Did the New Yorker Plagiarize Me? (No.)

Did the New Yorker plagiarize me? I sincerely doubt it. I drew this cartoon in 2011 for my comic Friendship Town which used to run in the San Francisco Chronicle.


This week this was the cover of the New Yorker.

The castaway on an island is a classic cartoon trope, and global warming is discussed daily. Danny Shanahan has been drawing for the New Yorker since I was a child, making hundreds if not thousands of cartoons. It’s a numbers game more than anything else, and a race to see who can get theirs out first.

In this instance Danny’s not original and neither am I. A quick image search provided this.

Date unknown.

I bet I could find more.

UPDATE: I found more.

I was accused of plagiarism once and it felt awful, because I knew I hadn’t done it. The artist in question (who I had never heard of) wrote me curtly and said he found the similarities “way too close to be any sort of coincidence.” It was a coincidence though — we had both made a mashup of the same pop-culture icons. Our ideas were similar, but different in execution.

Ideas can exist independently of one another, but these days everyone is exposed to everything, and it’s easy to assume the worst. It validates our own notions of ourselves and makes us feel important, even though we’re just cogs in the process of creativity. Something goes in and something else comes out. Similar ingredients can elicit similar results.

My complaint isn’t that someone had the same idea as me. My complaint is that they got their idea on the cover of the New Yorker.