Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1 by Brandon Montclare, Amy Reeder, and Natacha Bustos hits stands today. While I’m always excited by more diversity on the page and behind the scenes (Lunella, aka Moon Girl, is a new young woman of color character and the book boasts three women creators including Reeder as co-writer, Bustos on art, and Tamra Bonvillain providing colors), I’m rather concerned about Lunella’s visual similarities to Fight Like a Girl’s Amarosa.
If you’re not familiar with Fight Like a Girl, it’s a delightful book created by David Pinckney (writer) and Soo Lee (artist) and was first published by Action Lab in 2014.
Here’s the first issue’s cover:
You’ll notice more than a few similarities between Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur’s Lunella and Fight Like a Girl’s Amarosa. There are the purple glasses, the identical-length afro puffs, the Tyrannosauruses… (To be fair, the T-Rex in Fight Like a Girl isn’t Amarosa’s buddy and only appears in the first issue, but the cover to issue #1 is obviously the first depiction readers see of Amarosa and is thus of paramount importance in establishing the character for the book’s audience and promoting the book.)
Based on what we know of Lunella, their personalities are vastly different, but comics is a visual medium. A character’s design is just as important as the character’s personality, if not more so.
To be clear, I’m not necessarily accusing the Moon Girl’s creators of having consciously ripped off Amarosa’s design. It’s entirely irrelevant whether or not her creators had malicious intent (which is very unlikely); were unknowingly inspired by Amarosa’s design which they glimpsed in passing; or designed a strikingly similar character who also has interactions with a Tyrannosaurus by pure coincidence.
What is important is that Fight Like a Girl was published a year (almost to the day) before Moon Girl made her debut, and thus the creators of Amarosa established a unique visual expression in a fixed medium that is legally (and I’d argue morally) prohibited from being used for commercial purposes. (I know that technically publish dates are irrelevant as US copyright law protects ideas, characters, etc. established in any fixed medium regardless of their publication or lack thereof, but as it’s nearly impossible to prove which character appeared on paper in her finished form first, I’m using publish dates here.) [Update: To clarify, I am not a lawyer. Furthermore, the views and ideas expressed in this article are mine and mine alone.]
I reached out to Fight Like a Girl’s artist Soo Lee regarding the similarities in the characters’ designs. She had this to say:
“I am familiar with this [the similarities] and had it brought to my attention by others. Well, I can’t say for sure but I am leaving it up to the readers to discuss the books. ”
What do you think of the similarities between Amarosa and Moon Girl?