When the Newspaper Editor Condones Plagiarism

06/29/2015 10:30 am ET | Updated Jun 29, 2016

I've had my comics, and also my news and feature articles, plagiarized over the years. For many years a local reporter with a daily newspaper stole my stuff and republished it  word for word, in many cases, and I've had established cartoonists lift my work, redraw it, and make it theirs, so this crowdsourced site caught my eye. It's about a cartoonist with the Montgomery County Sentinel in Maryland who has been stealing other cartoonists' work. The name of the cartoonist, William Charles, is obviously made-up, and many feel that the editor of the newspaper himself, Brian Karem, is doing the dirty work. The comics have since been removed, but how can this have even happened once and been allowed to continue for years?

I reached out to Brian, and he agreed to answer a few questions but then told me that they'd answered the questions in the past and would not answer. You can see the few questions I asked him below.

Look at these two cartoons here. The top one is the rip-off, signed Wm. Charles; the original, by Johnny Hankins, is below it.

Look at this parachute cartoon. The original one is the top one. The one below is the rip-off.

The crowdsourced site is ongoing, and new comics are added as they are found. This problem seems to have started in 2013 and has gone on through 2015. Brian says that the cartoonist was an unpaid contributor. Interestingly enough, William Charles was a cartoonist in the Revolutionary era, and the signature on the cartoons in the Sentinel is his signature.

I know someone who does this with cartoons, a doctor, of all people. He thinks there is nothing wrong with taking someone's cartoon and manipulating it and then sending it out to friends or an email list or whatever it is he does. I've told him it is wrong; he doesn't think so.

Fake above, real by Jeff Parker, below.

Fake is the top one, real is the bottom one. I really can't understand the consciousness of someone who would deliberately whiteout the signature of the original and then put his own text over it. What is he thinking? I can picture him sleazily hunched over the drawing table with a razor blade and grin, doing his thing Of course, he's doing it with Photoshop on a computer, but the razor blade image is in my head. 

I asked Brian, the Montgomery County Sentinel editor, about this. He did not answer. He agreed to. But I guess he didn't like the questions.

I asked him:

1) Is there a real William Charles doing this, or is this a made-up name?

2) You do realize that the newspaper has lost all credibility and even the news stories are suspect now?

3) Are you William Charles? 

You can see more of the cartoons here: