Can Fan Art Cross the Line?

The more web comics you read the more you notice some similar features being posted by web comic artists. If your comic becomes popular it seems almost inevitable that you start to receive fan art. Some of your readers will draw your characters in various styles as an homage and a show of gratitude for entertaining them. Many web comic artists will also post the fan art to their sites like on the Dandy and Company site and over at Ctl+Alt+Del.

But can fan art go too far? I’m wondering this because I came across a superb web comic called PowerPuff Girls Doujin (bleedman.snafu-comics.com). The artwork and coloring are superb, the characters are a masterful example of manga style design, and the writing is often funny and always entertaining. However, what you can probably gather from the title is that the characters being used are not the artist’s own creations.

Bleedman, the creator of this comic, uses Cartoon Network TV show characters all throughout his comic and rewrites them into his own stories. The PowerPuff Girls, Dexter from Dexter’s Laboratory, Megas XLR, even Courage the Cowardly Dog all get the Manga makeover.

Through a few email conversations Bleedman tells me he has nothing to do with Cartoon Network and that he is just a fan expressing his appreciation for these characters. It’s easy to get engrossed in this comic, it is pretty entertaining. But, I can’t help feeling a little uneasy about the fact that the characters are someone else’s creations. I know we get a lot of web comic creators listening to our show and reading our blog and I’d like to get some feedback on this. What are your opinions about what Bleedman is doing here? How would you react if you were to come across a site like this using your characters? Is this flattery or theft? Please chime in.

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7 thoughts on “Can Fan Art Cross the Line?

  1. I don\’t think I\’d mind if someone was using my characters and drawing comics about them as long as the artist followed these guidelines:

    1. Somewhere on the comic page or website is a proper and legible notation that I am the copyright holder and the comic strip is strictly \”fan art/fiction\”.

    2. The artist IS NOT making money from the site.

    3. The artist is properly representing my characters.

    Personally, if Bleedman\’s work is so great I don\’t understand why he wouldn\’t dump the Cartoon Network gimmick and create his own stuff. He\’d open up so many creative doors rather than being stuck writing for preconceived characters and personalities.

    Sprite comics probably fall into this same category.

    – Wes

  2. It depends really, in the case of bleedman he\’s just doing the comic and posting it on the web, he\’s not really making money off it. He also doesn\’t even begin to claim credit on the characters, he tells what shows thier from and only throws in a few of his own creations.

    It would however bother me if he would claim them as his own or tried to make a quick buck off someone elses creations. He skirts the line, but never crosses it

  3. There\’s another limit, at least for me. I don\’t allow porn/nudity fanart of my comic characters. Other than that, the no-profit, proper-crediting is quite enough. If the fanwork is controversial or dancing around the edges of the permissible I prefer to be asked in advance, tho.

    Maritza Campos
    College Roomies from Hell!!!
    http://www.crfh.net

  4. As mentioned not making money and credite is a definite requisite. I\’d say that people using other people\’s artwork (as many sprite comics do) is much worse.

    A note though, the Snafu comic store (snafu comics host bleedman\’s work) sells posters featuring, among other, johnny the homocidal maniac, link, megaman and Luffy from One Piece. This seems to be a pretty big copyright violation.

  5. Yeah, if Bleedman is making money from those posters then he\’s violating the law. Not cool.

    – Wes

  6. I don\’t believe he is. In the interviews I\’ve read and his stance on his deviant Art account it seems like he\’s pretty paranoid about trying not to break copyright laws.

  7. The real question here is not whether he can get away with this or not, but rather how much time will pass before the CN lawyers go all bully on him, profit involved or not.

    Hey, we\’ve all been hooked on some character at one point or another and fantasized of putting them into our own stories. All fine and cool with that – however I think there are better routes to make it into comics than hanging on the shadow of someone else\’s creations. And that\’s definitely a no-no if you think, even remotely, on making a profit out of this.

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