Jim Hope, who freelanced editorial cartoons for the Culpeper Star-Exponent, has reportedly lost his gig after someone questioned whether a recent cartoon was a bit too similar to a Nate Beeler cartoon. Clay Jones, cartoonist for the The Free Lance-Star, has posted the cartoons in question on his blog where he also talks about this alleged plagiarism.
I found out about this yesterday when a friend in the know called me up. She wanted my judgement on the similarities in the toons. Well, they’re pretty close. Jim maintains his innocence and that it’s just a case of similar ideas which does affect everyone in the business. I usually buy that defense as that’s usually the case. I’m not so sure this time. I hate to see Jim lose his gig and he’s a really nice guy. But while cartoonists often demand to receive the same respect as columnist, reporters and the guys who sweep up the place, we have to hold ourselves to the same principles and ethics of this business.
Is it just me or does it seem that the number of cases are growing? Going back into the TDC archive, there have been two cases of plagiarism this year, two last year and four in 2006. Only one story in 2005, but TDC only existed the last three months of the year. Looking at the numbers, I doubt that the problem is growing, but there does seem to be too many – even at the one or two a year. Than again, maybe I’m just getting tired of the subject.