I remember having lunch with a new cartoonist who had sold a couple to The New Yorker, but was accumulating a pile of rejected NYer cartoons. He kept them in a pile in his closet. "Those cartoons shouldn't be sitting around," I lectured. "They could be out there, making money!"
I should have said, Do what I say, not what I do. At least, not what I did to a couple of card playing fish.
There are certain markets where I sell a cartoon and never know when it will be run. I recently sold this fish cartoon to Woman's World, and maybe it's in this week's issue or maybe it'll be in next year's. Consider this a heads up. Or a fish heads up. Haw haw.
This one was whipped up in June 2004, and was submitted to 13 markets, finally selling at Woman's World.
Looking at the Cartoon Log of submission dates, here's its history for the first 2 years:
6/15/04 - REJECTED
7/27/04 - REJECTED
8/12/04 - REJECTED
9/29/04 - REJECTED
11/16/04 - REJECTED
12/25/04 - REJECTED
2/5/05 - REJECTED
2/14/05 - REJECTED
6/16/05 - REJECTED
7/7/05 - REJECTED
And, every time it was sent out in a batch of cartoons, it was turned down, like a bed spread, at every market. Sure, maybe another cartoon in that same batch would sell, but those fish were passed over. And over.
I let it languish for a while because, in my mind, it was dreadful. I mean, after a cartoon has been rejected 10 times for over a year, you gotta figure it stinks. Like day old fish. Haw haw.
So it sat around, not doing anything; not trying to make money! Just being part of the apartment clutter, while I forged on, drawing newer, better cartoons.
And then, one day, by chance, I was trying to find an original of mine. I think someone wanted to buy it. Thumbing thru my stacks of originals, I saw the fish cartoon again, and thought, well, it's not SO bad. And I liked the fish, with their big eyes and tiny fins and eensy little playing cards. Aww. They deserve to be published. I'll keep sending the thing out. And so, I added it to a couple more batches that were sent out this year:
4/21/06 - REJECTED
7/19/06 - REJECTED
OK, so those 2 markets rejected it ... AGAIN. Poor fish!
I sent it out again on 10/10/06 to WW, which proved to be the lucky 13th try.
So, another lesson in persistence for me that I share with the blog-reading world.
P.S. Of course, this cartoon makes no sense if you don't know the card game "fish," where a player tells another to "go fish." It's a bad pun -- but not so bad that it didn't finally find an editor who thought it was good enough to give an "OK" on.
P.P.S. I don't know if the New Yorker cartoonist ever sent any of his good work out to other magazines, but I did find out that he was, like me, rejected from THE NEW YORKER REJECTION BOOK.