PLAGIARISM IN CARTOONING (Part 1)

1 APRIL 2019

I received a personal message from a friend just yesterday asking,

"Is plagiarism okay in cartooning?"

They were asking because they'd seen similar dialogue to my last "Ballyhoo Burny" cartoon strip in a meme.

My immediate question to this was, "What's a meme?" I'd obviously heard the word bandied about alot online, but didn't really know what it was used to describe.

Their reply to my question was, "Seriously? You'll have to look it up."

I already had and this is what I got:-









From this dictionary explanation, I gathered that the term "meme" online applied to those popular sayings that are photos of text that people love to post on Facebook.

My friend had "seen the joke about women and their weight on the internet during the last month" which would have been the month of March.


The funny thing is, I'd shown my friend this and other Burny comic strips back in January and it made me wonder why they didn't question if the meme had been copied from my cartoon strip, lol?


But I didn't say that. I told my friend that when I hear the word "plagiarism" it makes me think of a 1984 Playboy interview with Paul McCartney in which he declared that The Beatles were the biggest plagiarists ever because they would listen to the likes of The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, etc and take a beat, a harmony or whatever and work it into their sound to make it their own. And they're arguably the greatest popular music band ever to have existed, bar none!

Think of John Lennon's "Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite", where he took the words (word for word) from a 19th Century circus poster. It's one of the most popular Beatles songs ever.


And by chance, that's pretty much how I work with my cartoon strips. I have heaps of old jokes mulling around in my head that will pop up when I'm thinking of a subject to create a comic strip around. I can't be copying anything word for word, because it's just something I vaguely remember and then work it into a 2 or 3 panel cartoon strip, combining the script with my cartoon character(s), making it my own.


Heck, I'm a great admirer of the Garfield cartoon strip (I used not to be), but I recognise most of the jokes. They've just been worked cleverly into the strip in a way that fits with Garfield's character. That's what makes Garfield's character! In this same way, this is how I've worked with Burny. To work the humour to define his character. His personality. And to pretty good effect I think.


In Part 2 of this blog I'm going to discuss what visual plagiarism could be, but I'm going to finish this Part 1 of the blog to showcase something I've done on this Ballyhoo Burny website that is similar to what my other favourite band, 'Madness' have done. On the inner sleeve of their second album, "Absolutely (1980), they reproduced the famous trademarked London Underground "Roundel" (logo) to relate the their song "Night Boat To Cairo" on that album.












I've done the same with a certain famous fastfood logo on the "Burger" page of this website. Is this plagiarism? Burny will tell you it's all "Ballyhoo" meaning, 'Flamboyant, exaggerated, sensational promotion or publicity!' and he wears that sincerely as his monicker. If you insist that it's plagiarism, he'll just laugh in your face and tell you that he loves you..... because he does! 😄 😘

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