Separated At Birth: Todd McFarlane, Bob Kane, Batman And Akira

Before Spawn, before Spider-Man, before Hulk, Todd McFarlane was an artist on Detective Comics for DC Comics, drawing Batman: Year Two in the mid-eighties. Which has a habit of constantly being reprinted, with new eyes upon it.

Separated At Birth: Todd McFarlane, Bob Kane, Batman And Akira
Todd McFarlane on Detective Comics for DC Comics

On the Facebook group for Comic Swipes, Erik Larsen, co-founder of Image Comics with Todd McFarlane posted an image from Detective Comics by Todd McFarlane – and from Akira. With a rather similar background…

Separated At Birth: Todd McFarlane, Bob Kane, Batman And Akira
Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo

Erik Larsen posted "Steve Oliff must have had a feeling of déjà vu when he colored this page from Batman: Year Two. Here, artist Todd McFarlane pastes up art by Katsuhiro Otomo from Akira as the building in the background. Oliff colored both–and clearly recognized the source material as he made an effort to match the two. And I should add–Todd pointed this out to me and wondered if anybody would catch it. This was a shortcut, sure, but it was Todd having fun and playing a little game with the readers to see if they noticed. It seemed harmless." Before asking "Is this any more or less ethical than manga artists using clip art for desks, classrooms and buildings? Is it any different than John Byrne using photo backgrounds of buildings in Alpha Flight and the Fantastic Four which he photocopies out of books?" as well as adding "Manga artists frequently employ a ton of background artists or stockpile pages on big projects like this so that when they start running they're burning through work already completed. There's also a lot of reused images and clip art. This notion that manga artists are superhuman or much more efficient than western artists is a misnomer. One you find out that a guy has literally 27 assistants helping out–it doesn't seem quite as impressive."

Separated At Birth: Todd McFarlane, Bob Kane, Batman And Akira
Todd McFarlane on Detective Comics for DC Comics

While Todd himself has his work on Batman Year Two reused by either the last person – or the first person – you'd expect.

Separated At Birth: Todd McFarlane, Bob Kane, Batman And Akira
Comcis Scene cover by Bob Kane

A cover for Comic Scene by Batman creator, as he was then styled, Bob Kane. Kane always needed help, it seemed…

Separated At Birth used to be called Swipe File, in which we presented two or more images that resemble each other to some degree. They may be homages, parodies, ironic appropriations, coincidences, or works of the lightbox. We trusted you, the reader, to make that judgment yourself. If you were are unable to do so, we asked that you please return your eyes to their maker before any further damage is done. The Swipe File didn't judge; it was interested more in the process of creation, how work influences other work, how new work comes from old, and sometimes how the same ideas emerge simultaneously as if their time has just come. The Swipe File was named after the advertising industry habit where writers and artist collect images and lines they admire to inspire them in their work. It was swiped from the Comic Journal, who originally ran this column and the now-defunct Swipe Of The Week website.

 

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About 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 Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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