Renato Arlem and Art Theft, Part 1

The last time I posted about Renato Arlem, I looked at some of his art from Freedom Fighters, which consisted of taking an image and reusing it as many times as he could. Renato Arlem is the king of copy-pasting.

At the time, I had no clue how he managed to give the impression of a bad green screen in a comic. Then I started comparing some of the objects in the comics to photos and found some that were nearly identical. As far as I can tell, there are two things that could have happened: either Arlem has been tracing photos or he’s been pasting photos directly into Photoshop and then adding filters.

I spent a long time debating whether to simply call this photo-referencing or not. However, this is an attempt to pass the work of others off as his own. Even if he’d gotten permission from the person who photographed the objects, failing to give credit would still be considered illegal. And there’s really only one term that adequately describes this: art theft.

(Unless he took the pictures himself, in which case, it’s lazy and a bizarre form of self-plagiarism.)

I know this is a serious accusation, but I’ve got proof. Enough proof that this will be a multi-part post.

NYPD Squad Car

Hawkgirl #60 - NYPD Squad Car
Police Car from Hawkgirl #60 This is a NYPD squad car.

  • The marking beside the back window (directly above the back tire) is the Chevy Impala logo.
  • The writing on the back door says “COURTESY PROFESSIONALISM RESPECT”. This is a slogan that is specific to the New York City police department.
  • The writing at the front is the word “POLICE” but too blurry to read.
  • The logo by the front tire is the NYPD logo. (Again, blurred out so it isn’t easy to recognize.)
  • The word “POLICE” was typed and put where “NYPD” would appear on squad cars.
  • ST. ROCH” appears where a squad car would have a car number and precinct number.

Wikipedia has some photos for comparison. Or you can browse through this gallery of NYPD squad cars. The 2008 Chevy Impalas at the second page are pretty much identical to the car in this image. Oh, and he used the exact same picture in X-Factor #11, which came out a year before Hawkgirl.

X-Factor #11 - NYPD Police Car

He couldn’t be bothered to find a different photo to steal. Now that is lazy. I wish I could say that this is a one-time thing. But looking at comics drawn by Arlem over the past few years, it’s pretty apparent that a good chunk of the backgrounds are stolen. Not to mention Arlem’s annoying habit of reusing images that he himself drew.

NYC Taxi Cab

Last Family of Krypton #3 - NYC Cab

A picture of a New York City taxi cab, edited to replace “NYC” with Metropolis. From Superman: The Last Family of Krypton #3.

Profiles in Photo Theft

Profiles in Courage - Stealing Book Art

From Superman – The Last Family of Krypton #2. Because drawing a book cover is hard.

Egyptian Knick Knacks

Hawkgirl #61 - Anubis Statue

The image on the left is from an online gift shop. The one on the right is from Hawkgirl #61.

Hawkgirl #60 - Egyptian Vase

Picture on the left is from Kaboodle. Pictures on the right are from Hawkgirl #60. The vase miraculously repairs itself for the picture on the far right.

Hawkgirl #60 - Canopic Jar

The image on the left is a canopic jar from the same gift shop as the Anubis statue. The one on the right appears in Hawkgirl #60. Arlem reused the image a few times.

Hawkgirl #60 - 2

Just a few.


Coming next time: Stealing from famous artists.


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