While looking up articles for the Acme Novelty Archive from my last post, I found the following piece from the July 9th, 1999 issue of Entertainment Weekly:
Comic-book fans have been buzzing about a certain familiarity they’ve noticed recently: namely, that Stewie, the football-shaped-headed child who loathes his mother and invents diabolical weapons on Fox’s Family Guy, bears a striking resemblance to a comic-strip character: Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth (right), a football-shaped-headed child who fears his mother and invents things to escape from her. Chris Ware has been drawing Jimmy since 1991, creating a series of comic books called the Acme Novelty Library. A collection of Jimmy’s adventures will be published by Pantheon next spring. Says Ware, “I don’t want a book of seven years’ worth of my stuff to become available and then be accused of being a rip-off of Family Guy.”
Guy creator Seth MacFarlane has no comment, but his production company, Twentieth Century Fox, issued this statement: “[We] maintain that Stewie is an entirely original, independently created character.” Ware says the similarities are “a little too coincidental to be simply, well, coincidental” but adds that he’ll try his best to shrug it off. “If I let it get the better of me, I wouldn’t get any work done,” notes Ware. “I’d just sit around and stew about it.” – Ken Tucker
Reading this and then going back and reviewing some older, uncollected Jimmy Corrigan strips only make these coincidental similarities more suspicious. I offer as an example the sequence below, which appeared in Zero Zero #16 (published in 1996 – The Family Guy premiered in 1999). Click the image to see more of the strip.
It’s all there – the character design, the extensive vocabulary and verbose tendancies, the mother issues and scientific proclivities… I’m a fan of The Family Guy, but it does begin to seem a little too coincidental. Crazy.