Friday, August 28, 2015

A Gag Cartoon Batch Question and Answer Forum

(Above: some cartoons from this week's cartoon batch, drawn in ink with wash. I drew them with a Micron Pigma pen on good quality typing paper. )

I thought that I would talk about a magazine cartoon batch: what it is and where it goes. Essentially: how a gag cartoon goes from the drawing board to being inside a magazine for everyone to see.

A cartoon batch is usually about ten or 12 cartoons. This batch is shown to an editor. For a lot of editors, I email my submission. If not, I mail copies of the cartoons.

I just got this question this week:

"How do you get your gags, do you use a formula, just start drawing funny pictures or do you ever get any from God?"

My stock answer is that I sit and write. I try to think of popular phrases or new buzzwords and see if I can make those into a funny picture. Sometimes I just think of something in the news that makes me mad and see if I can turn that anger into something funny. Yes, sometimes I will just draw something because I feel like drawing something. But these methods are not formulas. To come up with an original, funny idea still takes me time. Do I get any ideas from God? If you mean, do I ever have a cartoon idea that falls into my lap? Sometimes. Most cartoonists I know are thinking about cartoons all their waking hours and so, in the back of their head, they are always on the lookout for something funny. Sometimes, because your brain is always addled in joke-writing, something can happen and you may have an "Eureka!" moment where it all comes together like magic. But that only happens to me once every 400 or 500 cartoons. So I cannot depend on it.

So ... let's say you are a cartoonist and you have had a productive week: a cartoon batch of yours is done.

Now is the time to send them out in the world.

"How do you decide where to send your cartoons?" was a question I got at a panel discussion in 2005 on making cartoons for a living.

I send them to the place where they pay the most money, and then they go to the place where they will make the second-most money and so on, down the money food chain so to speak.

"Will you send them to The New Yorker?"

Maybe, eventually. The New Yorker is not the highest paying national market for freelancers.

"Why can't we see the captions in that above photo, Mike?"

I sell first rights to my cartoons, so, in other words, these fresh cartoons are only for the eyes of the editors for now. If they want them, then they get cartoons that people have never seen before. So, I have to "Wite-Out" some of the gag lines for now.

"How many did you sell?"

Early days yet. Maybe we should come back to this in a while and see how this particular batch fared. Some of them are already on hold -- but that means nothing.

To be continued!

No comments: