CSotD: First Thoughts

There’s a bit of a pissing match breaking out on social media over purported plagiarism, which I’m not going to be too specific about because it is inconsequential and it would be nice if it died out on its own, with both parties a little embarrassed by the whole thing.

Instead, the above will serve as an illustration, because cartoonists already use “Yahtzee” as a term to describe somewhat identical cartoons popping up at roughly the same time. I would add that, when something happens often enough that it has a name, it’s probably not worth mentioning, except that I’ve been known to feature such moments with a “Juxtaposition of the Day.”

So I won’t add that.

Several cartoonists say they don’t look at the work of their competitors because it might influence them. My response to that is that they should sketch out their idea and then look around to see if someone else has already done it.

If your sketch is of Alex Trebek at the Pearly Gates and an answer in the form of a question, yes, someone else has done it. Several someone elses. And you shouldn’t have had to look around to know that.

Ditto with a weeping Statue of Liberty in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Forgivable if your paper ran an Extra that day, less so if you had a full workday to come up with a cartoon for the 9/12 edition. Bearing in mind that Mauldin drew Lincoln-mourning-JFK in time for an afternoon Extra.

Plagiarism does happen, though rarely. I just saw an obscure literary reference — no, not the Incident at Owl Creek, more obscure than that — which featured in an overseas cartoon last week and is on a domestic cartoon today, and it’s hard to dismiss that as coincidental.

But it’s more insulting to readers and clients than it is to the original cartoonist and, besides, all this pistols-at-dawn stuff just shows who’s a better shot, not who’s a better artist.



Here’s more productive conceptual linkage: Ann Telnaes (WashPost) comments on Trump’s plan to award drilling options in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge before someone with a sense of environmental responsibility takes over and her own paper has a good report on the matter.

On the one hand, looking for more oil instead of more energy options is a dubious way to address climate change, but, on the other hand, that story reports, there are Gwich’in people and one Iñupiat community where the jobs would be welcome.

Which brings to mind “Paying the Land,” Joe Sacco’s brilliant graphic non-fiction book on the subject of energy production North of 60 and the difficult issues it brings to people who actually live there, and do so with snowmobiles and electricity, not as picturesque exhibits in a Living History feature for tourists.

I reviewed it here, and it’s still an excellent, important piece of graphic journalism.

That’s the kind of linkage a good cartoon should suggest: Immediate commentary tying into enduring issues and works.

Not imitation but different forms of reporting.


There is little imitation, but much linkage, between good cartooning about the Covid crisis and the fact that Patrick Chappatte (Ind) has come out with “Au coeur de la vague” (At the heart of the wave), a long-form graphic book that goes behind the scenes at a hospital in his hometown of Geneva, Switzerland.

I haven’t seen it, though I trust the quality of his work implicitly. However, there’s an interview with him here and the book is currently available on Kindle, though only in French. Presumably an English edition will appear, given that the illustrations in the article are translated.

The fact that (A) he’s had the disease himself and (B) he interviewed not just administrators, doctors and nurses but maintenance workers as well, makes me more eager to see the results and perhaps share it with the healthcare workers in my family.

I’ll update availability when I know more.


Linkage with this xkcd (Ind) is more personal than those examples, but it has universal application, so indulge me.

In comments for yesterday’s CSotD entry, someone mentioned that Clay Jones has tested positive for Covid, and I responded that I hoped he found a good doctor and followed the advice, since that was how I got through cancer.

I don’t know how Randall Munroe’s wife did it, but apparently she has and it’s a reminder that being diagnosed with cancer is not a death sentence, even when it seems to be.

However, as I also noted in yesterday’s comments, the fact that I survived cancer does not make it a myth or a political charade, and the fact that most people survive Covid does not mean it’s not real, not serious and not potentially fatal.

To which I would add that, from what I’ve heard of the long-term, devastating after-effects of a serious Covid attack, the fact that I now pee through a tube into a plastic bag is getting off damned easy.

The basis of Stoicism is not simply accepting what happens to you, but learning to differentiate between that which you can control and that which you cannot.

Wear your mask.


Can’t we talk about something more pleasant?

This punning Argyle Sweater (AMS) gag hits on real history, presumably by accident.

More than one prairie family traces its choice of land back to where the horses died, at least in family lore if not in strict historical fact. It wasn’t a matter of settling for a good-enough plot of land so much as it was accepting that you weren’t going any further.

One branch of my family was farming in the area of Dubuque, Iowa, and then decamped for the West, only to end up 200 miles away in Boone because, the story goes, that’s where the horses died.

That would be less than two weeks into the journey, which makes me suspect perhaps they weren’t “settling” for Boone but had learned something about the place that made it more desirable.

No offense, Dubuque.

“That’s where the horses died” may just be a joking, more economical answer to “How’d you end up here?”



2 thoughts on “CSotD: First Thoughts

  1. My Danish grandfather settled in Chicago by throwing a dart at a map of the U.S. with his eyes closed. For real.

  2. Thank you for the hit of Hartford. It reminded me of a time back in the last century when I was being a concert promoter that we did a Steve Goodman/John Hartford show. I was amazed at the way each one, alone on stage, Steve with only a piano and John with just a banjo and his clogging shoes could completely mesmerize a crowd of over a thousand people. Great performers and great human beings both of them. Thanks for the memory.

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