Nik and eternal plagiarism
If there is one thing that provokes the most anger and rejection among artists and the public, it is plagiarism, second only to fantasising and lying. The rest of the minor sins are usually forgivable, as they are blamed on the artistic side to attract attention and are assumed as something almost normal.
That more than one goes beyond the limits of homage and overdoes it with inspiration to end up stealing ideas is something evident, and also that every work we know has its origin, to a greater or lesser extent, in another. One cannot run away from stimuli and influences.
Sometimes, a beginner in a hurry, without resources and without any evil background, solves a commission by drawing too much inspiration from someone else’s work in the conviction that it will never be discovered. They are usually occasional paymasters, but the ones we are talking about here are the others.
I was on the internet January 2011 cartoon
Those others are the chronic plagiarisers. They are usually mediocre authors with no respect for anything, people who make up for their shortcomings with the work of others and with very little intention to stop doing so, many of them believe that theirs is an artistic style that “improves” anything cool they find on the internet by changing two little things, usually for the worse.
Among all the cases of authors accused of plagiarism, there is one that seems to be eternal, that of the Argentinian cartoonist Cristian Gustavo Dzwonik, better known as “Dzwonik”Nik“He is going to have a hard time getting rid of his record.
The list of accusations of plagiarism is so long that it’s hard to pinpoint the date when they started to spread. For the sake of argument, I’ll start on 21 January 2006 when this cartoon was published in the newspaper La Nación.
“Nik came to create an uneasiness for the first time among Argentinean cartoonists. Nobody can stand him”. Quino, 2004
However, the accusations of plagiarism came from before, as early as February 2004 in an interview to Página 12. (Copia ), Quino accused Nik of having plagiarised Rudy and Daniel Paz, also highlighting the bad feeling between many Argentinean authors and the creator of Gaturro.
“I’m very good friends with Miguel Rep, who I think is one of the most talented cartoonists of the last generation. But I would say that in general I get on well with everyone, except Nik, who publishes in La Nación and started stealing a lot from Rudy, from Daniel Paz, from Página/12. Nik came to create unease for the first time among Argentinean cartoonists. Nobody can stand him. To the point that if there’s a round table, everyone participates on the condition that he’s not there”.
It must not be forgotten that Mafalda has become one of the most popular the most manipulated characters on the internet.
Since then, Nik has become an unavoidable name when talking about plagiarism. His most popular character, Gaturro, has always been considered a“bootleg” of Garfield, that is, an unauthorised edition and a bad copy of Jim Davis‘ famous cat.
In the Duhalde government, Nik compared Graciela Camaño in a joke to the Planet of the Apes, and Rep wrote an article in Página 12 accusing him of being a xenophobe, among a whole range of witheringly flowery terms. For another statement in which he also called him a thief, Rep suffered a lawsuit and had to reach an agreement in court so that the case would not go against him. The only thing Rep demanded of his lawyer was not to cross paths with Nik even in the bathroom of the courthouse. “Before,” says Rep, “I was obsessed with it. Now I’m over it. Maybe it’s because I don’t read him. What he does is rubbish, full stop.
In that article, entitled“DiscrimiNation“, Rep also took the opportunity to turn down an award he was up for with Nik.
“And since nothing is free, this back cover is not free for me either: a few weeks ago I was informed that I am a candidate for the Konex Award, in a shortlist that I share, among others, with this Mr. Nik. Well, I take advantage of these lines to renounce that privilege. I don’t want to be lumped together. Thank you very much. And, worst of all: I had to defend Camaño”.
Too many cases
The reasonable resemblances have been accumulating until they have become what has been called the “black book”, a PDF which compiles more than 30 examples of alleged plagiarism and some uses of images without crediting the author.
It is only fair to say that not all of them seem so obvious to me, although many of them are. If you still have patience and continue reading this tome, I will write about the coincidences and“obviousness” below.
In relation to Nik’s use of images that had had their signatures removed, some of which had even had their colour manipulated, and which he published on his social networks, there is erroneous talk of plagiarism.
For plagiarism to exist, the plagiarist must claim authorship. It is, of course, a shoddy use because of the disregard for the author, and it is even shoddier if the person who does it is another artist, but it is not plagiarism because he did not sign them as his own. And he can always use the easy excuse that he found them already manipulated, although talking about Nik it’s quite a difficult exercise, since it’s not the first time he has copied jokes and phrases to sign them as his own.
“Every cartoonist gets the day when Nik copies a joke”
Repudiation from authors
Nik has received several public manifestations of repudiation, the last one was after being invited to the FAS 2018 (Festival de Autores de Santiago) in Chile.
The community of Chilean illustrators, cartoonists and authors considered the invitation a lack of respect towards the work of the collective, considering that it went against the spirit of the fair, which intended that the authors were the protagonists, and for this reason they wrote a letter with this text:
“The cartoonists, cartoonists, writers and readers who sign this communiqué repudiate the invitation of cartoonist Cristian Dzwonik “Nik” to the Santiago Authors Festival (FAS) to be held at the Gabriela Mistral Cultural Centre in November 2018. This is due to his contumacious and incessant record of plagiarism to colleagues that degrades and infringes the ethics of the trade, so we believe that with these invitations and recognitions in festivals where authors are celebrated, it only reinforces the impunity of his malpractice“.
The signatories of this statement collected at least 143 signatures on a Google document ( ) Capture 11 November 2018). The letter and signatures were sent to the FAS 2018 Facebook page, but according to one of the organisers they received no response from the organisation.
In 2016, the FIL Lima, the International Book Fair of Lima (Peru), suspended Nik’s visit after an avalanche of criticism on social networks, although the CPL (Peruvian Book Chamber) blamed it on“an internal issue“.
More than once, in interviews, he has been asked about the accusations of plagiarism. He has always gone off on a tangent, using various arguments, some of them reasonable. Always presented half-heartedly and with a whiff of “they criticise me because I’m famous”.
In 2013, in an interview with Los Eternautas, he said that“Quino never made any complaint“, perhaps trying to slip in a simplistic reasoning that relates the absence of legal complaints with the non-existence of plagiarism.
In short, Nik maintains that if you have 50 thousand jokes published(in another interview in 2015 he fattens this figure to 60 and 70 thousand) it is normal that there are two, three or four similar to others (and slimming down this other one) to finish by saying:
“Why am I going to make two, or three, or four, or five similar to something when it’s successful? It’s a ridiculous theory and it’s rather the opposite, if I had known something like that existed, I wouldn’t have done it”.
Nik’s explanations never managed to appease the critics, Gaturro may be liked by children, but he is disliked by adults and some do not hesitate to describe his character as“anti-comic” and Nik as a“damned graphic rat“.
I don’t think Nik has any professional problems with these issues. He doesn’t seem to be doing badly, but even so, I wouldn’t want to see myself in his shoes. He’s still an exceptional case, there are many more cartoonists who respect other people’s work, and their own.
Allow me to show my lack of humility by informing that i coined the word years ago in response to the need to call this type of cartoons something.
Obviñeta: the obvious cartoon based on the easiest and most hackneyed joke, which will be repeated without remedy.
By making this kind of joke, you buy all the tickets to get an idea that I’m sure many others had. Possibly on the same day, yesterday, months or years ago. The obviñeta kills the wild card of chance and multiplies the possibility of coincidence.
When an obviñeta is drawn, it no longer matters who drew it first. It becomes irrelevant because it will be done by many more people, some even believing they have invented gunpowder. There is nothing wrong with this, it is even fun to see them together to compare styles and small variations.
But the professionals of the thing are presupposed to have special superpowers of jokiness.
You can’t control everything that is published. However, you can keep an eye on the authors who work on the daily grind from time to time. Even so, I have fallen into obviñetas more than once, it has happened to all of us and it will happen to us. Hopefully not as much as Nik :P
Other reasonable resemblances
To close this rambling rant, here are some examples of obviñetas:
-The same plunger.
-A very exploited idea for the end of the year
– Double gold
-A bunch of similar crowns
-Three matching brutes
-Two first cousin apples
-Same death, same idea
-A reasonable resemblanceTo four!
-Two to the neck
-A pair of owls just as golfing
-And here are a few more