Interesting copyright case in the comic art world

A friend of mine is a well known comic book artist and she posted this on her FB wall yesterday. It’s very interesting seeing what artists involved in the industry have to say about it. (Including the extremely talented guy who’s photo was blatantly stolen.) Apparently this artist (Arthur Suydam) is well known for this kind of thing and has been caught doing it before. Basically what has happened is a cosplayer took a photo of himself as a DC character and then an artist stole that photo and used it in his own commissioned artwork that was sold to a DC affiliate. The consensus is it will be settled pretty quick since DC is affected by it and the artists assume DC will remove the commissioned image immediately. It’s an interesting look at copyright and it’ll be fascinating to see how it plays out.

In nutshell, this artist (Suydam) was commissioned by DC for a DCeased (zombie) recreation of the famous “Killing Joker” cover. (He’s a famous zombie /comic artists and DC owns the Joker.) The artist claims he used other work as general “reference” only and his new image is a one-of-the kind painting. Actually all he did is steal a photo, change a few things and add some photoshop filters to it and it’s clearly an exact copy of the photo down to the stitches in the clothing. The photo belongs to a cosplayer (A.Misiano) who is getting pretty well known for his Joker photographs. (My friend knows the cosplayer and says his photos can take weeks of preparation.) Since originally being called out, Suydam acknowledge he “referenced” the photo and is willing to give the photographer a modeling fee. :roll_eyes:

Updated article

Adding the page of the cosplayer “Harley’s Joker” so you can see his work


It appears he’s got one heck of a lawsuit if he’s willing to defend his work. (That’s the downside…a copyright claim is only as good as the amount of money you are willing to pay to defend it.)


Marvel Zombie cover artist, Arthur Suydam burst onto the scene with his creative innovation of infusing the art of sequential art with classical painting.

So, “sequential art” equates to “applying a series of photoshop filters.”


Everyone says it’ll never go to a lawsuit as it’d cost 10x to sue than any settlement you’d get and it won’t happen. I’d be one thing if the cosplayer could just sue the artist who’s at fault, but it would have to also include DC in some way and that’d be taking on a giant.

I think this may really help the cosplayer through. He shared a bunch of his images in the conversation and is photos are AMAZING! A lot of the artists have said he’s the guy DC should be using and I’m sure DC will take notice of his work now.

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Right! That’s exactly what I told Joyce (my friend). Hell, if that’s all it takes to sell comic art, sign me up and I’ll go download the scripts!

This is how other artists are responding now though. Hilarious and appropriately savage. :rofl:

This is Arthur Suydam’s work that this artist did a “varient” of. And notice the comment about stealing table space. They all complain that he’s a table thief at comicons lol.

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Used to think that, until quite recently, when I realized that people with a cause will just set up a Go-Fund-Me and can raise more than enough money to cover a good lawyer.

Actually contributed to one once, until they hit their goal, decided to raise it, hit it again and decided to raise it again. At that point, I realized the totality of my gullibility. (Now I hope the only one who gets any money out of the deal is the greedy lawyer. Lessons need to be spread around, and I’m now kind of sore about that $30.)


Amazing how those gofund me things always seem to magically up the goal! Folks with a heat are the ones who get screwed by it.

Luckily with this case it was caught before any real damage was done and copies were sold. An insider just said that they believe DC has already pulled the plug on the image too so I imagine the whole incident will just fade away now.

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If Richard Prince can do this and get away with it, why isn’t this kosher too? (Not that I think it should be… this is infuriating.)

This is atrocious and vile. The legal teams that I work with would never clear anything so blatantly similar. Thanks for helping to spread the word.

Yeah, they are complaining that it should have never gotten past the editors and they dropped the ball. You’d think they keep a closer eye on those who have done it in the past.

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Because two wrongs don’t make a right and they’re both douc…(opps, almost forgot what forum I was in! :flushed:)

At least Prince had to settle a few things and some of the work is still up for review. The biggest travesty of that story is someone paying $90,000 for a print of an Instagram post. Having money be no issue is such a foreign concept to me.


Having seen that merry-go-round played out in the virtual world (Second Life etc) it is so convoluted that the original intent has been all but lost. In theory a Cosplayer with a perfect costume is invulnerable to lawsuit as it is arguably “fashion” and that cannot be copyrighted or patented.

Beyond that is almost all gray with very little black or white. As the original hardly exists in the virtual space (any copy is a perfect copy)and to script something is usually identical no matter who “invents” it for all but the most complicated stuff It is far more headache to even work out what is right, much less what is legal in all but the most extreme cases.

I spoke privately with some of the comic artists and their insight was interesting. The cosplayer (Tony) sells limited runs of his photos for pretty cheap and it’s very much technically an infringement. He advertises as being the Joker and some of his works are copies of comic book covers so he can’t say he was “inspired” by the character. However the industry is pretty supportive of fan art and are fairly lenient with it as long as it doesn’t steps on any affiliate toes when it comes to sales. Folks like Tony are actually encouraged and he was/is a very sought after cosplayer and is always being asked to attend different conventions and show his work. He wants to pursue acting though and had to back off the cosplay becasue it’ll hurt his acting career. Interesting stuff.

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I haven’t looked into the history but it is entirely possible that those that approved the image never saw the original cosplayer’s work.

Typically at large corporations legal asks for all inspiration and reference images for a new artwork. If the submitting artist lies and says there isn’t any then there are usually dire consequences for the submitting artist if someone comes forward with a claim. The legal dept is less interested in the letter of the law than getting rid of claimants and will often settle rather than deal with a case to be filed.


Apparently the editorial department is responsible for verifying things, even when the art is commissioned by an affiliate group like in this situation. Folks seem a bit mystified with it not getting a reasonable look since the artist is well known for doing this kind and it sounds like someone dropped the ball. Especially when a simple google search was all that was really needed to turn up the photo.


Having done work at Disney the depth of that is amazing. We could not have even any reference piece of what we did for a resume and anything I invent can be claimed by them or most folk I have worked for without argument or I would never have gotten any of the jobs, and the last time when it was exceptionally brutal and I refused to sign I did not get that job or any other in that area since.


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