Marvel Artist Complains After 'X-Men: Apocalypse' Giveaway Uses His Work

"Seriously, is a thank you and a note of credit pushing it?" asks Bill Sienkiewicz, who painted the Dazzler artwork used in a Comic-Con promotion.
Courtesy of Sophie Turner/Twitter

An attempt to promote the upcoming digital release of this summer's X-Men: Apocalypse has gone awry when a fan giveaway at San Diego Comic-Con led to a beloved comic book artist publicly condemning 20th Century Fox's efforts.

Bill Sienkiewicz, known for work on such Marvel titles as X-Men spinoff New Mutants and Elektra: Assassin, took to Facebook to complain after discovering that Fox was giving away limited edition promotional replicas of an album cover used as a prop in the movie, using artwork he had created three decades earlier. Previously unaware of the promo item, he discovered its existence at Comic-Con itself when fans asked him to sign them, he explained.

"I've been doing this comic-book thing for years. I'm aware most everything is Work-Made-for-Hire," Sienkiewicz wrote on his post. "Still, I received no prior notification (a common courtesy), no thank you (ditto), no written credit in any form whatsoever either on the piece or in connection with the premium, absolutely no compensation and no comp copies of the album. It's like two losing trifectas wrapped in an altogether indifferent f— you."

The artist, who originally created the image as part of a cover for Marvel's Dazzler No. 29 in 1983, in collaboration with Marvel's in-house designer Eliot R. Brown, went on to say that he had to be physically restrained by colleagues from "making a scene" at the Fox booth during the show about the giveaway.

"Am I overreacting here?" he continued. "Do I have the right — at least on behalf of fellow creators — to, at the very least, expect decent treatment and some kind of minuscule, even boilerplate, acknowledgment? Asking that they part with a few coins, a few shekels, is insanely naive and hilarious I know (Would be a nice gesture, though, and go a long way in soothing my mutant Polish artist rage), but seriously, is a thank you and a note of credit pushing it?"

The comments section of the Facebook post is worth investigating, given that it contains responses from other artists and comic book professionals agreeing that Sienkiewicz is owed credit, at the very least; of particular note are comments from Harley Quinn co-writer Jimmy Palmiotti that "this is all on Marvel who sold [Fox] the rights, and obviously didn't pay you or even let you know it exists," and artist Mike Collins, who notes, "I thought Marvel's thing was they could use your art with impunity if they use — is it less than 90%? — but if they use the whole thing, you're due."

Curiously enough, the Dazzler album doesn't even appear in the theatrical cut of X-Men: Apocalypse. Instead, it had been used in a tweet promoting the movie by star Sophie Turner, with the still originated in a scene cut from the finished movie where the young Jean Grey (Turner's character), Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan), Jubilee (Lana Condor) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) abandoned the Xavier School for a trip to the mall.

Neither Fox nor Sienkiewicz have responded to a request for comment.

X-Men: Apocalypse will be released on digital HD on Sept. 9.

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