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OK, if you haven’t heard by now, Nick Simmons plagiarised a bunch of stuff from Bleach, amongst other manga. As the resulting shitstorm grew, I was waiting to see what his official response would be. I mean, what can you say to the evidence of direct tracing of various panels? Well, he’s responded with an official statement, and boy is it stupid.
This is it, in all it’s glory:
Like most artists I am inspired by work I admire. There are certain similarities between some of my work and the work of others. This was simply meant as an homage to artists I respect, and I definitely want to apologize to any Manga fans or fellow Manga artists who feel I went too far. My inspirations reflect the fact that certain fundamental imagery is common to all Manga. This is the nature of the medium.
I am a big fan of Bleach, as well as other Manga titles. And I am certainly sorry if anyone was offended or upset by what they perceive to be the similarity between my work and the work of artists that I admire and who inspire me.
So what he is saying is this: “I didn’t mean to do anything wrong, it was just misinterpretation as some feel I went too far.” *sniff sniff* smells like bullshit to me. Probably written by his lawyer too, as it’s a subtle avoidance of the issue at hand. Plus, he’s a giant asshole. The response suggests that people are pissed off about how his work looks similar to others, however that’s not why people are pissed off. If he had just copied the rough concept of the Shinigami and did his own thing with it, there would be no legal issue with the matter. However, not only did he copy character designs he also traced artwork, sometimes whole panels. This is not “paying homage” or using tropes, that directly ripping off another’s work.
Let’s take a look at his key points then – he was “paying homage” instead of plagiarizing, and his “inspirations” came from the tropes of the medium.
“Paying homage” is a bit of a blurry area that is open to interpretation and is exactly why, in my opinion, this excuse was used. The definition of “paying homage” is when you use techniques or imagery to show respect to another artist, and is often tied with parody. The key thing here is that it is easy to spot that it is a reference, which is the point.
To help clarify things a bit, this is paying homage…
…while this is not.
Notice the difference?
Tropes as Inspirations
A trope is a common pattern or theme in a literary or artistic genre. A derisive term would be “cliches”, but not all tropes are cliches. A common trope in comics is a team of superheros (or a villain) having a secret base or underground lair. Another would be that they almost always wear skin-tight costumes. Common examples in anime and manga include transformation sequences (eg Sailor Moon), fighting opponents with higher and higher “power levels” (DBZ, Bleach) or magical schoolgirls. So, let’s look at some of the manga tropes that he used for his inspiration:
Here’s one overlay:
And here’s another:
The fans who spotted his bullshit in the first place have cataloged a large list of other, “fundamental imagery” he used for inspiration. Check it out if you haven’t already.
In all honesty, I don’t see him clawing his way out of this one.