by Holly Wall, News Editor
Yesterday was a bad day for David Simpson. After The Daily Cartoonist found another example of his plagiarism in Urban Tulsa Weekly, the free alt weekly announced, by way of Poynter.org, that the cartoonist had resigned his contract post with the paper. In today’s issue, the editors said he’s retired from cartooning.
On top of it all, the Oklahoma Cartoonist Hall of Fame retracted his hall-of-famer status.
Simpson sent Susie MacNelly, widow to the late Jeff MacNelly, a letter of apology, published with Susie’s permissionby The Daily Cartoonist, in which he writes:
I’m very sorry that I stole Jeff’s Carter cartoon from the seventies. I accidentally stole the cartoon 25 years ago when I worked at the now defunct Tulsa Tribune, not three weeks ago for the Urban Tulsa Weekly.
I have thousands of old drawings from 40 years of cartooning out in boxes in my garage. I came across the cartoon in question (American Airlines was the subject) and thought, hey, this would be great for the local Great Plain Airlines controversy, so I changed the captions and sent it out for that week’s Urban Tulsa.
I honestly didn’t know that I had swiped it 25 years earlier…
He also reveals that he didn’t resign, as Urban Tulsa told Poynter:
The Urban Tulsa publisher is running his letter this week telling this story and firing me.
Simpson makes no mention of the second swiped MacNelly cartoon or of the two published by Urban Tulsa in September. That’s right—there are more.
This Land Press paid a visit to the Tulsa City-County Library’s periodicals department, where the only publicly available Urban Tulsa archives exist. (Simpson’s cartoons aren’t posted to the UTW website, and the PDFs of the papers, which contain his drawings, are replaced each week.)
The library keeps about a year’s worth of the weekly on hand on its third floor, and there we discovered that two cartoons published in September are also near carbon copies of some drawn by Jeff MacNelly in the mid-90s.
In the Sept. 1-7 issue, UTW published this cartoon, a reference to the Tulsa Whitewater Park that was proposed for the Arkansas River last June.
On Wednesday, April 6, 1994, the Chicago Tribune published this one by MacNelly:
Then, in the Sept. 15-21 issue, UTW published this depiction of Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett:
Looks a little like this MacNelly cartoon published Friday, May 10, 1996:
In addition, we located some toons that weren’t exact replicas of MacNelly’s, but it’s clear the artist took his inspiration from the late artist.
(Published March 24-30, 2011, in Urban Tulsa Weekly.)
(Published Nov. 4-10, 2010, in UTW.)
In addition, commenters at The Daily Cartoonist pointed out similarities between this Simpson cartoon, published in the July 14-20, 2011, issue of UTW…
That’s three cartoonists—Bob Englehart, Jeff MacNelly and Gahan Wilson—whose work Simpson is accused of plagiarizing. And that leaves one to wonder: Is any of Simpson’s work his own?
Since we’re not as familiar with the work of cartooning greats as those in the industry, we’ve decided to enlist their help in locating any other examples of plagiarism by Simpson. We’ve gathered photographs of all of the cartoons published in available issues of Urban Tulsa Weekly here. Can you help us spot which ones are copies and which ones are originals?
View the work of Simpson here and leave your comments, or contact us with your findings.