Art of the Swipe

Firestorm #66, Dec. 1987, Penciled by Joe Brozowski; Green Lantern #156, Sept. 1982, Illustrated by Gil Kane.

In comic book parlance, a swipe is an illustration by one artist that heavily references an illustration by another. This is not to be confused with an homage, which is generally credited back to the original source. With swipes, the artist kinda hopes no one notices. Which I do. Quite often.

I'm sure I'm not the only one; you read enough comics, certain images are bound to get burned into your noggin. I first realized I had a knack for spotting swipes years ago while flipping through Firestorm #66. Green Lantern guest stars, and I knew immediately that the first shot of the character was referenced from another book. Sure enough, I dug out Green Lantern #156 (illustrated by Gil Kane), and there it was. You have to give Firestorm artist Joe Brozowski credit; if you're gonna swipe images of GL, you might as well swipe from the best.

Which is sort of my point. I mean, Brozowski didn't draw Green Lantern regularly, and would understandably pull reference of the character before doing so in this issue. It's easy to see how he might have gotten carried away. So I don't point it out as a "gotcha!" to the artist. It was nearly twenty-five years ago, after all. For the most part, I find that artists tend to use swipe early in their careers, and as they get more confident in their own style, the practice tapers off. Heck—like most comic book artists, I practically learned to draw copying the work of my idols as a kid, and am still not above pulling out a Garcia-Lopez comic to figure out how he drew, say, a foot in a particularly complicated pose.

posted by Jeff