According to the artist Peter Blake, in an interview with Time Out Hong Kong, legendary pop artist Roy Lichtenstein didn’t even like comics.
He recalls that “Lichtenstein, who originally started off as an abstract expressionist, didn’t particularly enjoy comics. In fact, he painted his first rendition of the cartoon character Popeye the Sailor Man as a gift for his young son; when a buyer saw Lichtenstein’s painting, it was sold right away and Lichtenstein was requested to paint more.”
Lichtenstein, famed for taking comic book panels, tweaking them and reproducing them at a massive size, created a comic book aesthetic that still informs much of design today – even if it was repurposed/stolen from its original form.
None of the original artists for the work that Lichtenstein would make millions from, received a penny. A number tried to capitalise on his success however, with Marvel rebranding their titles A Pop Art Production for a time.
Lichtenstein has been heavily criticised by many comic fans and professionals for stealing work uncredited and unpaid, basking in the glory of others. but I’ve always felt that his work was a genuinely transformative piece of art and a masterstroke to take something so small and reproduce it so large, preserving the foibles of the printing press and the comic book process. And those enlarged dots of colour are visually addictive, especially when seen in the flesh, as it were.
However, given this revelation, I expect to be in even more of a minority over this issue than usual.