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Thomas Mullany

Thomas Mullany

Gre up in the D.C. area and attended the Corcoran School of Art. I exhibit and sell paintings/sculptures, but have always enjoyed cartooning in notebooks. The comics are given the laugh-o-meter test by my wife and sons.  ALL POSTS

Forever Endeavor - Entry Challenge

See Thomas Mullany's entry, read what the judges had to say, and see Thomas's reaction below.

Garry Trudeau: "The world of gag panels is harsh. There are no stories, no character development, no ancillary pleasures -- the laugh is everything. In this batch, there were three out of six LOL's for me, an excellent rate of return. The manatee panel made me smile even before I decoded the punch line. The slightly retro drawing style is charming."

Darrin Bell: "I love the retro artwork. This artwork would've been at home in Gilded Age newspapers, so it's charming to see it used with modern puns, dark humor, and writing that seems influenced by Monty Python. In fact, whatever it was that made Monty Python work so well, seems to be present here. This is my favorite of the group."

Stephan Pastis: "Nice, deadpan tone (for the most part) that contrasts nicely with the seriousness of the situation presented. Good sense of incongruity, which for me is the essence of humor."

Signe Wilkinson: "Thomas Mullany had the most interesting style, a little old-fashioned yet not archaic. If he could capture what he was doing in the 'manatee' drawing
 and the 'burning village' in all of his panels, he'd have a distinct and interesting look. If he could capture the more robust humor of the 'torch passing' and 'staycation' throughout, he'd have a real cartoon."

"It's been a real thrill to have my work reviewed and judged by veterans in the business. Having the cartoons out of the studio and subject to comment and analysis by others (besides my immediate family and friends, who can always be relied upon for a positive evaluation) has been exciting. At the same time, it has been humbling, and has helped me to focus my thoughts on what really works and what changes I should make to my process. Because of the publicity of the contest, I've heard from many people who've known me throughout the years, who have all been extremely supportive and seem to be genuinely enjoying the cartoons. Although I've made my living for many years doing fine art painting and sculpture, cartooning is something I've always loved to do, so it's been a privilege and great fun to be able to share with others some of the things that make me laugh."

 

By Thomas Mullany  |  June 14, 2010; 1:41 PM ET  | Category:  Cartoonists' reactions , Darrin Bell , Entries , Garry Trudeau , Signe Wilkinson , Stephan Pastis
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Comments

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I enjoyed these, and the huge manatee was laugh out loud funny. I have no trouble believing that many people will come up with the same puns independently, which I'd guess is something that makes the single panel format all the more challenging. No doubt a good lesson for the artist to do a quick search to make sure someone hasn't beaten them to the punchline. It was new to me.

Posted by: Chip_M | July 4, 2010 9:44 PM
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These could go either way, and I'd almost like to see about a hundred more before being able to decide. "The Torch Is Passed" and the "Formal, yet playful" entries were both pretty good, and the rest of them no worse than what I see in the Post every day. If plagiarism alone disqualified a cartoonist, half the strips in the Post would be in the dumpster.

But I'd give one small bit of advice: Stuff the bleeping puns, because they've all been done a thousand times over, whether you know it or not.

Posted by: andym108 | June 24, 2010 6:03 AM
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Even though I find these puns very funny, I really don't see how he can keep them going year after year without running into a lot of old puns being done before.

Also, the style reminds me of another single panel cartoon - which I can't remember.

Posted by: cmecyclist | June 23, 2010 2:46 PM
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I voted in the first round for Imogen Quest, but this strip was a close second. I'd be happy to see either (or both) picked up.

Posted by: trichobezoar | June 23, 2010 11:30 AM
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As someone who entered the contest, I have mixed feelings about the charges that this cartoonist ripped off the Huge Manatee t-shirt art readily found on the internet. One of my panel gags showed a parrot on the shoulder of a modern-day pirate, asking "Somali want a cracker?" I know I derived that punchline completely independently, but after drawing that cartoon, I DID do a google search of the phrase, and was somewhat disheartened to see that comedian Dennis Miller has used the phrase in some context, which meant there might be some common usage of the phrase. I admit it is such a direct descendant of "Polly want a cracker" that, in hindsight, it doesn't surprise me it that it has occurred to others. I went ahead and submitted it in good conscience, but the similarity between this cartoonist's ACTUAL DEPICTION to the t-shirt art is suspect. However, if one were to look at archival photos of the Hindenburg explosion, search for common manatee images and then do a drawing, the odds of depicting the combination of the two is very likely to result in something that looks both like the t-shirt art and this cartoonist's entry. So, I can't come to a strong conclusion either way.

Posted by: DCstuntman | June 22, 2010 12:14 PM
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Not everyone is comfortable using computers; Mr. Mullany happens to be one of them. He may need to change his mind after this crazy controversy but thus far, he has never seen a need for Google. He has no difficulty coming up with his own themes and images. He is also one of the hardest working, honest, artists I have ever met. All he's trying to do is support his family by the one thing he exceeds in, art creation.

Posted by: DWnTadLP | June 21, 2010 2:22 PM
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While one or two of these were funny; I'm not a fan of the style of art. Sure, I can see its appeal, but it gets lost in the sea of other one panel gag strips like it. Like others have mentioned, the Manatee strip is an issue for me. Being an artist, I know its hard to come up with something truly original, but i find it hard to believe that he didn't see the original manatee image while googling for the actual photo.

Posted by: BlueEasy | June 21, 2010 11:02 AM
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I've followed Mullany's fine art career for many years. Art critics give him high marks for his insight, humor and satire, not to mention his unusual and exceptional abilities in many media: drawing, painting, sculpture. What the Post has here is a first rate, historically informed, culturally insightful artist and refreshingly genuine human being who can deliver many, many memorable and current cartoons. I hope they recognize their opportunity to enlist the resources of a visionary, gifted, 21st century artist. He surely has my vote.

Posted by: Kevin76 | June 19, 2010 11:14 AM
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"Staycation" and "Here, son, you burn it" were enough to solidify my vote. They both made me laugh out loud, which comics don't usually do. Very cool drawings, too.

Posted by: QQ4COCOPUFFS | June 18, 2010 5:38 PM
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"Staycation" and "Here, son, you burn it" were enough to solidify my vote. Both made me laugh out loud, which comics don't usually do. Very cool drawings, too.

Posted by: QQ4COCOPUFFS | June 18, 2010 5:35 PM
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I like the light touch both of the drawings and the humor. I hope to see more of his work!

Posted by: justme80 | June 18, 2010 6:21 AM
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I've voted for these, which I think have great style and attitude. Love "the torch is passed."

Posted by: tomgabbay | June 18, 2010 4:37 AM
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I'm with Signe Wilkinson: "Staycation" was an LoL for me. Another judge said "retro" -- I agree with that, and also that these cartoons have an understated "New Yorker" sense about them. Mullany's cartoons are definitely my favorites.

Posted by: penelope4 | June 17, 2010 11:28 PM
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MSJS you may be right about whoever has the biggest social network wins, and that is unfortunate.

I happen to know this artist and, believe me, he is the last person on earth to do what he is being accused of here. Mullany is a talented artist, and an original thinker, with notebooks full of ideas and funny pictures. In this case he came up with a verbal and visual pun and then illustrated it in a logical way using the historical photo of the Hindenburg disaster as a reference. Period and end of story. I know it's hard to believe in this day and age but he is not an internet user, and it just didn’t occur to him to check to see if this weird concept was already out there. So therefore, his biggest crime is not checking Google, something I’m sure he will make more of a habit of doing from now on. Lesson learned!

I hope folks can look at all of his work here, see and ENJOY it for what it is, some very funny and very well drawn artwork.

Posted by: jackandjill24 | June 17, 2010 10:36 PM
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Based on other comments, I just completed an image search and the huge manitee is a total rip-off. Plus, I've seen the other gags before. There is zero originality here.

Posted by: markythemarkster | June 17, 2010 7:51 PM
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Well said, OZZIE2010 & DWNTADLP. You both have good points. I like this guy Mullany's work & I am voting for him. It's the most intelligent of the bunch and I like the historical references. Well drawn, too, and very clever. He obviously relishes the world of puns big time. His work would fit nicely in the New Yorker. Now, the idea that the artist stole the manatee image & pun from someone and tried to pass it off as original to a major newspaper is ridiculous. It is obviously a coincidence. And the drawing could only be done in the same format as the original image of the exploding blimp to be funny. It may be a bad joke but not "plagiarism". Hopefully, Mullany's large "social network" will see through this nonsense. He is really the best one in this lot.

Posted by: Sally19411 | June 17, 2010 7:33 PM
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Not to burst your bubble, dwntadlp, but these comments are likely to have zippo impact on the outcome. S/he who can whip up the most votes wins. This is where the contestants' social networks encourage their networks to get out there, register at the WaPo website, and vote.

These drive-by voters aren't going to read the other comics, let alone the comments. They'll register, vote, and move on.

Posted by: MsJS | June 17, 2010 6:19 PM
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Who would ever post something on a Washington Post website that was blatantly plagiaristic? What a silly suggestion! It is far more likely that Mr. Mullany's manatee pun has been utilized by others without his knowledge. As far as I know there is no law against serendipity. This leaves me wondering if some posts here have been authored by persons with a vested interest in knocking the competition. Hmm, I am aware of a few laws against libel.

Posted by: DWnTadLP | June 17, 2010 5:22 PM
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Ozzie2010, FWIW I didn't enter the contest. Can't draw.

I sorta like this cartoonist. For the judges to have caught the manatee thing amongst the hundreds of entries they had to review would have been difficult, as you infer. That said, the manatee cartoon does raise some questions and it's appropriate for the issue to be aired so WaPo can better assess originality going forward.

The pundit contest last fall had the same problem. One entrant published a longer version of her entry essay in a national online magazine (in violation of the entry rules) and still made the final 10. Didn't win though.

And, unless Mr. Mullany has a large social network, he won't win either. For that's what one needs to win.

Posted by: MsJS | June 17, 2010 2:40 PM
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With all due respect to all of you skilled accomplished artists and critics occupying the peanut gallery, I don't think everyone spends their every waking moment combing the internet for puny insignificant photoshop jobs such as the "huge manatee" picture.
The judges, as well as Mr. Mullany, being artists, have this thing called "Work" that they need to be doing, and therefore may not have picked up on the current internet jokes that you all seem to be well accustomed to. It also appears to me that the entire comments section of every entry is filled with the ravings of cartoonists that did not make the cut, but that is only one mans observation.

Posted by: Ozzie2010 | June 17, 2010 11:30 AM
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Really surprised that none of the judges picked up the "Hugh Manatee" ripoff.
Lost my vote because of this. When you come up with a gag you always wonder "have I seen this someplace" but "Huge Manatee" was easily Googled.

Posted by: richardB4 | June 17, 2010 10:13 AM
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Official Rules: 3(ii)(c) "[A]ll of his/her Challenge Submissions are original, created solely by the Challenge Participant for the purpose of the Contest, and have not been previously published for any purpose." Based on the manatee panel, the Post should disqualify this entry. Another entrant has been denied opportunity due to the lack of the Post's due diligence.

Posted by: ekaf | June 17, 2010 7:45 AM
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Yikes... not one original gag in the bunch and the lackluster art doesn't help much either. It's sort of an un-funny Tom the Dancing Bug.

Posted by: comicsfan666 | June 16, 2010 3:20 PM
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I really enjoyed this strip. Beautiful drawing, intelligent jokes. If Mr. Mullany doesn't win, I urge him to contact some of the more successful independent cartoonists whose work thrives on the Internet, because there's definitely a niche for him.

Perhaps Mr. Trudeau thinks the world of gag-panels is harsh, but I'd be more interested to see what Gary Larson has to say on that score.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | June 16, 2010 12:07 PM
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Smart, but not doing anything for me. That, and I've seen the jokes elsewhere.
Sorry.

Posted by: InkSlingerz | June 16, 2010 11:38 AM
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Smart, but not doing anything for me.
I've seen the jokes somewhere else.
Sorry-

Posted by: InkSlingerz | June 16, 2010 11:36 AM
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Big points lost for ripping off Huge Manatee. I don't expect every joke to be completely original, but even the drawing itself looks like a copy of the common shirt.

Posted by: thurdl01 | June 16, 2010 11:17 AM
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While I like this cartoonist, the premise of the humor lies in the reader's understanding the historic background. One the one hand, it's nice that the cartoonist gives the reader some credit. On the other, he'll lose potential readers along the way.

It's got a distinctive feel to it, something that is largely lacking in the entries.

Posted by: MsJS | June 16, 2010 10:06 AM
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Posted by: a578958 | June 16, 2010 9:58 AM
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