Integrity Fail

So I’ve been stewing on something for a few days now. At first I was all Benefit of the Doubt Girl, but the more I’ve thought about it, the more it bugs me. Of course, it is something I have zero control over and may not fully understand. Perhaps you can help me.

On Friday, I saw mention of the similarities between a few pages in Madame Xanadu #28 and the general premise of the main character in Chew. Madame Xanadu is on my pull list, so I had already read the issue and noticed said similarity because I also read Chew monthly.

Basically, in last week’s issue of Madame Xanadu, there were splash pages (not just panels) showing the female protagonist having psychic visions of the food she eats. It was so similar to Chew that it even featured an orange grove and images of a slaughterhouse. When I read it, I said out loud, “Um. That is just like Chew. Please don’t use the word cibopath. PLEASE.” It didn’t, and the book went on to say that the woman was a clairvoyant who needed “training,” as her visions were working in reverse. Thus, she went to Madame Xanadu to be mentored. OK. Fine.

What’s giving me so much heartburn is that I love both books, and it would seem that one has stolen from the other. It’s as if my two best friends were fighting. I’ve flat-out said Chew is the best comic book I have ever read. I meant that. I adore Madame Xanadu too, to the point that I am genuinely sad that the book is ending. Wagner has given heart and soul to Nimue all along. But I gave specific praise to Madame Xanadu editor Shelly Bond for this current story arc, because it features a group of up-and-coming female artists. It is in this very arc that the swipe occurred.

I don’t presume to know what goes on at these publishing companies; I’m just a fangirl. I’m sure every writer has their process, and the way they communicate to the artists probably varies from person to person, and an editor’s involvement can also vary. But how is it that the very same editor to whom Chew was pitched is the editor on a different book with a strikingly similar element? Mind you, Vertigo rejected Layman and Guillory’s pitch for Chew.

Did Vertigo think that no one would notice the similarity to a New York Times bestselling book?

Madame Xanadu ends at issue #29, so let’s just throw the credibility of the entire book out the door right before it dies?!!!

Is this the sort of unethical bullshit artists and writers have to worry about when pitching their ideas? Is that even legal?!

This being Election Day and all, I suppose these aren’t things I should be getting my panties in a bunch about. There are certainly grander issues to concern myself with, but … Nimue deserves better! As Jimmy Fallon would say with a bad British accent as Robert Pattinson … as Edward Cullen: I’m BOTHERED!

9 thoughts on “Integrity Fail

  1. I’m not very bothered by this at all, I must admit. Simultaneous creation is extremely common in all arts and direct plagiarism far more rare than is assumed. Despite popular cynical belief, most creators and editors don’t want to steal from every one around them. They want their work to stand apart; a difficult task in a crowded comics market.

    I think these two stories are actually quite different in tone and style. It should be noted, too, that this idea is not new to either book. Any book or film or television show that has dealt with psychic phenomena has touched on this device.

    The fan community seems to enjoy stories like this. Many people concern themselves with the issue of who created what and who stole what from who. Truly, everything is shared and overlaps to some degree. Alan Moore’s ‘Promethea’ was Wonder Woman. Mark Waid’s ‘Irredeemable’ is quite clearly Superman. Art is a medium of shared influence. It’s what the individual artists do with those shared ideas that ultimately matter.

    Both ‘Madame Xanadu’ and ‘Chew’ are great books worked on by talented creators, that bring joy and entertainment to many readers. Concerning ourselves with “who was first” is a losing game.

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    • I’ve seen the overlap in comic books, simultaneous creation does happen. I’ve not really concerned myself with it previously. I think I am just wildly invested in both of these books.

      I admit though, your perspective takes me back to my previous “benefit of the doubt” inclination. Xanadu is one of the books that I read as soon as I get it, and I did flash to Chew when reading it … prior to reading any hoopla. But, as the story went on, it did take an entirely different turn, and it set up for a good final issue.

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      • Your passion and “wild investment” is what makes you a great critic. You so obviously want the integrity of the work and all artists involved to be unimpeachable. You’re a hopeless romantic and endless optimist. That’s why I read you.

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  2. I understand your being bugged… even if the similarities are a remarkable coincidence, it’s a distraction – I find I make the connection involuntarily and it pulls me out of the story in cases like this. I sincerely hope it IS coincidence!

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  3. Both characters could be called ripoffs, if one wanted to.

    In 1987 there was a character called Deadhead in the Wild Cards series of novels edited by George R.R. Martin. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deadhead_(Wild_Cards)

    When Chew was first released, many Wild Cards readers cried foul, since the powers (eating parts of something bestows memories from that thing) were almost identical, and both characters are Asian men.

    I think it’s just a matter of a good idea being used for different stories. After all, no one gets upset when another super-strong invulnerable character shows up.

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