Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mailbag Q&A

I get mail. Below are a few of the questions I've gotten recently and my response. Most of these are good solid questions about making a living as a cartoonist and pricing your work.


Question: I need some info on the top paying markets.

The best thing is to go out and see what mags are out there (or what Web sites) and gear your work accordingly. By doing this, you will begin to establish that ever-moving shark, proactive, market-seeking-out mentality that all freelance cartoonists need.

On a chatboard, one fellow who wants to be a professional cartoonist was asking me to describe the cartoons in Playboy to him. I don't think anything I would write would be as helpful as him seeing the cartoons they are running for himself.

So, yes, one must be self-motivated to see what's out there and persevere. I'm not sure if this is what you wanted to hear, but, for me, it's what works.


Question: I'm an aspiring cartoonist with a weekly one panel strip that I'll be marketing to newspapers. I'm having trouble finding any information about pricing each strip. I'm self-syndicating. Can you help me?

My advice is not to do it, but I figure that you don't want to hear that.

First, you need a Web site. You really need an online presence. I don't know if you have a site or a blog, but it's necessary. [I had searched for a Web site for this cartoonist and not found one.]

Most newspapers pay $5 a week for a comic strip or panel. That's $5 for a week's worth. The bigger papers (Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, etc) pay up to $200 a week.

One of the most successful self-syndicated cartoonists is my colleague Chad Carpenter. I hope he doesn't mind me shining the Mike Lynch Cartoons spotlight on him. His cartoon panel TUNDRA is in about 200 markets and he self-syndicated his panel. I urge you to look at his site and consider creating something similar. Editors will want to see a lot of consistent output, that's why a site is crucial.

And let's keep in mind that Chad has been doing this for 15 years. A lot of success in cartooning is over the long haul.

I would also urge simultaneously submitting your package of cartoons to the major syndicates. Just let them see it and see if you get any comments or interest.

This is my 2 cents.


You probably get this all the time, but I've got a great one box cartoon idea. What should I do with it?

Gee whiz, just one? Come up with 9 more and that'll make a decent batch, then mail them out to The New Yorker!

Then, do it again the following week!

Like they say in the Lotto commercials, Ya never know!


That's all for now. My thanks to those who wrote. I appreciate! Feel free to add your own 2 cents in the comments section.


Snowman Expert said...

Dear Mike,

You're a very patient man with these hand-holding questions which others could easily answer with alittle elbow grease.

I like the new header (it inspired me to change mine at Freelancer's Lament). Anyhoo, you could run your own caption contest for your new header! My submission is "I used to equate love with liver snacks."

Dan Beyer said...

And pick up The Artist's and Graphic Designer's Market from the bookstore. They have a pretty in-depth section of magazines, greeting card companies, etc... that buy cartoons. They also explain what they are looking for, how to submit, as well as what they pay. - D

Mark Anderson said...

In my experience the AGDM is pretty worthless. The best luck I've had is scouring the magazine racks, jotting down masthead info and sending out paks.

Also "My advice is not to do it, but I figure that you don't want to hear that" is about the best advice I've heard in a while.

Mike Lynch said...

Snowman, the logo that's up there now of the dog on the shrink's couch is from a cartoon that was in FUNNY TIMES. I'm honored to have influenced you in any way. I hope that you get more traffic/money/lovin'!

Dan, I agree with Mark. AGDM is a boondoggle. Unless they've changed, the cartoon markets are underrepresented at best; with way too much emphasis on magazines that pay in copies and that sort of thing. You can't make a living getting paid in copies. The editors should either do a good job in that section or shutter it.

Dan Beyer said...

AGDM helped get my foot in the door of a couple places. But it's certainly not the only way. It just worked for me. Scouring the magazine racks is good too. Checking out the cartoonist blogs is yet another. That's my additional 2 cents.

- D

Mike Lynch said...

Thanks, Dan.