Tuesday, May 26, 2020


When I was just starting my career, drawing gag cartoons for my college newspaper, I was very proud of my cartoons and believed that they were all totally original and unique.

Then, I might spot a cartoon in The New Yorker or another magazine that was amazingly similar.  In fact, I actually believed that the other artist somehow ripped me off.  But after comparing the publishing dates, sometimes I realized that the other cartoon came out earlier than mine!  "Damn," I thought, "now everyone's going to think that I ripped HIM off!"

And who knows, maybe subconsciously I did.  I do look at a lot of cartoons, I have a very large collection of gag cartoon books, so maybe when I was younger I happened to see that gag and then totally (or mostly) forgot about it. 

One time, I had a great animator accuse me of stealing his cartoon idea, when in fact, I had made my cartoon long ago, way before he started working on his film.  And I felt very bad, it totally spoiled our good relationship.  And I made a Christmas card about 20 years ago that had some close similarities to the wonderful film "Klaus", which was about the origins of the Santa Claus legend, that got released in 2019. 

Eventually I realized that this happens often in the humor business.  The same joke can wind up in many places at the same time - it's just a simple matter of mathematics.  There are so many cartoonists and they're all looking at the same real-world situations and trying to put funny spins on them, so inevitably they duplicate, and you've got a potential lawsuit. 

The reason I bring this up is, a couple weeks ago I presented a gag cartoon here on Scribble Junkies that I thought was totally original.  Also, it was so stupid and gross I couldn't imagine someone could come up with a similar idea.  Well, I was wrong because last week, Sandrine found this photo on Facebook, and I was flabbergasted by the coincidence. 

How could two (seemingly) sane people come up with exactly the same totally twisted idea?  And there you go, it's just mathematics.  So I now present the two gags, and you can tell me what you think. 

I hope you're all staying safe and healthy, and I'll talk to you again next week -

Bill P.

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