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Jim Lee's Inking Partner Scott Williams on Francesco Mattina and A.I.

Bleeding Cool has received an inordinate amount of traffic for an old article from 2019 about Francesco Mattina being accused of swiping.

Article Summary

  • Francesco Mattina faces fresh plagiarism claims and AI usage in his art.
  • Scott Williams and Adi Granov vocalize their disapproval of Mattina's methods.
  • #
  • Adi Granov shares his personal experience with Mattina's art.
  • Concerns are raised about legal ownership of AI-generated and swiped artwork.

Today, Bleeding Cool has received an inordinate amount of traffic for an old article from 2019 about Francesco Mattina being accused of swiping many of his covers from existing artwork from other artists. It wasn't an uncommon claim at the time and he was cancelled a bit for it. Marvel Comics also dropped using him, though DC and Dynamite didn't seem that bothered. Well, this weekend, that went up a notch as the likes of Adi Granov and Scott Williams accused him of using AI in his recently released artwork for DC Comics. Scott Williams is especially notable as he is the inking partner of DC Comics Publisher and CCO, Jim Lee. And with tweeting a simple "F-ck this hack." Bleeding Cool reached out to Mattina without response, but what went down?

The recent DC Comics September 2024 solicitations, included the following Francesco Mattina covers. With notable aspects picked up for displaying AI elements and artefacts.


There was plenty of criticism. But it was Adi Granov, himself a victim of being swiped by Francesco Mattina, who went to town.

"When image generators first came to prominence the first person who came to mind was the serial plagiarist Francesco Mattina as I thought he'd think all his Christmases have come at once. If you don't remember, he made a whole career out of photobashing other people's art (mine included) into whatever you want to call his "work". I don't post about artists I dislike, but I neither consider him an artist nor can I hide my dislike for the continued blatant plagiarism. Anyhow, here's his new cover. Not only is he a hack, but he's not even good enough to hide the glaring mistake on one of the most iconic symbols in all of pop-culture."

After his reaction went viral, he followed up, saying;

"The cover I posted by Francesco Mattina, much like all of his work I've ever seen, is a literal antithesis of all of those things. He has had a very long career built upon deceiving the audiences with his cheap digital trickery, using blurs and lensflares to disguise and obscure all of the elements he has stolen from so many of my peers and me included. I am not the first to point this out, it has been discussed many times over the years, but he has always had people defending him even when the evidence was irrefutable.

"This isn't just about him. When I was a much younger artist and much less aware of such things, I saw an Arthur Suydam zombie Silver Surfer cover and immediately recognised the surfboard as just copied and pasted from one of my covers, texture, lighting, everything just as I painted it, with only the areas where I had the Surfer standing smudged badly to disguise it. I couldn't believe it, a "legendary" artists just wholesale stealing something I spent all this time creating. He wasn't inspired by it, he didn't use it as reference, he didn't homage it, he just stole the whole thing from someone trying to make their way into the industry. Purely out of laziness, or a lack of skill, or any of the other things which mean you aren't qualified for the job. I wasn't quiet about it at the time, but that image is still out there published as both the cover and prints.

"So back to Mattina. I don't want to bully him or cause him harm, but he is making a mockery, and has been his entire career, out of all of us. He's selling you a flashy piece of trash created without any care, skill or honesty. He's just trying to deceive everyone for reasons only known to him. In my view work like that is hugely damaging to the industry, to the companies he works for, to all of us artists who actually care but then have our art stolen and repurposed. It's sad that only such an obvious oversight such as the double S on Superman seems to have finally been irrefutable, but it's the perfect example of how little he cares. Even if he is using Al, or if he is stealing other people's work, even if Al is the future, as so many claim, then at least do it well. But he is even awful at cheating and couldn't see that the literal main element of the whole cover, the Superman logo, is messed up. That is not a mistake, that is pure oversight on his part where his cheating slipped through as he was too lazy to even look at his "creation" to make sure the most basic of elements are correct.

"He cares so little for the art and the audience that he can't even put effort in to cheat well."

The biggest issue that publishers may have with swiping and AI, rather than annoying other creators, is that it is possible they may not own the final product and that the freelancer may not have the rights to the work that they represent – and are paid for. Cian Tormey issued a warning."Editors hire you to turn in cover art, and right now they're not on the look out for AI art, they trust the work you submit. No conspiracy from DC, no nefarious editorial behaviour- it's so rare, of course, things get missed. It is purely on the artist if they make this choice."

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from The Union Club on Greek Street, shops at Gosh, Piranha and FP. Father of two daughters. Political cartoonist.
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