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Is C-Kennel copying Pooch Cafe?

The question of plagiarism in comics is always a tricky one especially in strips working in a similar space. A fan of Pooch Cafe sent Paul Gilligan a cartoon from the newly launched Dogs of C Kennel that was similar to one of his. Paul found a couple others and posted them on his blog.

When reached for comment, Mick Mastroianni, co-creator of Dogs of C-Kennel, stated in an email, “Any cartoonist will tell you, this happens all the time in our industry. Gag writers come up with similar ideas, especially when working within the confines of one particular theme – ‘dogs,’ in this instance. The old adage ‘great minds think alike’ more often than not rings true.”

Paul has posted an updated response on his blog – part of an email sent to Mick and Mason which reads, “We all wear our influences openly on the comics page. I’m sure Poncho wouldn’t be drinking from the toilet if Grimmy hadn’t done it first, and who can do a snowman gag without bowing to Calvin? I totally understand that we’re all pouring from the same kettle, so similarities are bound to happen, and I guess that’s just what happened here. There are no hard feelings, being a daily cartoonist is a tough haul, and I respect anyone who’s doing it.”

Community Comments

#1 Dave Stephens
October/21/2010
@ 4:35 pm

Who can do a snowman gag without bowing to PEANUTS…

But I agree with the premise, nevertheless.

#2 Tony Kinnard
October/22/2010
@ 8:01 am

The first and third strips shown aren’t really as bad, as they are a similar concept but have a different take to them.

However, the second one shown is so blatant, it’s almost like the writing was copied and pasted in there.

#3 Nathan J. DiPerri
October/22/2010
@ 9:00 am

Plagiarism in the creative field should not be tolerated. GoComics should respond swiftly and responsibly by canceling Dogs of C-Kennel.

#4 Bill Kellogg
October/22/2010
@ 9:24 am

From what I understand, Dogs of C-Kennel has been in a development deal with Creators for 4 years or so. It’s possible their version of the strip came first. Im not implying anything here, I’m just saying we don’t know so we shouldn’t pass judgement without all the facts.

I’ve seen blatent looking copies of Tundra strips by several big name cartoonists over the years. I’ll let Alan know who they are but I won’t name them here. That kind of thing happens all the time but it doubt it is ever intentional, at least with known cartoonists.

#5 Scott Kurtz
October/22/2010
@ 10:07 am

this kind of stuff happens all the time. You write a strip, get an email from a friend and discover they wrote the same strip a year ago.

But this particular example is an amazing examination of just how pedestrian and cookie-cutter the syndicated comics page has become. In my opinion, editorial constraints, and pandering to the lowest common denominator means that if two artists pick the same subject for their strip (i.e. dogs), the strips are almost interchangeable.

Pooch Cafe is, in my opinion, the better executed strip. The artwork is more design savvy and jokes are delivered much snappier than the sloppy Dogs of C Kennel.

What both sides should take form this is that it’s time to step up their game and find something that makes their comic strips bolder and more relevant than “just another dog joke comic.”

#6 Nathan J. DiPerri
October/22/2010
@ 10:28 am

I apologize for my previous comment. It was written in haste and having read subsequent postings, I regret jumping to conclusions.

#7 Garey Mckee
October/22/2010
@ 10:38 am

I believe I stated this in a previous topic (or maybe it was actually on GoComics) about C-Kennel. When the Mastroianni brothers get all these obvious dog gags out of their system and actually start writing CHARACTER driven strips, C Kennel will be much better.

I don’t know how old those Pooch Cafe strips are, but I hope they aren’t too recent. If that is the case, it would seem Pooch suffers from the same affliction.

Character trumps premise every time.

#8 Steve Skelton
October/22/2010
@ 11:08 am

Garey,

I was just told last week by a prominent editor that my strip wasn’t sellable since my premise sucks, apparently. But I have some good characters!!! Apparently, premise is everything. Hence the surplus of niche audience strips that often seem to have very little substance.

#9 August J. Pollak
October/22/2010
@ 11:35 am

I agree with Scott on this (mostly… the “Eye Spy” ones are really eerie in being nearly identical) these are just variations of a very easy gag. It’s a comic about dogs. Let’s see: dogs are color blind, like walks, jump into garbage, fear the vacuum cleaner and attack the mailman. There, I just wrote the gag for Monday through Friday’s strips.

Half the editorial cartoons I read are painfully lazy and use the same joke; none of them are “ripping each other off.” They just aren’t being creative. You want to see mass “coincidences” on the editorial comics page? Wait for a celebrity to die.

Of course it’s even worse when cartoonists just rip off themselves. I heard next week Garfield’s going to hate Monday and Dagwood’s going to each a sandwich.

#10 Clay Jones
October/22/2010
@ 1:21 pm

August wrote:
Half the editorial cartoons I read are painfully lazy and use the same joke; none of them are ?ripping each other off.? They just aren?t being creative. You want to see mass ?coincidences? on the editorial comics page? Wait for a celebrity to die.

Read more: http://dailycartoonist.com/index.php/2010/10/21/is-c-kennel-copying-pooch-cafe/#ixzz137K0R4zw

August is absolutely correct. I think very few editorial cartoonists steal…and why would they? Most editorial cartoon ideas aren’t good enough to steal.

#11 Garey Mckee
October/22/2010
@ 1:33 pm

Steve, I think ideally the premise is the hook but characers with strong personalities keeps readers coming back. Easy for me to say here, but oh so hard to execute.

I don’t want anyone to think I’m casting stones at either of these strips, just offering outside observations

#12 Steve Skelton
October/22/2010
@ 1:50 pm

What is the premise of Peanuts? What is the premise of Seinfeld? Just wonderin’……

#13 Phil Judd
October/22/2010
@ 3:50 pm

I was reading alot of Calvin and Hobbes lately and the similarities to settings and themes in Peanuts is amazing. But I don’t see it as steailing or copying. It can be something without thought where ones influences come out and every cartoonist has that whether they admit it or not. Sometimes I have written ideas from out of nowhere and then been reading a comic a few weeks later and see the exact same idea. But having never read it before how could it be a copy? These things happens and unless it’s a direct copy word for word and the drawings the same insinuating plagarism is a very tenuous direction. Every cartoon on the comics pages has its roots into previous comics. What makes it any different to the rest of the arts that do the same?

#14 Phil Judd
October/22/2010
@ 3:53 pm

By the way the snowman srips started with Charlie Brown way back when so Watterson never mined new material there. But his stuff is fantastic…so who really cares?

#15 Michael Koehler
October/22/2010
@ 5:21 pm

. no one can reinvent the wheel, i would say, not even a cartoonist. ?Gags? for comic, comic strips etc. based on stereotypes of man (dogs) and situations. So most of the creative work are variations of the same ?stuff?. Really originally settings are extremely rare.
It´s hard to get an Hero of Cartoon!

But even for this reason it is difficult to verify thievery of ideas…

#16 Ted Rall
October/23/2010
@ 10:01 am

Not a clear-cut case of plagiarism, I’d say. Certainly not beyond a reasonable doubt, which is more than I can say for some other cases I’ve been privy to.

The bigger question is: Do readers really enjoy such picayune subject matter?

#17 Alex Hallatt
October/24/2010
@ 3:49 pm

I wouldn’t think that the creators have intentionally copied Pooch Cafe – sometimes old jokes lurk in the subconscious.

And why would you want to invite comparison to Pooch Cafe when trying to sell in the same market?

#18 Chris Cantrell
October/24/2010
@ 9:48 pm

If someone had the time it would be interesting to take every comic that features dogs and compare their archives. I would be willing to bet that more than a few will overlap each other just because of the subject matter.

#19 Mike Peterson
October/25/2010
@ 3:33 am

“Do readers really enjoy such picayune subject matter?”

Considering that an editor isn’t likely to run two dog strips, readers wouldn’t likely see the crossover in jokes. I’d be more concerned with Mark Trail’s habit of recycling old storylines. Self-plagiarism is more likely to be noticed.

On the other hand, if originality were a major factor, readers would rebel over “Who ate the Halloween candy?” and “Everybody hates fruitcake” and “Animals don’t have opposable thumbs” gags. And most of prime time television.

#20 Shane Davis
October/25/2010
@ 7:09 pm

More evidence “C-Kennel” is using Paul Gilligan as their muse? Hmmmmm….

http://poochcafe.com/?p=1673

#21 Michael Jantze
October/31/2010
@ 8:40 am

Genealogically, snowman gags started (at least in the last sixty years) with Linus Van Pelt from “Peanuts”. I haven’t been able to find those kind of gags in “Skippy” or “Happy Hooligan” yet.

#22 Josh McDonald
October/31/2010
@ 1:58 pm

Michael: You’re mostly right — except that Peanuts’ earliest snowman gags precede Linus’s first appearance by a couple years.

#23 mike
November/15/2010
@ 4:48 pm

there are jealous people out there i give this strip 5 stars its great nothing like pooch cafe at all all the created goes to the cartoonist of it

#24 mike
November/15/2010
@ 4:53 pm

i think dogs of c kennel beats cafe by a mile

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