Simpson plagiarizes another MacNelly (UPDATED)

This morning I asked jokingly if today’s new David Simpson cartoon was an original. Turns out it’s not. A Daily Cartoonist reader who wished to remain anonymous found the source of the cartoon in the Jeff MacNelly official archives (last cartoon on the page). He tells me it took him about five minutes to find it.

Again, here’s the original:

Here’s Simpson’s copy:

Here’s the overlay so you can see how much artistic license he took (or didn’t).

Same story – redrawn, not traced.

And as I noted earlier, the paper has not acknowledged last weeks’ plagiarism.

UPDATE: A couple of readers took the time to resize and position the original MacNelly and Simpson’s cartoon and found the cartoons matched up much more closely than my overlay I posted last night. At this point, it looks more like a light table job than a redraw.

This overlay by Kelly McNutt. Thanks also to Ian Davies for also sending in an overlay.

UPDATE 2: This Land has taken upon itself to look for further cases. They’ve found several more.

46 thoughts on “Simpson plagiarizes another MacNelly (UPDATED)

  1. Also, the original comic? Funny, and timeless. Long after Bosnia has been forgotten we’ll look at Jeff MacNelly’s comic and know what it means.

    The sloppy, ill-composed re-draw from David Simpson is punch-less, confusing, and if it is remembered at all it will only be as part of the growing body of evidence against him.

  2. Well, it IS Halloween…maybe he was just channeling MacNelly’s spirit…. This is amazing audacity, isn’t it? If I knew you could get away with this, I’d have had a light box and “Bloom County” going AGES ago.

  3. I wonder if you plagiarize enough times, it eventually becomes an addictive habit, like shoplifting. There’s a certain thrill involved with stealing someone’s work and not getting caught. I’m not trying to justify it–I’m just pondering out loud.

  4. I wrote to the Urban Tulsa last week. The associate publisher got back to me and said Simpson was no longer a contributor..And then they ran this new ripoff!

  5. My wife took one look at the Simpson strip’s clashing styles and said “it looks like the car was traced from a different comic.”

    I’m not gung-ho enough to go looking myself, but if anybody wants a research project, there it is…

  6. @ Howard Tayler – yeah, in the MacNelly strip, the light area around the soldier is so that he doesn’t disappear into the column he’s standing in front of. In the Simpson one, the white area around “Mary” looks like it’s from tracing, and the car doesn’t quite fit the way it would if it was drawn fresh. I also don’t have the time and desire to find it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it took a decent detective another 5 minutes to locate the source.

  7. With the original, the “Bosnia” sign is so conceptually different from the image of the haunted house, that it’s easy for the reader to take it as metaphor. With the Simpson version, you see “Bates Motel” with the haunted house…and just end up confused as to why it’s a haunted house instead of the Bates Motel.

  8. How many more are there? If Simpson has done this twice in a row, I’m assuming that he is portraying this as his style. If that’s the case, he has to have many more MacNelly look a like cartoons that he has put out as his own. Shameful.

  9. i double, triple and quadruple your “wow”…with google literally in almost everyone’s pockets how could you possibly think this would not be noticed in the great world wide wonder?

  10. As I said before, plagiarists must want to get caught. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to assume this is the same sort of disorder that fuels kleptomania. There’s no logic behind this.

  11. This is like finding out how many mistresses Tiger had.

    Oh, it wasn’t just one woman, there were two? Wait, there were FIFTEEN?

    I bet Simpson has done a slew of these ripoffs.

  12. Hey all. After e-mailing UTW Editor Gavin Elliot, this is the response I got:
    ?Hi Keith ? I can appreciate your being upset about Simpson?s plagiarism. As soon as it was brought to our attention, Simpson was let go. We had already gone to press with the last one before it was brought to our attention, which is why it ran.?

    He went on to say in a follow-up e-mail that Simpson was a contract cartoonist and not on staff.

  13. I do give that paper credit for its desire to publish editorial
    cartoons on local issues. Hopefully another cartoonist in
    that area will able to contract with them and fill the void with
    authentic work.

  14. The car is vintage MacNelly as well … a moot point if he has indeed been shown the UTW door, but still.

    A few years back, the first time Simpson got fired, Cullum Rogers went thru a book of Gahan Wilson cartoons and showed me all the snippets Simpson had copied. In one case, he reused the same woman sitting at a breakfast table on multiple occasions, each time replacing the toast she was holding with different objects. It was brazen

  15. This is just too much. Just how stupid is the guy?! Why is he still employed? Surely there are plenty of talented folks with ORIGINAL ideas who need that job. But forget what this says about Simpson — that’s been said, repeatedly. This is starting to reflect on the Urban Tulsa Weekly, and its editor and publisher.

  16. I think that’s probably the most blatant plagerism I’ve ever seen. How does this guy even hold his head up doing that, especially knowing that he WILL get caught, and he WILL get called out by other cartoonists!

    I get paranoid if my STYLE even resembles anyone elses. LOL! Time for David to hang it up, what a hack.

  17. If he cared even a tiny bit, he wouldn’t do it.
    But he did.
    If he thought his job depended on not doing it, he wouldn’t do it.
    But he did.
    If he thought no one cared, he couldn’t have been more wrong.
    We care.

    If he thought he could get away with it, he was 100% CORRECT!

    But only for a little while – hurray for the Daily Cartoonist!

  18. Not a cartoonist, but infinitely interested in this story. Saw the comment from JP Trostle about Simpson stealing from Gahan Wilson’s woman sitting at a breakfast table holding toast. I couldn’t turn up the Gahan Wilson he was referring to so I could compare, but I did find a “Simpson” cartoon featuring a woman at a breakfast table holding toast in Urban Tulsa Weekly’s “Best of Tulsa” edition from this July: Could it be yet another of plagiarism??

  19. Not sure if this is a guess or a hope but this is adding up to an older or out of touch person or both. It’s too blatant, sad and pathetic. Who puts their HoF reputation on the line for what I can only guess is less than $100.00/cartoon?

    Urban Tulsa is the bad guy is this story. To that extent, a word of caution: If he continues to be publicly humiliated, he could start to gain sympathy. (see Michael Vick)

  20. He’s been getting away with it for decades, and continues to find work, while other, more original cartoonists remain unemployed and ignored.

    The responsibility lies on the community of editors for purposefully seeking out blandness and mediocrity in cartoonists, as well as the community of cartoonists for tolerating it from their peers.

    The one cartoon I ever had published in the New York Times, they mixed the byline for it up with the byline for a cartoon by Jim Morin. And they never paid me, either! If those are the standards for a a supposed “paper-of-record,” then what do you expect from some random alt-weekly that probably has a fraction of the Times’ readership, budget, or staff?

    The only ways to change such lax editorial standards and disrespect for content-creators would be either through a massive groundswell of public support, or by cartoonists as a group biting the hand that (barely) feeds them on behalf of those who work hard without being fed at all.

  21. @Cory Thomas Thanks! Compare the two, and it is clear that this is yet ANOTHER incident of plagiarism that appeared in Urban Tulsa! Makes me wonder if ANY of Simpson’s work is original. Melted guy is ripped off from Gahan Wilson for sure.

  22. Is anyone else bothered by the moon? In the original, it’s a freehand-drawn version of something plausible. In Simpson’s version, the outline is more precise, but the sun would have to be up to light the moon that way.

  23. @JoeCorrao The weird thing is it isn’t rational laziness. He’s put in the effort to copy it by hand, which is far too much work to do to rip someone off.

    A sensible lazy artist would do the simplest drawing that conveys the joke. As a bonus, that simple drawing would convey it better than what he actually ended up with.

    A sensible plagiarist would photoshop the original. As far as I can see he’s violating copyright anyway, so why not get the full benefit of the work he’s ripping off?

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