I’ve been aware of Marvel artist, Greg Land, for quite a few years. He has a very particular style of drawing – especially when it comes to facial expressions and body positions. He is currently working on X-Men-related stories, but has worked on Ultimate Fantastic Four and the Ultimate Power mini-series. Land also has a long history working with DC books, such as Nightwing and Birds of Prey. He also had a long run with the CrossGen’s series, Sojourn. Needless to say, Land has a great amount of experience with his short-time being in the comic drawing business.
However, it does not take a rocket scientist to see Land’s work as questionable.
But let’s backtrack slightly for a little bit of comic book art history and law suits.
You may notice the likeliness of other celebrities in things, such as Arnold Swarchenegger in the newest rendition of Terminator: Salvation, or Carrie Fisher as a pez dispenser as Princess Leia. Needless to say, the celebrities do not have a problem with this because the movie studios and a few others own the rights to the likeliness of their characters. The celebrities “look” in those movies, for those specific franchises, are owned. It’s like Warner Brothers owning the rights to Batman movies. Fox cannot make a movie with even a hint of Batman in it because Warner Brothers own Batman and most things related to him. It sounds pretty standard and easy-peasy.
When looking at comics, it has been well-documented that artists have used other photographs, as well as celebrities, commercials, movies, and so on, as photo references. It has been done for decades in comic books. One book in particular dealt with a lawsuit, being Marvel Comics’ Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #15, where the likeliness of Christian musician, Amy Grant was used on the cover. The lawsuit ended with “a US District Court seal[ing] an out-of-court settlement between Grant and Marvel in early 1991, with a consent decree that Marvel did not admit to any liability or wrongdoing.”
The question is, how far can this go? Enter: Greg Land.
I’ll start right off-the-bat, stating that I am not accusing Greg Land of anything. I am just simply providing material which has been found via the internet. What I would like to bring forward, is the accusatory remarks placed on Land about his work. He has been accused by folks on the internet for copying other artists’ work, as well as his own. He is also known for presumably taking a lot of images from pornography, which even you may believe with the images provided, such as the many orgasm-esque shots women give (ie. the one above). Why he would trace his own work, I can assume is for one of two things: First is with the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” argument, while the second is that he is lazy. You can read about the controversies with Land’s work here and here.
From a MyCup o’ Joe interview with Joe Quesada, he discusses Land’s work: “What’s happened with Greg is that it’s become a witch hunt and way too many people are having way too good a time hurting a tremendous artist’s reputation when he isn’t doing anything that is any different than any of us. Every line he draws now comes under scrutiny and in so many cases, people are ‘seeing’ things where are none.” Quesada also goes on to state: “I could go on and on about how many times Greg has bailed us out from some very bad deadline crunches.”
Comic critic Brian Cronin from Comic Book Resources, states about Land’s work on Uncanny X-Men #510: “People speak often about the ethical issues of someone copying a drawing directly from an image, and those concerns are likely fair enough, but when I think of Greg Land, my problems are not so much ethical ones, but the fact that his process results in terrible art and particularly terrible storytelling. When you only have a certain amount of poses to work with, you just can’t tell the story the correct way. And when the characters all look more or less the same (as they’re all based on the same small set of models/”actresses”), it just makes the book that much more incoherent.”
Needless to say, we have two well-established comic book people arguing two different points. One says what he does is okay, while the other suggests that he is blatantly copying other images and recycling older sketches.
I will leave you with these images pulled from many of his comics. I do not know all of the “authors” that made some of the GIF or JPEG images, but thank you. I did however, use some of the photos (most notably, the X-Men #500 ones) from an awesome blog named JimSmash. His blog is hilarious and well thought-out, so go there now! (Or after you finish reading this one). He also gave me great permission to use his photos. So thank you, Jim! He also referenced me to the 4th Letter.net blog, where they came up with an animated GIF image of the Uncanny X-Men #500 cover you’ll see below. As for the rest of the pictures, I found them through various Google searches leading to message boards. There are more photos like these too – I just have not uploaded them all.
Also look at ComicVine here, for more examples.
As for Land, you can assume what you will. Is it coincidence, actual recycling, or are people looking too far into his art?
If you do believe he is recycling or copying – is he being lazy, or is it because the drawing works so well on many different levels? If you don’t, then why not?
View the pictures here and sound off below. If you’d like, you can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram!
Uncanny X-Men #500 Variant Cover
Is Sandra Bullock Psylocke?
Photo Tracing and Recycling?
The many faces of The Thing
What pose is this, anyway?
An “Oh” Face and Some Recycling.
Is Jessica Alba a Trace or from Photo Reference?
Other Celebrity Coincidences
On the left, think of a young Neal McDonough, while Ben Afleck on the right. Beneath them, it is suggested that it is Topher Grace.
Are You an Oakland Raider’s Fan?
From Uncanny X-Men #509.
Possibly a Pornography Image?
Hugh Jackman is Still Wolverine
Updated, Sept 2020
The internet is making the rounds over a new accusation against Land. Artist Tristan Jones has found he has been “Landed” regarding Land’s new cover for an Alien Omnibus coming out. . .
Been stewing on this all night: I'm 100% sure I've been Greg Landed.
His cover for Marvel's upcoming omnibus + my drawings.
I saw this on IG and recognised the hands right away. Then the rest. Photoshop's snap function even locked my work in when I put it over his
Am I crazy? pic.twitter.com/tabHPrfKmt
— Tristan Jones (@WallMeatJones) September 1, 2020
Let’s see Jones’ case:
Hmm. We’ll see where this goes.
Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!
14 thoughts on “Porno, Crooks, and Comic Books”
interesting, I would have to agree with the possibility of recycling, but disagree with ‘tracing’. I think its gotten to the same area as music where you can arrive at a similar result by past memories influencing the work. Probably saw a cool magazine and used the cover.. that kind of thing.
i agree. i advise writer to do research on andy Warhol or roy licthenstein before you make any further accusations as to copyright infringement. Both of these artist took prints from other pics and altered them just enough so that almost identical prints could be used ad sold off in auctions as “original” art. not problem either here with this artist. Plus i’ve seen TERRIBLE orignal artists on grant morrison’s new x-men storyline run that made me cringe. I would’ve taken greg land land’s beautiful yet superficial any day over an orignal “bad” artist!
When you can’t tell female characters apart except for their hair color, as often happens with Greg Land “art,” it’s insulting to the characters. He’s not part of telling the story, he doesn’t believe in the women as individual characters with their own characteristics. He’s just filling the space where “woman” is supposed to go with a chick he thinks is hot. Quesada’s point about Land bailing them out of deadline crunches is absurd, what does that have to do with anything? And it’s almost more of indictment, because damn, if you’re just going to re-draw the same picture you did last week, it can’t possibly take that long.
I honestly wonder how Matt Fraction feels about Land, because if Fraction is okay with his female characters being represented like this, then I don’t have as much respect for Fraction. (Of course, Fraction’s the one who wrote Hisako cowering in tears during Sisterhood – while Land was ignoring all previous depictions of her and drawing her as generic (possibly Asian?) brunette.)
You could be right. However, a lot of the photos seem to be almost verbatim to the picture he is “tracing” from. With Photoshop however, almost anything seems possible.
Would you say that he traces his own work?
I agree with your points about Quesada and the “deadlines.” I mean, if he is to be recycling, applying a new skin to the frame, of course, would take less time – and in turn – meet deadlines. Is it right? For Marvel, yes. For being an artist? I don’t know. Where is the line drawn? (Pun not intended).
As for Fraction, I would say he is fine with Land’s work. Why? Because if he wanted to have Land removed, I believe Fraction has enough pull with that company to make it happen. I could be entirely wrong, however.
Thanks for the positive comments! Some of the pictures are really “uncanny,” eh?
Pingback: Wednesday’s Reviews: Result! | Uncanny Derek Presents:
Pingback: From the Fan's Desk | More Thoughts on the "All-New Marvel NOW!" Teasers « The ComixverseThe Comixverse
Being charitable, there are one or two of these (MAYBE two, even that might be pushing it) I could buy as just having used a photo as reference rather than tracing it, which I think is okay for an artist….but I hate how Land traces and reuses so much of his imagery! The thing that makes it really annoying is that I do actually quite like his STYLE of drawing so it’s a shame he doesn’t put the effort in to do his own work more often.
On a side note, pretty sure the image of Reed and Sue that was copied from the Jessica Alba photo is actually Bryan Hitch from his Fantastic Four run…this one: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v147/OptionalPlayer/SueCompare.jpg
I think it’s the scene where he gives her a micro-galaxy inside a piece of jewellery for an anniversary present or something similar….
Hey, Raz! Thanks for stopping by!
I find there’s a lot of debate about Land’s work. Some find it serviceable, while others deplorable. You know, when I first read books featuring Land’s art, I tolerated it.
I find It’s only when he’s regularly put on a book you read where one really start to notice and have gripes over him.
And while I could be wrong with posting the Sue Storm image you’ve referenced, I’ll take it down and replace it with “his take” on Black Canary.
It’s really not hard to find more examples.
Pingback: This Week in Comics (11/19/14): Marvel - The Rainbow Hub
Pingback: This Week in Comics (11/19/14): Marvel | Eve of Comics
Pingback: Comics and Kink: Greg Land and the (Sexy) Digital Art Debate - WWAC
Ok, so as an artist, I find tracing… prerty much unacceptable. He might be just using photos as a guide, and that’s normal and fine. As an artist you are not expected to know the human body so well that you never need a photo to help you. Many artists get photos of themselves but using the internet is not too uncommon. As for the facial expresions, I do think you all might be correct. I do get… Ahegao vibes (please don’t look ahegao up). But drawing every woman the same…? ok so as someone who also does anime/manga stuff I do want to defend him. I don’t actually think that it’s an insult to woman seeing that it’s not directed as such, and manga characters DO have the exact same face… and He does this for men too. So it’s not a thing that he only does to female characters. Overall, I need to do some more reasearch before jumping to conclusions
Hi Roie! Thanks for the reply.
I wrote this blog when Land was working on Uncanny X-Men back in 2009/2010. I recommend checking out any two or three books in a row (ie. #509, #510, #511) and you should be able to draw conclusions for yourself.
Probably laziness, could be something else altogether…I mean who knows, right? Without IP laws becoming better defined in this particular field, it really is hard to say where the ethical line should be drawn. That is not to say that IP laws define ethics, but they are a point of reference if nothing else. Especially since not a lot of artists seem to be opposing Land’s swipes till date.
I will say though, this is not a decent way of telling a visual story. Unless you have a fascination with overly polished or uncanny visual design, these character models actually ruin the characters they depict. A character should have their own personality, which includes body language – and these being superheroes, expressions of their particular powers. Why would Archangel fly with an identical posture to that of Namor? Why would Spiderman cling to the wall just like Nightcrawler does? Don’t even get me started on the female figures. The point is, if several of your characters has the same body language, are they really different characters or mere pallet swaps like the ninjas in Mortal Kombat 1, 2 and 3?