Mr. Sidney Harris has very graciously provided us, in his own words, with the story of:
"How the 'Miracle' Occurred"
This cartoon has the most convoluted history of any I’ve drawn. Yet, it turned out to be the most widely-reprinted of all the thousands that I’ve done. I drew the original version in August 1968. A publication named Dateline in Science published it. Medical Opinion reprinted it shortly thereafter.
Now, a digression which leads to the next chapter. An editor at Johns Hopkins University Press independently approached American Scientist magazine and offered to publish a book of my cartoons from that magazine. I learned later that the board of editors at JHUP turned the book down.
However, the editors of American Scientist knew William Kaufmann, who owned a publishing company in California. They told him about the proposed book and he agreed to do it. And, of all things, Mr. Kaufman had seen the "Miracle" cartoon in Medical Opinion and wanted to include it in the book. But since it was to be a book of cartoons from American Scientist, that magazine agreed to reprint it. For some reason, I decided to re-draw "Miracle" and came up with the one that became well-known and almost looks like a poster.
"Miracle" appeared in American Scientist and the book What's So Funny About Science? in 1977.
Most cartoons have a short life span. It’s been over 40 years and "Miracle" is possibly the most widely reprinted cartoon in the world. I know a lot of cartoonists and have an idea of what gets reprinted. I still get a request for its use in a book, newsletter, PowerPoint or some format every few days.
As for the equations, the version you see features numbers from American Scientist's former contact information what that publication called New Haven, Connecticut, home. The "M," "S," "J" and "O" refer to the magazine’s editor at that time, Ms. Jane Olson.
If "Miracle" had only been published by Dateline in Science, it would have been long forgotten. But a series of fortuitous steps has led to its having a life of its own, unlike any of my other cartoons—and probably a miracle of some sort as well.