A few months ago my friend Harry Bliss (it's possibly more accurate to say my acquaintance Harry Bliss, as we mostly wave at each other in email and have so far failed to have dinner or save each other from drowning but I like him very much on the basis of not knowing each other very well) sent me a drawing that he'd done that needed a caption. It was a Jack Kirby Monster on the side of a building, with a cheerful Harry Bliss man on the phone inside.
I pondered it, and a month later sent him a suggestion, and he said it was funny but that the New Yorker had already bought the drawing for their caption contest.
I see from Mark Evanier's blog that the New York Post have run a piece accusing Harry of Plagiarism:
Thomas Lammers, a professor at the University of Wisconsin in Oshkosh, said he thought the cartoon looked familiar. He then dug out the original from his collection, which had the same monster as the New Yorker cartoon and the same background.
He said he e-mailed the magazine about the similarities two weeks ago, but never heard back. He said the editors "probably had no idea what the source" of the image was when they saw the cartoon, but the lack of any credit to Kirby in the piece stuck in his craw.
"This is a guy who was a very popular comic-book artist. He co-created the Fantastic Four and a lot of other things people made a lot of money off of, and never got proper credit then, and isn't getting proper credit now," he said.
And while I'm happy that it now says Drawing by Harry Bliss, after Jack Kirby at http://www.cartoonbank.com/CapContest/CaptionContest.aspx?id=145 it's hard not to feel that Prof. Lammers has sort of missed why it's funny -- it's because it's a Jack Kirby monster and a Harry Bliss man. That's the point. Like the New Yorker spokesman says,
"Harry did it with all good intentions. He thought it was an overt reference, and not an attempt to plagiarize. He thought it was a tribute," Cassanos said. "To people in the comic world, it's a recognizable image."
Which is the magic of Jack Kirby.
Ah well. Speaking of cartoons:
As you probably know, long ago and far away, Phil Foglio did two pages of art for a Good Omens comic he wanted to pitch to you.
That never quite went anywhere, but they still have the art. But not for long: Kaja just announced that they'll be auctioning the art off, with proceeds to go to the Alzheimer's Research Trust.
From memory, it mostly never went anywhere because nobody ever pitched it to us -- Phil showed the pages to me and I thought they were funny, and that was sort of as far as it ever went. Pity.
But glad they'll be going to a good cause.
A couple of questions:
1) Would anyone in the UK who hears "She's cooking a roast" be surprised if the thing that was roasted was a chicken?
2) is there an internet resource that collects book covers with pictures of ladies (often holding candelabras) running away from ominous houses with one light on in an attic room? Things like http://en.dcdatabaseproject.com/Dark_Mansion_of_Forbidden_Love/Covers
It just seems like there should be, and I can't find one.
Here's me being interviewed for the Book Expo America podcast (I'm half-asleep in Australia, the interviewer is not). We're talking about The Graveyard Book (which isn't out in the shops yet, but we're raising awareness of it among the people who will be at Book Expo America -- booksellers and librarians and the like.
(The breakfast I talked about stars Sherman Alexie, Judy Blume and me and will be MCed by Eoin Colfer. Introductory remarks by Jon Scieszka. It's cheap compared to the author lunches or teas but is only open to people who have registered for the Book Expo.)
Here's me at seven in the morning on Triple J breakfast radio in Sydney: http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/triplej/breakfast/neilgaiman_pod.mp3
Here's me with a bruise on my face and a swollen nose (but the black eye is facing away from us) being interviewed at the New York Comic Con last month...