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Phoenix Comicon disinvites guest over ‘art swipe’ furor

Paul Bradford (Syfy)
Paul Bradford (Image: Syfy)

Phoenix Comicon organizers have struck a celebrity guest from the lineup this year after learning he tried to sell T-shirts that used another guest’s artwork without permission.

Paul Bradford, a former cast member of Syfy’s Ghost Hunters International who resides in Tucson, sold a T-shirt featuring a stylized cartoon Dalek from Doctor Who surrounded by a parody of The Big Bang Theory’s “Soft Kitty” song. When artists spoke up about the resemblance the artwork bore to another by Phoenix comic book artist and writer Jeff Pina, Bradford made a new version that basically tweaked the wording of the song (also borrowed) and turned the Dalek’s head — turning some heads in the Arizona artist community as well.

After Phoenix Comicon posted on its Facebook page Sunday about Bradford’s attendance, local artists raised their concerns, saying Bradford had been dismissive and even harassing toward them when the issue was brought up in other forums in the past. And convention director Matt Solberg listened: By Monday afternoon, Bradford’s invitation to appear at Phoenix Comicon had been officially withdrawn.

“We take the issue of art swiping, art theft, and plagiarism seriously” Solberg wrote. “As a result, I have called Mr. Bradford this afternoon and informed him that we will not be bringing him out as a Guest to Phoenix Comicon. … We often make decisions with the information we have at a given time, and occasionally with new information we need to re-think our decisions. Today is one such occurrence. This decision is my own as Convention Director with the support and agreement of our Director of Programming, Director of Guest Relations, Horror Programming Manager, and Comic Book Programming Manager who are also involved in the Guest decision process.”

“I spoke with Mr. Jeff Pina after I made my decision,” he continued. “He had hoped to put this issue behind him and is comfortable with attending conventions that Mr. Bradford attends as well. I respect his position and his contributions to Phoenix Comicon. While Mr. Pina is comfortable with attending conventions with Mr. Bradford, the decision I made today I believe is the right decision for Phoenix Comicon.” (Read Solberg’s full statement on the decision here.)

In response to the growing thread on PCC’s Sunday Facebook post announcing his appearance, Bradford made comments related to his profane performance persona in convention panels, but did not address the art theft issue directly again. He did, however, appear to address it on his own fan page:

“You know… If 20 people were to draw a Dalek that would all look similar…. Fact!”

Phoenix Comicon takes place June 5-8 at the Phoenix Convention Center.

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