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Iron Man Plundered From Indie Movie

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This weekend marked the fifth annual New York Comic Con held at the Jacob Javits Center. The show now draws a mainstream crowd with numbers approaching 100,000 -- leaving geeks to trade their counterculture cards for safety in numbers. And considering the wave of media attention devoted to the convention, its Best Costume winner certainly garnered his share of publicity.

Relying on the utterly exhausted Steampunk trend, entrant Matt Silva won the contest by donning a Steampunk Iron Man outfit.

Aside from refusing to move on from a played out art movement, Silva received some criticism for reworking an existing costume used in an indie short that he worked on. And the majority of that flak was courtesy of Bill Johnson who led the production team -- which included Silva -- that created the costume.

The film Heartless: The Story of Tin Man centered around an Oz-inspired character who falls in love and builds a cabin. The costume design, as you can see, is pretty exceptional.

But with a new mask, some spray paint, and a few lights, you have the Iron Man winner.

Johnson unleashed an angry screed about Silva on The Effects Lab forum. He has since edited the post, but here is the original, courtesy of Gizmodo:

Just found out that the Tin Man suit was taken and modified into an "Iron Man" suit that won the costume contest at the NY Comic Con by my ex assistant. The suit was changed without my knowledge or permission and I'm royally angered by this action. It's also sad to see that the only screen used version of the suit that exists, is now a cheapened knock off of a popular character. I don't get people anymore and it makes me want even more to become more reclusive.

Bill, with respect to an artist who sees his work modified and reused by a former colleague, you yourself helped create a costume that many would argue was a "cheapened knock off of a popular character." In fact, the whole film was centered around that character and made no misconception it was inspired by L. Frank Baum's classic novel.

So, I understand you're angry. But let's curb that righteous indignation, OK?

In response to the post, Silva offered his apologies to Johnson. No more hard feelings -- except for Johnson's pretty bitter followup:

I had a long talk with him and we ironed things out. It was all part of a huge lapse in good judgment that blew up. I hate to see a piece of history, such as this piece, fade away like that. I guess that I am getting old and sentimental.

He was acting as the person who was holding on to the suit for promotional events for the film. He did help build it and said that it was constantly needing repair (which I do believe). He's not very old and just showed a serious lapse of good judgment. As for the suit's ownership, that is a grey area. The company that made the film paid for the materials and did give me a very small amount of money for all the work that I did (Production design, make up effects, etc) just to help with my bills while I took time off to do the project. I have most of the items created or bought for the film, but agreed to let them hold on to the suit for display in their office or promotion for the film. I would not say that it was stolen, but was not used in the manner of our agreement. He truly feels horrible for doing such an idiotic thing and I know that he is really a good kid at heart. Ultimately, what's done is done and I'm sure he won't do such a stupid thing again in the future.

For all you Iron Man fans, this could spark the birth of a Steampunk Iron Monger.
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