Radical halts Nick Simmons' <i>Incarnate</i> amid claims of plagiarism [Updated]

Radical Publishing has stopped production of its comic Incarnate while it investigates growing accusations that creator Nick Simmons plagiarized Bleach and other popular manga series.

The allegations against Simmons, son of KISS frontman and reality-TV star Gene Simmons, emerged at the beginning of the week on the GameFAQ forum before gaining steam Wednesday on fan sites and LiveJournal. The latter link presents perhaps the best visual support for the Bleach claims.

The Wikipedia entry for Nick Simmons now includes a section detailing "Accusations of Plagiarism" that lists eight manga -- the insanely popular Hellsing, One Piece and Vampire Hunter D, among them -- and an amateur artist from DeviantART. There are assertions that, in addition to panel compositions, character designs and poses, Simmons lifted dialogue and "plot segments" from other works. A group calling for legal action against the 21-year-old Simmons has begun on Facebook, where some members have declared today "Bleach Protection Day."

When contacted Wednesday night for comment, Radical Publishing released the following statement: "We at Radical Publishing Inc. and Radical Comics Inc. are quite concerned to hear the news surrounding Nick Simmons’s Incarnate comic book. We are taking this matter seriously and making efforts now to contact the publishers of the works in question in an effort to resolve this matter.  We have halted further production and distribution of the Incarnate comic book and trade paperback until the matter is resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.  Rest assured that Radical is taking swift action regarding this matter and will continue in its efforts to maintain the integrity and protect the intellectual property of artists throughout the world whose creative works are the bedrock of our company and the comic book industry."

Viz Media, which publishes Bleach in North America, was asked Wednesday via Twitter what was being done about the alleged plagiarism. A company representative responded, "We've got our team on it." Creator Tite Kubo, whose series has sold more than 50 million copies in Japan, also commented on the claims (unfortunately, however, I can't read what he tweeted).

A Viz Media spokeswoman this morning told Robot 6 that, "We appreciate all our fans bringing this matter to our attention and we are currently investigating this issue."

Simmons' Incarnate debuted in August with heavy promotional support from Radical and A&E TV, the network that airs Gene Simmons' Family Jewels. During Comic-Con, the publisher sponsored "an exclusive invitation-only rock concert extravaganza" at the Hard Rock Cafe in San Diego to celebrate the release of the first issue, while A&E filmed footage around the Radical booth for the reality show. The comic is also showcased on the network's Family Jewels webpage and sold through its online store.

The three-issue miniseries centers on predatory, immortal shapeshifters called Revenants and their battle against a shadowy organization that has discovered a way to destroy them. Simmons spoke with Comic Book Resources about Incarnate in June, and he and his father later visited the CBR Yacht at Comic-Con.

As word of the accusations has spread, Simmons' dormant DeviantART account has become a magnet for negative comments. His first journal entry, made in November 2008, includes a warning: "If you steal my artwork, you will pay. In cash."

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