Cartoonist Gary Huck: Greeting Card Company Swiped My Idea

By: Dave Astor

Self-syndicated cartoonist Gary Huck is deciding whether to take action against Recycled Paper Greetings after the company released a card Huck said is based on his idea.

“My attorney thinks this would be a tough fight — mostly because Recycled has deeper pockets, but also because I have to prove they came across my original cartoon, not just one of the rip-offs,” Huck told E&P. “In other words, if you steal from another thief, you get away with it.”

The Recycled card pictures George W. Bush and dialogue from the president in which various oil-company logos are embedded. Sample lines: “I ‘Shell’ do everything I can to keep America safe. That’s why I’m ‘Mobil’-lizing all my powers. …”

Huck — who said Recycled used the concept without his permission — drew a cartoon featuring Jimmy Carter and oil-company logos in 1979. The Pittsburgh-based creator subsequently did other versions of the cartoon during the presidential administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. In 2003, for instance, Huck drew an oil-logo-filled cartoon showing the younger Bush saying things like: “We ‘Shell’ ‘Mobil’ize our forces in the Persian ‘Gulf.'”

Some people who have inadvertently used Huck’s oil-logo concept over the years have acknowledged his copyright after he notified them. But when the cartoonist contacted the Chicago-based Recycled this month, he said the company did not seem interested in recognizing his copyright.

A Recycled spokeswoman was contacted twice last Thursday, but did not return E&P’s calls. When called again today, she said “I can’t comment” and declined to give her name. Phone messages were also left for another Recycled executive Thursday and today, but he did not call back either.

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