Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Coincidental Artistry

One of the wonders of the Internet Age is the fact that people have the ability to engage in personal conversation with the actual celebrities behind many of their interests. Even though I doubt that many of them would remember who I am (since we haven't actually met in person), I've been able to ask questions directly of quite a few different writers, scholars, and artistic creators, and know that they were responding to my personal inquiry.

One question I see often in these kinds of venues is whether or not a "celebrity" would be willing to read some work written by a fan, or help a fan get some work of art published. I expect most such celebrities get a bit tired of these requests, but they usually respond with a polite but firm "no," and a suggestion to send such works through the proper channels (whatever those may be for a given piece).

Besides the amount of time that would be lost if people accepted each (or even some) work that was offered, there is a very good legal reason why celebrities and creators cannot generally accept fan submissions: if a similar work ever showed up later, the original creator might sue for intellectual property theft. This might happen even if the later work didn't actually have the original work in mind (and I'm not talking about some "subconscious" memory either), and was just a coincidence. Figuring out where an original concept came from can get rather messy, and it's generally considered best not to even get involved.

Amateur Transformers coverMarvel Transformers Generation Two issue #2Here's an example of what I'm talking about. Some time back, I shared some scripts that I'd written for a fan-comic many years ago. I'd never given these to anyone "in the industry," and by the time I'd posted them here, I'd long since given up on any plans to use them in any "real" comic. Although I'd had another fan do a few pages of interior art, I asked my brother to begin work on a cover for what would have been my first issue (frankly, my brother is a much better artist than the other guy I was working with, but my brother was unwilling to spend the time needed to do a full-fledged comic, and as you can see, he didn't even finish the cover image shown here on the left). At my request, it depicted Megatron fighting Fortress Maximus. A few years later, the second issue of Marvel's Transformers: Generation Two comic came out. Their cover also depicted Megatron fighting Fortress Maximus. Despite the fact that Megatron had been upgraded to a new from I could never have imagined when my brother drew his cover, the general layout of the two images is similar enough that I could probably have caused Marvel a fair bit of legal difficulty had I ever shown anyone there the image (even if I ultimately lost the case). Yet I know that the similarity between these two images is purely coincidental!

Still, it remains a fun thing to talk about all these years later. I guess great minds really do think alike! ;)

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