Sniping about swiping

At The Ninth Art, essayist Paul O’Brien has an interesting meditation on the Yuki Suetsugu swiping scandal. The news that some of Suetsugu’s drawings in Flower of Eden were apparently copied from other works prompted Kodansha to pull all 25 volumes of the manga-ka’s work out of print and ask Tokyopop to cancel its planned English-language release of the book.

O’Brien muses on why the Japanese reacted so harshly to what would be simply an embarassing incident in America. His conclusion: We think of most comic book artists as commercial illustrators working for hire, while in Japan, comic artists are, well, artists, expressing their own vision. We don’t expect originality; they do. Of course, he’s only talking about the mainstream here. If one of the “critical darlings of highbrow comics” were to be caught swiping, he says, Americans would take it more seriously.

O’Brien also discusses the ethical shadings of swiping and points out that what your high school teacher told you all those years ago is still true today: cheating doesn’t pay:

Good comic book art is not simply a matter of drawing pretty pictures, but of arranging them to cumulative effect. The panels need to have some kind of flow to them. A bunch of randomly swiped panels may look good individually but generally won’t work too well as a whole. I suspect most artists who make extensive use of swiping will never break out of the pack for that reason.

And that’s why there are no big swiping scandals: If you’re good enough to be noticed, you’re probably too good to cheat.

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  1. […] are out, and Anime Vice has the list. The top manga was Chihayafuru, by Yuki Suetsugu, who was in the news a few years ago for her alleged plagiarism in Eden no Hana (Flower of Eden). ANN has the Japanese […]