Mid-1970s sequential cartoon about former Oklahoma Governor David Hall, on his way to federal prison on bribery and racketeering charges for steering state pension funds to a favored banker.

Dave Simpson was a U.S. editorial cartoonist, whose work appeared exclusively in magazines and papers circulating in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was the house cartoonist of The Tulsa Tribune, and later The Tulsa World and Urban Tulsa. His work has been overshadowed by several cases of plagiarism, which effectively terminated his career.

Life and career
David Simpson was the son of a U.S. Air Force chaplain. Because of his father's job, he saw a lot of the world during childhood, including Labrador, Japan, and the Panama Canal Zone. In college, Simpson studied English and Journalism, while publishing in the college paper, The Vista. During this period, the national student journalism fraternity Pi Delta Epsilon named him the "Best Student Editorial Cartoonist". Simpson's cartoons covered both national and global topics, and showcased the artist's talent for caricaturing. Between 1971 and 1992, Simpson was editorial cartoonist for The Tulsa Tribune, until that paper folded. He found a new spot in the pages of The Whirled and The Tulsa World, until he was fired in 2005. Afterwards, Simpson became the house cartoonist of The Urban Tulsa Weekly, which ran his cartoons until the artist's dismissal in 2011. Several of Dave Simpson's cartoons were collected in the books 'Simpson: A Collection from the Tulsa Tribune' (Tulsa Tribune, 1979) and 'Simpson Tulsa Tribune: A Cartoon Collection 1986-1987' (Tulsa Tribune, 1987). Several are in the permanent collection of The Smithsonian Institute.

September 1978 cartoon from The Tulsa Times about the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize being awarded jointly to Anwar al-Sadat and Menachem Begin.

On 11 November 2005, Simpson was accused of plagiarism for the first time. The contested cartoon had been published in The Tulsa World on 7 June of that year, but it took a few months before the paper's editors took the accusation seriously. As it turned out, Simpson had redrawn a 1981 editorial cartoon by Bob Englehart, originally published in The Hartford Courant. The original revolves around abortion and depicts a priest, a judge and a dumb teenager, all answering the question: "When does life begin?". The priest claims "at conception", the judge "at birth" and the teen "when you get your driver's license." Simpson copied the gag, down to the same lines and almost the same poses. In his defense, he claimed that he had found an unsigned copy of the original in his files and mistakenly believed it was something he had drawn earlier, but never submitted before. Despite his explanation, he was promptly fired from both the The Whirled and The Tulsa World.

The original driver's license cartoon by Bob Englehart (1981, on the left) and the Dave Simpson copy (2005, on the right).

On 20 October 2011, Simpson submitted a cartoon about the Oklahoma Supreme Court trying to finance The Great Plains Airlines. It depicted a judge trying to lift up a rusty old plane with his pick-up truck. However, the image was ripped off from a late 1970s cartoon by Jeff MacNelly, referring to U.S. President Jimmy Carter's preference to buy B-52 planes for the U.S. military. To make matters worse, it wasn't even the first time that Simpson ripped off this particular cartoon. As early as 1986, while still a cartoonist for The Tulsa Tribune, he had plagiarized the image, only in reference to a controversy over American Airlines. However, back then his theft had remained unnoticed. This time he wasn't so lucky. On 25 October 2011, Simpson's plagiarism was uncovered. Five days later, Alan Gardner posted another example of Simpson plagiarizing Jeff MacNelly on his website dailycartoonist.com. The cartoon in question shows a Congressman comforting a soldier next to a haunted house with the name "Bosnia" that Congress will be "right behind you". Simpson copied the entire image, only changing it in the context of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board telling a woman to visit the "Bates Motel" (from the horror movie 'Psycho') and "enjoy our water plan".

Original plane cartoon by Jeff MacNelly (1970s, on the left) and the Dave Simpson copy (2011, on the right).

Political cartoonist Matt Bors informed Comic Riffs that he noticed four extra examples of Simpson ripping off his colleagues. Another news source, This Land Press, even found more examples. Cartoonist Mike Peters stated that he had been observant of Simpson plagiarizing not only MacNelly and Englehart, but also Paul Conrad, Bill Schorr and his own cartoons as early as the 1980s. He named him a "cartoon kleptomaniac". Realizing they both worked for the same syndicate, King Features, Peters decided to issue an official complaint to the syndicate.

On 2 November 2011, Simpson issued a public apology, including to Jeff MacNelly's widow, Susie MacNelly. He acknowledged the plagiarism, using the same excuse that he had "accidentally copied MacNelly's original". Simpson also announced his instant retirement from the editorial cartooning business.

In 2005 Simpson was inducted in the Oklahoma Cartoonists Hall of Fame. However, he lost this honor on 1 November 2011. The organization claimed that the retraction was motivated by the recurring incidences of plagiarism.

'Camp David', cartoon by Dave Simpson. 

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