On Sunday night, BBC4 broadcast WHAAM! Roy Lichtenstein at Tate Modern, Alistair Sooke's documentary focused on the career-spanning retrospective of the pop art giant currently running at the London gallery. Here's the link to the full documentary, running for a week on BBC's iPlayer.
At the 35 minute mark, artist Dave Gibbons turns up to debate with Sooke on the age-old issue of Lichtenstein's plagiarism from comic books, all while standing in front of Lichtenstein's WHAAM!, the painting appropriated from a panel by Irv Novick. Gibbons makes a spirited case for the superiority of Novick's original image over Lichtenstein's, while the host Sooke argues for Lichtenstein, all the while thumbing a-little-bit-too dismissively through an issue of DC's All-American Men Of War #89. Sooke's main argument for the superiority of the pop artist's work over the comic artist is that his researcher picked up a ragged back issue of the original for under six pounds, while if WHAAM! went to auction, it would sell for tens of millions of dollars. To Gibbon's credit, he states he'd take the six quid comic over the multi-million bucks canvas. I dunno Dave, $45 million could buy an awful lot of comics. Or sports cars.
For a full take-down of Lichtenstein's thievery from comics, there's always David Barsalou's Deconstructing Roy Lichtenstein. I don't think there's a single panel in that collection that doesn't contain more power and dynamism in its execution than Lichtenstein's "transformation" of them.