Going Viral Virus
On any average day editorial cartoonists spend their days toiling on work for the purpose of filling a square for the print version of the next days’ newspaper for which they are employed. For the entire 20th century that’s how it worked.
In the next century, we began to showcase our cartoons on the Internet.
Take for example this cartoon, drawn in 2006:
It was drawn at a time when Canada was at war in Afghanistan, meeting its international military obligations, and contributing to an allied mission to neutralize al-Qaeda terrorists based in the region, and bring down the Taliban regime. My critique on May 20, 2006, was of the federal government’s dithering position on whether or not to extend the mission, which began in 2001, for another 2 years. The Liberal Party, leading the government at the time, had become deeply divided over its willingness to continue the mission as soldiers were returning to Canada in body bags at an increasing rate. It didn’t help that their commitment to the effort could be seen in the underwhelming financial support to properly equip the hundreds of armed forces personnel sent.
It’s not my favourite kind of imagery, familiar and overused, and quite frankly, if I could choose which of my cartoons could go viral this would be last on the list.
So to my surprise it resurfaced on a popular cartoon Facebook page 12 and a half years after, the image intact, and the captions butchered to suit an American audience.
As posted under the unauthorized version of my cartoon, it’s like I put this cartoon in a bottle, dropped it in the internet Ocean in 2006, and it’s washed up on my FB page, all pixelated with the captions all monkeyed up. You can almost smell the mothballs and cat pee coming from the account of whoever made the modifications.
It’s getting all kinds of likes and shares, and even after pointing out that the original work had been doctored, the usual sort of social media sewer rats emerged endorsing the act of butchering someone else’s satire to suit their political opinions.
In the past I’ve made a point of making examples of the sort who take pleasure ruining the work of professional cartoonists. I call it the Social Media Jackass Award. Today I’m pleased to announce that CJ Kalish (ChristopherJohn Kalish) who runs the above FB page, but refuses to delete the cartoon, is the latest winner of that award.
According to a colleague in the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists:
CJ Kalish is a known thief of other’s work. He frequently posts doctored cartoons on his “fan site” without checking their veracity, uses other cartoons without permission, and often publishes material with no credit or ID of the real artist.
A growing number of legitimate cartoonists have been having a running legal battle with him for years now. Clay Jones and Nick Anderson first discovered he was stealing and using doctored work of theirs in 2016, and when called on it, CJ responded with lies and abuse.
Sounds like the classy sort of fellow who’s more than deserving of this recognition.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: don’t change intellectual property that doesn’t belong to you. Do your own work! As for those in the know of these breaches, yet refuse to do anything about them, enjoy the shame and humiliation.
Update: CJ Kalish has removed the doctored cartoon. Ensuing discussion I’ve had with cartoonists both on and off Facebook indicate that he’s had many run-ins with many cartoonists. As Clay Jones put it, quite simply, “he needs to share from the creators’ pages”, instead of copying images to his desktop and reposting them from his FB page.