The Roundup

Urban Tulsa Cartoonist Accused of Plagiarism

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Posted 10.31.11

by Holly Wall, News Editor

David Simpson, editorial cartoonist for Urban Tulsa Weekly, an alternative newspaper in Tulsa (perhaps best described by one of its readers as a source of “so many good places to go to listen to good music and meet some women with big ol’ titties”), owes someone an explanation.

The Daily Cartoonist was tipped off to similarities between a cartoon he drew for the paper’s Oct. 20-26 issue and one by the late Jeff MacNelly, which depicts a military junkyard and President Jimmy Carter attempting to jumpstart a jet with a pickup truck.

In Simpson’s version, the jet is labeled “Great Plains Airlines Finance,” and the truck “Okla. Supreme Court.”

Working for The Daily Cartoonist, Alan Gardner overlaid MacNelly’s cartoon with Simpson’s, concluding that “(y)ou can tell the cartoon was redrawn and not photocopied.”


Image comparing the two cartoons, from The Daily Cartoonist.

Gardner told Poynter’s Bob Andelman, “It wasn’t a photocopy; it was actually a redraw. You could tell, from looking at them side-by-side, that he was definitely copying. It is more of a question, to what degree? When you overlay them, the composition is basically the same. Things are a little bit off. But he redrew it almost down the blades of grass, the trash on the ground. Small deviations. It was the most blatant plagiarism example I’ve ever seen.”

Poynter also pointed out a comment made by Philip Rosemond, curator archivist of the Jeff MacNelly Estate Archives in Flint Hill, Va., on

“Hi. I’m the Curator Archivist of the Jeff MacNelly Estate Archives. So, y’all know, I’m quite sure this guy won’t get away with this for long. Stumbling across this article just got me very busy…. Stay tooned, folks!”

Neither Simpson nor Urban Tulsa Weekly Editor and Publisher Keith Skrzypczak responded to requests for comment, Gardner said. When asked for a comment by This Land Press, Skrzypczak said, “There’s not really much to say.” Simpson, through his wife Linda, declined to comment.

When asked if he had any reaction to the allegations against Simpson, Skrzypczak said, “I think I would probably do that in my own paper if I had any.”

There was no reaction in the Oct. 27-Nov. 2 issue of the paper, and nothing has been posted to its website. The next issue comes out Thursday, Nov. 3.

Simpson was fired from the Tulsa World in 2005, the same year he was inducted into the Oklahoma Cartoonists Hall of Fame, for publishing a cartoon similar to one drawn by Bob Englehart for The Hartford Courant in 1981.

David Simpson… said he found an unsigned copy of the cartoon in his creative files and mistakenly believed it was his own,” the Associated Press reported. “He said he redrew the cartoon, which then was published in June 7 in the Tulsa World.”

Simpson was the cartoonist for the Tulsa Tribune from 1971-92 and the Tulsa World from 1992-2005. His work has appeared in Urban Tulsa since 2005.