J. Scott Campbell has been in the comic book industry for nearly three decades now, and his art is well-known to comic book fans and artists around the world. So popular is Campbell that, honestly, not a lot of time needs to be spent discussing his history as a comic artist. The man has had a meteoric career, which began in 1993 when he moved to San Diego to work with legendary artist Jim Lee at Lee’s publishing company, Wildstorm Productions. He later launched his own comic series, Danger Girl, which showcased Campbell’s now-iconic style of attractive, curvy females.
However, it was Campbell’s work on Marvel’s Amazing Spider-man series throughout the early 2000’s that really solidified him as a comic book legend. His covers for this series, particularly the ones featuring characters Mary Jane and Black Cat, feature his widely recognized style and many became instant classics.
As such, it was a bit of a surprise to Campbell when, earlier this month, someone posted their own rendition of his Amazing Spider-Man #601 cover, which features Mary Jane sitting on a couch holding a steaming cup of coffee. This person claimed to “fix” what Campbell had done “wrong” in his original image, and the result was a less curvy, and also less anatomically correct, version of MJ.
Image from Campbell's Twitter
Campbell was justifiably offended, and took to Twitter to first, point out what this person had actually done wrong in their “fixing” of his original, and then to redraw the image himself. Campbell hypothesized that, since this person was so keen to criticize his work, that it was only fair that he criticize theirs in return. Then, since this person’s main issue with Campbell’s work seemed to be with its arguably overly sexualized nature (Campbell would later admit in a tweet to “intentional exaggeration for heightened appeal”), the comic book artist drew his own, less sexy version of his ASM #601 cover. A few days later, he auctioned off his own redrawing for an astounding $14,700, all of which he donated to charity.
JSC's redraw of his ASM #601 cover, with his notes
This experience inspired Campbell to examine the nature of “fixing” someone else’s work as opposed to redrawing it in someone else’s own style. The first insinuates that the original artist’s work is “wrong” or “bad” which, aside from being incredibly rude, is also something that is never appreciated. On the other hand, redrawing someone’s work in a different style, Campbell wrote, can be seen as an honor, as long as the original artist is credited.
As a result of this, Campbell was motivated to launch his own Draw This in Your Style challenge on May 11th, in which he encouraged artists to redraw his infamous Black Cat cover of Amazing Spider-Man #607 and post them to social media using the hashtags #DrawThisInYourStyle, #ReDrawASM607, and #JScottCampbell for easy searchability. He also asked that everyone “be encouraging to one another” and to keep criticisms kind, as well as promising to share as many as these redraws as he could via social media.
For those unfamiliar with a Draw This in Your Style challenge, the point is exactly what you think it is – to redraw someone else’s original artwork in your own art style, whatever that may be. There are no “winners” or “losers” but, instead, it creates a sense of community as artists all over the world participate, especially when someone as well-known as Campbell is the one issuing the challenge. This challenge has produced so many different, wonderful versions of his ASM #607 as literally hundreds of artists have answered Campbell's challenge, and the sharing of their art has given many artists more exposure and more new followers. Campbell took what was a negative situation and was able to turn it into something phenomenal instead, and that’s pretty amazing.
Below are a few of my personal favorite submissions from Twitter, but you can visit Campbell's Twitter to see many, many more!
By @DivineIArt (DivineImmortality)
By the always amazing @Artgerm
Angela “LaLa” Rairden is an avid fan of comic books, Star Wars, and most things nerdy. A cosplayer, she loves to attend comic cons dressed as her favorite fictional characters, particularly Harley Quinn. Although her day job is at a grocery store, writing has always been her true calling. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she is currently writing her first novel.