Alaska Robotics

Similarities and Transformations

Tuesday, July 2nd 2013 by Pat

Blah. This morning a friend pointed out that my comic from last week is waaaaay too similar to a Perry Bible Fellowship comic.

I agree.


The Worst.

I can feel my guts twisting and calcifying, it’s the worst.

Did I read that PBF comic at some point? Probably.

I love The Perry Bible Fellowship. Nicholas Gurewitch has made some of my favorite comics and I’m certainly influenced by his humor and work. I remember seeing one of his originals at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco and it was gorgeous.

I have no problem arriving at a similar idea as someone else but this is more likely a case of cryptomnesia, the act of creating something from a forgotten memory that I believed to be original.

I don’t think cryptomnesia is uncommon in creative fields, all art is transformative to some extent and when we aren’t careful about knowing our sources and influences, it’s possible to digest and spit out work that is nearly identical to the original.

Know your Sources of Inspiration.

We’re all fishing in the same zeitgeist soup and occasionally lines get tangled. I’ll be more careful in the future and I’ll try to better understand where my ideas are sourced.

I don’t feel bad about the work I did on my adaptation of “The Great Wave.” I knew exactly what I was trying to do with that piece and was really happy with the results but it probably would have felt awful if I’d discovered that it unintentionally looked identical to a famous print.

the great wave sm

The challenge, as always, is to create with intent, to go beyond the obvious and create something new… something so good other people will accidentally copy it.


I’ve removed the above comic from my archives, although people can still see it here in the context of this article. Many apologies to Nicholas Gurewitch and his fans, it was not my intent to create something so similar.


Update: I got a Tweet from Nicholas Gurewitch about this.

I can’t judge, man. When I published that comic, someone told me that the “Clerks” cartoon show had already done it.

I guess the joke has been done by a bunch of people. I don’t know if that makes it any better or worse but I do *feel* a lot better.

I’m done over thinking this. People are going to come up with similar jokes and ideas. It happens.

3 Responses to “Similarities and Transformations”

  1. […] the whole rigmarole last week I was feeling pretty grumpy with my […]

  2. Joel says:

    I am the “friend” in question and I’m sorry for making you feel crappy about your artwork. I too work in a creative field, and I’m sure I’ve unintentionally replicated some of the great ideas I’ve seen as well. Thank you for addressing the concern, and sorry again for being a loud mouth. Alaska Robotics remains one of my favourite comics, keep up the great work!

    • Pat Race says:

      No worries Joel, I really appreciate you bringing it up. Several people mentioned it to me and it was a good thing to think about. On one hand, I will try to be more aware of my influences so I can avoid potentially embarrassing situations. On the other hand, I can’t allow myself to be crippled by the inevitable, “that reminds me of…”

      There are always going to be small similarities and influences throughout every artist’s work and that’s just how it goes.

      Thanks for reading!