Monday, August 25, 2008

WOMEN'S WORLD August 25, 2008

Sometimes I hear people ask why more magazines don't print single panel gag cartoons. Here's a profile of one that uses hundreds a year.

Here's the August 25, 2008 issue of the supermarket mag WOMEN'S WORLD, which is on zillions of racks at the checkouts of many, many grocery stores and supermarkets.

Just looking at its masthead by first name (Stephanie, Nuna, Amanda, Maria, Kathleen, Andrea, Deborah, Kristin, Jamie, Nancy, Taryn. etc.) -- dozens and dozens of names, all female, except for its Creative Director -- we see that it's by women for women.

The table of contents boasts these article titles, all ending in an exclamation point. No kidding! Here are a few of them:

  • Corn-on-the-cob cupcakes!
  • The belly fat cure!
  • Lose 7 lbs a week on Oprah's 21-day detox!
  • Dinner under 99 cents!
  • Which new fall handbag is perfect for you?
  • Miracle Girl - Suzanne's baby needed a hear transplant -- thankfully, she had angels on her side!

WW is also a regular cartoon market. They publish weekly. That's 52 issues a year (no taking a week or two). They pay $150.00 per cartoon upon acceptance and there are in this issue 6 cartoons. If we take that on average, then that comes to $46,800 paid out for 312 cartoons per year. This tells me that someone at Bauer Publications (Stephanie? Nuna?) likes cartoons and feels they're worth having in the mag.

The cartoons appear in the front of the magazine (page 3) and the inside back page.

While I'm glad that they have cartoons, I have some concerns about the editorial choices and layout:

  • The cartoons appear on the amateur pages. Readers may assume that the cartoons are by amateurs as well. Ron Morgan, who drew the "dinnertime minutes" cartoon, is a full-time cartoonist whose work has appeared in magazines for over 30 years. (I pulled the informaiton about Ron from his Blogger page; no Web site found, but if anyone knows of one then I'll hapilly post it here.) Aaron Bacall, whose fat dog cartoon is my favorite, is a prolific cartoonist whose work has appeared in books and magazines for years. The third cartoonist, well, who knows who drew that one? It was either unsigned or cut off by the layout person. I would know who it was if there were credits. Which brings me to:

  • No name credits, like "Cartoons by John Smith." The regular people who send in jokes, stories and their baby photos get credit, why not cartoonists?

  • Harley Schwadron is one of the best cartoonists out there. Why oh why did he get a block of text pasted almost in the middle of his cartoon? A little respect, please.

I was surprised at that last choice, because it is a choice to plaster a gag line directly on top of a visual. And it made me angry that WW chose to do that. The editors should not -- and a light -- even this wee dinky Mike Lynch Cartoons blog light -- should be shined on it.

I mean, do we really want the above?

Above classic seal bark cartoon by James Thurber is copyright by Conde Nast I believe. The WW content is copyright 2008 by Bauer Publications. If the cartoonists crossed out the all rights paragraph in their WW contract, then the cartoons are copyright the respective cartoonists.

And now we'll see if I ever sell to WW again after this criticism. Hmm ....


Robert Gidley said...

Pasting the punchline on top of the cartoon also totally wrecks the flow of the gag for a panel strip.

1) Look at drawing. Come to conclusion about what is going on. ("She's at her wedding, must be her Mom giving her some last minute advice.")

2) Look at punchline. It changes perception of drawing.

3) Look back at drawing. Haha!

Where they pasted the punchline didn't let this happen. I'm reading the punchline while I'm deciphering the drawing. I'm doing more work for fewer laughs. Ugh.

Mike Lynch said...

Robert, you put it astutely!

When I first saw what they did to the cartoon while looking at the cartoon in the checkout line at the grocery, I just did one of those audible sighs and put the magazine back on the rack. I'm glad I grabbed a copy this morning and decided to post about this.

It's crummy treatment for a great pro cartoonist.