Political cartoonist Bill Day is in a bit of hot water over an accusation on plagiarism, and some slightly less hot water over accusations of recycling. This has opened up an interesting debate about reuse of images. The aspect that interests me the most is Day’s use of the same image to serve different points on several different occasions. This is a tool that a daily cartoonist can exploit much more easily than a writer, but it does make me wonder why this isn’t something we see more often in fiction. Why, for example, do you not see writers creating the same narratives, and the same characters, but in the service of different points? I can imagine many books where a change of ending, introduction of new characters or even a move to a new setting could radically alter the theme of the story.
On a side note, when I have dabbled in cartooning, I have been guilty of serial repetition with almost no changes. Here is a cartoon that I have drawn no less than twenty times, for different audiences, because the joke still makes me laugh.