Sunday, January 20, 2013

Cartoon Ethics

Is Recycling a Cartoon a Ripoff?

There has been recent debate within the cartooning community 
regarding the legitimacy of a cartoonist "recycling" one of his previous

Well, I admit here in open forum that I've done it. 

(click on images for larger view)

This cartoon (above) from the 1980's addressed the growing popularity
of assault rifles among gun enthusiasts. Since the 1994 ban ended in 2004,
these street sweeper killing machines are abundant in many patriotic
American's urban defense arsenals.

While archiving old originals in 2010, I ran across it and decided to 
re-release it to a completely new and larger audience. I scanned it,
added color (below) and sent it out for publishing as-well-as submitted
it to my syndicate among the other offerings.

I didn't consider for one second that I was duping anyone or violating
an ethics code, or even that I was being lazy. Neither was it larcenous,
as I own all my originals, copyrights, and publishing rights. I saw it as
addressing a topic that keeps resurfacing. Since it was first published,
an assault weapons ban had come and gone. Of course, the issue of 
effectively screening buyers has remained unchanged. It struck me 
how the cartoon was so apt for current times. So, I dressed it up with 
color and sent it out to a whole new audience through a new technology
that was not available 25 years ago.

In the current cartoon reissue debate, some have argued this is not an
unusual practice and many cartoonists have done it. The practice of
recycling one's work has been used in other creative media as well. 
Cecil B. DeMille did Ben-Hur twice. Hitchcock remade several of his 
films with technological upgrades and issued to new audiences. 
Movies have gotten released and re-released to new generations of 
moviegoers. Even Beethoven, Mozart and a host of other classical 
composers have reused themes in subsequent works.

In retrospect, perhaps I should have added a note at the bottom of the 
cartoon alerting readers to it being a reissue that I had done in the 1980's. 
If anything, it would've added impact to the issue.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that it would have added impact to add a line saying it was a reissue. I don't see the controversy here. Artists re-issue or re-purpose their work all the time. Anyone who complains has no idea how hard it is to make a living at it and how you need to squeeze out every penny you can.

    - Bill Brown


Editorial cartoons are designed to provoke thought and encourage civil discourse, so comments are welcome. Comments that are abusive or contain vulgarities will not be posted. Thank you for your cooperation.