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Incarnate is a comic book series published by Radical Comics and created, written, and penciled by Nick Simmons (son of KISS member Gene Simmons). It is infamously known for its plagiarism from several manga series, notably Bleach, and from large art communities such as deviantArt. Nick Simmons, who was later found out as an art thief, denied the accusation claims made by many outraged artists and fans.
Incarnate Plagiarism Exposed
On August 9, 2009 , a Youtube user under the name of jimsupreme uploaded a video review of different comics for his Youtube web series, “Geeking Out Weekly”. In his review of Incarnate, he shows skepticism towards the originality and illustrations of the first issue made by Nick Smmons.
“I like this one… Not so much after a second look. It’s very minimalistic, there’s a lot of art references towards Hellsing, One Piece. There’s a few other animes I could pick out [and mangas]. It’s almost like he’s ripping right from the other books. And I mean that literally. You look at the books and if you’re any manga fan, you’re gonna know it on sight.”
However, on October 16, jimsupreme makes it clear that he is certain upon Nick Simmons plagiarism in the second issue.
“This is just another horror show of copyright infringement. And I mean that quite literally…
…looking at this book, I recognize SO many characters from SO many series, it’s hard to count. And the fact that he is getting away with it, I just don’t understand it at all. It’s horrible; his writing is okay. But everything else in this series just makes me go “Why?”
It is not until late February 2010, concerns were raised that Nick Simmons had plagiarized several character designs, plot segments, and dialogue from numerous manga series. A lengthy LiveJournal entry provided compelling comparisons between Nick Simmons’ Incarnate and Tite Kubo’s Bleach.
Note: All the pictures are labeled, but generally, BLEACH is in black-and-white while INCARNATE is in color.
As soon as the LiveJournal entry surfaced, rage swept across the web. Nick Simmons’ deviantArt page and Facebook page flooded with hateful messages, yet Simmons had not aired his side of the matter as to why many were blaming him for art theft. A troll took this golden opportunity and signed up as Nick Simmons on Facebook.
“Listen everyone… you’re all digging your own graves posting on this forum. Facebook is looking into suspending this page and issuing any warnings for slander against me. I can’t make this any clearer… I DID NOT STEAL OTHER PEOPLE’S WORK!! I may have appropriated some styles, but I did not steal. My work is full… of homages to everyone in my medium – not theft! You guys are just a bunch of mean spirited mouth-breathers – except all my fans on here who have rightfully supported me. I will ask Facebook not to press any charges against you if you give me a sincere apology here in this thread. Please do so. Facebook keeps all your IP addresses and info… so they will suspend your account if I do not receive proper apologies.”
“Okay.. now looking at some of these photo comparisons, I can see why a few people are up-in-arms. I can tell you right now these are all purely coincidences. I never even heard of Bleach! Who would name a comic after laundry detergent? When I channel my energy when drawing my book sometimes I can pull stuff in that I never seen before. It’s like i’m possessed when I start thinking and drawing. Perhaps I just got on the same wave length that all artists share.”
“My dad just called and said I have a real case against all this slander. If Facebook doesn’t give into my demands soon there’s going to be hell to pay. Now, I have to damage control on another site – more people being mislead. Now I have to deal with this and my book’s deadline. I’m not sure how I can think and draw under all this pressure.”
“I have no idea how people are saying my comic looks like that bleach magma. My book is in color and the other is not. My book reads left to right… the other reads right to left. Besides some vague similarities, they’re nothing alike. I put my heart and soul into my book – great story and awesome characters… yet people are trying to pull me down. And NO… I didn’t trace or copy other peoples work. Most of these photos are starting to look like photoshop manipulations to make me look bad. You can’t trust everything you see on the Internet.”
…I never even watched a japanese cartoon.Those silly cartoons are just for kids anyways. And, I never even read a japanese comic book or “magma”. Don’t they write their comics backwards anyway – doesn’t make sense. I suffer from some dyslexia so I would have great trouble reading a comic book backwards. I’m going to say thing again. I DID NOT STEAL. When it’s all said and done, people will know the truth and we’ll all put this little “incident” behind us. For those interested, you could get my comic book series at 30% off. I’ll provide a coupon link later. Please stop the uncalled for hating. Buy my books – support us artists!
As over the top the rebuttals and threats may seem, many took the bait. Facebook Trolling successful.
Tite Kubo, author of Bleach receives word about Simmons’ plagiarism and made a couple of nonchalant Twitter posts on the situation. He only has this to say:
“So, uh, from yesterday night until this morning, there’ve been an amazing number of messages from overseas fans along the lines of “There’s a manga imitating BLEACH in America!” Well, I had a look at the site and I don’t understand English that well, but I think what’s written there is something like “It’s a manga drawn by Gene Simmons’ son, Nick Simmons.”
“I’m more concerned in the fact that Gene Simmons’ son is a manga-ka than whether he’s plagiarizing me or not.”
Plagiarism vs. Piracy
So what draws the line between copyright infringement and violation of creators’ rights? Debate stirs on Twitter.
“The sales lost to mass consumption of Bleach fansubs/scanlations hurts Tite Kubo far more than any half-assed Nick Simmons comic. It’s fine that you love Tite Kubo’s work & want to defend his honor -- but while you’re at it, buy his damn books instead of downloading it.”
“I’m putting out there that some of the fans who are piling on Nick Simmons are throwing rocks from glass houses. It’s not about the money so much as asking people to really ask themselves what “supporting” an artist you love really means."
On February 25, Radical Comics announced that it would be halting distribution and production of Incarnate “until the matter is resolved”.
On March 1, Nick released an apology via a representative but still remains to take no responsibility for art theft.
Like most artists I am inspired by work I admire. There are certain similarities between some of my work and the work of others. This was simply meant as an homage to artists I respect, and I definitely want to apologize to any Manga fans or fellow Manga artists who feel I went to far. My inspirations reflect the fact that certain fundamental imagery is common to all Manga. This is the nature of the medium. I am a big fan of Bleach, as well as other Manga titles. And I am certainly sorry if anyone was offended or upset by what they perceive to be the similarity between my work and the work of artists that I admire and who inspire me.
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