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Nick Simmons is lucky Kenpachi Zoraki's not real

Nick Simmons, son of Gene Simmons, apparently writes comics. And apparently, those comics flagrantly plagiarize panels, character designs and dialogue from Tite Kubo’s manga Bleach. The parallels are so close, Simmons’ publisher has halted production on his comic, pending an investigation.

Pro-tip: if you plagiarize (jackass), make sure you go after small fry, and not, say, one of the top-selling manga in Japan and North America. And not copy the design of, say, one of the most popular cosplay characters ever. Seriously. I know Bleach is awesome and everything, and we’d all love if we could draw half that well and write characters that compelling and build worlds that complex. We’d all love to have Kenpachi Zoraki — that spiky-haired fellow laughing insanely, in the panels linked above — wandering around inside our heads. After all, he’s an indestructible badass who bears a striking resemblance to Ian McShane, and his best friend is a cute pink-haired girl who rides around on his shoulder, occasionally steering him toward “play dates” that involve obscene amounts of blood and pain. Evidence:

Unfortunately, Nick Simmons didn’t come up with Kenpachi himself. And while there is an argument to be made for the long history of pose grabs and tracing in comics (you can read about it in the comments thread at this Comic Book Resources post), the truth is that if Simmons were half as talented as the manga-ka he lifted those poses from, he’d have come up with something that could stand on its own merit. I’d have no problem if Simmons were at Comikket, selling Zoraki doujins for the cost of printing just like everyone else. Then he’d be a fan artist. Then his position in the creative ecosystem would be perfectly obvious and, strangely, more secure. In fact, he could forge an apprenticeship out of his fan works, and move on to commercial material if and when he was ready. He’s just not ready, yet, and the editor who approved these drawings should have recognized that.

Because really, what self-respecting comics editor doesn’t know at least a little something about manga, these days? What, there’s this whole wave of material out there that’s devouring the youth market and the female market and Simmons’ editor didn’t know about it? Really? Really? Well, maybe. Radical, Simmons’ publisher, is no stranger to copyright suits. Maybe it should come as no surprise that someone waved these drawings through. But it means that if, on the vanishingly small chance that Simmons did this unwittingly, his comics career will have been tarnished from the very beginning by accusations of plagiarism. And not just plagiarism, but stupid plagiarism.

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  • Madeline Ashby… a science fiction writer, futurist, speaker, and immigrant living in Toronto. She writes a column for the Ottawa Citizen. She is represented by Anne McDermid & Associates, and Jason Richman at UTA. You can buy her books here.

    She has worked with Intel Labs, the Institute for the Future, SciFutures, Nesta, Data & Society, The Atlantic Council, the ASU Center for Science and the Imagination, and others. Her short fiction has appeared in Nature, FLURB, Tesseracts, Imaginarium, and Escape Pod. Her other essays and criticism have appeared at BoingBoing, io9, WorldChanging, Creators Project, Arcfinity,, MISC Magazine, FutureNow, and elsewhere.

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