ITEM! Holy Skrull-Cow! Where’s Miss Marble when yah need her? Yours Truly just discovered that the Mighty Marvel Original Art/Recreated Art Mystery runs a lot deeper than most of us probably suspected. Apparently my amazingly monolithic alma mater has been hiring artists to “recreate” covers, interior pages, and in some cases, entire issues of Marvel’s Silver Age classics for the Marvel Masterworks and Omnibus reprint books. And by recreate I mean trace. And by trace I mean forge. It seems that they’re doing this whenever stats or film of the original issues turns up missing. Let’s go over that again so it has chance to really sink in. Rather than scanning original print copies of the missing pages or books and print that (as was done in GTI Corp’s dramatic-but-now-nearly-departed DVD collections), they’ve elected to go to special recreation artists that would never otherwise be hired to draw a Marvel comic and have them make fastidious forgeries of classic Kirby and Ditko art. And if yah don’t believe the Smilin’ One, then see 20th Century Danny Boy’s excellent examination of this egregious exercise in ersatz engraving.
Far be it from your Uncle Stanley to cast the first stick at anyone for faking something, but there should at the very least be full disclosure in these books so that readers know exactly when and where they’re not really getting the genuine article. Here’s Danny Boy’s short list of known recreated art in these high-end reprints. Go read that and then come back here for more!
Back? Good! It’s not like we didn’t face this same problem back in my day. An entire issue of The Amazing Spider-Man went missing from our files way back in the late 60s — Spidey #29 to be exact. Never reprinted until Marvel Tales #168 (Oct. 1984), the Marvel production department had to reshoot the entire ish from a print copy and then clean up the resulting stats via knife, white-out and some re-lettering. But Marvel did two things back in’84 that kept it all on the up-an-up: 1.) They told readers what they had done to restore the Ditko art, and 2.) They restored the Ditko art from stats, they didn’t redraw it. That’s at least two ethical lines that have been crossed in the current reprints. Full disclosure, disclaimers and discourse is the way to go with these Masterworks and Omnibus reprints that contain recreated artwork. You hear that, Joltin’ Joe Quesada? Is it real or is it Memorex? True Believers want to know!
P.S. Can you imagine the poor sap that gets sorely saddled someday with recreating Vince Colletta’s inks on classic issues of The Mighty Thor? Will Marvel supply the artist with his own whisk broom to ink with, or will he they have to buy their own? Yeesh! I just gave myself cold chills with that one, pilgrims. Now if someone wants to hire Mike Royer to re-ink Jack’s entire Thor run from his pencils stats, I’m sure that’s one recreation we could all get behind! Your Fearless Leader (Emeritus) hath spoken!