Friday, November 30, 2007

Licensed Comics and Actor's Likenesses

I came across an interesting assertion in a review of the recent Angel comic presenting the sequel to the five-season Buffy spinoff ("season six", sorta, although they're not calling it that -- Johanna, from whom I got the link to the review, implies it's for contractual reasons, although I don't know the details). Anyway, in his review of the first issue, KC Carlson writes:
Franco Urru, is the regular artist for this series and does a very creditable job in relation to other media-related (“licensed”) titles. It’s always hard to judge the artwork in licensed titles, because you never know if the book has been okayed to use the actual actors’ likenesses, or if the likenesses were denied, and the artist must use generic likeness (or the third, worst-case scenario: likeness have been approved, but the artist cannot draw likenesses.) I’m guessing that in this case, since the property has been dormant, that actor likenesses weren’t even bothered with (they often add much $$$ to a budget), so that Urru has been instructed to keep the faces generic.
"...if the book has been okayed to use the actual actor's likenesses..."? Huh?? I never knew this was an issue; I always assumed that the rights to make a comic of the show included the rights to make the characters look like the actors. Quite frankly, it seems totally bizarre to me to imagine doing a comic based on a TV show (or movie) on any other terms.

Whenever the comics characters don't look like the actors, I always thought it was due to artistic ineptitude... or, at an outside chance, deliberately artistic choice. Now I hear that it may be a budget issue?

"Generic likenesses"? Is this going to fool anyone? We all know what they should look like; if they don't, it just looks... wrong. And what's a generic likeness anyway... a smiley face?

This is really weird. Does anyone know anything about this? I don't know KC Carlson from Adam; is he right about this?

1 comment:

Jacob T. Levy said...

You would think. But see Wendt & Ratzenberger v Host and Paramount-- the actors who played Norm and Cliff have successfully blocked licensing of the likenesses of the characters.