Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Original Art Stories: Marvel Masterworks Non-Original Artists, Part II: Chris Fama

Way back when I discussed the practice of Marvel using largely uncredited artists for recreation work for their Marvel Masterworks line. You can read it here. Since then my article has turned into a saga, worthy of at least a two part epic as inked by Vinnie Colletta, or a made for TV movie starring Sonny Tufts.

At the time a lot of the names mentioned were new to me, and I suspect they were new to a lot of others as well. In some circles the practice of having art totally recreated was common knowledge, yet I came across more than one person who had no idea, including quite a few people who should have known but never did. In all of the fighting over buns that's gone on since (it's starting to denigrate into tongue poking, finger pointing, he said/she said type stuff now) a few names have surfaced, one of which is a guy called Chris Fama.

Chris does a fair bit of work for Marvel and has offered to share what he does so that I, and hopefully a few others, can begin to understand the levels and depths of what Marvel is doing. I sent Chris a few questions and he replied in a very speedy and timely fashion, showing that he is a decent guy - and for the record, yet again, I've nothing against the people doing the work, I have an issue with anyone not being credited for physically drawing pages for inclusion in these hybrid reprints. I began by asking Chris how does Marvel select the pages to be reprinted and if there is a criteria for selection. "Its generally whats in the film archive," says Chris. "We do try to find original art, but most of the time deadlines are tight and there's no way to know who owns what. Sure John Byrne owns some pages, but today was the first I ever heard of it. You would hope owners would offer up their pages as fans of the medium, but many are looking for checks from Marvel. Take my word for it, Masterworks is no cash cow. " So does Marvel seek out the source material then? How wide is the search? Chris has an answer for that. Do Marvel search for original source material? "Extensively," says Chris. However for the most part, Marvel have been fairly, "Disorganized, but Cory is centralizing the materials - much of super high quality (that's why the Atlas books look so great). "

My next line question was about the the parameters for the recreations and did they have to be line-for-line. "I always work from existing film," replied Chris, "I've never redrawn anything, and would refuse. But I've never been asked. Don't even own a light box. It's all digital!"

That led me to a different area. The reason I brought this issue up was due to the fact that Michael Keheller's art rep was selling physical pages, but not for profit. The pages being sold were to benefit HERO, a damn worthy cause. I couldn't help but wonder if there's a different contract for Masterworks/sanctioned recreations and general Marvel work. "It was a fluke that Michael did these jobs," says Chris. "He's 100% digital from film, just like I am."

As for the credits, "I'm always credited," claims Chris. "I've tightened up tons of films. Its all in the credits."

So there it is. As always I'm happy to present all sides of the stories. And thanks to Chris for remaining level headed throughout all of this and supplying as many answers as he could. Now to keep digging.

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