I just got an email from a young, just-starting-out cartoonist who lives in the UK, and is having a hard time finding markets for his gag cartoons. He asks for advice. I thought I'd respond here.
(Above: a cartoon of mine from the Harvard Business Review. Yes, a cat cartoon in a business mag! A refreshing change of pace from the "people in meetings" cartoons and the "boss at his/her desk" cartoons, right? At least the editor thought so when she okayed this for publication. Oh -- and, yes -- this is one of OUR kitties: Rufus. Rufus is the eldest and at least a couple of times a year, he madly chases his tail. Ha ha ha. I'm digressing ….)
The great thing about cartoons is that EVERYONE loves cartoons. Whether it's cartoons on TV or Mad Magazine or Marvel or gag cartoons or Web comics or movies or games -- people love their cartoons. And every time you see a cartoon, there's a real person, somewhere, who drew the cartoon, designed the character, designed the toy, wrote the story, etc.
You all ready know it's a lot of dedicated work to get to be a pro. That's good! Only the most persistent and dedicated cartoonists make it. The real pros out there have seen a lot of rejection. Rejection is normal.
When Joe Kubert was asked what he looks for in a new student for his Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art (which is in its 38th year in 2014), he replies, "Dedication."
Not someone who is in it for the money, the "the most talented," not the one with all the art credentials, not the one from the city, not the rich one, not the one with the connections.
I draw magazine cartoons. I did not go to school to learn to cartoon. When I was a kid, growing up in the Midwest, there were no schools for cartoonists. I was just dedicated and persistent.
At a Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art exhibit of the very successful comic artist Todd MacFarlane, there was a case full of Todd's rejection slips; hundreds of them!
Every successful person I know (a) worked at their craft and (b) got rejected. There are no secrets. The good stuff floats to the top and gets noticed.
-- This is an edited version of a June 27, 2008 blog entry.