Tuesday, June 21, 2011


HOW TO CREATE 1000 GAGS A YEAR by Jack Markow, Harry Lampert and Dan Koerner. Published by and copyright 1961 by Cartoon Consultants, 170 Broadway, New York 38, N. Y.

Let's say that you are a magazine gag cartoonist. OK? OK! Today, you have an 8 hour work day to come up with and execute four complete cartoons. Tomorrow, draw 4 more.

And so on.

At that rate, taking off the requisite 2 weeks of vacation (unpaid, since you are a full time freelancer), you will have produced about 1000 cartoons. This book will help.

1000 GAGS A YEAR will not teach you to draw cartoons. It assumes you are already on your way drawing-wise and it's time to develop "systematic methods and habits of work."

I agree with the authors that coming up with ideas that are funny becomes easier with time. But I also think that a cartoonist is limited by his or her aptitude. You can teach the how-to, but so far as succeeding: that's up to the cartoonist, his abilities and his persistence to do this hard work.


jamie said...

Great score - thanks for posting Mike!
I like how he validates my weird habit of using dictionaries, textbooks, horoscopes and other boring sources for triggers (gag reflex). Makes me miss L. M. Boyd's random trivia generator.
An excellent companion to Richter & Bakken's "The Cartoonist's Muse."

Dan Reynolds said...

Here's the deal...I could come up with 2000 gag ideas a year. It's not about the number of gags (other than I'd do AT LEAST a couple a day). It's about coming up with winning gag ideas. I'll take quality over quantity any day.

THe other thing to consider (IMHO) is the time it takes to execute the art, expecially if you're like me who takes time to do work by hand.

Kevin Spear said...

I'm looking forward to reading it. It confirms one of the theories in writing and creativity that if you push your quantity, the quality will follow.

The challenge is learning to toss the mediocre ideas aside and keep working towards that gem of an idea.

Mike said...

Timing is also part of humor, and showing us this while we're still thinking about the founder of Mad Libs ... well, there's a joke in there somewhere ...

MStevens said...

I wish I had time to read this book, but I'm too busy coming up with ideas all day. In fact, I shouldn't even be taking the time to write this, so, bye for now!

Andy White said...

Thanks for posting that, MIke! Lots of great info, whether we're writing our own gags, or writing gags for others!

A Cartoonist's Daughter said...

My father was Jack Markow and I remember this book very well. It also came with a spin wheel filled with three sections. You'd spin once and get a mood, such as jealousy. Spin again for a place,a library....again and you get an Eskimo....try to make a gag out of that!
I think I have the only dial thingy left. Fun to play with.