Thursday, May 21, 2009

Gag Cartoons: Rejection and Validation

Thanks as ever for all of the orders for my new cartoon books. You can get all three of them for $10 postpaid in the US. I have been getting a stream of orders ever since I posted my BUY MY BOOKS entry.

Above: "12 Things I Was Told in 2008 That I Don't Wanna Hear in 2009," which is in the Mike Lynch Sketchbook now avaialble to order.

Quitting my day job -- which was years ago now -- required a leap of faith. I didn't know a soul in the pro cartoonists "industry" when I started out.

My routine -- then and now -- I'd draw up 20-30 cartoons a week in my apartment, throw half of them away and then mail out the good stuff to the art director listed in the masthead of the magazine or newspaper I had targeted. Every week I would do the same. It was not always that "creative," it was not "fun," but it was something that I thought I had a knack for.

And it was hard work. It took many months before I got my first sale; first one was to The National Review, then Wall Street Journal, then more ....

A couple of years later, I was making regular, weekly visits to The New Yorker offices.

"Did you ever think you'd get to your hundredth cartoon?" asked Bob Mankoff, leaning back in his chair. I was in his office, on one of those "look days," when invited cartoonists are allowed past the Conde Nast security phalanx, and get to sit down with The New Yorker's Cartoon Editor. Bob was holding one of my cartoons, staring at a small, penciled 4-digit number in the corner. I think I had drawn under a thousand cartoons at that point. Anyway, that penciled number was probably in the 500-700 range.

"Well, I knew I had ideas for maybe a dozen cartoons the first week I started drawing single panel gag cartoons, but that second week ... well, that was harder. And it's not gotten easier."

My visit with him ended like so many other visits to the New Yorker; with him holding some of my cartoons and saying, "Come back next week."

And so I do. But so far, no sales at The New Yorker.

But my work sells to other markets, and so that's good.

I've always thought that my stuff sells because it's funny. I think that because there is no other reason to buy, right? That's what the editors want. Why would an editor buy without an eye to content?

Then again, I just got 15 cartoons rejected today -- 15 real good, rejected, homeless, non-money-making cartoons. Heck, one of them should have sold. At least one!!!

"How do you know for sure," asked a student cartoonist,"that they're even looking at your submissions?"

Well, you don't know. You just have to depend on the kindness of strangers, and have faith that your good work -- like the fizz of a Guinness -- will float to the top. It's that same faith that all will work out okay in the end.

(Photo top: Our Sam the cat poses next to a couple of submissions packages to be mailed this day.)

Above: one of the three Mike Lynch Cartoon books available to order.

This is an edited version of a blog entry from February 2, 2007.


Mark Anderson said...

This is always good stuff to get out there. I'd have killed for info like this starting out...

Marek Bennett said...

You are a testament to endurance and thick-skinned optimism in this grisly business! I think it'd be really interesting to hear you moderate a panel of, say, syndicate cartoonists and indie comics creators comparing notes from those two (seemingly) very different corners of the comics industry.

Barry Corbett said...

Jeez, I just got your books. I placed the order yesterday! What did you do...use the transporter? Great stuff, though.

Rod McKie said...

I knew you would be thoroughly professional. I'm ashamed to admit I have just randomly made up the reference numbers, on occassion.