The Accidental Plagiarist

By Jeremy Meltingtallow

Here’s a bit of a sticky wicket I thought you Jazz Pickles might find interesting. After my pantsless doctor cartoon appeared in papers the other day I got an email from my friend and colleague, Dan Reynolds. Dan is a terrifically talented and successful cartoonist whose work I have always admired. It seems my doctor cartoon is uncomfortably close to a very popular one that he did some years ago.

Did I steal this cartoon? Of course not and Dan did not accuse me of it. Cartoonists with a large readership and an I.Q. above 75 (me) are not foolish enough to publish a stolen cartoon, especially from someone with an equally large readership (Dan R.).

Did I get this cartoon from someone who stole it and didn’t tell me? No again. In this case, the idea came from one of my closest friends, Cliff Harris, who is himself a retired doctor. Cliff is one of the most honest, sensitive, and ethical people I have ever known. So much so, in fact, that he got wind of the previous version of our cartoon and called me in tears. (Well, symbolic tears.) He was mortified to think that he had ripped someone off, even unknowingly.

I assured him that this is just one of those ideas that more than one person is going to come up with and that all professional cartoonists go through this kind of unfortunate coincidence from time to time––from both sides of the equation. Cliff and I work together frequently so we committed to redouble our efforts to Google-Image-search all of our ideas to make sure no one else had gotten there first. The thing is, though, we decided to retro-search this one and could not find it under any of the titles we could think of. “Backwards Doctor Coat Cartoon” was our most obvious choice but Dan’s cartoon didn’t show up in that search. So we still would have been screwed.

Oh well, these things happen. Dan R. was a gentlemen about it and readily accepted our apology. We’re all still friends. :o)

Here are some more of Dan Reynold’s terrific cartoons. I’m sure any of my Jazz Pickles not currently a fan of his, will be now.