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Nick Simmons, Pitzer Student, Faces Plagiarism Charges

March 2, 2010

Dan Evans
Nick Simmons, Pitzer Student, Faces Plagiarism Charges

I'm not usually one for celebrity gossip, but this story's been gathering steam on the internet and with good reason I might add.  Nick Simmons (Pitzer '12), son of the legendary KISS guitarist Gene Simmons, recently dove into the realm of comic books, creating, writing, and penciling a series by the name of Incarnate.  Although the series of comic books went into production in August of 2009, publisher Radical Comics recently pulled the plug on production due to claims of plagiarism.

The allegations, which were generated primarily on a series of comic blogs and quickly spread via sites like Reddit and Digg, could bring legal action against both Radical Comics and Simmons himself.  Incarnate, according to a summary that (until today) was published on Radical's website, is billed as an action-horror type adventure.  Perhaps you'll enjoy this little gem as much as I did:

They cannot die.  They feel no pain.  They hunger for human flesh.  They are Revenants.  Centuries ago, the Revenant known as Mot was worshipped as a God.  Now, he walks the Earth in search of a purpose to his immortality= but when a secret society discovers a way to kill Revenants, Mot and his fellow immortals must make a choice: hunt or be hunted.  Nick Simmons' breakout American Manga title reveals a world that challenges even the imagination, planting its tongue firmly in cheek, then biting it off. . . And swallowing it.

Of course, there's only one problem with this whole idea: it's not actually his.  Tite Kubo's Bleach is one of the best-selling comics (or, if we are going to get technical, manga) in the world, selling over 52 million copies worldwide.  Bleach has spawned its own TV spin off, with video games, full-length animated movies, and extensive licensing deals.  The plot of Bleach revolves around Ichigo Kurosaki, a teenager who does battle with supernatural "Hollows" who consume people's souls.  Oh, and there's a secret society too-- the Soul Society, that hunts the Hollows.

These similarities in plot, while a bit suspicious, aren't enough to justify the postponement of the series, as Radical has done.  Comics frequently contain a number of these elements; with so many authors generating stories involving such stock elements as "the undead," "secret societies," and "angsty teenagers," one comic is bound to to feel like a derivative of another.  Indeed, yesterday (March 1) Simmons released a statement in which he claimed similarities in the works were intended as "an homage to artists I respect."

But the evidence of outright plagiarism continues to grow.  Image comparisons, such as this one on LiveJournal present some damning side-by-sides of panels from Kubo's title, which is drawn in black  and white, and Simmons's, which is in color.  As if that's not enough, this article on Topless Robot links to several other galleries, and also includes some tremendously unflattering comments Simmons (or an impostor) made on a Facebook group accusing him of plagiarism, including one that reads "I never even heard of Bleach! Who would name a comic after laundry detergent?"  So much for that homage.

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