Oh dear. It turns out Seth Macfarlane’s new movie, Ted, bears some similarity to a webcomic called “Imagine This“, leading cartoonist Lucas Turnbloom to believe he’s the victim of a rather unfortunate case of plagiarism. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Sam Logan of “Sam and Fuzzy” also believes Ted may be in part based on his comic. Oh no! That dastardly Seth Macfarlane. He thinks he can just take ideas he likes just because he’s preposterously rich, incredibly famous, and occasionally brilliant? The nerve of some people.
My problem with all this, besides my unfortunate use of the word “bears” in the previous paragraph, is that I’m not terribly convinced that Ted is based on either of these comics in any way, shape or form. The “rude, crude, loudmouthed teddy bear” concept is far from new, as anybody who collects Bad Taste Bears or has played Naughty Bear will attest, and anybody whose ever sat and wondered what Calvin and Hobbes would be like if the eponymous child grew up will probably have gone down the “What if he’s a slacker and Hobbes is a jerk?” route.
Even the Toy Story trilogy touched upon some of these ideas. These are not especially original or clever notions. If they were, I think Turnbloom and Logan would probably have to turn their weapons on each other – aren’t they both basically doing the same thing, after all?
What sets these ideas apart is execution, and as Ted hasn’t even opened in theaters yet we have zero basis for comparison other than a few trailers and some selectively chosen storyboard/screengrabs (a few of which are profoundly stupid). To point a finger and yell “Plagiarism!” before we even reach Zero Day, especially for such a general concept, strikes me as a kneejerk reaction to a potential non-problem. It feels very much like people are making a mountain out of flat terrain, here.
Edit: As a testament to just how not-at-all-unique this idea is, my friend Jill just pointed me in the direction of another webcomic about a maladjusted teddy bear living with an adult male, called Rehabilitating Mr. Wiggles, which started in 1999 – almost a full decade prior to Imagine This.