I’ve been reading comics now for thirty years. Two of the first websites I read everyday are Comic Book Resources and Newsarama. Rich Johnston, one of their columnists has been writing a gossip column (“Lying in the Gutters“) of sorts, probably the longest running of its kind. At the bottom of every column he’s got something called a “swipe file.”In comics vocabulary a swipe refers to the intentional or unintentional copying of a panel, cover, page (or photograph) for use in a comic. In order to save time and resources, and in some cases in order to give props where props are due, artists swipe covers, poses, panels, and photographs. At its best and worst swiping is a bit like sampling.The two images above? Alex Ross was one of the first artists in the modern era to paint rather than draw superheroes, lending them the aura of myth. Ross painted The Batman in the image above. He got the idea from an old story involving Catwoman…she referred to all of the scars he had on his back.But he didn’t say where he received the artistic inspiration from.The picture below that should be familiar to students of the enslavement. I believe it is one of the only pictures on record of its kind. Note the posture of the body in both cases. What is it that Ross is trying to convey here that caused him to use the body of a formerly enslaved African? What is missed in the translation? Both are arguably heroes, but whereas the Batman protects and defends the status quo from a position of wealth and privilege, the enslaved African comes to freedom and justice from a very different position.