Thursday, May 3, 2012

"Great Minds" Redux


   Not just a way for me to have another blog post with a fancy foreign phrase in it, this dovetails perfect with the latest series of coincidental cartoon creations. There's no bigger buzzkill than to surf the morning's Facebook and see one of your original concepts going viral - that someone else drew. Sort of.


   No idea who "Sipkess" (?) is, a Google search came up with nothing, and an Image Search produced more of the same panel but no other info. And again, since I've never seen it before, and the chances of the other guy reading a copy of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner are slim to none, this is another entry on the inevitability of simultaneous ideas. Mine's funnier, in Alaska. But then so is everything.

   *Update: Thanks Dave Sipress! And by the way, here's  a great 2008 lecture by him (added to the "Cartooning" YouTube Channel):



   Sensitive artist syndrome aside, I still stand by the sentiment that it really doesn't (or shouldn't) matter as far as originality, and it doesn't diminish the validity of what is (or was) your idea. Besides, everybody remembers who Alfred Russel Wallace was. I often use the analogy of how impossible it would be to write a completely new song that somehow doesn't manage to use the presumably finite set of notes, chords and melodies that are available. In fact, now there are computer programs that can do the job, and probably a matter of time before one is developed for gag cartoons with the same degree of homogenous predictability. Likewise try and write a book that avoids using the same words in finite combinations used by millions of other speakers of the same language (an estimated 988,968 in English). There is bound to be overlap, and what with the ever-increasing reach of the internet, more examples will be discovered, along with exponential opportunities for plagiarism. Reminded me of a similar event last fall, when my friend Gordon Caulkins, cartoonist of Mighty Wombat fame, also suffered the indignity, which in this instance looks to be more of a case of insincere flattery:


8 comments:

  1. David Sipress. He's a pretty well-known NYer cartoonist. (And yeah, I hate it when other people "steal" my gags by having similar ideas!)

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  2. Thanks - that's him! I knew the style was really familiar and if my cartoon archives were shipped I'd have tracked him down eventually.

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  3. I've seen enough simultaneous evolution of thought over the years to expect it more often than not. If I have what seems like an incredible original idea I have to decide whether to draw it for the pleasure of doing it my way and THEN look to see who did it better and how long ago they did it, or looking first so I can get straight to the depression phase.

    Before the Internet we could scribble away in happy ignorance. But then we had to go through that whole cumbersome printing and distribution process to spread it around even a tiny part of the world. Now we can get our brilliance onto the international bathroom wall as quickly as a few mouse clicks.

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  4. So why do the photos look so much like my drawings? At first I was shocked. But upon further reflection, it makes sense. I used GIS to find models for the first three dogs. I looked. I drew. I closed closed my browser. The Meth Lab, came straight out of my own head. When the copycat made his own version of my cartoon, he used GIS, and saw exact same pictures of the same dogs that I did. He too used them. The fact that his meth lab and mine look so much alike is the real mystery. Carl Jung would have called it "synchronicity." I call it coincidence.

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  5. "straight to the depression phase" - that's sad, I mean funny.
    I've heard from more than a few other professional cartoonists that they don't read anybody else's stuff, not on account of any elitism but plain old simple avoidance of potential contamination. It still wouldn't spare anyone with coming up with a genuinely original cartoon that has already been done. So what anyways - I mean if one's conscience is clean then no worries. Except for the poo-flinging purity trolls.

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  6. Gord: ha - that is some mighty fine sleuthing and makes complete sense. Wonder how top-ranked GIS results will now slowly infect the collective imagery of our society when it comes to visual culture (as in Jungian archetypes).

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  7. The above "dead" cartoon first appeared in my 1990 book, "The Secret Life of Dogs."

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  8. See - now all this promotional internet exposure just got you a sale... thanks for the input David. Small world on the internet - and at least this is one of the rare instances when a cartoon goes viral on Facebook that the creator's name wasn't whited-out.
    Anyways now we'll both get sued by Grateful Dead Enterprises and the estate of Jerry Garcia for copyright infringement.

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