Reader Tony Buford points out that Vincent “Web Pages That Suck” Flanders is ripping off the classic National Lampoon “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog” cover.
I appreciate Flanders’ often very funny insights on understanding how web design works (or doesn’t), but he’s not the most original creative thinker in the world, consistently relying on old clichés to get his points across (or to sell his books, in this case). This is not necessarilly a bad thing since it allows him to very quickly connect with his audience, but it is true.
In any case, he’s not the first to copy the “dog” idea, and I’ve yet to see anyone top the original. Here are some others I’ve seen:
• National Lampoon ripped itself off on the April 1985 cover showing an apparently French woman (she’s wearing a beret and holding a poodle, so she must be French) with a gun to her head accompanied by the line “Buy Zees Magazine or We’ll Shoot Zees French ‘Ookair!”
• Spy magazine did a variation of it in the mid-’90s, though I can’t remember who they threatened to shoot
• Mad magazine copied it on their October 1997 cover with “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Virtual Pet!”
• Former NatLamp publisher Matty Simmons re-staged the photo less successfully on the cover of his 1994 book “If You Don’t Buy This Book We’ll Kill This Dog: Life, Laughs, Love and Death at National Lampoon“
Incidently, former NatLamp art director Michael Gross is selling signed prints of his original concept sketch of the cover on the Classifieds page. Update: Michael passed away in 2015, so I don’t think these are available anymore. Plus, I pulled the plug on the Classifieds page. You had your chance. Just saying.