Chris riddell gets ‘ripped off’ by John Lewis



  • Chris hits back wit a periscope and tweet when JL use his characters and storyline without permission....
    https://twitter.com/chrisriddell50/status/931160581893111809



  • Shocking that John Lewis did that.



  • I don't think he ripped him off. Other than a monster under a kid's bed idea, which has been around for many many years, they are not the same.


  • administrators

    I see your point, but it's not even close to a rip off here. Similar? sure. But that story has been done SO many times. When I teach a children's book class, at least 5 people want to do a variation on it.

    The design of the monster isn't even close enough to be considered an infringement.



  • @Lee-White I see your point. I also see Chris Riddell's point as he says in the article I've linked to:

    “The idea of a monster under the bed is by no means new but the ad does seem to bear a close resemblance to my creation – a big blue unthreatening monster who rocks the bed and snores loudly.”
    He has since added: “I think it’s important for creative people to get the recognition for the work they do. When one is influenced by something, it’s good to acknowledge that.”

    It hasn't done Chris Riddell harm with his book sales so I think something good did come of him questioning it publicly at least. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/nov/20/john-lewis-plagiarism-row-gives-christmas-sales-boost-to-mr-underbed


  • administrators

    Thanks Andy! I love this discussion!

    I can explain more here by why I think this isn't much of a ripoff. The big thing in my book is context. In terms of context, you have a monster under the bed. The bed is made for sleeping at night. People snore at night. So it's not a big stretch to think that the idea of the monster snoring loudly would be a logical choice by anyone drawing a story about a monster under/in a bed at night.

    With a real infringement case, it would need to be something that ISN'T linked by logical conclusion or context. For instance, If the monster took the kid to Las Vegas to gamble. That (albeit insane) idea is very specific and non linear in terms of what people think of with monsters under the bed story. So if two artists had a monster taking a kid to vegas, then we have a real case of plagiarism or influence.

    So the idea of a logical (or generic) conclusion vs. a specific creative choice or detail makes a big difference. Does that make sense?

    To add to this, the character design can be broken down in the same way. Things that are inherent in monster design: Horns, claws, fur, fangs, etc. Colors vary, but are typically very standard yellow or blue, or green, etc. So we have two pretty predictable monster designs here. But they actually aren't that similar. If we were to break down specifics (as applied to infringement) it would go something like this:

    Are items similar?
    Color: Yes (generic)
    Eyes: no
    nose: no
    headshape: no
    fangs: sort of
    fur: no
    mouth: yes
    drawing style: no

    So you can see there are more "no" answers here than yes answers. Now, if we are talking unexpected and specific, you would have a different story. For example, If the character was blue with polka dots on the arms and had red stripes on the legs while wearing a magician hat and holding an umbrella, that would be much more protected. It would be easier to make the case of infringement. So this is a way to see how close you are to someone else's work.

    The other thing about thinking in this way is it stops you from worrying about other people writing or drawing the same thing as you. For example, I'm writing a story about the moon. THere are a bunch of children's books about the moon. So I need to make sure my solutions are specific and don't overlap in meaningful ways from what's out there. But the typical or generic information about the moon is available to me since that stuff is not specific to an individual story.


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