The cartoonosphere is buzzing with talk of a new editorial cartoon published on Monday, Oct. 24, by Urban Tulsa Weekly’s David Simpson. DailyCartoonist.com editor Alan Gardner says it looks a lot like an old editorial cartoon by the late Jeff MacNelly. Gardner not only posted Simpson’s cartoon alongside MacNelly’s, he also overlaid them, with MacNelly’s in red, Simpson’s in blue. “It wasn’t a photocopy; it was actually a redraw. You could tell, from looking at them side-by-side, that he was definitely copying. It is more of a question, to what degree? When you overlay them, the composition is basically the same. Things are a little bit off. But he redrew it almost down the blades of grass, the trash on the ground. Small deviations,” Gardner told me. “It was the most blatant plagiarism example I’ve ever seen.”
That appraisal is echoed by Tom Spurgeon, editor of ComicsReporter.com: “This appears to be outright wholesale appropriation, with enough effort involved for it to be deliberate, for the (admittedly minor) gain that comes from passing off someone else’s work as your own.”
Another interesting reaction came from Philip Rosemond, curator archivist of the Jeff MacNelly Estate Archives in Flint Hill, VA, one of dozens posting on DailyCartoonist.com:
Hi. I’m the Curator Archivist of the Jeff MacNelly Estate Archives. So, y’all know, I’m quite sure this guy won’t get away with this for long. Stumbling across this article just got me very busy…. Stay tooned, folks!
Making this case of alleged plagiarism more intriguing is that Gardner reports it’s not Simpson’s first experience under the microscope.
This is not the first time Simpson has been accused of plagiarism. He was let go from The Tulsa World in 2005 after it was pointed out that he had blatantly redrew a 1981 editorial cartoon by Bob Englehart of the The Hartford Courant.
Urban Tulsa Weekly has not yet commented publicly on the controversy. Simpson, incidentally, was editorial cartoonist for the Tulsa Tribune from 1971-92 and Tulsa World from 1992-2005. He was a 2005 inductee in the Oklahoma Cartoonists Fame. Related: “‘Tulsa World’ fires cartoonist for plagiarism” (E&P)
Bob Andelman interviews DailyCartoonist.com editor Alan Gardner:
Correction: The original version of this post misstated the name of Urban Tulsa Weekly.