Looking at these examples of Salvador Larroca’s use of photo reference (I actually kind of love the “Tony Stark is Josh Holloway” one) makes me wonder two things:
- Why doesn’t Larroca have nearly a bad a rep as Greg Land for this kind of a thing? Is it that Larroca’s ref is less porny and more appropriate for the stories being told?
- Am I completely imagining that Marvel had instituted some kind of policy about this kind of thing after the King of Spain threatened legal action over the House of M swipe back in 2005?
That last one might sound like a joke, but I’m serious; I honestly thought that there’d been some kind of official statement about artists’ use of photo reference in light of that whole affair (Short version: Mike Mayhew photoshopped a picture of the King of Spain for a solicit cover of Magneto during the House of M crossover – Seriously, click on the link above and see that you can still see the King’s hairline behind Magneto’s head in the image – and everyone noticed. Marvel substituted the cover on the finished book for something more original), but I can’t find any reference to it online (I did, however, find this lovely little blogpost about computers and photo ref by Stuart Immonen from 2007).
I shouldn’t be too surprised, I guess; Land and Larroca have been popular and successful artists for Marvel in recent years despite/because of heavy use of photo ref, being placed on high-profile books and apparently drawing in readers who don’t care about their art sources or methods as much as the online commenters who find it appalling (Bryan Hitch, too, was another high-profile Marvel artist who relied heavily on photo ref). If the publisher did have a policy against swiping from photos, editors were either unaware of the amount of swiping being done, or were happy to turn a blind eye to it as long as sales kept up and no-one threatened legal action.
I’m ambivalent about photo ref usage; I don’t see a problem with it, as long as it’s not reusing an image without adjustment/artistic input and appropriate to the story being told; Hitch’s usage, say, instead of the orgasmic-no-matter-what women of Greg Land comics. The Larocca image above does seem to be a little too close to its source for my liking, but it’s also a relatively small part of the comic in which is appears, all told. But how much swiping is forgivable?