Sunday, March 13, 2016

Mea Culpa, Brian Bolland

Original vs. Replica 
(or Paxton vs. Pullman)

OK, this is a little strange and could almost qualify as shameless self-promotion if it weren't for the fact that, apparently, I've unknowingly become a minor headache to comic art legend, Brian Bolland... 

While checking stats for this Blog, I noticed there were several links from an article on the La Covacha website:

After hitting the "Translate to English" option in my Chrome browser (hey, I barely read and write in English, let alone another language), I read through the article "WTF | THE "COVER" OF THE KILLING JOKE IS NOT OF BRIAN BOLLAND" by Alberto Calvo.  It talked about how, many times, my replica of Brian Bolland's "Killing Joke" cover is used on websites in place of original Bolland's work.

WTF, indeed!

He lays out the basic, obvious reasons for this:

     1. It is not obscured by logos (mostly because I dislike lettering so much)
     2. The images are both online and larger in size than most

I'm also sure a lot of it has to do with some one doing a Google Image Search, seeing my picture, thinking they've found it, and grabbing the wrong one.  Y'know, like how people confuse Bill Paxton and Bill Pullman all the time.  Then, some one else sees that picture labelled as Brian Bolland's on their website, grabs it for their own, and the confusion compounds itself,   (Although, I've seen some examples where my signature is rather obvious in the picture, so that's kinds strange... You'd think they'd ask "Who the heck is this 'John Douglas' guy signing his name to Brian Bolland's cover?)

Here is a section from the article (and I will blame any quirkiness in grammar on the translation software, not Mr. Calvo):
When Brian Bolland came to Mexico a couple of years ago as a guest of La Mole Comic Con, he who made me realize that, apparently very popular, image was not its cover, but a recreation was. Some fans who have made use of services bound for filling their volumes of paperback used that image as cover, which no longer wryly funny, because some of them took to sign a copy on the cover of the original artist was replaced by a copy.
First, I find it terrifyingly euphoric that Brian Bolland has even seen any of my artwork.  I mean, I'm just a guy in the middle of nowhere, so the thought that one of my artistic heroes--or any comic creator for that matter--would have seen anything I did is almost too bizarre for me to wrap my mind around.  On the other hand, I am mortified if it has caused him any sort of distress, as mentioned in the article.  So, there is a half-eaten worm in that apple, if you will.  Mea Culpa!

While I understand it, I also find the confusion a little embarrassing in the "My version doesn't match nearly enough" kind of way.  I shot the finished painting with a sub-par camera, so the picture is a little blurry in a couple spots, the color is slightly shifted and washed out, and there is even a spot on the top-left where the light from the lamp reflected into the picture.  Sure, I could go back and color correct everything, but that would even cause more confusion, methinks.

I do have to admit, though, when I do stumble across my artwork out in the wilds of the internet, regardless of the context, I'm one step from clutching an imaginary Oscar and saying "You like me!  You really like me!"

All that said, it's kinda weird to read an article about yourself, especially since I had no idea it was being written.  WEIRD!  The world is a funny place, sometimes...

* * *

Oh, and one correction from an otherwise good article: I do **NOT** do cover replicas on request.  They are **HUGE** (20" x 30" / 50cm x 75cm), they take **FOREVER** to do, and it is generally a pain in the butt to try and match someone's style as closely as you can, line-by-line.  I am doing them as a favor for a friend of mine that runs a local comic book shop (speaking of which, I am currently finishing up the next one in the next couple weeks).  That said, if you are an eccentric billionaire with ridiculous amounts of cash to waste and want to have a giant comic book cover replica, please contact me. :-D

Here's a link to the Original Post featuring the creation of the "Killing Joke" Cover Replica.



  1. OMG this is soooo funnnnnny! I mean, it's not. It's really not, I'm sure, for the poor dudes that took your picture to get autographed by Mr. Bolland only to find out it wasn't his. I would feel really bad for them if they'd actually paid their hard earned pesos for it.

    But you know what? They took your work FOR FREE! So it's funny. Oh man, I laughed.

    And I can't imagine it was too much of a problem for Mr. Bolland. "You mean this isn't your picture Senor Bolland? But I'm here, I need you to sign something! How 'bout I just buy some of your product and you can sign that?"

    1. I'm sure it's a very minor occurrence, but there is a sociopathic part of my personality that says "Hey, Brian Bolland has seen my work!" and capers about in glee, ignoring all the rest.

      I picture the grimace on Brian Bolland's face and having to patiently explain, "No, that's not my art..." and thinking he should really get around to hiring those goons to work over that John Douglas chap for copying his cover...

      Oh, wait, there's a knock at the door.

  2. Hey! I just found this post about this whole thing with your work and Brian and what I wrote about it, so I decided to say hi and add some details.

    Don't worry about the people going to get a signature and not getting one. What they had was a book made with their old paperback comics that they had turned into hardcover volumes through a professional service. It was this service who used your image for the cover, so those fans aren't at fault either. Brian signed every one of those books on the endpapers.

    I saw it happen because I was assisting him as interpreter during the whole con, and we kept in touch afterwards. This came about in a later conversation, so I went looking for the story and found your blog. Brian knows that there was no ill intention on your part and he doesn't blame anyone for this, he just found the whole deal very curious and a little bit funny, that's all.

    Also, the thing that he most noticed about your recreation were the diferences in the crosshatching, since his brushwork is one of the most distinctive parts on his work, and the lettering on the lens. He knows yours is a huge replica and that it was done in acrylics, and he's not mad or anything. As I said, he just found it curious and a little bit funny.

    Also, here's a translation of the paragraph that you reproduced from my piece:

    When Brian Bolland came to Mexico as a guest of La Mole Comic Con a couple of years ago, he told me that the apparently popular image was not actually his cover illustration, but a recreation of it. Some fans use a binding service to turn their paperbacks into hardcover volumes, and it was this image the one they used in the cover for those. So, it's kind of funny to see some of this guys bringing to sign a book in which the original artist's cover had been replaced with a copy of it.


    1. Hello Alberto! :-)

      Thank you so much for the personalized update of the story! Like Mr. Bolland, I also found the whole situation rather strange in an amusing way for exactly the same reasons.

      Also, I will admit it was thrilling to read about Brian Bolland actually seeing my work, as he is one of my favorite comic book artists; too bad it was my crude forgery of his work. Then again, his detailed linework makes forgery of his work very difficult, as I can attest. ;-)

      Again, thanks for the update! I am actually glad you found the response to your article, as I could't find any contact info to let you know I was writing a post about the irony of the situation you described (then again, the Google Translate made a complete mess of the formatting for the web story, so that may have been the culprit).

      You did a great job reporting the story, but it was definitely strange to be an unwitting subject of a published post.

      Have a good one and take care!