an AP photo.

Second, we have actual legal opinions entered into the mix over at the Photo Attorney blog.

Most interestingly for comic book readers, Fairey has a history of this kind of behavior. He's the fine art world's latest Roy Lichtenstein, making a career out of lifting other people's works, making a minor modification, and calling himself an artiste. While I'm loath to go into the latest iteration of "Is Lichtenstein art?" debate, the comparisons here can't be avoided. In modern times, of course, we add in the on-going debate on the Creative Commons, the Orphan Works Bill, and the internet, and we get a whole new stew.

The write-up in that link shows us comic critic geeks the kind of language we'll never make the effort to reach, because nobody would want to read us:

"It’s not surprising such pointless twaddle passes for a weighty aesthetic statement of purpose - these days any amateur with a minimally written crackpot manifesto can make waves in the world of art - but I still can’t imagine a more juvenile-sounding rationalization for an art project, especially when current conditions cry out for art that is socially engaged and introspective."

I can see the word "twaddle" being used somewhere, though. . .

So whether he's in the copyright clear or not, Fairey's behavior is not exactly model. Will any actions taken against him lead to changes in the way comic books are created? I doubt it, but it's fun to think up scenarios where modern comic artists get censured for tracing off still frames from their DVD collection.

QUICK THOUGHTS

* Something strikes me about DC's release last week of a trade compilation of all the previous times Batman died in the comics: That kind of collection has no future.

Sure, you can always go back and reprinting issues from the Silver Age with a theme. Not a big deal. Try to find a batch of comics with similar themes from the last ten years, though. Now put them in a trade. You can't fit them in the glue binding of a trade paperback. You'd need an Omnibus. The Death of Batman is a year-long storyline. Matt Murdock revealing his identity is a storyline six hardcovers in the making. Captain America revealing his secret identity was part of a six issue storyline.

The lack of single issue stories makes any sort of "Best Of" collection of comics in the most Modern Age an impossibility. "Best of Marvel Adventures" might work, but that's about it.

* Stefano Caselli's artwork? Insanely good. I enjoyed it on "Avengers: The Initiative," a book that was far too overlooked on the Marvel docket during Dan Slott's run. But his recent Avengers work is even a notch better. Caselli's artwork carries a European flair to it that we're not used to seeing here in the States. He draws backgrounds, for goodness' sakes! He has his own style, and it's not generated from the pause button on his DVD player. It's stunning.

* My thoughts on the Diamond kerfuffle: They have to run a profitable business. That's all there is to it. The market is what it is. It stinks for smaller press publishers. The distribution model for this industry has been a joke for the last 15 years, and it appears that some of the birds are returning to roost now. Sad, but true. This kind of market correction is inevitable. Placing all your eggs in one basket is troublesome, at best, and now it's destructive. Time for new business models.

* The future remains digital. We're all waiting for the full color version of the Kindle to really light that fire, though. If there's anything the iPod has taught us, it's that people want the right form factor and the ease of integrated shopping to populate it. Even when Amazon had the competitive advantage of DRM free songs at higher bit rates, 99% of people still bought their songs on iTunes. It's just easier.

* Good luck to Eagle One Media in their attempt to be The Next Digital Comic Superstore.

* Wizard, never one to miss a good bandwagon jumping, will have an Obama cover. It will be a special collector's edition, of course.

* Why is Wizard publishing monthly, but MAD Magazine is now quarterly? There's no justice in this world.

* Jimmy Palmiotti's column over at Blog@Newsarama is always a highlight, but this week's installment is a special thrill. I'm sure this was announced somewhere else already, but I missed it: IDW is publishing Jordi Bernet's "Torpedo" books! My dreams of more European comics being translated into English continue to come true. Thanks, IDW!

PIPELINE PODCAST FOR 21 JANUARY 2009

Another week, more comics. In fact, I was feeling generous enough to expand out to a Top 11, though perhaps not for a particularly positive reason. Hey, at least I didn't go with my first instinct to do "The Top Ten Books Soon To Be Gone From Diamond Distributors."

The whole thing runs about 15 minutes, as usual. Give it a listen!

  • 11. Spirit #25, $2.99
  • 10. Marvel Masterworks A Go Go
  • 9. 100 Bullets #99
  • 8. Ruins #1 (One Shot)
  • 7. Garth Ennis Battlefields Night Witches #3 (of 3)
  • 6. Batman The Strange Deaths Of Batman TP
  • 5. Powers Definitive Collection HC Vol 2
  • 4. " The Flash: Emergency Stop" TP
  • 3. "Dr Doom Masters Of Evil" #1
  • 2. "Dark Avengers" #1
  • 1. "Stuart & Kathryn Immonen's Never Bad As You Think" HC

I really enjoyed "Dark Avengers" #1 as being the latest revamp of "The Thunderbolts." Even at its talkiest, it was entertaining. Dialogue isn't bad, so long as it has a point and a certain flair to it. Bendis had that going for him in this issue. Now that the dysfunctional team is together, I can't wait to see what havoc they wreak.

That "Flash" trade collects stories by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, though the "Flash versus Sonic the Hedgehog" issue will be collected at the end of the year in a second trade, not this one. My mistake.

The new "Masters of Evil" mini-series features art by Patrick Scherberger.

"Ruins" is the Warren Ellis comic from the early post-"Marvels" landscape. I missed it when it first came out, so I'm looking forward to it today, if just from a historical perspective.

Really, "100 Bullets" is almost over. How long before DC announces the hardcover series to collect it?

Next week we'll discuss this week's Top 10 list, which no doubt will include some Marvel hardcovers, a final "Final Crisis," and the "Watchmen" action figures. Yeah, "Watchmen" action figures. The end is nigh, indeed.

That "Punisher" review I promised last week is on its way. Promise.

This week, in a very special AugieShoots.com: My daily photo blog flashes back to the New York Comic-Con of 2008, with some pictures you haven't seen before and a couple you likely have. This year's con is only a couple of weeks away!

Don't forget to check out my Google Reader Shared Items this week. It's the best of my daily feed reading, now with commentary!

The Various and Sundry blog carries on, though still a little slowly in the new year. I'm working on finding ways to update it more frequently again. Stay tuned.

My Twitter stream is like my public e-mail box. I check it daily, looking for responses and new conversational threads. Heck, you're more likely to hear back from me if you ask me something on Twitter than my own e-mail box.

You can e-mail me your comments on this column, or post them for all the world to see and respond to over on the Pipeline Message Board.

More than 800 columns -- more than eleven years' worth -- are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically.

TAGS:  pipeline, barack obama, shepard fairey, roy lichtenstein

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