July 09, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

Comic-book fans have been buzzing about a certain familiarity they’ve noticed recently: namely, that Stewie, the football-shaped-headed child who loathes his mother and invents diabolical weapons on Fox’s Family Guy, bears a striking resemblance to a comic-strip character: Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, a football-shaped-headed child who fears his mother and invents things to escape from her. Chris Ware has been drawing Jimmy since 1991, creating a series of comic books called the Acme Novelty Library. A collection of Jimmy’s adventures will be published by Pantheon next spring. Says Ware, ”I don’t want a book of seven years’ worth of my stuff to become available and then be accused of being a rip-off of Family Guy.”

Guy creator Seth MacFarlane has no comment, but his production company, Twentieth Century Fox, issued this statement: ”[We] maintain that Stewie is an entirely original, independently created character.” Ware says the similarities are ”a little too coincidental to be simply, well, coincidental” but adds that he’ll try his best to shrug it off. ”If I let it get the better of me, I wouldn’t get any work done,” notes Ware. ”I’d just sit around and stew about it.”

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