Monday, April 14, 2008

Mike Lynch Cartoon in April 2008 PROSPECT

Above: on the left, Prospect's GIF, on the right, my JPEG.

I have a cartoon in this month's issue of Prospect magazine. Prospect is a monthly magazine of opinion and literature, based in London. I like Prospect. Always some thoughtful writing in there. Plus, they publish cartoons and isn't that nice? Well, it's more than nice. It's an added expense for them, as well as an extra editorial exercise, what with sifting through the submissions for the Prospect editors. But isn't it nice that a magazine is making the time to have some cartoons in it? I wish more did.

Above is my drawing for the mag. The gag -- this time -- came easy. I was just asking myself if spring would ever come. What if it did and it was all some illusion.

Above: Prospect's GIF, at their site, which shows a small slide show of that issue's current cartoons. This is the first month that they've done this (my thanks to Pletch for letting me know about the site), and, for some reason, the colors are all wonky.

But let me talk about magazine cartoons. "People love cartoons," I am told. So why aren't more mags buying?

I've posted about this on Mark Anderson's chat board Andertalk:

Most editors are now doing page layout. They pull a graphic (from Getty or some other online photo source) and then their graphic for their article done. They can then go to lunch, or go home, or run to the pub.

Let's say an editor chooses to contact a pro for an original illustration or a cartoon. . It's a lot more work on their part. It involves the call, an explanation, reviewing roughs, deciding on a final version, approving the finish, OKing an invoice, etc. All standard editor business -- except now, with photo resources right there on the Web, they don't have to.

"Why are cartoonist organizations letting gag market after gag market die?"

It's not their decision to make.

If readers and advertisers wanted cartoons, then the editors might take notice.

But cartoons, as well as illustration, require a lot more editorial steps than simply pulling an image from a stock house. A stock house, full of cheap pre-made, searchable images, is easy and there's time for lunch.

Most mags are aware of cartoons, but they don't want to spend the time and money. It's easier to run a house ad.


Bear said...

Nice toon, Mike. As far as the wonky colors go, that's just someone's slapdash conversion to GIF that could have been avoided with a little effort. However, focusing on the positive, I'm glad they're using real cartoons AND posting them on their site.

Mark Anderson said...

First off, LOVE the cartoon! And I love how you color too. Someday I'm gonna break out of my normal coloring habits and get all Lynchy!

As far as editors and cartoons go, I totally agree. Grab a quick pic go.

The answer? Take a page from the other team's playbook. Make it stupid simple to grab a cartoon. (I hear those internet tubes are the way to go.)

Thirdly, sorry I haven't been aver at Andertalk lately. Gotta go get caught up over there...

Robert Gidley said...


Yeah, the wonky colors are a direct result of converting from JPG to GIF. The standard GIF format only supports 256 colors, while JPG can handle 16.7 million colors. If you're not very careful about the conversion, you can get exactly the kind of posterization you're seeing there.

Sometimes even if you are careful, you can screw it up. Such a shame in this case, as the original colors are perfect for the idea.

Daryll Collins said...

I agree. The original color is dynamite.

I've been stunned and amazed at times at what happens to my art after it leaves my hands.

A. Taylor said...

That's one seriously stinky looking gif!
Nice 'toon, Mike.
I agree with Mark, the answer to getting more cartoons sold across the board is to create an online resource like Getty for gag cartoons. Not illustrations plus cartoons, not photos plus cartoons, not drivers to Gymboree plus cartoons - just cartoons. Find that under served editorial market niche and over serve the hell out of it. Password protect it and cater to editors, make it easy and relatively inexpensive for them to buy cartoons and let them know about the service.
Of course, you'd need a coalition of cartoonists to submit on a regular basis - but wouldn't it be great to redefine the submission process that hasn't changed... since it's inception more than a hundred years ago? Wow.
Maybe the society could be drafted to be part of something like this.
But then, I'm just an outsider looking in, I could be wrong...

Mike Lynch said...

Thanks for the comments. Unfortunately, there are no cartoons posted online for the May 2008 issue of Prospect -- and they have pulled the GIF animation of the April cartoons. I don't know what happened. This is disappointing and, I hope, a temporary setback!