• I was just reading the Complete Far Side, where Larson notes that there are at least two times where he told the same exact joke in the cartoon, years apart. I don’t remember his exact explanation, but it was something to do with ‘there are only so many jokes to go around.’ I’ll try to look it up later today to see if it is as relevant as I think it was.

  • A little more context: “Argyle Sweater” is an online (self-described) comic, and the illustration above appeared on April 13: http://www.theargylesweater.com/

  • This is pretty blatant. Unless it was meant as an ‘homage’ then I’d say it’s a direct ripoff and the guy should be ashamed.

  • Holy crap. It’s even drawn in a Larson-esque style. Argh.

  • Boo to the AS artist for the plagiarism. But his drawing does illustrate the joke better.

  • Yeah, that’s a pretty obvious ripoff.

  • Being a cartoonist myself, I’m going to sympathize with AS here. Because it’s entirely possible the artist didn’t even know that he was plagirizing Larson. Like in pop music, there’s only so many chords to go around and you’re inevitably going to have redundancy (Think Green Day v. Oasis). Some of these things come in at such a subliminal level that you don’t notice them.

    I was about to write that this guy’s editor should be strung up by his/her toenails for letting something like this through… but after doing some research on AS, I’m not sure if he HAS an editor.

    Whatever the case, I hope AS spares some blushes over this. If somebody does copy without realizing it, they should be wo/man enough to admit it.

  • Scott Hilburn offers an explanation of this unintentional imitation on his website, in the News section.


  • I doubt this was accidental. The guy’s style in both drawing and ideas (anyone who is familiar with Gary Larson’s work will notice immediatly). Just went over to his site and the idea for the cartoon on the front page (see 31st may cartoon) also looks very familiar. I cannot remember the caption but it had Rocky and Bullwinkle stuffed and hanging from the wall. I’m sure if I went through the rest I’d come across many others. Shame, the guy has some good comics.

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  • I am a huge Gary Larson fan. The Chicago Tribune recently began running Argyle Sweater. From the beginning I immediatley noticed the uncanny resemblance of both the look and topic matter of these comics. I have also seen additional panels that are so close to exact same ‘gag’as to be shameful. To say there are only so many chords or whatever is a cop out. This guy will not last unless he finds his own sense of humor instead of simply stepping into gary’s shoes.

  • Unless Scott is a pseudonym for Gary?

  • Yeah, that whole comic is The Far Side all over again. Every recurring character looks like it was traced from a Gary Larson collection. The horses, the cops, the overweight nerdy scientist types… I found that “explanation” on the blog archives.
    “I get a lot of Far Side comparisons”
    Translation: More than one person has noticed my blatant tracing of Gary Larson’s characters.

    “I’m quite embarrassed by the mishap”
    Translation: I’m bummed out that I got caught red-handed this time. Usually my copying is subtle enough I can get away with it.

  • I’m so glad that I haven’t lost my mind. I thought Larson was doing a Stephen King slight of hand and making cartoons under a pseudonym.

  • Look at Argyle Sweater’s panel for October 23, 2009. Once again, a complete rip off of Gary Larsen’s Far Side. Gary’s panel shows 4 doctors around a patient whose leg is shooting up in the air. One doctor says “Whoa! That was a good one! Try it, Hobbs – just poke his brain right where my finger is.”

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  • It seems to me there was a “Twilight Zone” episode starring John Astin (of “The Addams Family”) playing the part of a hipster Beatnik in Limbo or some sort of waiting room before going on to Hell. He liked avant-garde be-bop music but was forced to listen Lawrence Welk-like music for all eternity. So, that gag predated Gary Larsen by decades.

  • no doubt. too “larsenesque” to be original.

  • This guy stinks. My mom got me the AS desk top calendar for Christmas this year thinking that it was actually the Far Side, which I’ve loved for years. I have it on my desk at work, and am now mesmorized at how bad and unfunny it is – it tries so hard to be like Larson but fails on multiple levels, lacking the subtlety of wit, dialogue, and expression which made the Far Side one of the all time greats. I haven’t laughed, chuckles, or even cracked a smile at a single cartoon yet, and we’re nearly in March…

  • “Boo to the AS artist for the plagiarism. But his drawing does illustrate the joke better.”

    In what sense does it illustrate the joke better?

  • I am looking at today’s panel on my desktop calendar. Even his caveman is named Zog. Homage is one thing, plagiarism is another. If he were in my English class, he would get an F and I would phone his parents.

    On the other hand, unlike some other “tries to be the Far Side” comics, this one makes me laugh from time to time.

  • the argyle sweater is a blatant rip off of the far side. the characters, the situations, the style of drawing, the captions… maybe his audience is too young to remember gary larson’s work. i wonder what mr larson would have to say about this. i was looking at an argyle sweater desktop calender and shaking my head in disbelief. the only justification i can think of is if this comic is meant as a tribute to gary larson’s far side which was funnier, and much more cleverly constructed.

  • What a joke. Blatant rip off of Larson’s work. I can’t stand all of the Far Side rip offs, is it really that hard to be original? The one I hate most of all is Free Range by Bill Whitehead. It is even worse than this transparent attempt to capitalize on the success of the Far Side. Horrible.

  • looks like two different jokes to me . . . though similar . . . Hilburn: they’re “warming” up in the heat . . . Larsen: it’s a banjo band . . . as I recall Larsen had more than one “Hell” joke . . .

  • Hmm…Mark Twain….Samuel Clemens. Cant say who i am…but yes they are the same person.

  • Hilburn could have come up with thousand other scenarios in Hell where someone meets their worst nightmare, but instead he just “happened” to choose a symphony conductor (he even uses the exact same term, “Maestro”). Yes, how it is presented is slightly different (an armpit band vs. a banjo band), but beyond that it is pure plagiarism, right down to how the image is composed (Satan with his left hand on the conductor’s back, both standing at the right).

    I received an Argyle Sweater cartoon-a-day calendar for Xmas this year. I had never heard of AS. My first impression was that I had gotten a Far Side calendar, as the jokes were suspiciously similar, and the characters were all drawn with the same artistic style. I was paging through it expecting find some classic Far Side cartoons until I finally took a closer look at the cover and thought “WTF?!”. This guy is ripping Gary Larson off and he should be sued.

  • Mitch Mitchell

    (Posted today on another website):
    Hey all you nitpickin’, whiney, “I’m intelligent because I can wax philly about cartoons”, goober knuckleheads:

    I know Scott Hilburn, worked with him, ate with him, even helped him move once (well, maybe I got out of that one..) but anyway…I know him and he’s NOT Larson! He’s actually funner (sic) than Larson! I grew up comically high on Larson – had all his books, watched his bio on E!, even tried to draw his characters, but guess what? HE AIN’T DOIN’ IT ANYMORE! He quit, retired, great for him! Scott is truly a funny, creative, wonderful guy and his stuff is FUNNY! Belly-laugh funny! Get off the Larson comparison – it’s rubbish! Have you noticed that every piece of art used for commercial signage, print, etc. has Andy Warhol’s influence? He redesigned design! Does that stop great artists/designers from plying their trade? Of course not – they take it and move forward, but you can still see the influences of the great masters – no matter what field we discuss. Scott’s art does take, borrow, and even steal from Larson, but his humor is unique and stands on it’s own. He’s bent – always has been – but he makes us laugh. You all need to laugh a little more – start by laughing at yourselves…Hilburn is. Keep it up, Scotty – laughter is good medicine.

  • The Far Side was funny sometimes. I don’t have an issue with the fact that the Argyle Sweater is a direct ripoff of the Far Side, per se, but it’s just not funny. At all. I get the feeling that Scott Hilburn started this comic specifically in an attempt to fill the void (?) left by Larson’s departure, for purely economic reasons.

  • [looks like two different jokes to me . . . though similar . . . Hilburn: they’re “warming” up in the heat . . . Larsen: it’s a banjo band . . . as I recall Larsen had more than one “Hell” joke . . .]

    Are you freakin’ kidding me, Jerry? Both cartoons have a maestro standing next to Satan with Satan’s hand resting on the maestro’s back; both have the maestro and Satan looking into a room at musicians a maestro would never wanna hear; both have Satan mentioning what’s waiting for the maestro in a sentence ending in ‘Maestro’! Anyone who thinks this guy isn’t ripping Gary Larson off is either a friend of his (Mitch Mitchell), a relative, or clueless.

    Sure, he’s funny sometimes, but I’ve heard of far too many people commenting about how they thought Gary had come out of retirement before they realized it was someone else. That doesn’t just happen. If this is some crazy joke by Gary, then fine; but otherwise, this guy should be punished somehow.

    And Mitch, this isn’t about trying to sound intelligent or wax anything; it’s about respect. If you go to your grandma’s house, and she isn’t there, but some lady dressed up like her is there calling you grandson, that’s not funny, just like what AS is doing.

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  • Mitch Mitchell, that sounds a lot like what someone would say whilst trying to hide the fact that they are using a pseudonym.

  • Rei Malebario

    I just bought me an AS 2013 calendar not noticing until I’d come home that it wasn’t a Far Side calendar.

    The guy is more than “influenced by” Gary Larson. He’s straight up plagiarising him. He’s not doing something along the same lines but taking it in a different direction. He’s tracing the exact same lines and taking them in the exact same direction.

    And funny jokes from time to time doesn’t really excuse it. Larson’s jokes were funny and if you copy them, the result is obviously a funny joke but that’s not you being funny.

  • Most commedians take great pains to not rip each other off. What I don’t understand about this thief Hilburn is that he is apparently talented enough to create his own style, but instead he chose the easy, commercially-proven route Larson had already established. Kids are kicked out of good schools for less.

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  • I’ve moonlighted on the side as a cartoonist for most of my art career. Full-time syndicated cartoonists make pretty good money. If they can afford writers, accountants & sell books, they can certainly afford to hire lawyers to protect their work. Instead of us smart guys bitching here about the obvious, Gary Larson, his various Far Side commercial entities & his publisher need to hire a good copyright/intellectual property lawyer to sue the pants off Scott Hilburn & AS for plagiarism, infringement… and even defamation for degrading Larsen’s signature style & humor into a poor imitation.
    Legendary cartoonists like Schulz, Trudeau, Capp et al would’ve wasted no time taking legal action to protect their unique work. And Disney’s copycats? Fuggedaboutit! Uncle Walt’s life story is one of constant litigation to safeguard his creative work; Disney even went after Howard the Duck & Mickey Rat for less blatant ripoffs than this. Hilburn is obviously plagiarizing Larsen’s style, his characters & even his jokes, to lesser effect & great personal profit. How many of you bought AS calendars by accident? KA-CHINGG!!
    Sue Scott Hilburn for plagiarism? As an artist, cartoonist & professional, that’s what I’d do. Gary Larsen’s work & art are a national treasure.
    And ask those Estate of Andy Warhol folks about creative property vs public domain. Nuff said.

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