Twitter schools San Francisco MOMA on Roy Lichtenstein

Happy birthday to the artist/swiper who copied comics panels by Russ Heath, Jack Kirby and many others.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, or SF MOMA, took to Twitter earlier this week to wish a happy birthday to Roy Lichtenstein, the pop artist who came to fame in the 1960s and passed away in 1997.

Lichtenstein is notorious in comics circles, and not in a good way. Many of his paintings were copies of comic book panels by artists like Jack Kirby, Russ Heath and Irv Novick, and rarely did he credit the original artists, nor were they compensated. As such, many comic artists and fans have called him a copycat at best and a plagiarist at worst. (Well, maybe not “at worst;” I’m sure much has probably been said about him that’s worse than that).

SF MOMA, however, seems to have a different opinion. In their description on social media, they said: “Lichtenstein transferred the clich├ęd comic-book compositions to the canvas with a projector and simplified them; the resulting paintings mimic the appearance of four-color printing, despite being meticulously handmade.”

“Clich├ęd comic-book compositions.” Yep, they really tweeted that out.

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Comics Lowdown: Russ Heath, Yim Yee-King pass away

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Passings: Eisner Hall of Fame artist Russ Heath passed away last week after battling cancer, his grandson, Lee Kosa, reported on Twitter. “His mastery of the craft of illustration encouraged me to pursue the arts and it is a joy to see my son now filling his own sketchbooks. Thank you for passing along the joys of drawing and storytelling,” Kosa wrote.

In the late 1940s, Heath began his career at Timely Comics, which eventually became Marvel Comics. While there, he drew many of their Western titles like Two-Gun Kid and Kid Colt. Later his work expanded to include their superhero titles, as well as war comics for EC Comics and DC Comics, where he co-created The Haunted Tank and worked on Sea Devils, G.I. Combat and Our Army at War, among other titles. He also worked on the “Little Annie Fanny” strip that appeared in Playboy, even moving into the Playboy Mansion in Chicago for a time while working on it. Later he’d move into animation, where he worked on G.I. Joe, Godzilla and “Pryde of the X-Men.” Heath was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2009 and received the National Cartoonists Society’s Milton Caniff Award in 2014. He was 91 when he died.

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