I’m not going to mention any names, but…

When I see, in a major comic strip, a gag I’ve never seen before, and then about a month and a half later I see the exact same gag in a lesser-known comic strip, I have to say Hmmm…

I imagine this sort of shenanigans — of shenanigans it be — is a lot less common today than it would have been 60 years ago, when the likelihood that one person would follow both strips was negligible.


  1. The worst case I know of was a Sunday “Curtis” where his brother Barry tosses a snowball at Curtis and mocks shock when Curtis confronts him and the get into a childish squabble and childish imitations of “This is You: Duh, goo, woo” “Well, this is you: Wah, ga-da-ga”. Then there mother calls them in for dinner and the final panel is them claiming Curtis says “Leave it to Mom to spoil our intellectual debate” and Barry say “… and just when I had you in the grips of my irrefutable reason”

    Now admittedly the lag time was one or two years later and not a matter of months but…. Sheesh, did he think his readers wouldn’t recognize it?

  2. It’s almost as bad as when a cartoonist re-uses their own joke. I remember seeing a joke in a strip years ago, looked super familiar to me so I started going through some cartoon books we had. Turned out that yes, I had seen it before–same comic strip, same gag, same set-up. The only difference was the character involved (strip in the paper had friend-of-main-character telling the joke, in the book it was sister-of-main-character).

  3. One B.C. collection has the same gag in two completely different strips, in the same book! It’s about a not very tall psychic running from the cops. The punchline is “Small medium at large”.

  4. “Curtis” used to have a start-of-school-year tradition of panel 1: long shot of apartment buildings in the city, panel 2: medium shot of one particular building, panel 3: close-up of one particular apartment window, apparently Curtis’ bedroom window, panel 4: Curtis’ mother trying to get him out of bed for the first day of school. Redrawn every year but the same gag. I haven’t seen it in a few years though.

  5. Depends on what you mean by “lost”. If you include “loaned to someone and never got it back” then many. If you mean actually, “don’t know what happened to that book” then not many at all.

  6. Brian in STL: Yes, but Family Circus isn’t funny, has never been funny, and, AFAICT, never will be funny.

    My daughter used to read it religiously, just so she could announce, “Still not funny”.

  7. I could see this being a shenanigan, but I could also see it happening innocently. For one thing, with so many strips out there, there will be coincidences. But also, a comic strip artist has to have a big backlog of possible gags that he or she is mulling over all the time. I can see having some sort of half-formed, inchoate idea of a gag, casually reading another strip that puts the idea in more concrete form, and then a few weeks later saying “let’s make that inchoate idea more concrete,” without specifically remembering that you saw it done in another strip.

  8. Or, similarly, forgetting that you actually fleshed out that idea, and yourself did a strip with it, six months earlier.

  9. I’ll never criticize a cartoonist for punlishing the same gag six months apart, given how often I’ll upload the same CIDU or LOL twice only a few weeks apart.

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