Like many children of the eighties, I owned many a beloved Cabbage Patch Kid. The signature on the back, "Xavier Roberts", meant many things-- mainly, that there was a little boy out there who grew up and made a line of dolls that affected American culture in a very big way. Little did I know, the little boy was actually a grown man who was appropriating the work of another artist.
In today's social media ready culture, this kind of appropriation would be hard to pull off. It's quite easy to imagine artist Martha Nelson Thomas, selling her original "Doll Babies" on Etsy, and a traceable email exchange between creator and thief that could be used in a copyright lawsuit-- but this was long before the era of the internet. How many more beautiful ideas out there do you think are actually stolen works of art?
Interestingly enough the feverish popularity of The Cabbage Patch Kids birthed even stranger progeny-- The Garbage Pail Kids-- grotesque kiddie characters that were a reaction against the cutesy sweetness of the 'originals'. Xavier sued and settled out of court, when the Garbage Pail Kids agreed to alter their appearance and logo-- but by then it was too late, the trend, for everyone, had passed.