It’s been brought to my attention, a few hours after I posted my last blog entry, that the artwork used for the cover of United Komiks #54 from February 5, 1966 was shamelessly swiped from an illustration by John Richard Flanagan.
I think it’s pretty much unarguable from my point of view. It is indeed a rather shameless swipe. And perhaps the United Komiks artist knew it because he left the cover unsigned.
This is a rather controversial topic in this blog and in one of my defunct message boards. Some individuals were irked that the topic was brought up at all, because it brings shame to Filipinos. I’m of the contention that I was not the one who brought the shame. Don’t shoot the messenger! It was the artist himself who brought it on all of us when he swiped the art in the first place.
Now when I posted the cover yesterday, how am I supposed to know that it had been swiped? And now that it’s up here and many people have already seen it and had been exposed as a swipe, do I take it down and hide it?
Will I, every time I innocently post some Filipino made art from history that eventually gets exposed as a swipe, take it down and hide it?
I decided that from now on, I will not.
I have taken down stuff in the past, but I will no longer do so. For better or for worse, for our acclaim or our shame, THIS is part of Philippine komiks history. If ever I would consider myself a student of history, I will not deny these things happen. I will not hide it, and through omission write an untruthful version of our history.
There are many examples of this in our past, and yes, even in the present. I still have hundreds and hundreds of artwork that I plan on uploading up to this site. Some of them may well be previously unknown swipes. If I would keep them hidden for fear that one of them will be exposed as a swipe then I just better close down my online museum.
I understand that the original editors and artists of these komiiks had no idea that in the future these things will be up worldwide for everyone to see. It is a sobering thought, a cautionary tale for today’s artists. It’s a warning not to do the same thing because as it turns out, these things have a way of coming back to haunt you.
I have seen many examples of outright swipes from a few of my contemporaries. I don’t wash my hands off it because I myself have swiped something at least once. It’s something I don’t think I’ll ever do again because it’s been so long now but I still feel extremely guilty about it.
Who knows, some future historian of komiks will find these things and expose us in some future Internet and it’s nobody’s fault but ours.