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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #291

Welcome to the two-hundred and ninety-first in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous two hundred and ninety.

Comic Book Legends Revealed is part of the larger Legends Revealed series, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can check out here, at legendsrevealed.com. I’d especially recommend you check out this installment of Movie Legends Revealed to learn if it is true that Robert Altman’s teenage son made four times as much money for writing the lyrics to “Suicide Is Painless” than the elder Altman did for directing the film! Plus, did Lalo Schifrin really just re-use his rejected score for The Exorcist for The Amityville Horror?

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed on our Facebook page!). As I’ve promised, at 2,000 Twitter followers I’ll do a BONUS edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed during the week we hit 2,000. We are getting quite close, so go follow us (here‘s the link to our Twitter page again)! Not only will you get updates when new blog posts show up on both Twitter and Facebook, but you’ll get original content from me, as well!

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Two comic book experts discovered a multi-million dollar string of forgeries.

STATUS: True

If there is one thing that comic book fans are really good at, it is picking nits. They’re quite attentive to details. This came in handy in discovering a multi-million dollar string of forgeries in 1989.

During his career, Andy Warhol (who lived from 1928-1987) was often interested in the world of comics.

In the early 1980s, Warhol did a series of pieces called “Myths,” where he would spotlight notable pop culture characters, like Santa Claus, the Wicked Witch of the West, Mickey Mouse and, yes, of course, Superman…

The above painting sold awhile back for nearly two million dollars.

That, though, is not the most famous Superman work by Warhol.

You see, when Warhol first began working in paintings and collages in the very early 1960s, his first works were based on comic book and comic strip characters.

His 1960 piece, Superman, featured a panel from a Superman comic (I believe it was a comic strip, but I could be wrong)…

This piece sold a few years back for a cool twenty-five million dollars.

Well, in 1989, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City had a Warhol Retrospective, and in it were seven other similar Superman pieces to the one above, dated 1960 and 1961. They came from a collection of 19 such pieces. The entire collection was valued at the time at about five million dollars. And that was in 1989!

So at the Retrospective, two comic book fans happened to attend the retrospective on different occasions. Both Arlen Schumer and Richard Sheinaus noted that the inking style in the comic panel looked to be Jack Abel, but Jack Abel was not yet working on Superman in 1960 or 1961, so it could not have been a Superman comic panel from 1960 or 1961.

When Schumer and Sheinaus talked to each other later on, they figured that they must be on to something, so they contacted the Museum.

The Museum noted in 1989:

In any retrospective of an artist there may be questions regarding dating; however, we have no reason whatsoever to doubt the authenticity of any of the works included in the Andy Warhol retrospective.

However, it soon came out that the works indeed WERE forgeries!

They were done by noted art forger David Stein, who produced the forgeries to pay off creditors in the 1980s in New York and Paris.

Noted art collector Robert Miller ended up with almost all of them. As you might imagine, he was not pleased.

The event actually sparked a dramatic shift in how Warhol paintings and collages are authenticated, with an Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board now standing as the sole determiner if a Warhol painting is “real” or not.

And to think that Stein fooled world-renowned art collectors, but he couldn’t sneak his forgeries by two comic book fans!

NOTE: As you might imagine, since Warhol would use other objects in his pieces (like Campbell Soup labels), it is particularly easy to fake a Warhol piece, so there are a lot of forgeries out there.

I wish I could get a picture of one of the fakes!

COMIC LEGEND: Buck Jones died in an accident the same month his comic book ceased publication.

STATUS: True

Buck Jones was one of the top cowboy actors of the 1920s, right up there with Tom Mix.

By the 1940s, Jones had done well over a hundred films. So as you might imagine, he was a desirable person to be featured in comic books, and boy was he ever!

He first appeared in the short-lived Wow comic in 1936…

and was then a featured character in Whitman’s Crackajack Funnies from 1938 through 1939…

Next, he appeared in Fawcett’s Master Comics…

Tragically, Buck Jones was one of the nearly 500 people who died in the terrible Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire in late November, 1942 in Boston, MA.

(If you’re interested, I did a TV Legends Revealed here about how that fire related to Cheers).

Well, with the December 1942 edition of Master Comics, Buck Jones was replaced by Hopalong Cassiday.

Isn’t that a bizarre coincidence?

Here is the last page of Buck’s comic book story in Master Comics #32 (pages courtesy of this archive site, as Buck Jones’ comics are public domain – too bad they’re such poor copies).

And check out the next page, telling us about the change in the comic…

Note the date, EARLY November, so while some folks have inferred that Buck Jones’ comic ended because of his death, his comic actually ended BEFORE his death – but freakishly RIGHT before his death! There are coincidences, and then there are coincidences, and that one definitely earns the bolding.

In 1951, Dell brought Buck Jones back for his own comic book series that lasted about a year.

Does anyone happen to have any information about this Dell series? I’ve heard some interesting rumors about it, but I can’t think of anyone who knows anything about Dell Comics from 1951, so I’ll admit, I’m stumped, so I might as well ask you folks.

COMIC LEGEND: Superman and Asterix had an official team-up.

STATUS: False

Reader Bob asked awhile back:

I recall there was once a Superman comic that featured Asterix and Obelix. Was that a proper cross-company collaboration? It was at least a couple decades back and my old collection is sadly long gone…

Well, did Asterix…

and Superman…

actually team-up together?

Nope.

Well, not in a proper cross-company collaboration, that is.

The two DID meet, in a fashion, in 1986’s Action Comics #579, by Jean-Marc & Randy Lofficier and artist Keith Giffen.

In the issue, Jimmy Olsen is shown an ancient shield from Gallic times…

Later, we are taken back in time to those times…

And eventually, though time travel, Superman and Jimmy are taken back, as well!

While Superman is becoming Superix, Jimmy is meeting some interesting folks…

and later, Superman takes on a familiar character in a battle…

Is the secret of the special formula at last going to fall into the Romans’ hands?!!? Pick up the issue and find out! It’s a fun comic.

But is it an OFFICIAL crossover? No, but it’s about as close as you’re ever going to get to seeing Asterix and Superman in the same comic book!

Thanks to Bob (and I believe a few other people have asked me about this one over the years, as well) for the question!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for this week’s covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!

Here’s my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends – half of them are re-worked classic legends I’ve featured on the blog and half of them are BRAND NEW legends never published on the blog!).

The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…(click to enlarge)…

If you’d like to order it (Christmas is coming soon – good time to buy my book as a present!), you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you all next week!

63 Comments

I could have sworn the Superman/Asterix myth was covered here in the past… It’s one of my favorite issues of Action Comics!

(By the way, it looks like you have a typo there; the issue came out in 1986 and not 1996.)

I could have sworn the Superman/Asterix myth was covered here in the past… It’s one of my favorite issues of Action Comics!

It definitely seems like one I would’ve featured before, but nope, not yet!

(By the way, it looks like you have a typo there; the issue came out in 1986 and not 1996.)

Thanks! Fixed it!

Re: the Asterix/Suprman sort-of crossover. There was another corrsover like that in Teen Titans spotlight, where the Brotherhood of Evil met Tintin (called Tin), his dog Snowy (here called Half-Wolf, because the original french name is Milou -Mi-Loup, clever, huh?), his friends the Captain and the Professor, and his big enemy Rastapopoulos. Well, it was Tintin as Mad Max, really. And the Hergé estate was not amused.

The Cocoanut Grove fire is notable in sports lore, too. Boston College scheduled a big party there for the bowl invitation they were going to get (to the Orange Bowl, I think), but then they lost that day – or the day before, but right around the night in question – to lowly Holy Cross, so they didn’t get invited to the bowl game. They cancelled the celebration, and of course, saved all their lives because the club burned down. An odd little coincidence.

Poor Curt Swan. Something tells me nobody ever shelled out $25 million for one of his paintings of Superman . . .

I did not know that. That’s a neat story! Thanks, Greg!

Man, hearing stories like that about Warhol or Lichtenstein really piss me off. I mean, these working class guys back in the day had to hustle for bread and many died broke or struggling, meanwhile a bunch of middle class faux bohemians move to the big city, jump into the art scene, rip off their stuff and make millions. The kind of romance art John Romita grinded out in his sleep, Lichtenstein does one giant panel of and becomes rich.

I can’t blame Lichtenstein or Warhol. If people want to shell out that kind of though they’d be crazy not to take it. But it still seems so unfair.

I’ve never understood why it is considered acceptable for artists like Warhol to rip off someone else’s work, essentially just recolor it, and then sell it for millions for their own benefit. Do the laws of plaigarism only apply if you’re not famous?

Lets not forget the latest Asterix Adventure (“Le ciel lui tombe sur la tête”, dont know the english title)

Where the ETs strangely resemble Mickey Mouse and Superman ;) (And Uderzo did it as an hommage to Walt Disney , and American pop culture )

(Brian ….. you could have chosen a french edition of Asterix, and not a German one ;) )

Haha! Rocky and Bullwinkle save Jimmy Olsen!? Awesome!

(Brian ….. you could have chosen a french edition of Asterix, and not a German one )

Just for you, ollieno, I changed it! :)

@Gerard: Which issue was that? I love getting Tintin pastiches.

The Asterix “crossover” reminds me of when Alan Moore used bizarre aliens based on Pogo in Swamp Thing.

Oooooh, I got to have this Action Comics issue!

http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Action_Comics_Vol_1_566

Superman also teamed up with Popeye (I mean Captain Strong)

Another relation between Asterix and american Superheroes.
Asterix artist, Albert Uderzo drew in 1950 an authorized Captain Marvel Jr. Story for french comic magazine Bravo.

You can check the first 6 pages in this link:
http://www.bd-anciennes.net/annees50/bravo/bravo.php

T.- Lichtenstein and Warhol both did a lot of commercial work before their star rose. The thing with the fine arts world is that since the works are either unique or very limited editions, the asking price tends to be quite high– and yes, the art historians and collectors’ valuing Lichtenstein’s derivative works so much more than the originals is based in a certain snobbery. Warhol, though, to his defense, was quite original in the way he appropriated comic book art.

The BC celebration dinner that never happened was to be for their possible trip to the Sugar Bowl, and “lowly Holy Cross” was actually a huge rivalry for Boston College then, akin to their current rivalry Notre Dame in football and Boston University in hockey.

And BC is also linked in that while they canceled their celebration, Buck Jones got roped into going to one. He was originally scheduled to go to another nightclub to meet servicemen but due to coming down with a cold the plans were changed so instead he attended a dinner with his film distributors and local theater owners instead…at the Coconut Grove.

If not for a humiliating loss BC would have lost many members of their football team and if not for a cold Buck Jones would have survived.

Looking In: Ah, the Sugar Bowl. Thanks. And yes, Holy Cross was a big rival back then, but BC was really good that year, and Holy Cross was not, which is why I used the term “lowly.” I didn’t mean that Boston College scheduled them with an easy win in mind, just that Holy Cross was lousy that year and BC wasn’t.

Ian Thal – Like I said, I don’t blame Warhol and Lichtenstein so much as the snobbery of the elitists who bought the stuff. You’re right thought that at least Warhol did something SOMEWHAT creative. Lichtenstein on the other hand not only added nothing original, his stuff was often worse than the source material he was ripping off:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/deconstructing-roy-lichtenstein/with/46915618/

T.:

I think you missed the point of what these artists were doing. They were taking the mundane and celebrating it. They were also asking questions about “what is art?” Warhol *was* a businessman and art was his trade, but Van Gogh was no different in that aspect (he was just not good at the business part, unlike Andy). He exploited the concept of art connoisseur as much as he pushed boundaries.

So yes, there is a kernel of truth in what you are feeling… but it’s nothing to get hung about. It’s a different type of art, from a different type of art scene in the 50s, 60s and beyond.

Whether one is a fan of Warhol or not– he was at least creating original works even when appropriationing other’s imagery., but as you point out, Lichtenstein wasn’t merely derivative but from a technical standpoint often an inferior illustrator.

You beat me to it, T.

Warhol’s work celebrated the artistic value and joy to be found in everyday mass-produced things that surround us, like comics books and product packaging.

Lichtenstein on the other hand, was just being a condescending asshole.

Gerard–
Tintin also showed up in Fantastic Four #1 (the re-launch) in 1998.

I’m glad I’m not the only one that finds Warhol’s appropriations of others’ work frustrating. As for Lichtenstein, I saw Art Spiegelman speak recently, and he said he considered Lichtenstein’s work “insulting” as a cartoonist. Good for him.

What I found insulting about the “appropriations” of Lichtenstein, Warhol, et al, was that back in college, I’d see some of their work in art history books with a note of some sort claiming that the original artist was “unknown” or “anonymous” for things that with a LITTLE bit of scholarship, could have been discovered quite easily. And I’m talking, they knew what issue of what comic these came from, but apparently the people who created the work that the “fine artists” stole from couldn’t be bothered to get at least a nod of recognition. (and I realize in my ire my sentences are running on and not making sense)

So yeah, that’s why I don’t like modern art. But I have a bit more affection for Warhol than the rest due to the Lou Reed/John Cale album “Songs for Drella”.

Was Keith Giffen having trouble with Superman’s face? Every time he appears head-on in those pages his face is suddenly in shadow…

Warhol’s roots were very working class, too. His parents were first generation immigrants from eastern Europe and his dad was apparently a coal miner.

Never understood why Art snobs were huge fans of Warhol, the guy got famous by stealing other people’s work. Guys like Jack Kirby had to fight to get recognition for creating comic book characters for Marvel/DC while Warhol was making millions because he used somebody else’s photograph and put different color variations of it.

According to the Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonne, vol. 1, the 1961 Warhol Superman painting is derived from a panel in Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #24 (April 1961), p. 5. Warhol cut two panels out of the issue and had photostat enlargements made of them and then worked from those. This painting is one of his early pre-silkscreen works that he painted by hand; it is not just a blown-up panel from the comic (like some of Lichtenstein’s works are).

Not to disrespect golden age comics artists, but their art was fairly basic in a way, and if Warhol needed to copy them instead of coming up with his own image he must have been really really REALLY lousy at cartooning.

Just to be fair: What Warhol and Lichtenstein did were different; Warhol deliberately stuck with characters so iconic that anyone with the slightest engagement with American pop-culture would recognize the source material of his appropriations. If Warhol painted Superman it’s because he thought Superman deserved to be considered as an expression of American culture. It’s recontextualized enough to be considered on it’s own terms.

When Lichtenstein lifted an image, with a few very rare exceptions, he was picking something that would not be immediately recognizable to his audience and not significantly reinterpreting– and arguably often making an inferior copy. There are some pieces from late in Lichtenstein’s career where he took compositions by Picasso or Van Gogh and rendered them in thick black lines and benday dots and hatching which were interesting but those are more the exceptions to the rule when it came to Lichtenstein’s appropriations because his audiences would recognize the source material.

This talk about pop art is reminding me of the second issue of Morrison’s run on Batman, with Andy Kubert pulling off an AMAZING “recontextualization” of pop art in that fight between Batman and ninja Man-Bats. That’s right, that fight would be awesome with NO background, but Morrison and Kubert choreographed a fight in a pop art museum exhibition where the art “comments” on the fight. That issue is awesome, it’s the second part of Batman and Son for you trade buyers.

So Bob’s post didn’t appear for me until later.

Let me say I agree with Bob in that the artist may have been “celebrating” the mundane, but the “Art world” went and made these “appropriators” stars.

I think what T and I and others are getting hung up about is that the people who toiled in the medium we love died mostly broke and unheralded in the wide world, whereas Warhol and Lichtenstein got fame and fortune. From what I’ve seen, I think people here are accurate in that Warhol did a bit more with his appropriations and concepts of art, whereas Lichtenstein basically just stole imagery. As I said above, when art “scholars” can pinpoint where an image comes from but stop short of saying “this is the guy who did the original version”, well, that pisses me off because you don’t HAVE anything without the original.

Which, thinking on it now, makes the original legend here all the more great. The fact that these comics scholars could pick out a specific inkers’ style and pinpoint that he hadn’t yet been on Superman yet, and this goes on to prove that the piece being shown was a fake — so much for your art scholarship.

And I’ve got a BA in Art History, so I can be dismissive of the art world :)

Lets not forget the latest Asterix Adventure (“Le ciel lui tombe sur la tête”, dont know the english title)

Asterix and the Falling Sky. Boy, there was a weird book.

Is Asterix even that popular in America? It seems like Americans don’t care about any other comic character outside of their country…

@ Matthew Murray:

Teen Titans Spotlight # 11. Story by Randy and Jean-Marc Lofficier, Art by Joe Orlando.

Brian from Canada

December 18, 2010 at 6:59 am

Hawkangel:

Asterix is treated in English-speaking North America as a niche fad for those who love French comics. French North America, i.e. Quebec, makes it a staple of children’s entertainment AND education!

But it really doesn’t help when the Asterix movies are not shown in theatres, either translated or subtitled, and aren’t available in English-tagged DVDs like they are in Britain.

Maybe Tintin will change the situation, since Spielberg and Jackson’s feature has to be delayed here to build up recognition even remotely close to Europe.

Brian from Canada

December 18, 2010 at 7:11 am

Spiegelman can complain about an insult all he wants, but the fact is that both Lichtenstein and Warhol are central in the recognition of comics as art — and it wouldn’t be until decades later that individual comic artists began to be celebrated, partly because Lichtenstein and Warhol opened the door to the idea.

AND comics didn’t help their case at all by claiming themselves to be something other than art when the pop fad cooled. Golden age artists didn’t start getting identified very well until the 70s as far as I know, and no one was really doing retrospectives in the 80s. In the 90s, it wasn’t until galleries and agents of comic art made the real art world consider the possibility of a museum for it — just as they started to do for animation.

As for Lichtenstein’s work, I happen to love his comic panels because his juxtaposition of dialogue and image works specifically for that one panel — it doesn’t matter that it was part of a story, the image and text work together on their own, which isn’t what Warhol was doing. Warhol was celebrating it as part of pop culture, whereas Lichtenstein was identifying art within art.

Not to mention that the size and scale of what they were doing makes a HUGE impact. Seriously: if your local museum puts on a show of either or pop art in general, don’t walk — run. You’ll see that both artists changed the scale dramatically to emphasize their works and it’s fantastic.

Just remember that the world of art is about reputation. It doesn’t matter that someone else did something beforehand, it matters that this artist was able to push the discourse forward. Picasso was the most successful artist in history, and he was also the greatest thief — he’s the Kane of art: he’d come to your house, see the work you were doing, go home and make 20 of them with his own little twist to beat you to the market.

Ian Thal – thank you. Your post hadn’t shown up yet when I was doing mine, but you’ve articulated what I was trying to say better than I did. In essence, Warhol and Lichtenstein had different attitudes toward the work they were using. I find Warhol’s respectful and in some ways reverent. Lichtenstein seems like he’s contriving something to insult.

French teachers like Asterix as a teaching tool :)

Which reminds me that I translated a Bone Holiday Special into French for extra credit in high school. Anything to get comics into the curriculum.

Action Comics #579 has to be the last “pre-crisis” story that is reminiscent of the classic 1950’s/1960’s ones from “Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olson”!

It’s kind of funny. If you do what Warhol and Lichtenstein did, but do it in a song instead of a painting, you get sued for copyright infringement.

Andy Warhol had a few really good ideas… that he just kept re-using over and over and over until every drop of potential was past sucked dry. (See, it’s something *mundane* put in an *art gallery*! See, it’s an image *recontextualized through mass production*! See, it’s *low art* with the trappings of *high art*!) Not talentless, certainly, but definitely overrated.

Lichtenstein, though, I can’t see past the ripoff.

You’re welcome, Old Bull Lee.

Travis: The fight in the pop-art exhibition in the Morrison/Kubert Batman is brilliant. Besides Kubert’s skill at choreographing the fight, it was a rather sophisticated recontextualization of Lichtenstein’s pop-art (I can’t recall if the images are based on Lichtenstein’s appropriations or just done “in the style of.”) The sequence was both a commentary on the relationship between “high art” and “low art” as well as the history of comic books: with the images, providing the onomatopoeias that have fallen out of fashion in “modern era” comics.

It’s also particularly notable that Kubert’s father was one of the illustrators that Lichtenstein had ripped-off– so it’s sort of like the Kubert family’s response!

A real Superman/Asterix crossover would be pure gold. Come to think of it so would a Jimmy Olsen/Tintin

Brian from Canada, I would say that art spiegelman has done more by himself to create/promote/disseminate the notion that comics can be art, much greater than anything that Warhol or Lichtenstein did. I’m not sure how either of them opened the door to comics being perceived as art or to the celebration of individual artists. The images that they used in their art seem to fall under the camp/kitsch/pop notion that the Batman TV show firmly entrenched in people’s minds. Comics as disposable culture, that the elite can laugh at or ironically “enjoy”. I will admit to being less familiar with Warhol and Lichtenstein than you seem to be, but I think that what they did served to detach the notion of an artist being behind the creation of the drawings that were appropriated. As I said above, “art scholars” might point to an issue that an image came from, but frequently cited the artist as being “anonymous”, when comics scholars were able to point to who was doing what. As I said, the legend Brian featured was about how 2 comics scholars recognized a Superman fraud based on a certain inker’s style! “Art scholars” can’t even be bothered to name the penciller involved!

Also, one of Warhol’s famous pieces is the Campbell’s soup can image. That didn’t lead people to knowing the name of the graphic designer that created that image.

I think in the 60s and 70s comics fans were disseminating the information as to who did what in the comics they loved. I have an old Detective issue, 356, where Alfred comes back to life. I’m almost certain that the only “credit” is for Bob Kane, but reading the letters column, the letterhacks knew who was drawing what. Within the medium’s fandom, the artists were being recognized.

re: spiegelman. Maus is one of, if not the first, comic that was recognized by the “outside” world as art. I don’t know of any other comic that had the impact to the outside world before that. There was also the High/Low exhibit of, I believe, ’89, and I *think* spiegelman had a hand in the curation of it (I may be wrong there)(McCloud talks about it in Reinventing Comics, iirc). spiegelman also promoted the “comics as art” notion with RAW, as well as public speaking events.

I’m not trying to pick on you or anything, BFC, but I just think that Warhol and Lichtenstein did more to stamp out the notion of comics as art than anything else. Also, what did you mean by “comics didn’t help their case at all by claiming themselves to be something other than art when the pop fad cooled”? Also, the notion of the art world being about reputation: Lichtenstein, in particular, should have the reputation of being a thief. But since the art world didn’t see comics as art, they didn’t see what he was doing as theft, either.

Oh, while I’m thinking in part of the Batman TV show, I don’t know if you’ve covered it before, but I was reading the Mark Waid intro to the Infinite Crisis novel, and he said there that the phrase “grim and gritty” can be traced back to the Batman ’60s TV show. Any chance of you delving into that one?

I think it’s worth noting that Warhol was himself a commercial illustrator for a decade or so before turning to painting. He did a lot of spot illustrations and such for fashion magazines and catalogs. While he had a distinctive style that was sometimes credited, he was certainly aware of the “anonymous” nature of much commercial illustration at the time. In using similar such work (along with art recreated from newspaper advertisements) in many of his early paintings, he was specifically drawing attention to the artificiality of the distinctions that were thought to separate different kinds of illustration at the time.

I must have that Action Comics #579.

Anyone knows if it Is collected?

Brian, I read somewhere that the effect of the Asterix homage and the TinTin homage led to the L’Oficier’s being declared persona non grata at DC, because DC heard from lawyers representing at least one of the properties. The last straw was supposedly something in their plot for the Zatara and Zatanna origin in Secret Origins that winked at another European comics property.

Well, the L’Officiers did those one shots with Ted McKeever at the end of the ’90s involving the DC characters in silent movies (Batman Nosferatu, etc), so eventually they were allowed back at DC. Maybe they were non grata for awhile.

Ooh ooh ooh, I see one comment of mine is still awaiting moderation, so Brian might FINALLY pick a legend I suggest. I squeal like a schoolgirl in gratitude!

I recall when the Warhol forgery story first broke. Initially, many art critics and dealersw discounted the idea that it wasn’t a genuine Warhol…although they did allow for the possibility that it wasn’t what was being advertised by his estate, either.

It seems that by the 1980s, it was an open secret that Warhol had made a practice of producing new work in his earlier style, and dating them to the early 1960s, because pieces from that era sold for much more money than what his later art usually earned. So the idea that he may have produced the Superman piece using comic art from a later period, but passing it off from an earlier time, didn’t surprise many. The real shock, of course, was when it was proven he had nothing to do with the art whatsoever.

I just wanted to thank Brian from Canada for expressing what I wanted to say concerning Warhol and Lichtenstein’s works. Their work was about transforming the “mundane” pop culture of everyday life into “fine” art to ask the question of what is art exactly. They helped to blur the line that had falsely been created to seperate fine art from commercial art. They are both art, and Warhol and Lichtenstein helped the fine art world see that.

“Warhol and Lichtenstein’s […] work was about transforming the “mundane” pop culture of everyday life into “fine” art to ask the question of what is art exactly.”

I think that there was a qualitative difference in how each of them went about it. I agree that Warhol did pose these questions in his art and created a body of distinctive work. The problem a lot of folk in this conversation is that Lichtenstein, is arguably a plagiarist and not even a very good one, lacking both the technique and originality seen in either his source material or in Warhol’s work.

Note that there’s very little criticism leveled at Warhol here.

Lou Sfar – I think you are half right, and what you say applies to Warhol.

With Lichtenstein, I’d say it’s the opposite. It’s like he wanted to point out how mundane, shallow, and cheap pop culture was to the art snob world. And of course he succeeded, AFTER he removed all the depth, detail, and context during his copying process.

How many gallery patrons laughed along with him and turned their nose up at his Kubert interpretations, and how would they have reacted to the originals? With Warhol, they were seeing the originals in a new environment, and questioning the relative value of what they had seen before in the fine art and pop culture worlds.

I Totally agree with Brian from Canada and as Lou Sfar said, he sais almost all that wanted to.

I would like to add that we are talking about the 60’s and the super-hero thing was in down are these times (Marvel/ Atlas was kind of experimenting its rebirth, remember). It is not the same as analysing the super-hero business with today’s lenses. The idea of “comics aren’t just for the kids” is from the 80″s. In the 60″s, comics were just for kids, period.

Warhol and Lichtenstein helped the valorization of comics as an art expression and this is their best contribution.

I think that “serious” creators as Alan Moore, Alex Ross, Jon J. Muth, Kent Williams, Glen Fabry or others wouldn’t stuck to the comics for so much time if it didn’t for the interest of the comics industry itself for being relevant in content and as an art media (see the Frazetta example!).

“Serious creators” like Alan Moore, Howard Chaykin, Eddie Campbell, Art Spiegelman, et al. realized the artistic potential of the comic book due to the ground breaking work of predecessors like Will Eisner, Jim Steranko, Stan Lee, Brian Talbot, Windsor McKay, George Herriman, (just to name a few) people who contributed to the evolution of the art-form, not appropriation (to use a neutral term) artists like Warhol or Lichtensten.

I don’t think there’s a case to be made that the increasing sophistication of the stories, or means by which the stories are told, or the increasingly ambitious work by illustrators can be linked to Lichtenstein plagiarizing a Jack Kirby or a Joe Kubert panel.

No one back then was saying that “Wow, Lichtenstein is so skilled at drawing girls by the telephone” (for example).
They knew he was copying images and style (printing artifacts and all) from the comics, and thought that was interesting in and of itself. Art about art.
What are you drawing if you are drawing another drawing, and so on.

Dis Warhol and Lichtenstein if you want, as long as it’s clear that they weren’t trying to get away with swiping, or ripping people of, or taking credit. They were depicting depictions, illustrating illustrations, making media about media.

Dorky? Snobby? Sure, to our eyes now. But reading contemporary accounts of Lichtenstein’s and Warhol’s work paints another picture.

There’s a pretty good and professional German Asterix parody called “Falsches Spiel mit Alcolix” with a lot of cameos from Superman, Batman, Mickey Mouse, Jack Lemon, Lee Marvin…there might even be an English version on various download sites.

Asterix is huge here in Australia. He and Tin Tin are rights of passage for every kid, and their comics can be found EVREEERYYYYWHEEERE.

“… is from the 80?s. In the 60?s…”

Tip: you don’t want ONE apostrophe there, let alone two.
If you want one at all, it’s where you cut the 19-.

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