Okay, I’ve been sitting on this for a little while so I could report to you all the full story. Now, it’s finally time to tell.
On the Marvel 75th Anniversary the show, about 7 minutes before the end, Marc’s art made a two second appearance. I was floored. It wasn’t presented as “Hey, here’s cool art fans of Iron Man have created.” It was presented as a legit piece of official, Marvel-approved Iron Man art from back in the day to illustrate a point by Kevin Smith. You can watch the special on Hulu right now if you’d like, but here’s the evidence:
To be clear, I’m not planning to seek a lawyer. Considering the pantheon of creators who have gone before me and have encountered “less than fair” practices at Marvel, I feel it would be an insult to them for me to cry and moan about my situation. I created this piece using Marvel’s character, aping someone else’s artistic style, using a composition from a Marvel movie poster, and lifting actual logos and trade dress from a real Marvel comic. It was never intended to be anything more than a gag. I have never tried to sell any prints of it. I have never included it in a portfolio of any kind. The fact that a simple image I slapped together in a couple of hours has blown up to this level is mostly just an amusing and surreal moment in my life.
That being said, if someone of power and influence were to take notice of this and offer me a shot at a pin up or cover gig, I wouldn’t mind.
Marc was content to take the high road, but I still felt like the story needed to be out there. Artists do get taken advantage of and throwing a spotlight on that fact now and again is a very good thing. So, I forwarded the story to Rich Johnston at Bleeding Cool, the big comics news and rumors site that is read by pretty much everybody in the industry. Rich jumped on the story fast and published it within the hour.
From there, the story went even wider and I saw several other sites pick it up. It was pretty awesome. There’s was some argument about how much or if Marvel owed Marc for the use of his art since he was riffing on Marvel in the first place, but everyone agreed Marc’s response was perfect and appropriate. True to his word, Marc sought no action against Marvel.
Then, two days later, Marc got this email:
My name is Zak Knutson. I was the director of the Marvel 75 television special. As you already know, we used your art. That wasn’t supposed to happen. We screwed up. We made this thing in 8 weeks, and your art got through the approval process – and it shouldn’t have. If it makes you feel any better, it was so good – we thought it was real Marvel art. We weren’t trying to screw you over – I promise. Just an honest mistake.
Anyway, we want to make sure that we do right by you. Do you have an email that I could put you and the producer in touch. We want to make sure that you are taken care of monetarily. It wasn’t right, and we want to do right by you. Let me know if this is possible.
Thanks and I hope you understand.