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Did New Yorker cartoon copy Jeff Darcy?

The New Yorker just can’t seem to catch a break lately when it comes to news about their famed cartoons. Another cartoon has been spotted that is very similar to a Jeff Darcy cartoon (editorial cartoonist for the Plain Dealer) that was published two years ago. The New Yorker carton was done by Paul Noth who defended the cartoon when contacted by a Wall Street Journal health blogger saying that he hadn’t seen Darcy’s cartoon until the blogger emailed it to him.

He was also quoted as saying:

“On two occasions in the past I’ve killed cartoons the New Yorker had accepted because in the months (and sometimes years) that can intervene between the acceptance of a cartoon and its appearance in the magazine I discovered that someone else had a similar joke,” he told us. “I’m also aware that the New Yorker’s fact checking department goes through a lot of trouble to make sure this doesn’t happen.”

I for one believe Paul. The cartoon seemed a bit obvious given the subject matter of the relationship between doctors and pharmaceutical companies. I question how effective the New Yorker fact checking department can be for cartoons that are almost completely visual. Sure they can run gags and captions through a keyword search to make sure punch-lines aren’t being recycled, but when you have thousands of images – how can you really fact check that?

Community Comments

#1 Tom Heintjes
July/9/2008
@ 7:10 am

I’m with you, Alan. It’s such an obvious (though funny) idea that it’s not surprising it occurred to more than one person.

#2 Scott Gallatin
July/9/2008
@ 7:54 am

I’m pretty sure these two guys aren’t the only ones to have published this themed comic. Maybe next time they can complain about all the gas price comics that look the same.

#3 Rob Tornoe
July/9/2008
@ 9:22 am

Or the Starbucks coffee cartoons for that matter.

#4 Jeff Darcy
July/9/2008
@ 9:38 am

I’ve had a cartoon in Time, Newsweek and now the THE NEW YORKER! WWHOHOO! My Mom will be so proud

#5 Jeff Darcy
July/9/2008
@ 9:57 am

When the WSJ medical writer alerted me about the cartoon my first reaction was to dismiss it knowing, as we all do, how this is not an uncommon occurrance. But when I actually saw the New Yorker cartoon I was struck by how it wasn’t just the same joke, but the same composition, right down to the Merck logo being prominent. While it’s true we sometimes come up with the same idea, 9 times out of 10, they look different. Here you have a patient on the left on a table, doc on the right, Merck logo large.
It should also be pointed out you don’t have to be reader of the P.D. to have seen this cartoon. At the time, it made it’s way all around the country via folks in the medical community.( Driven in part by the fact that the Clev. Clinic is considered the best heart hosp. in the world.) I was sent emails from folks on the west coast who saw it in there Doctors office. Which is were I’m told the cartoonist said he came up with it. Fair enough. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. But I also understand why it caught the WSJ attention and why some have rolled there eyes when told it’s just a case of serendipity.

#6 Chris Evans
July/9/2008
@ 10:07 am

No matter what — Jeff has the winning caption for the New Yorker cartoon caption contest!

#7 Jeff Darcy
July/9/2008
@ 10:36 am

With all that is happening with the New Yorker Toons I thought Matt Bors had a good New Yorker funny today. It’ll be fun to see how it’s redrawn for next months New Yorker by some big N.Y. doodler.

#8 Alan Gardner
July/9/2008
@ 10:50 am

Ha! Mat did have a good one. Here’s the link: http://www.mattbors.com/archives/410.html

#9 Matt Bors
July/9/2008
@ 11:35 am

Thanks guys.

Hopefully, it will run in the Village Voice so some New Yorker cartoonists (and editors) may catch it.

#10 Rod McKie
July/9/2008
@ 1:52 pm

I thought the prominent logo was a giveaway.

Of course Mister Mankoff will know there are no coincidences, and the placing of the Merck logo in an almost identical position was probably an expression of the cartoonist’s subconcious desire to be caught.

I don’t think Harry Bliss was ripping anyone off with his homage, but this cartoon is a little troubling, I think. Not just because of the commonalities but also because of the small differences:

The doctor in a cartoon for a number of publications will look like a cartoon doctor. In the NYKR only a Barsotti cartoon will feature a obviously cartoon-like doctor; and maybe perhaps a Gahan Wilson. The doctor in a NYKR cartoon will often, however, wear a white coat (I’ve been looking at all their cartoons on my NYKR discs), but not the more obvious cartoon-like doctor accessories. So, he’s slightly more upmarket doctor.

This doctor looks a little like a Consultant and as a result looks more like the old switcheroo than just changing the doctor character to a woman. Dressing the doctor up in a suit makes me a little suspicious and not just because it changes the joke from a sponsored health care service to a sponsored individual – which kind of weakens the satire.

I remember Carolita Johnson posting about the fact-checking department on her blog. One of her cartoons was accepted and then rejected because they thought it was similar to an earlier NYKR cartoon – I might be wrong, but I think they only check against their own gags, not outside sources.

My opinion is this one is too close for comfort.

#11 Scott Gallatin
July/9/2008
@ 3:20 pm

For the record I like Jeff’s version better.

#12 Lucas Turnbloom
July/9/2008
@ 3:38 pm

Steve Breen did a similar one too:
http://pulitzer.org/

#13 Lucas Turnbloom
July/9/2008
@ 3:39 pm

Sorry, here is a better link:
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/features/breen/pulitzer/index.html

#14 Jeff Darcy
July/9/2008
@ 4:54 pm

And I see Breen’s version ran right in the New Yorkers back yard. I got hung up on the same thing Rod did- the Merck logo. My paper and the WSJ at the time ran a story on my towns Hospital and there new full disclosure policy in which Merck was a big part of. Which is why I did the cartoon and had Merck so big. I heard the guy who designed the first white lab coat feels ripped off too

#15 Lucas Turnbloom
July/9/2008
@ 5:27 pm

Hey, I’m sorry if it sounded like I was trying to imply something bad here, Jeff. I really wasn’t.

I only posted it to show that hey, the (Cagle term) “yahtzee” happens to the best of us.

BTW — I was in Cleveland a few months back and had the Plain Dealer delivered to my hotel room every morning. Nice paper you have there!

#16 Malc McGookin
July/9/2008
@ 6:07 pm

Didn’t see the two cartoons concerned, but I Googled “Nascar Merck” and immediately discovered an illustration that has Hillary and Dubyah wearing suits covered in Nascar-style sponsorship.

It’s an obvious idea, and is bound to be thought up by a number of cartoonists.

#17 Jeff Darcy
July/10/2008
@ 11:06 am

I didn’t read your post that way Lucas. Breen’s toon kind of makes my point that usually when we come up with the same idea the composition and drawing are different. I made light of it with the WSJ. But of course the only quote that got used was “..getting to close for comfort”

#18 Harold Clayton
July/12/2008
@ 5:35 pm

The Steve Breen cartoon predated both cartoons in question and was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning portfolio of work. It seems to me, that would make Jeff Darcy just as likely a plagiarist as Paul Noth.

That said, I don’t think either Darcy or Noth is guilty of anything more than drawing a fairly predictable cartoon.

Harold Clayton, III

#19 Rod McKie
July/12/2008
@ 10:38 pm

That’s a very predictable post Harold.

#20 J.G. Moore
July/13/2008
@ 9:29 pm

Man, did you see the TNY’s Obama cover?!? What is the New Yorker smoking these days.

#21 KRANKY (JOE RANK)
July/13/2008
@ 11:15 pm

As suspected, the New Yorker is just another bought off Right Wing crap mill.
Pretending to be outre liberal; all the while catering to their corporate slavemasters. I knew it from the consummate rectalness of Bob Mankoff. WHAT a stuck up JERK!

#22 Rick Stromoski
July/14/2008
@ 6:27 am

The NYer cover is supposed to be a parody of all of the combined smears against Obama the Repuglican Right has been spewing in yet again another attempt at the politics of fear. It’s because they can’t run on their record.

#23 Wiley Miller
July/14/2008
@ 8:14 am

Joe-
Congratulations!
You have just earned a free stay at the Clinic for the Satirically Challenged.

#24 Jamie Smith
July/14/2008
@ 8:34 am

That NY’er cover has unleashed one of the biggest implosions ever – over on Daily KOS the comment thread is now over two thousand. Worth checking out the sheer range of interpretations and angry reactions it has stirred up, a real lesson in just how powerful a single image can be: using parody to mock a position is unfortunately an art lost on most political extremists, unless you are making fun of the “other side”. In a detached, meta way it truly is one of the most provocative caricatures they’ve done, whether or not someone thinks it is “racist” and cancels their subscription or thinks it’s a hysterical commentary…

#25 Rod Rossi
April/22/2009
@ 8:54 am

I think hairs are being over split. Tens of thousands of cartoonists all trying to be topical…duplicity is likely to happen.

(“politics of fear” ??? Like global warming, for example? Er, I mean, happy eartlhy day!)

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