In summary, Nick Simmons, the son of hard rock and heavy metal musician Gene Simmons, created an Amerimanga-type comic series known as Incarnate, which itself was wholly derivative of shounen anime and manga. That isn’t special, however. What is special about this series is that the artwork in Incarnate was traced right off some of the latest chapters of Tite Kubo’s Bleach–panel layouts, even character designs and visual compositions are taken right from Bleach. Initially posted on a LiveJournal, word spread extremely quickly, and even public news outlets began broadcasting the story–perhaps because Nick Simmons is the son of a high profile musician. In response, Nick Simmons argued that he was paying tribute to his favorite manga artists via “homages”–however, his comic has been abruptly cancelled because of the plagiarism allegations.
Obviously, plagiarism on this level is unacceptable; that’s a given. I’m not a big fan of Bleach, either. What I want to mention in regards to this topic, however, is that this is not the first time a comic artist has plagiarized artwork from other sources.
- Rob Liefeld, a high profile American comic book artist, was known to plagiarize off prior comic work. He still draws comics to this day.
- Chinese publisher Joustar was accused of copying artwork directly from CLAMP.
- For a time, the American Federal Communications Commission’s mascot was a doppelganger of Japanese pop culture icon Doraemon.
In short, there are dozens upon dozens of examples of plagiarism. Nick Simmons’ story, arguably, is identical to most stories revolving around plagiarism. What then, makes his story so special?
It’s the fact that only three issues in, word spread very, very quickly. There exists a Facebook page endorsing legal action against Simmons, and there is still the fact that a single LiveJournal account was responsible for revealing the similarities between Simmons’ Incarnate and Bleach. There is even a motivational meme based on Simmons’ actions and subsequent consequences.
Although the problem, as with most optimistic stories about intellectual theft, fixed itself, what I find interesting is not only how quickly it did, but how much attention has been placed on Simmons in particular, compared to artists like Liefeld and Yuki Suetsugu.