Thursday, September 05, 2013

Submitting B&W Magazine Gag Cartoons to a Magazine That Publishes Only Color Cartoons

I got a good question from a reader about submitting cartoons to magazines.

"I'm wondering, when you send cartoons to a market that publishes colour cartoons, do you submit full-colour cartoons or do you send black/whites and colour them if one is chosen? It's just that sending colour copies is a bit expensive and, frankly, I don't really know how to colour. However, if I ever make a sale, I'd figure something out."

It reminded me that when I started, I made the decision to only send finished cartoons. Nothing rough. All inked and toned, black and white finishes.

But not color.

Even adding some gray tone takes time. I developed an "assembly line" method, lining up all of my inked cartoons in a row on the kitchen counter (space was hard to come by in Brooklyn, NY), and applying a gray tone to each:

Above from Raconteur #1; my true story "The Petty Indignities That Ruin My Life."  You can read the whole thing at the link.

But ... if you KNOW that the publication ONLY publishes color cartoons, the question is: should you labor over your batch of ten or twenty cartoons, adding color to each and every one?

And since you know that you will only sell a fraction of the batch, you also are aware, as you push the watercolor brush or push the pixels to add the color, that a lot of this time will be wasted. 

One cartoonist that I know and admire INSISTS on coloring all of his cartoons. He told me that they just don't look finished to him unless they are in full color. I am in awe of his work and his energy to do this. 

Do I color all of the cartoons that I submit? No.

Should I color all of the cartoons that I submit? No. And the editors do not expect it.

If I did, I wouldn't have time to brush my teeth, mow the lawn and do this here blog, y'know?

If and when you get a sale, the editor will email you, asking for the kind of file they want. Usually, it's:

"300dpi, CMYK color. By Friday."

Now what is that you said about not really knowing how to color? Yipes!

Well ... that's another blog entry.


RandyGlasbergen said...

Have a color sample professionally printed or use your color printer. Slip a color sample into your submissions now and again to better acquaint the editor with your color work. Include your name, address, e-mail, web and phone on the promo sample.

RoB said...

Hi, Mike,
As always, an interesting read about the comic world. It reminded me that I wanted to ask about a new edition of Raconteur. Is there one in the works?
Here's hoping!

Anonymous said...

You said it...coloring takes a LOT of time and time is...moolah!

Gary Zeller said...

Hi Mike,
I am an "off-again", "on-again" cartoonist. unfortunately more "off-again" then "on-again". I mail all my cartoons as "inked" only.
Back in 2011 I sent the S.E.P. a batch of cartoons. I had not sent any to them for a couple of years and they had never purchased any from me. This was my first batch in a long time to them. As you know, they print all color cartoons. A few days later I received an email from the publisher stating they wanted to purchase one of my cartoons and asked me to "colorize" it (with the specifics)and email it back to them.
Just thought I would chime in on the subject from my experience. I read your blog most every day and thoroughly enjoy it.
Gary Z.

The Spine said...

Well, no bugger buys my cartoons coloured or not but I guess that’s just me…

The question brings to the surface all kind of lurking thoughts I’ve had for a long time because I’ve never been convinced that cartoons are really better in colour. In general, I dislike coloured cartoons. I love the look of black and white lines and I regret that many of my favourite cartoonists here in the UK moved to colour because of the demands of the newspapers. Martin Rowson at ‘The Guardian’ is one example of a brilliant cartoonist whose colour work never appeals to be me as much as his earlier stuff. I’ve just bought his ‘Gulliver’s Travel’ and half of the book is painted, the other half inked with copious crosshatching. I sit weeping at the latter every single night but the other parts just don’t excite me. Again, that could just be me.

I was lucky enough to see the big Ralph Steadman exhibit in London a month or so ago and the difference between his black and white work was just huge. Much as I love all of Steadman’s work, it’s the black and white illustrations I keep going back to.

Sorry, that probably had nothing to do with the blog post and is just my warped view of things.

Gregory Kogan said...

I heard Sam Gross say this multiple times: "There's nothing funny about the color red."

Frankly, coloring has always been an after-thought for me. When an editor asks for a color version of a cartoon, I just get it done in Photoshop and send it over within a day. I've never had an editor ask for edits to the colored version, so I'm assuming it's a low priority for them too.