It's a nightmare scenario. You sold a gag cartoon and they sent you the money. And then, just a few days later, a very similar cartoon appears in another magazine.
Or, a friend contacts you and says, Hey, I saw your latest cartoon. Did you know it's a total rip off of ___________ (name of famous cartoonist)?
You can call it déjà vu or great minds think alike or whatever. But it can and does happen in gag cartooning.
Should you the cartoonist check and double check and then triple check to make sure that your idea is original, pure and brand new BEFORE it gets sent around to editors?
A couple of my gag cartoonist friends obsess over originality, using their COMPLETE NEW YORKER CARTOONS CDs and Cartoonbank searches to check if their ideas possibly came to Carl Rose, Warren Miller or Mort Gerberg before now.
I believe the editor (or, in The New Yorker's case, the fact-checking department) that needs to be on the lookout for these cartoon repeats.
But, even at the NYer, the fact checking slips up. Click here for a case in point.