Year of the Knockoff: 2018 in Theme

I’m not saying it’s a new thing, I am saying it’s a now thing. Knockoffs! Bootlegs. But ones that are done legally, right there in your face, by the big boys. Maybe we should call them pastiches but “pastiche” feels like a sustained study rather than the premise-snatch-&-run-your-own-way I feel like I’m seeing a lot lately. DC’s doing The Terrifics, which is a Fantastic Four that isn’t. Incredibles II is coming out, which is also a Fantastic Four that isn’t. Dark Horse’s Black Hammer is doing fine; BOOM!’s Rugrats license is allowing them a Godzilla anthology, I mean a Reptar Special, in April, while IDW, I believe, retains the actual Godzilla deal.

(If I list everything that’s made me feel this way now, there’ll be no point in carrying on this way for a year.)

Rugrats: R Is For Reptar 2018 Special #1 main cover by Savanna Ganucheau
Rugrats: R Is For Reptar 2018 Special #1 main cover by Savanna Ganucheau

Everyone is stepping on everyone’s train, and I really sort of love it. We’ve had reboots and reissues and parody and all sorts, and WWAC has been trying to angle a sharp focus on transmedia licensed comics, but now I feel like everyone’s wearing twenty-six gloves and trying to shake my hand while they wink me something in morse code. It’s a post-fanfiction scene where everybody wants to have their way, and it smells like the death by murder of copyright. Anarchy, anarchy, okay!

No, I’m not saying it’s new, but I am saying I want to talk about it now. We’re open to pitches, we’re open to comment, and I hope we’ll be bringing you a lot of food for thought. What does “knockoff” mean to you? I’m refusing to define knockoff as a negative; why should it be? What’s the tangible difference between conceptual inspiration and decoupaging a xerox? Is Mech Cadet Yu a knockoff because you can see where its parts came from (is it a kitbash)? Is a legacy hero a knockoff? Is an expy a knockoff— can you argue that it isn’t? Baby, I just want to talk about it. I think it’s pretty interesting. I think knockoffs are interesting and cool.

Let’s chat, yeah?



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Claire Napier

Claire Napier

Critic, ex-Editor in Chief at WWAC, independent comics editor; the rock that drops on your head. Find me at and give me lots of money