Following DC licensee VeVe's announcement of a new line of Batman Black and White digital statues tied to NFT (Non Fungible Token) authentication, the widow of Darwyn Cooke has asked DC not to use images created by her late husband as a basis for NFT crypto art. NFT crypto art has been a recent topic of controversy due to the large environmental cost of producing NFTs.(opens in new tab)
Marsha Cooke, who manages Cooke's estate, previously stated on Twitter (opens in new tab) that she did not approve of the use of her husband's art for NFT crypto art, citing the environmental costs associated with it.
"Back briefly to put notice up that I will not be participating in NFT crypto art, it's an environmental disaster and you shouldn't participate either," Cooke posted on her previously dormant Twitter account.
"Consider this legal notice that no Darwyn Cooke artworks that I have control of will be offered as NFTs and any that appear are with the objection of his estate," her Twitter thread continues. "I will reconsider this at a point where the environmental issues had been addressed."
Newsarama reached out to Cooke regarding the VeVe NFT statue based on Darwyn's Batman design, following her response to Newsarama's report on VE-VE's use of Darwyn's art (opens in new tab). Cooke states she has asked DC to remove her husband's name and work from the project.
"I don't support the use of Darwyn's work in the NFT system based on the environmental impact these types of transactions have on the planet," Cooke tells Newsarama. "If the NFT system is a sustainable one, it will be around in the future. I have called DC and am waiting for a return call to discuss how we can remove Darwyn from this project until environmental issues are addressed. I've always had a good relationship with DC so I expect they will respect my decision."
Meanwhile, artist Gary Frank, whose Batman: Earth One (opens in new tab) design forms the basis of another of VE-VE's most recent line of NFT art, also voiced his "bewilderment" at the use of his design for an NFT digital statue.(opens in new tab)
"I'll echo what Marsha said," Frank tells Newsarama when reached for comment. "This is the first I've heard of it. I have no interest - financial or actual - in NFTs beyond bewilderment at what people can be persuaded to pay for."
The line of four statues (with the remaining two based on the art of DC publisher/chief creative officer Jim Lee and artist Jae Lee) is not the first line of NFT crypto art digital Batman Black and White statues VeVe has released. This is the crypto art curator's fourth wave of Batman Black and White NFT statues, but the first to gain notoriety, due to the recent controversy surrounding the environmental cost of NFTs and the inflating prices paid by fine art collectors (opens in new tab) for crypto art pieces.
VeVe has also produced a line of four Harley Quinn digital NFT statues based on the art of Guillem March, Babs Tarr, Terry Dodson, and Steve Pugh.
NFTs are essentially unreproducible digital certificates of ownership that denote the holder of the NFT as the 'owner' of a piece of digital art by linking it to Bitcoin-style blockchains which provide verifiable encryption for the digital art tied to the NFT. While an NFT does not prevent the reproduction of digital work, it does denote one version of the digital art as the 'original,' owned by the holder of the NFT.
Like mining bitcoin, producing NFTs requires significant electricity consumption in order to power the computers which create the NFT. This has led to widespread criticism of the idea of creating NFT art, which drastically increases the environmental impact of individual digital artists.
As of publication, DC has not responded to Newsarama's request for comment on the matter.
VeVe (opens in new tab) is a subsidiary of Singapore-based crypto company Ecomi (opens in new tab). Neither VeVenor Ecomi could be reached for comment. Ecomi's website describes the company as the proprietors of "a one-stop-shop for digital collectibles through the VeVe app bringing pop culture and entertainment into the 21st century. Ecomi sees digital collectibles as a new asset class which offers intellectual property owners the opportunity for new revenue streams in the digital landscape."
Darwyn Cooke, Gary Frank, Jae Lee, and Jim Lee have all drawn signature Batmans. Newsarama looks at the creators who've had the most impact on the Caped Crusader over eight decades.