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This joke came to me a few weeks ago I thought because my CHNW and I had been planning a trip to Scotland later this year. But when it ran in papers, a TV writer friend of mine in Hollywood, Andy Cowan (Seinfeld), wrote and reminded me he had tried to sell me this gag months ago. He was right, so I thanked him and sent him a check. ($12 – don't tell him he should have asked for more.)
Another email arrived the day after this ran, from a goober in Louisiana somewhere who claimed very pompously that I had obviously stolen it from his cartoon published in a local Mensa newsletter in Baton Rouge six years ago. Like I comb old Mensa newsletters from Louisiana looking for ideas.
What few people realize is that when you and who-knows-how-many thousands of other humans pretty much just like you are racking their brains 365 days a year to come up with jokes, obvious ideas like this one are going to occur to more than one person over time. Professional cartoonists know this well, we inadvertently copy each other all the time, chide each other by email and buy the injured party a beer at the next convention. A gag like this one has been thought of dozens of times before, and will be thought of dozens of times in the future. As long as you're haven't seen the gag yourself somewhere, it is fair game.
Unless I'm mistaken, the same pompous putz (I am less than polite in my choice of moniker because his letters arrogantly insist I am knowingly stealing from him and owe him money) accused me some years ago of stealing one of his cartoons about a pirate who had gotten dressed in a hurry that morning and put his hook, peg leg, eye patch, etc. in the wrong places.
If a truly unique or strange idea is copied, you know it's plagiarism, and those kinds of cartoonists are not tolerated well among their peers. Consequently, it happens very rarely among professionals. Especially in the age of the Internet.
Bottom line, someone as widely published as I, doesn't steal jokes. It's too easy/embarrassing to get caught. In spite of the way I look, I am not a complete idiot.