How Wizard World Worked With Buzz To Eject Rip-Off Artists

Comic book artist Buzz has come back from Wizard World Minneapolis, where he became somewhat of a cause celebre opposing an artist selling ripped off artwork and causing quite a scene. Bleeding Cool’s article on him, which ran over the weekend, became one of the most read of the year so far. There was also criticism of him, however, for the language he used.

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We also noted that Wizard World had removed their site’s details from the artist. Well, Buzz decided to give us a little detail of the events from his perspective. He writes;

Just got back from the show and had time to depressurize and recall the whole weekend and the craziness.

Here’s the full low down on what happened.

First off I’m an old school traditional artist who’s been in the business for 30 years. Comic Book conventions and especially Artist Alleys were where I spent my time at these shows. It was there I got my first big break into comic books as an artist at age 15. I talked to artists, showed them my work, asked for tips on how to improve, and eventually spotted by an art director for Neal Adams’ Continuity Studio and that lead to working for Neal.

Nowadays Artist Alleys are peppered with print vendors selling knockoffs, setting up multiple tables of sh-tty prints,mostly made from downloaded images from Deviant Art or google image search.
It drives me up the wall to see these setups where actual artists could be sitting instead. And I have been very vocal about this for years now.

Last Thursday during setup at Wizard World Minneapolis, I noticed few tables down from me in Artist Alley were assigned to “Musetap Studio”, which is a vendor under the guise of a studio to sell cheap prints. These “Musetap” setups are all over the convention circuit, sometime they’re at 2-3 conventions in the same weekend. Now, if the con organizers want to sell these guys table space that’s fine, it’s a business. But to have them setup in the Artist Alley is total bullsh-t. There are no artists there to represent, meet fans, or sign the art. It’s just some schmuck selling cheap prints at 5 for $20. It is unfair to any real artist who had to pay for a table, pay for travel and lodging and not recoup any of it because they can’t compete with Musetap’s cheap print prices. Have them pay for a vendor booth and keep them out of the Alley.

So, I attended the pre show exhibitor meeting and brought this to Wizard’s attention. The Floor manager was very responsive and spoke to me about how they can take care of it, and any input on to improve things in general in the Alley. He also asked if myself and other artists would alert him about anything looking suspicious. So, myself and another artist walked the floor to check things out. He spotted Lundmark’s table in the Alley and called me to check it out. I went over there and Lundmark had several pieces of artwork printed on canvas, bags, placemats and a lot of them were hung on the wall as original art.

There were pieces by Adi Granov, John Romita Jr., Mike Deodato, Dale Keown, Andy Brase, my dear friend Simone Bianchi and a painting of Batman by Neal Adams which was a personal piece Neal painted and hangs in his office, he took the image off of Neal’s site. I asked who did all the art and he claimed he was the artist. I pointed out and named all the pieces by the original artist and asked to explain himself. He said it was fan art. That’s when I lost it. I told him he should be ashamed of himself for stealing art from legitimate artists, that he’s a con artist ripping off the the people buying his “art” and taking money out of the real artist’s hand and pissing on the real artists who painstakingly created all those images. These were not fan art, fan art is when you interpret a favorite subject in your own approach and execution. These were just images printed with the original artist’s signature removed. I then alerted Wizard about it.

I made the meme and wrote a condensed version of what happened and posted on my Facebook wall. I was still angry at the balls this guy had ripping off these artists,so I expressed it in my usual salty vernacular about how I felt. I also wanted to alert the artists, show organizers and fans on my friend’s list.

The next morning Wizard informed me that they were working on removing Lundmark and refunding his table fees for this and other future shows they paid for. They also said Lundmark had filed a complaint against me.

I was then told by my friend who spotted Lundmark’s table that the wife of LundMark,after getting a refund and removal email, went online and did a background check on my friend and sent out a mass email to Wizard’s execs and staff about a 20 years old personal infraction to discredit him. This was a f-cked up thing to do and a huge invasion of privacy. Wizard saw her email as nothing pertaining to the issue at hand. But, boy did this p-ss off my friend and me.

The wife of Lundmark then harassed people that saw me go off on Lundmark to not spread gossip and she would “do something” if they did. Then she walked over to me and said You should stop this bullsh-t, you don’t know what the f-ck you’re talking about, yata yata..so I replied go f-ck yourself. She then said they were leaving because of me,I replied Good, good f-cking riddance.

Wizard banned them, I have to say Wizard was fair and fast in how they responded to this problem,and I’m quite pleased with them. They also assured me they will be working on freeing the Alley of print vendors and non artists in their future shows.

What I did, I did for my artistic family. but some just don’t get the message or the intent of my post. Nor do they realize it was on my personal wall in my very own lewd vernacular.

This was not about copyrights or trademark infringements of IP, this was about some assh-le stealing art of my fellow artists, friends and mentors created and claiming as his own. And that’s a big f-cking no no in my book. The owners of the IP will handle things on their own, I’m looking out for my artistic family.

And as for labeling me a homophobe for using “c-cksucker” to describe the… cocksucker, well the word was and will always be just an insult with no hidden agenda or meaning. If I had used ” Motherf-cker” would I have been a… materphobe?

I make apologies to no one about how I conduct myself, they can think of me however they want, I really don’t give a f-ck.

I did my duty as a friend to my colleagues, and I stood up to a thief. That’s it. And I will do it again, anytime.

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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