I’ve long since come to believe that “coincidences in writing” just happen. You’re tempted to think that something was inspired by something else – or was ripped-off by something else. But, probably more often than we realize, it’s most likely just coincidence.
My favorite example of this in classic sci-fi TV occurs between STAR TREK “Mirror Mirror” (10/06/1967) and LOST IN SPACE “The Anti-Matter Man” (12/27/1967)!
Each posited an alternate / opposite / evil twin universe – and, miraculously, each had an other-world duplicate of one of “our guys” sporting a BEARD! Mr. Spock for STAR TREK and Major Don West for LOST IN SPACE!
Both aired within 2.5 months of one another, ruling out even inadvertent recollections leading to the similarities, much less the possibility of plagiarism – and both had an amazing number of coinciding elements, including the above-mentioned “nega-character” with a beard. If anything, BOTH might have been cribbed from DC’s “Crime Syndicate of America”, that first appeared in 1964.
Applying the topic to my own experiences in comic book script writing:
In my first script for Gemstone, Super Goof: “Now Museum, Now You Don’t” (2006), I referred to the omnipresent coffee establishment in the greater Duckburg-Mouseton Metro Area as “Starducks”. “Thuh coffee so strong it puts feathers on a hairy chest!”
I liken getting to use a gag like that to “finding a 50 dollar bill lying on the ground”. You’re glad YOU picked it up, and wonder why no one else got to it first.
Anyone who has read Boom!’s Darkwing Duck comic will know that “Starducks” was also the omnipresent coffee establishment in St. Canard. Darkwing authors Ian Brill, Aaron Sparrow, or whoever wrote that first arc did not borrow that from me… it was a coincidence!
“Starducks” was simply a very likely name to use in a particular situation.
I have ANOTHER such “50 dollar bill find” in an unpublished UNCLE SCROOGE script that I completed just as Boom! decided to cancel the title.
It’s another “one of those things” that’s so good and so obvious, that you wonder why no one’s beaten you to it. No, I’m not tipping on what it is! Hopefully, someday, you’ll see it in print!
So, now I’m hoping that someone soon picks up the license to publish UNCLE SCROOGE – and decides to run that story – before another writer “beats me to it”, who really may not have done so at all!
And, if it should happen, I will be unhappy, but I’ll know it was a coincidence.