In one Seinfeld episode, Elaine becomes frustrated with the arcane humor behind many New Yorker cartoons, so she decides to draw her own. The cartoonwhich involves a pig at a complaint department declaring "I wish I was taller"is accepted, but Elaine is later outed as an inadvertent Ziggy plagiarizer. It appears a similar cribbing has appeared in the most recent Cartoon Issue of the magazine.
The following strip appears across the bottom of pages of 138 and 139 in the November 26th issue of The New Yorker:
This cartoon appears on page 28 of The Far Side Gallery, originally published in 1984:
The artist of the more recent cartoon is Lee Lorenz, a 74-year-old former art editor of The New Yorker with several books of illustrations to his credit. Bob Mankoff, the magazine's cartoon editor, tells Gelf that he is sure that Lorenz did not borrow inspiration from Gary Larson's comic. "They are very similar," he says, "but I can guarantee you that Lee Lorenz is not a guy who copies cartoons."
Mankoff explains that the sheer volume of cartoons produced by artists means that there is often overlap of ideas. "Often in the same week different cartoonists will independently come up with identical ideas," he says. "Other times cartoonists generate ideas that have been previously published in the magazine. This is not plagiarism; rather it is the result of very creative people developing many ideas from a few well-established, well-traveled cartoon settings."
A representative from Creators Syndicate, which handles Larson's media inquiries, said that neither Larson nor his publishing house Far Works will comment on the similarities at this time.
What do you think? Can two different (and smart and creative) illustrators come up with the same visual gag? Or is there too much similarity there? Spotted any other cartoon coincidences? Let us know in the comments.