MacNelly widow on cartoon plagiarism: 'Tulsa must be in a black hole with different journalistic ethics'

The Daily CartoonistUrban Tulsa Weekly | The Washington Post

Jeff MacNelly's widow Susie tells Alan Gardner at The Daily Cartoonist that David Simpson's editor asked her to write the retraction for Simpson's plagiarism of an old cartoon drawn by her husband. "Tulsa must be in a black hole with different journalistic ethics because neither Simpson nor his editor/publisher seem repentant," she writes. Simpson apologized to Susie MacNelly, explaining that he "accidentally stole the cartoon 25 years ago" and repurposed it recently after finding it in a box in his garage. Gardner points out that Simpson's explanation implies that he ripped off the same cartoon twice. As for believing that it was his own, that's the same explanation he gave in 2005 when he was fired from the Tulsa World for plagiarizing another cartoon.

Urban Tulsa Weekly, meanwhile, posted a "rectification" on page 7 of its current issue, below the "Love letters, hate mail" feature. It says that Simpson has resigned; Simpson says in his email to Susie MacNelly that he was fired. Either way, Simpson's done cartooning: The note in Urban Tulsa Weekly says he has retired. || Culture of copying? Cartoonist Michael Bors says "swiping MacNelly cartoons was done with wild abandon before the Internet ... Simpson may have been on the extreme end of the spectrum with his slavish reproductions, but cartoonists far more notable than him have stolen from MacNelly while enjoying successful careers and none of the scorn that is now heaped upon Simpson.”

  • Steve Myers

    Steve Myers was the managing editor of until August 2012, when he became the deputy managing editor and senior staff writer for The Lens, a nonprofit investigative news site in New Orleans.


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