05/30/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

New Yorker Cartoon Rips Off Marvel Comic Book: Plagiarism Or "Tribute"?

What is with The New Yorker's Cartoon Caption Contest?

In a scene straight out "Seinfeld," the magazine is being accused of cartoon plagiarism.

The cartoon for the May 12 edition of the magazine's popular caption contest is strikingly similar to the cover of a Marvel comic book from 1962.

While New Yorker readers were asked to come up with their own caption, the original "Tales to Astonish" cover by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers reads, "Heaven help me - it's true! There is a monster at my window!"

The New Yorker cartoon by Harry Bliss made no mention of original artist Kirby, who was the co-creator of Captain America, Iron Man, the X-Men, and dozens of other well-known comic characters. Kirby died in 1994.

"Harry did it with all good intentions. He thought it was an overt reference, and not an attempt to plagiarize. He thought it was a tribute," Cassanos said. "To people in the comic world, it's a recognizable image."

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