Wiley Miller made an interesting comment on the open discussion about using gag writers and how he handles blind submission from gag writers. He said,
So without ever looking at the index cards (as I didn’t want to be unduly influenced by their material), I’d stick them right into the return envelope.
I’ve heard variations of that theme – cartoonists not going to collection sites like Cagle.com or comic collection books so as not to unintentionally pick up on an idea that in the future might be questioned as their own.
On the opposite side are cases cited by Mike Lynch where he knows cartoonists that obsess with figuring out if their material is original. He writes,
A couple of my gag cartoonist friends obsess over originality, using their COMPLETE NEW YORKER CARTOONS CDs and Cartoonbank searches to check if their ideas possibly came to Carl Rose, Warren Miller or Mort Gerberg before now.
I’m assuming that we all, A. want to do original work and B. would be unpleased to be called on the carpet if our work was questioned. But where is the balance as a cartoonist? You can’t check all your gags through various databases (think of the time spent on that alone) and even if you did, wouldn’t you be opening yourself up to possibly unconsciously picking up further ideas?