2007 New Yorker cartoon similar to 1984 Far Side cartoon

Discuss

46 Responses to “2007 New Yorker cartoon similar to 1984 Far Side cartoon”

  1. Schmorgluck says:

    André Franquin used the same gag (with gulls, that he loved to draw) in his Idées Noires series in the early 80′, except that there was a skeleton in the final panel.

  2. thebulfrog says:

    I could care less on whether or not it’s stolen though I sincerely doubt it was. What I find interesting is how this is such a perfect example of two comedian’s take on the same joke and the importance of timing.

    The New Yorker approach is decent and perhaps gets a smile, but there was a full chuckle at the Far Side. It was the two panels at the beginning (instead of just one, giving it the right amount of time) and how the coat magically stayed in perfect shape at the end that did it for me. Larson remains the master, and this take on such an obvious joke, as Rotorglow and Shmorgluck pointed out, demonstrates that so well.

  3. m2key says:

    Seems this “similarity” accident happens with other ideas as well, like celebrity cookbooks….

  4. Eliot says:

    Idea overlap is quite common. Look at the lack of creativity with these two major events:

    VT shootings:
    http://www.nealo.com/blog/2007/04/18/a-quick-sampling/

    Rosa Park’s death:
    http://www.nealo.com/blog/2005/11/26/pat-yourselves-on-the-back/

  5. Doc Sabinsky says:

    I agree with the editor – these things happen.

    Even if Larson took offence; it’s worth pointing out that the influential Belgian cartoonist André Franquin made a near identical cartoon (replace the pigeons with seagulls) in his classic album Idées noires back in 1981. (Can’t find the cartoon on the interweb – but it’s lying on my bookshelf at home)

    So any legal case wouldn’t exactly be rock solid.

    Just a thought from the european continent.

  6. ADN says:

    Here’s the page from Franquin in 1977′s “Les idées noires” that Schmorgluck just mentioned:
    http://www.top100comics.de/images/leseproben/9_4.jpg

  7. Doc Sabinsky says:

    @Schmorgluck: Hadn’t seen your comment. Sorry for recycling.

  8. Peter O says:

    My very favorite archive of this problem of no new ideas is Coloribus Ad Mirror. You think your concept of “man-with-boot-face” is original? Guess again!

  9. gabu says:

    An obvious case of Vorshtein.

  10. insomma says:

    This reminds me of a spot I saw in Europe a few years ago for (I believe) Eastpack backpacks- two backpackers feeding pigeons in some piazza, birds storm the screen, and when they leave, nothing is left except the backpacks- presumably eluding to the durability of the product. Cute enough, but I remembered this Far Side cartoon when I saw it- particulary because of the overcoat that remains intact for the punch line.

  11. yotta says:

    I bet they all say Hitchcock’s The Birds as well.

  12. Gort says:

    Eh! I nice well thought out reason but invalid. I have to disagree with the editor.

  13. elvisneedsboats says:

    @Eliot: I was really looking forward to seeing identical ads comparing Rosa Parks and the VT shootings. Dang.

  14. Gillagriene says:

    “Eh! I nice well thought out reason but invalid. I have to disagree with the editor.”

    If you haven’t seen the idea, then how can it be plagiarism? I was always under the impression there had to be intent to be called stealing. Though it’d be hard to prove, I suppose.

  15. boringrick says:

    The worst part about being an artist is coming up with an idea then spending hours, days, months wondering if it was your idea at all.

  16. Matto says:

    I know I’m really late to this conversation, but my MAD magazine dominated memory is telling me that the same gag was also on the back cover of MAD from around the seventies or eighties, probably by George Woodbridge. I’m hardly offended by the occasional re-appearance of this gag. It’s one of those stories that must pop into people’s minds every time they see someone surrounded by pigeons.

  17. igpajo says:

    I would agree with the editor personally and I hope Larson simply shrugs it off. This would be a ridiculous thing to sue over.

  18. Halloween Jack says:

    Even if Lorenz had read the Larson cartoon, I find it entirely plausible that a 74-year-old man wouldn’t remember that the idea for the cartoon came from another cartoon that he’d seen 23 years earlier and wasn’t just an idea that he’d come up with himself as he was having his bagel and coffee on some random morning.

  19. Paul Cosgrove says:

    It’s actually quite likely that this is just a case of someone else coming up with the same idea.

    In one of the forewords in The Complete Far Side collection, Larson himself admits that he drew one particular cartoon on two separate occasions, not remembering having drawn it before, although he doesn’t mention which one and I’ve not been through both books in their entirety yet to find it myself.

  20. gwizah says:

    It’s a Ziggy!

    A Ziggy?

    That irreverence , that wit I’d recognize it anywhere. Some charlatan has stolen a Ziggy and

    passed it off as his own. I can prove it. Quick Elaine , to my archives.

  21. mellowknees says:

    “”Eh! I nice well thought out reason but invalid. I have to disagree with the editor.”

    If you haven’t seen the idea, then how can it be plagiarism? I was always under the impression there had to be intent to be called stealing. Though it’d be hard to prove, I suppose.”

    Very hard to prove – especially since the human brain is a pretty amazing computer. Someone can easily see something and store it away in the recesses of their mind, and never recall actually having seen it. I have a very hard time believing that this might *not* be plagirism, even if it’s inadvertant.

    Todd Goldman, for example, could argue that he had never seen the works of all the various artists whose original creations his work seems to mimic almost exactly…but I’m willing to bet that he has.

    I would hope that the artist of the recent comic would at the very least put into writing that he didn’t mean to appear to have maybe possibly used an idea that he saw elsewhere.

  22. elvisneedsboats says:

    It’s like I heard in ad school all the time – there are no original ideas left.

  23. rotorglow says:

    Oh c’mon. *I’ve* had that same idea for a drawing, and have never seen the Larson drawing. It came to me years ago after 2nd time I saw a weirdo feeding 200 pigeons in a park. And when I saw it in the mag last week my thought was “Heh. I guess that was a good idea for a drawing after all” with a sprinkle of, “Gee, I wish I could draw” on top.

    I’m with Mankoff (not “Mankowitz”). Some things just cause the same reaction in people.

  24. Cpt. Tim says:

    “Todd Goldman, for example, could argue that he had never seen the works of all the various artists whose original creations his work seems to mimic almost exactly…but I’m willing to bet that he has.”

    citing an extreme of a multiple offender doesn’t quite balance this.

    I’ve had to go back and change a novella in progress because someone said something reminded them of something, and i got back and check and yes, there it is, even though i didn’t remember it, something else obviously influenced me. So i change it enough. I’m okay with borrowing. but not theiving.

    Or sometimes i haven’t seen the original thing that someone says my work is similar to. At that point, if i don’t think its something major enough to get sued over, i keep going with it. It was my idea too. Nothing new under the sun, as they say.

    final thought. i think both artists owe something to hitchcock there.

  25. Doten says:

    Charles Addams did this cartoon in the New Yorker, probably in the early 1950s. I’ve seen it in anthologies. Since he was one of the most prominent cartoonists of his time, it’s highly likely that all of the artists mentioned saw his version.

    That said, it’s possible that the copying was done unconsciously.

    There’s no copyright issue, because story ideas cannot be copyrighted.

  26. ggm says:

    I believe there is a cartoon like this by Bill Tidy, or Honeywell, or one of the other British Cartoonists. Maybe even Steinberg did one like this.

    Charles Addams?

    c’mon guys. cut the toonists some slack. standing on the shoulders of giants and/or standing on the toes.

  27. Jelf says:

    The cartoon editor is entirely correct – I used to produce regular cartoons for Punch magazine (the now-defunct British equivalent to the New Yorker) and this happened a lot.
    For example, when the mad cow scare was at its hight in the UK, I sent in a (not very funny) cartoon depicting a ‘boneless cattle farm’ – the editor wrote back saying that two other cartoonists had turned in the exact same gag. A similar joke ran in Private Eye the same week.

    Certainly the premise of the joke above is obvious enough for this to have been a coincidence – there must be thousands of cartoons about people feeding birds in the park…

    By the way Mark, the cartoon editor’s name is Bob Mankoff, not Bob Mankowitz…

  28. Jesse M. says:

    Here is another recent New Yorker cartoon that seemed very close to a Far Side strip–I can’t find the Far Side I’m thinking of online, but it shows two woolly mammoths, one of whom has just discovered he stepped on a caveman. It’s in the book “Prehistory of the Far Side”, and I think the original comment had the mammoth saying something like “I thought I smelled something”, but the syndicate made him change it to something like “I thought I heard something squeaking”.

  29. sasquatch says:

    That’s a new one, I got to try that next time. I’m not stealing your idea, I’m just being creative and thought of it as well. I’m not picking your pocket. I’m just being creative.

    I don’t blame the cartoonist, he may or may not have taken the idea. I blame the editor who should have spotted the similarity. If he’s not familiar with comics from the past, he should get familiar or quit being the comics editor.

  30. So-Called Austin Mayor says:

    In “Cryptomnesia” (1905), a paper about accidental plagiarism, Carl Jung argues that it’s impossible to know for certain which ideas are one’s own. “Our unconsciousness… swarms with strange intruders,” he writes. He accuses Nietzsche of unwittingly copying another’s work, and urges all writers to sift through their memories and locate the origin of every idea before putting it to paper: “Ask each thought: Do I know you, or are you new?”

    http://tinyurl.com/2br9nt

  31. So-Called Austin Mayor says:

    Bright Tunes Music v. Harrisongs Music
    420 F. Supp. 177 (S.D.N.Y. 1976)

    ‘This case found the late George Harrison liable for copyright infringement; given Harrison’s popularity as one of the Beatles, it is probably the most commonly known music plagiarism dispute. The court’s tone is almost apologetic in determining that Harrison’s use of the melodic kernels of plaintiff’s universally popular number, in the same order and repetitive sequence and set to “identical harmonies,” compelled it to conclude that Harrison unconsciously misappropriated the musical essence of “He’s So Fine.”‘

    http://tinyurl.com/buxqq

  32. rocklifter says:

    re: #12
    “For example, when the mad cow scare was at its hight in the UK, I sent in a (not very funny) cartoon depicting a ‘boneless cattle farm’ – the editor wrote back saying that two other cartoonists had turned in the exact same gag.”

    Great example! In the early 80s Gary Larson did a cartoon of the Boneless Chicken Ranch, with limp chickens draped over fences. Seems like that might have invaded your subconscious as well.

  33. Automatt says:

    I’m pretty sure I saw this gag in a Charles Addams cartoon like 30 years ago.

  34. kip w says:

    Addams was my first thought. I can’t find it in the half dozen or so collections I can locate, and I’m not about to try to find it on the New Yorker CD-ROM, either. (Mild irony that it was most likely a New Yorker cartoon to begin with.)

    I wouldn’t waste your time posting about that, but I will mention that I saw one that was later used with near exactitude by Gahan Wilson. Addams drew it as a four panel sequence of someone walking through the door (literally) of a patent office, and Wilson did it in one panel that looked just like the third panel.

    I’ve occasionally drawn something and found that I most likely saw it elsewhere. Other times, major cartoonists have used the same idea as something I did, and there’s no way they ever saw mine.

  35. rotorglow says:

    First off: Though I don’t agree it was “theft,” I can’t believe nobody’s made a “Larsony” joke yet.

    @#14: Encyclopedic knowledge of (all) comics through (all of) the ages is a requirement for being a cartoon editor?

    If he spotted 9 other gags that had been drawn before and missed this one, should he still resign?

    Gary Larson is a prolific guy. So is Bill Watterson. So was Charles Schultz. Etc. Is it fair to ask one person to be familiar with every drawing each one of them has done?

    That’s a high standard to apply. Do you meet it in your own field?

  36. Bonnie says:

    I think the real point we’re totally missing is that old people everywhere are being devoured by pigeons! The horror!

  37. mpb says:

    Covers may also have problems. I don’t know the outcome of this coincidence, reported earlier this year–

    On 7/31/07 10:44 PM,
    Message : 2007 http://www.groven.no/rolf/previewpages/previewpage_3kvinner.php My hardcopy NYer just showed up with a cover (Girls will be Girls) very like the one I found yesterday at the address above. 2007. Tre Kvinner. Last ned bildet i større utgave: 1024 x 820 pixler, 2400 x 1989 pixler Your cover painting is a slight modification of an earlier one, even to the title.

    There was an interesting essay in Slate about Can Photographers Be Plagiarists? Then there is this, involving bOINGbOING
    The History of an Idea or Humor Makes for Strange Vatfellows

  38. coifmo says:

    The grand master Don Martin drew this same comic for Mad Magazine in 1957:

    http://community.livejournal.com/scans_daily/4443350.html

  39. jamie_2002 says:

    In the movie “We’re Back! A Dinosaurs’ Story”, the same idea is used to disappear Professor Screweyes.

    He stands on the stage in the circus and is covered by crows. When the crows fly away only his screweye is left.

    It’s a little bit scary for the target audience (children under 12– it is G rated). At least my kids were freaked out when they first saw it.

    Maybe Larson should go after Spielberg and Universal?

  40. gollux says:

    Given there’s how many billion people on the planet now, why do we think anymore that there are entirely original thoughts? The thing that always amazed me about science history is the number of people who were thinking along the same lines, sometimes had made the discovery years in advance, only to be shoved aside by some egotistical chest beating prat who then was credited with the discovery. Most ideas are arrived at in parallel anymore, most people have had these types of experiences with pigeons the world over, so how could someone own the copyright on the idea of pigeons crowding around someone feeding them, only to have the person disappear in the onslaught?

  41. cank says:

    Some New Yorker cartoonist was on this week and said that one of his cartoons was placed in the caption contest in the back of the issue. The winning caption was the exact same caption that he came up with. In the case above, the cartoon is captionless, but the joke (or the caption) can be thought of independent of the art.

  42. Kaboom says:

    The Far Side with the 2 mammoths is on page 126 of the prehistory of the Far Side. To me it’s not the same gag so I think it isn’t plaqiarism. Just cartoonists playing in the same sandbox.

    Political cartoons, it seems, are much more likely to use the same joke. I remember seeing many cartoons when Arnie and Gary Coleman were trying to become governor of California and many of the cartoons were almost identical. I bet 50 people independently came up with the name “governator” which has seemed to stick. That’s what happens when a large community makes fun of the same few events.

  43. Lone says:

    Think this quote falls into place well here.

    “There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don’t know.”
    Ambrose Bierce

  44. Doten says:

    #19 “Addams was my first thought. I can’t find it in the half dozen or so collections I can locate, and I’m not about to try to find it on the New Yorker CD-ROM, either. (Mild irony that it was most likely a New Yorker cartoon to begin with.)”

    It’s in Black Maria. However, it appears that it was not published in the New Yorker originally, because the book lists the dates of the cartoons that were in the New Yorker, and it’s not on the list.

  45. Jacques says:

    Don Martin was the best, the best I tell you, the best. Thanks Coifmo. BTW, anyone who thinks this is plagarism is full of it, the editor was absolutely right to stand by the artist. That guy Todd from David&Goliath got caught plagarising, not this guy.

Leave a Reply