There are many heroes on this gigantuan planet we call Earth; VR Man, Hancock, Chuck Norris’ hamster, One Punch Man… the list goes on and on.
And yet, one particular hero stands out even within the midst of this well-established lineup:
Now, I know what you’re thinking; how does a Tiramisu cafe with this ‘profile picture’…
…happens to be the leading hero of them all? Like, it literally has a thief cat as its mascot!
Well, that’s a point I’m keen to make to all of you because The Tiramisu Hero is so much more than just a bandit cat with multiple dollops of gel; rather, it’s a cafe fraught with allusions, inspiration, and yet like routine heroes it has its own allies and arch-nemesis.
And so, I write this article not to convince you guys to go for The Tiramisu Hero (this article is strictly not sponsored), but rather to tell about the story of the bandit cat, and how it became the hero it’s known as today.
It all started with a… legal tussle
A while back, The Tiramisu Hero found themselves in a little of a predicament. A Japanese company, Hero’s Produced by Tiramisu (HPT) had tried to trademark some of the images associated with their brand, such as this little kitty:
Yeah, The Tiramisu Hero was, all of a sudden, facing the prospect of infringement…when they started the brand first.
Fortunately, however, some Japanese fans have taken Tiramisu Hero’s side over HPT, dismissing the Japanese company’s claims as alleged opportunism and unethical behaviour.
Tiramisu Hero’s founders, Aileen Koh and Peggy Chang, have also conveyed their gratitude for the support and said it was “encouraging”.
But the story doesn’t end there
Every popular superhero comic out there has one thing in common, and I’m not talking about attractive love interests;
I’m talking about altercations.
Indeed, in an effort to generate more revenue (and draw more readers in), comic authors and illustrators will make it a point to add in new altercations just because they can, even though the poor dude/lass just came back from the dead like one hour ago. Damn the cruelty. But really, just like the superhero comics, The Tiramisu Hero is not secure from further altercations, and as it is a new ‘supervillain’ has entered the picture:
An artist claiming that the Tiramisu setups have been using her designs all along.
Meet British artist Gemma Correll, who has drawn a large following with her portfolio of innovative animal designs. On 7 Feb, the artist accused Tiramisu Hero of “basing their brand” off hers and tagged Tiramisu Hero in her Instagram story.
To drive home the similarity, Correll highlighted the similarity in another story.
Now in all honesty, I’ve kind of gotten attached to our resident ‘thief cat’ superhero over here. But even so, I think this stage has to go to Correll:
The similarity is all too uncanny.
Our next move
At this point, there are only two options, to fight back or surrender. And it seems that our superhero is more of the tactical type, as they’ve convened to take a step back and confess to the resemblance, rather than maintain what they call the ‘act blur live longer’ mindset.
On the same day (7 Feb) Correll posted her accusations, Tiramisu Hero shared a statement on their Facebook page, acknowledging the similarity and clarifying that Correll had been a huge inspiration behind their designs.
“The artwork produced in the early years of our business was indeed heavily inspired by the creations of Gemma Correll,” they said, interjecting that they were fans of Correll way before the brand was conceived.
They then elaborated that while they did take inspiration from Correll (referencing her style on the background, setting and certain body positions), they had tried making their own cat drawings look different. They admitted, however, that this was conceptually wrong as well.
“We now know that this was not right, even in study of discovering our own illustration style. We are truly deeply sorry and regretful towards Gemma and her fans.”
Adding that they held Correll in high regard, they reached out to the artist to express their apologies, and professed that the artwork created in close reference to Gemma’s will no longer be used.
“We will ensure that the artwork created in close reference to Gemma’s will no longer be used by us nor by our franchise here forth.
You can view the full post here:
Following the revelation, local site Mothership did an interview with the co-founders of the brand, where they expressed that they will continue to use their current registered trademark logo of Sir Antonio.
The co-founders also specified that the illustration differed completely from Correll’s designs, hence their decision.
“It is completely different. The first version of Sir Antonio cat in 2012 was indeed inspired by Gemma Correll’s illustrations, but she was not the sole inspiration source,” they told Mothership.
They will also not be offering compensation to the artist, as they’ve expressed that at no point in time were they guilty of intentionally plagiarizing anything.
Because, you know, inspiration isn’t plagiarism (my words, not theirs).
“No. We feel that we have at no point set out to plagiarise anything and at no point tried to pass off her artwork as ours. In fact, our official creative style that we have been come to be known for differs greatly from Gemma Correll.
“Though we would still like to say that she is a remarkable illustrator that we greatly respect.”
But Correll isn’t convinced
Having contacted Tiramisu Hero for comment, Mothership has also approach Correll for her her side of the story. And according to the
‘supervillain’ artist, it cannot be a mere ‘innocent mistake’.
“I was told about it a few months ago but back then, I only saw the Cat “licking its paw” logo which, while clearly copied from one of my drawings, wasn’t enough for me to look much further into the matter. My drawings are copied very often and I don’t really have time to pursue matters like this, as I am a very busy artist,” she told Mothership.
She then acknowledged that while Tiramisu Hero did contact her, they weren’t entirely upfront on the scope of their ‘copying’.
“I was contacted by TH. They created a post on social media about the matter, admitting that they did copy from my artwork in 2012. While I am pleased that they made an apology, they did not fully explain the scope of the copying, as it was not just one cat image, but many images – some of which are currently sold as merchandise, or appear on their cafe walls.
“To say that they have changed the artwork since they originally made it is to willfully ignore the fact that they are still producing merchandise with artwork copied from mine.”
She then displayed several similarities, that seemed all too glaring for her liking.
“Some of the images have been traced, some have been copied and then altered (for example, the cat in the shark suit – the shark suit has been copied from one of my drawings from “A Pug’s Guide to Etiquette” but the pug face was changed to a cat) and some are just copied but not traced (e.g. the cat in a noodle box),” said Correll.
(BTW, cuteness overload indeed)
“If it was just one thing, I would have let it go, but it’s so many elements from so much of my artwork that it cannot be just an innocent mistake,” said Correll.
“I also don’t think that I would have bothered pursuing this matter if it wasn’t for TH’s lawsuit against Hero’s. As I mentioned, I see examples of my work being stolen every day – but the audacity of TH to claim that Hero’s stole their logo, which is in fact copied from my artwork, is quite amazing.”
Interesting to know that she’s also following the story of HPT.
And so… what’s the next move for our hero?
As the story enters its final phase (of the currently running ‘copyright’ arc), one can’t help but wonder what the Tiramisu Hero will do next. But really, that’s what makes a superhero comic interesting;
You never know where the next eye-opening plot twist lies.
And with that, I shall end off this article by saying that I’ll be watching our local hero’s next move, and should it be established I will make sure to inform you guys. But until then, sit tight and read some Deadpool comics. That’s some gritty shit.
BTW, the next comic twist is that everyone died in the next Avengers movie.