Thursday, April 09, 2009

Gag Cartoon Business: How Long Do You Wait?

I was sitting at a table having lunch with some cartoonists. Valerie Costantino was there, and we were, as usual, having an intense conversation about gag cartooning. Valerie was always intense about cartooning, and it showed in her quick, confident cartoon style. She was selling gag cartoons to all of the top markets.

"What do you do when you don't hear back?" was the question.

What should a cartoonist do if a month has gone by, and there's still response to the cartoon submission? No rejection note, no email, no phone call, nothing.

Do you wait, do you call, send a polite email? What?

I told her I wait 30 days, and if I don't hear anything, I assume that there is no sale.

There was some debate about this.

My feeling then is the same now: if you are sending cartoons to magazines, then you need to be a shark: constantly moving. If my batch of 10 cartoons does not sell at, for instance, the Wall Street Journal, after 30 days, then it's time to mail that batch to another business market.

I miss Valerie, and those conversations with her about markets and how we conduct our business. Cartooning is the only profession I know where you're pals with your competitors!

Valerie passed away five years ago. She had been battling cancer for years. I think of her when I get asked questions about markets. Valerie was one of the many great cartoonists in the Berndt Toast Gang.

We used to go up to the New Yorker offices together. Five years ago, her new comic strip was ready to launch with the Washington Post Syndicate, and she had cartoons in Reader's Digest and Harvard Business Review. I think it was just a matter of time before she got into The New Yorker.

My point, as I reminisce, is that we do not know how much time we're going to get. If you're going to cartoon, get on with it.


swanie said...

nice post, mike ... i think you're right ... no response = no sale.

i'd be curious how you keep track of what you've sent where and when ... dang, i ain't that organized ... i just send it all at once to everyone (i'm probably bankrupting myself with postage) ... i always fear "what if two magazines want the same cartoon at the same time?" ... well, it hasn't happened yet, so i'm not going to worry about it until it does.

Unknown said...

.....I remember cute little Valerie, growing up on Randolph Street in So. Weymouth, Mass. She was my son's age & they played together before we moved.

She impressed me then (at 4 & 5 yr. age !!) with her advanced 'action' drawings, cartoons. Was amazed with her creative ability at that age compared to other children's static, simple, drawing efforts. Now am happy to know she continued to follow an art career-- thanks to your blog re her.

Sad to hear of her demise in '04. ....Wonder if it had anything to do with DDT spraying over our homes & backyard marsh in those days.

She'll always be fondly remembered by me.