Henry V at El Alamein?
May 12, 2006 5:11 PM   Subscribe

In a course I teach, I've assigned students to remix a cultural text of their choosing. One student, after missing many classes, has turned in Henry V's famous "Once more unto the breach" monologue pasted into the word balloons of an old WWII comic showing the English at El Alamein, and I'm suspicious of plagiarism, especially since he's shown no previous drafts. (I'm hoping I'm wrong, because if he came up with it on his own, it's a really cool idea.) It's one page, five panels, with Montgomery speaking as Henry V. Has anybody seen this elsewhere?
posted by vitia to Education (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a bit of a comic lettering fiend who enjoys the remix. If nobody can identify the page, scan it and send it to me (email in profile) - I'll probably be able to tell you if the font, technique, everything's legit.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 5:37 PM on May 12, 2006

An old comic showing the English at Al Alamein would seem to be a fairly obscure source.

You could subtly ask him to show you the source comic.

It wouldn't be plagerism if his source was already remixed and he changed it to Henry V, though it would be less original.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 7:01 PM on May 12, 2006

Response by poster: It looks like the original source is a 1970s issue (#118) of Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos, which makes me even more dubious: this student wasn't even born when that comic came out. Decades later, how would he have come across the "original" source into which to paste Harry's words?

Part of my concern is that this case seems to so aptly fit the end-of-semester panic model that prompts so much plagiarism. The text that this student turned in is clearly remixed by someone -- I'm just somewhat doubtful it was him, which is why I'm asking if folks have seen something like this done elsewhere.
posted by vitia at 8:33 PM on May 12, 2006

Could it simply be something like this?
posted by Yeomans at 8:49 PM on May 12, 2006

A quick google image search for "Sgt. Fury Howling Commandos" reveals lots of results. It's entirely possible he got the source that way. Marvel has recently reworked the Howling Commandos storyline, so he may have been to exposed to the characters recently as well.

I hope it's legit. Perhaps he's a capable, creative student who just happens to be a slacker (which more or less describes the entirety of my own academic career).

I've taught and TA'd several classes and have had to deal with plagiarism only once - I wasn't able to prove it, but I'm still absolutely certain that the guy cheated. It's really an awful feeling . . .
posted by aladfar at 8:59 PM on May 12, 2006

He's probably trying to make up for missing so many classes. You'd be amazed what people can pull off when they think they really have to. I'd tell him it's great, ask him where he got the inspiration. You'll be able to tell by his response.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 9:59 PM on May 12, 2006

Speaking as someone who had the end-of-semester panic pretty much every semester, but never plagiarized a word, I'm inclined to believe that this guy is my kind of loser.

My personal sentimental bias aside, I really don't think that lazy slacker cheaters are better at searching the internet than you + askme combined. And if it's plagiarized, I'm sure that's where it's from. So if you can't find it, I think he's in the clear.

As for something like this - yeah, the idea isn't 100% original, but I would guess that he picked the original frames and pasted the words in himself.
posted by pinespree at 10:08 PM on May 12, 2006

This is kind of an irrelevant aside: But is Internet the death of humanities assignments? Copy off the web, paste, print, and there's your A. As long as you pick a source that'll be hard to track down on the Internet, apparently you are in the clear.
posted by gregb1007 at 10:16 PM on May 12, 2006

This intrigued me, so I did a little digging.

I thought I'd hit the jackpot when I found this gallery of Sgt Fury pictures - but #118 isn't there. I can't find anything but the cover of that issue online. I also find it difficult to believe that it wouldn't be regarded as a classic issue, and yet searches with dozens of key words haven't turned anything up. Maybe he just pulled it out of the bag at the last minute - but it makes me wonder how he found it if Google has come up with a blank.

If you speak to him about it, post a follow up and let us know more!!
posted by greycap at 12:14 AM on May 13, 2006

Free Comic Book Day just happened, so it's possible he picked up the comic that way?
posted by drewbeck at 1:36 AM on May 13, 2006

I would doubt that you would find the exact panels you are looking for on the internet (especially at a decent resolution). However, the comic piracy scene is alive and thriving. That would be my bet as to where he downloaded them.

Z-Cult FM
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 4:08 AM on May 13, 2006

Just because it came out long before he was born doesn't necessarily mean he plagiarized it. I became a fan of old Sgt. Fury comics in the early 80's when I was about 12 or 13 and would regularly buy old copies from the 60's at a local used comic shop.

I also have issue #118, for what it's worth.
posted by cropshy at 8:46 AM on May 13, 2006

Response by poster: drew, Free Comic Book day is about new comics, and Marvel's reworking of the Howling Commandos (as, er, werewolves? ugh) is certainly new, but again, this is the old version, with Monty giving an inspirational speech to the troops.

gregb1007, that's why I ask for previous drafts, and why this student won't be getting an A without them: my grading system gives points for work in service of the revision process as well as final quality.

Tuesday is the last day of class, and I'll ask the student to show me his sources and post an update here -- maybe even with a link to his remix, if it's legit and he says it's OK. It's a cool idea.
posted by vitia at 10:39 AM on May 13, 2006

Vitia, I can't find an EMail in your profile or on your blog - I'd like to EMail you about your assignment (my EMail is in my profile; I'm an art/tech prof). Thanks!
posted by Slothrop at 10:53 AM on May 13, 2006

Out of curiosity, did you cite any of the classic Situationist detournements of comics in your class assignments? If you didn't touch on this kind of thing directly, probe the kid for sources to see if he's familiar with that stuff or descendants thereof.

It is a really cool idea. I lean toward the overly-independent slacker interpretation, but finding out if the kid knows who the hell Guy Debord is might be a good scent trail to pursue.
posted by mwhybark at 12:27 PM on May 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

its Tuesday
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 7:33 PM on May 16, 2006

Must admit I have been compulsively re-checking this thread...
posted by greycap at 12:11 AM on May 17, 2006

me too.
posted by exlotuseater at 10:54 PM on May 28, 2006

I demand closure!
posted by spork at 4:33 PM on June 29, 2006

Any chance of an update?!?!?
posted by greycap at 6:07 AM on August 5, 2006

Response by poster: I can't publicly share student work without the student's consent, and I've just moved to a new job, so I'm kind of all up in the air. Suffice to say: no evidence of plagiarism found, the student was a bit of a slacker who put in a massive effort to manage to barely pass the class, and a smart and quirky person who'll likely do well if he learns to apply himself.

The page he did is talking heads, and so highly appropriate for the speech, and he showed me various drafts of the project in process -- for me, that process work is the best proof against plagiarism, since it's more trouble to forge than to create.

If you want to poke around a bit and look for the file, I'll admit that my students did agree to put their stuff up on the web, and you might check out http://www.rhetcomp.net/remixes/113.html as a starting point. But I'll probably be taking that space down soon, so look quickly. They're awesome.
posted by vitia at 10:26 PM on August 8, 2006

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