Saturday, 1 December 2012

Passive plagiarism…or there’s nothing new under the sun

Fifty Shades of Earl Grey
I only started producing cartoons last summer.  At first I was just drawing as exercises, but I produced a few ideas that I thought were really original.  Just as the ‘50 shades’ phenomenon was starting to take off, I was looking at the cupboard where we keep the tea and coffee, waiting for the kettle to boil – and there was a pack of Earl Grey, and the first of my gag cartoons was born.  Bugger me – a couple of weeks later a much sleeker version of the same gag appeared in Private Eye. 

Then it occurred to me that the ‘Keep calm…’ series could easily be adapted to the tenets of Buddhism – and I produced the caricature of the Dalai Lama (admittedly with the help of some other artists’ caricatures, as well as photographs).  How original is that, I thought – till I searched Google, and of course there were loads of references to ‘Keep Karma…’

Finally, some good friends were staying, and returning from a trip to the seaside they commented on a road sign they’d seen warning of ‘hidden dips’.   It’s one of those signs I’d seen hundreds of times – but never associated with dips of the edible kind.  Shortly after another friend told me they’d seen a very similar ‘hidden dips’ cartoon, again in Private Eye (I think). Warning: commercial plug follows: this is available as a greetings card from the Shop.

I guess that once you've thought of them or seen the gag, all three are fairly obvious.  And if you look closely at the professional political cartoonists, their minds work along similar lines.  For example, the little posh boy image characterises lots of cartoonists’ views of Osborne and Cameron, and most caricatures of Thatcher were fairly similar.  But from now on – I must get out of the block more quickly…