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Meta-Messages – Joe Madureira Takes a Swipe Over a Swipe

In this feature I explore the context behind (using reader danjack’s term) “meta-messages.” A meta-message is where a comic book creator comments on/references the work of another comic book/comic book creator (or sometimes even themselves) in their comic. Each time around, I’ll give you the context behind one such “meta-message.” Here is an archive of the past installments!

Today, based on a suggestion by reader Earl Y., we take a look at Joe Madureira taking issue over an artist swiping his work one time too many.

I actually featured this in Comic Book Legends Revealed over five years ago, but when Earl wrote in to suggest it for this column I figured, eh, it fits this column just as well as it did Comic Book Legends Revealed, so I might as well feature it here, too.

Right off the bat, let me note that Roger Cruz has grown into a fine comic book artist. He’s now in his early 40s and he is quite good (and has been for some time now – his X-Men: First Class work was first rate). Here are some pages from an American Vampire fill-in issue he did a couple of years ago…

cruz1

cruz2

cruz3

cruz4

He’s a good artist and an original one, at that.

When he was just starting out nearly 20 years ago, though, his work tended to be filled with “swipes” of other artists, most notably former X-Men artist Jim Lee and the then-popular (and still popular now, as well, of course) X-Men artist Joe Madureira.

Cruz swiping Madureira stood out a bit more since Madureira’s art itself stood out from the pack at Marvel Comics at the time, so when someone else began drawing just like him, it drew a lot of attention. Similarly, since Madureira did not have a large output of comics at the time, it was easier to find the swipes when Cruz did them, since he often had to go to the same Madureira panel for different comics.

In any event, the nifty blog, ADLO! Novelti Librari cataloged a series of notable swipes of Madureira by Cruz (in each intance, Madureira’s art is first and Cruz is second):

This last one is a great example of how swiping usually works – Cruz here takes panels from FOUR different comic pages and combines them to form one comic page.

In October 1995’s Uncanny X-Men #325, Madureira decided to have a little fun with Cruz’s swiping by taking a swipe of his own at Cruz.

Check out the following page…

uxm325

Notice what the paper says?

uxm325a

Reader Earl (the guy who suggested this one) told me he had asked Madureira about it years ago and Madureira told him that soon after the issue came out, Cruz (through “his people”) got into contact with Madureira and they settled any problem Madureira might have had with Cruz. Heck, just recently, Madureira shared a link to Roger Cruz’s work on his (Madureira’s) Facebook page.

Nice of Joe to let bygones be bygones!

Thanks to Earl for the suggestion! If YOU have a suggestion for a future edition of Meta-Messages, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com.

31 Comments

Talk about a couple of swell guys!

At least Cruz learned to create his own style. Some swipers never got above tracing.

I always wondered why Marvel gave both of the Age of Apocalypse bookends to Cruz at such an early point in his career. Maybe they wanted Madureira to do them but settled for someone who could ape his style?

Maybe it was due to schedule considerations?

In Cruz defense, that was what Marvel wanted and what the artistic headhunters here in Brazil were instructed to find. Without giving names, back then, before life took me in another direction, I tried to get into the industry by way of a studio in Sao Paulo, here in Brazil, that was doing a lot of work with the US. Long story short, the guy who interviewed me said that Marvel was interested in someone who could draw like Adam Kurbert, who was getting a lot of attention wuth his Wolverine. My work had more of a Ron garney or a Lee Weeks influence, so they didn’t seem very interested in it.

He kind of had his own style before he worked for Marvel, but mostly doing pin up shots. I always heard he was actually told to “draw like Jim Lee” or “draw like Joe Mad” — as happens or used to happen a lot on comics when a new artist either took over or guested. Looks like he just took it a bit far and completely swiped panels. I’m honestly surprised no one at Marvel looked at his pages and went “*sigh* Edgar, we only just published those issues you’re swiping from …. “

On that last Mad page, it looks like there’s also a “CRUZ” with an X through it in the second panel, just to the right of the pizza sign. Looks like Joe Mad was getting some frustrations out that day.

@Nick: Nice! I didn’t see that before.

A friend of mine used to trace Roger Cruz panels because he liked Cruz’ poses, which cracked me up so much. Swiping the swiper.

Swiping from Joe Mad. Wow.

You could at least be like Liefeld and swipe from artists who don’t suck.

He’s a good artist and an original one, at that.

I agree he’s a good artist, but are we necessarily sure he’s a more original one now? For all we know, he could still be swiping but from more obscure sources. I only bring this up because it seems to me based on examples of other prominent swipers, swiping (along with excessive “ghosting”), is a very hard habit for people to break once they start down that road. I do hope you’re right though.

In Cruz defense, that was what Marvel wanted and what the artistic headhunters here in Brazil were instructed to find. Without giving names, back then, before life took me in another direction, I tried to get into the industry by way of a studio in Sao Paulo, here in Brazil, that was doing a lot of work with the US. Long story short, the guy who interviewed me said that Marvel was interested in someone who could draw like Adam Kurbert, who was getting a lot of attention wuth his Wolverine. My work had more of a Ron garney or a Lee Weeks influence, so they didn’t seem very interested in it.

There’s a difference between being derivative and outright swiping panels. Many artists from were derivative of other artists. Neal Adams and Bill Sinkiewicz were derivative of Neal Adams, many guys in the 90s like Sal Larocca were blatantly using Jim Lee’s influence, early Steranko and Barry Smith had a lot of Kirby trappings in their art, and Dan Panosian was trying to draw like Liefeld. However to my knowledge none of those guys were big into outright swiping. While I’m not a fan of using another person’s style, many times it’s just a crutch new guys rely on while developing their own style, and oftentimes those same guys evolve into their own unique style. Swiping, IMO, is less forgivable and takes it a little too far.

Excellent article! I hope many artists read and reflect on their own crafts and directions they have taken.

Jae Lee did something similar. I believe some of his panels from Wildcats Trilogy # 1 is taken from the short Punisher back up story that Simon Bisley did for Punisher # 75

Roger Cruz, his swiping past aside, is a very dynamic artist, who can adapt his style greatly. The first time I saw his art was on that Hulk fill in about Talos the Tamed, and he made it fit the style of the regular artist. His work in the relatively recent original X-Men series was very different too, as it looked like under rendered and straight forward.

nice of Joe to prove to not only have a sense of humor of the whole thing with cruz swiping his work. but also both sides wound up in the end making peace about the whole thing.

Joe Mad is still one of my favorite artists and it’s neat to see he had such an awesome dynamic style from the get go.
Also worth checking out by Cruz is his work on X-men First Class. Solid stuff, and Jeff Parker writes a very fun read.

Nice. If you look at some of the comments in the Facebook link, you’ll see that a few people were throwing shit Cruz’ way. Joe Mad replies with the following posts…

“Guys be nice! I had my Art Adams wannabe days. We all start somewhere. I’m glad he’s come into his own and now I have to catch up on his shit, because there is much goodness!”

And…

“Admittedly, I did get pissed once upon a time, but I’m pretty embarrassed about it now. RESPECT!”

To be fair, in the 90s you pretty much HAD to draw like one of the Image guys in order to get an X-Book.

I’m glad he found his own style.

But Joe Madureira didn’t draw like one of the Image guys and the guy he took over from, John Romita Jr., also didn’t draw like an Image guy.

Andy Kubert definitely did, though!

But Joe Madureira didn’t draw like one of the Image guys and the guy he took over from, John Romita Jr., also didn’t draw like an Image guy.

Andy Kubert definitely did, though!

Really? Can’t say I see it.

Really? Can’t say I see it.

You don’t see a similarity to Jim Lee’s art style in Andy Kubert’s?

Hmm, you’ve stumped me now, because I’m trying to picture Andy Kubert and Jim Lee style-wise. I’ll have to dig out some stuff of theirs. Trying to think if I have that Ghost Rider issue with the X-Men, because I think Andy drew that, and that would be a decent one to compare. I mean, I definitely think that Andy has a style that would have worked well and not been out of place with the early Image stuff, but I’m blanking on how exactly it looks that way.

Those Cruz American Vampire pages are nice looking. There’s something about them, though…who inked him, or did he ink himself? Probably he was trying to make it look mostly like Albuquerque, and succeeded decently.

What is that Savage Dragon thing that Joe Mad drew?

My impression of early Madureira was definitely Adams: those long legs and fingers, etc.

The reason Cruz’s early swiping was so noticeable was because he was swiping from books drawn within the same year! I remember as a kid getting upset because that issue of Vanguard was a little known Savage Dragon spin-off book, and no one would ever recognize the insane number of swipes taken from it. (I was pleasantly surprised to find that little escapes the Internet )

“What is that Savage Dragon thing that Joe Mad drew?”

Vanguard #3

The notion that Madureira wasn’t aping Lee is bizarre. The high tiny waists, the huge bubble-butts, the wild hair, the over-rendered little lines. I guess if you were reading at the time (I had gone cold turkey when the madness began) then you were probably focusing more on the differences than the similarities, but to a modern eye they both fit easily into the same classification.

This is the time I bailed out of comics, mid-90s – and yes the whole Image thing was the main reason – so in no way do I know much about Joe Mad, et al.
However, the ‘grimaced bared teeth’ on the first compare/contrast picture of Mad/Cruz scream “Image” to me! Therefore I agree with Matt.

“You don’t see a similarity to Jim Lee’s art style in Andy Kubert’s? ”

Brian, can you give us an example of where you saw that?

IMO their styles are pretty different…

@SniktSnakt; if you browse through Andy Kubert’s X-men run, it’s really easy to consider him a Jim Lee clone (his Psylocke, to my kid eyes anyway, was exactly the same). The only real difference is that Kubert has always shown a willingness to use funky angles and movements, compared to Lee who’s images felt more static.

@Matt Bird, @Pete Woodhouse: I don’t think I would consider that “aping”. Certainly, Madureira specialized in some of the traits that Lee did as you mention, however a lot of that can be from the style being popular at the time and their joint love of Art Adams. If anything, his work, especially in his fight sequences, always looked more manga inspired hybrids of the popular style at the time than an outright lift, and a large part of the reason for his success is just from the quality of artwork- went back home this winter and reread my Onslaught graphic novels…story wise, they’re pretty darn lousy/mediocre, but of the multiple artists represented in the book, it’s really only him that stands out, compared to Deodato, Kubert, Pacheco, etc. As a story teller, he was fluid and dynamic, the only thing that bugged me was how beefy he made some of his characters.

Andy Kubert’s X-Men looked almost exactly like Jim Lee’s (with maybe a dash of Whilce Portacio), especially on the covers. I always assumed that was what Marvel asked for when they brought him over, because his Doc Savage had a very different look.

i can still clearly remember, the first time i opened the first page of Age of Apocalypse: Xmen-Alpha, i was shocked to see that Marvel made a Big mistake on the artist credits, it read roger cruz instead of Joe Madureira, but i swear to high heavens that the art was by JoeMad, i never knew about art swiping up until that issue. tsk. how i hated cruz afterwards..

i still have the vanguard # 3 issue.

I swipe a lot, I rarely have the time nowadays, but once I love that image, I just have to draw it, my last swipe was the DC New 52 ad with Animal Man, gorgeous, didn’t have the patience to add all those details tho. :)

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