UPDATED: Two Cartoonists Accused of Copying Their Own Work

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By: Dave Astor

Two editorial cartoonists at major dailies have been accused of copying their own work.

Sean Delonas did nearly identical editorial cartoons for the New York Post in April and last week.

And Tuesday’s cartoon by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Horsey has almost the same art as a cartoon the Seattle Post-Intelligencer staffer did in 2001, wrote Politicker.com editorial cartoonist Rob Tornoe on his blog Tuesday afternoon.

Both of Delonas’ cartoons were about Thomas Beatie, a transgender man who is reportedly pregnant. (Beatie was born a woman and took testosterone to look like a man; the female organs were left intact.)

Delonas’ April 6 cartoon showed a pregnant man in a delivery room — with one doctor saying to three other doctors: “Any suggestions?” His June 10 cartoon pictured the same pregnant man in a delivery room — with one doctor saying to three other doctors: “Suggestions?” (The word “any” was dropped.)

The two cartoons were drawn almost the same — except the first one had the doctors on the left and the patient on the right while the second one had the doctors on the right and the patient on the left. The drawings can be seen on NYPost.com by clicking here and then putting in the dates April 6, 2008, and June 10, 2008.

Delonas could not be reached for comment by E&P.

Horsey, whose Post-Intelligencer cartoons are syndicated by Tribune Media Services, did a cartoon Tuesday showing George W. Bush sitting with Queen Elizabeth. The drawing is nearly identical to a 2001 cartoon showing the president and monarch together, although the dialog is different.

The two cartoons can be seen by clicking through Tornoe’s blog post here.

“Today’s culprit is an artist I admire a great deal, and if it wasn’t for the fact that I own several of his books, I might not have noticed that he changed up an old cartoon and simply resubmitted it as new,” wrote Tornoe.

Horsey could not be reached for comment Tuesday by E&P. But he did defend himself in a discussion area of Alan Gardner’s DailyCartoonist.com blog.

“Cartoonists … have always revisited old themes and images,” Horsey wrote. “When I saw that Bush was ending his years in office having tea with the queen, it reminded me of one of my favorite cartoons from his first months as president. I was happy to revisit the old cartoon and I HOPED people would remember it. That was kind of the point — bookends to a failed presidency.”

Horsey added: “I told my editor what I was doing.”

The near-repeat of the Delonas cartoon was mentioned on Queerty.com, which quipped that “Delonas must have drawer’s block.” Then, Tornoe and United Media editorial cartoonist Matt Bors discussed the drawings Monday on their blogs.

Bors wrote In his post (at MattBors.com) that Delonas’ cartoons are often “ad hominem attacks on gays, women, fat people, and celebrities” and then added that the New York Post creator is “apparently … so flattered by himself he copies his own cartoons.”

In these days of Photoshop, it can be easy for cartoonists to duplicate an image. Some creators do this within a multipanel cartoon; the number who repeat images from past cartoons (perhaps with small changes in the art) is not known.

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