The New Yorker's Ferguson cover draws comparison to August newspaper cartoon

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The New Yorker's Dec. 8 cover, left; an Aug. 21 St. Louis Post-Dispatch cartoon, right.
The New Yorker's Dec. 8 cover, left; an Aug. 21 St. Louis Post-Dispatch cartoon, right.

The New Yorker's Dec. 8 issue features a powerful cover illustration by Bob Staake of St. Louis' Gateway Arch, shown broken and divided by color — one side black, the other white.

“I wanted to comment on the tragic rift that we’re witnessing,” Staake told the New Yorker, which published the cover on the magazine's website Wednesday. “I lived in St. Louis for seventeen years before moving to Massachusetts, so watching the news right now breaks my heart. At first glance, one might see a representation of the Gateway Arch as split and divided. But my hope is that the events in Ferguson will provide a bridge and an opportunity for the city, and also for the country, to learn and come together.”

The cover of the New Yorker, Dec. 8, 2014 (The New Yorker)
The cover of the New Yorker, Dec. 8, 2014 (The New Yorker)

It's undoubtedly a powerful image in light of the recent events in Ferguson and around the country. But is it original?

Staake's illustration is strikingly similar to one R.J. Matson, syndicated editorial cartoonist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, drew in August.

St. Louis Gateway Arch (R.J. Matson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
St. Louis Gateway Arch (R.J. Matson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Staake says he was unaware of Matson's work.

"It’s the first time I’m seeing an editorial cartoon by my colleague R.J. Matson that also references a broken Gateway Arch to symbolize Saint Louis," Staake wrote on Facebook. "When I thought up my idea, I recalled all those famous black and white photos of the incomplete arch being built. To the extent that we both came up with similar ideas, I’m reaching out to him, hoping we can join forces to spread the message of repairing what’s so badly broken in Ferguson."

According to Staake, this 1965 image was inspiration for his.

Construction of the St. Louis Gateway Arch, May 5, 1965 (The New Yorker/File)
Construction of the St. Louis Gateway Arch, May 5, 1965 (The New Yorker/File)