Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Cartoon Finishes for Wall Street Journal

This is one of these "process" blog entries, wherein I tell you in rather plodding step-by-step detail how a Wall Street Journal cartoon gets sold. Or, in this case, a couple of cartoons. And then, once a cartoonist gets the good news that their creation is sold to a big-time publication, what happens next.

Step 1: the batch is sent to WSJ. A batch is 10-15 cartoons, printed on typing paper, with my contact info. on the back, mailed in a 9x12 envelope. I always send photocopies. I enclose a self addressed stamped envelope. The first year, I sent a cover letter, telling them who I was, my Web site address and contact info. As the months went by, and I was getting published, I would tweak my cover letter, going from:

"My cartoons can be seen in publications such as 'Wankel Rotary Engine Quarterly' and 'The Dumpsville Picayune;'"


"My cartoons can be seen in 'The New York Daily News' and 'Harvard Business Review;'"

-- thus letting the editor know that I was some kinda serious up and coming cartooist, and that I was making progress from regional to national sales. Now, I don't bother.

The editors pulled 5 cartoons. When I say "pull," I mean that they took some cartoons that they were interested in, and mailed the rest back. After 2-6 weeks, they mailed me their buys. Above are a couple of the buys, with the editors' "OK" in the lower right-hand corner.

I have to do redraws. This is step 2. I hate redraws.

They bought 3 cartoons out the batch. (That's a real good ratio of rejects to buys. See "Rejection, Rejection, Rejection" for more on this.) The good news was that I did not have to redraw the "it's the maintenance I hate" cartoon at the top up there, by simple fact of its shape: it's square.

The WSJ prints their cartoons in a square format. So, that's why they asked for redraws for the more rectangular-shaped ones. The cartoon is published about 1.5 inches square, so having a "bold line" is good advice that they give you in their pre-printed acceptance note.

The reason I dislike redraws is that I've all ready drawn them. I mean, it's just not interesting to draw them over again. The helium's outta the balloon, if yaknowhuddImean. Regardless, he who takes the king's money is the king's man. So, the cartoons are redrawn:

Step 3: Print clean copies of the redraws, put them in an envelope, along with the "OKs," and mail them to the editors. If they meet with their approval, a check is forthcoming.

WSJ is a kindred market. I made on of my first ever national sale to them. But it took at least 6 months of sending in a batch every month (you do the math) before they bought one.

End of lesson.


Mark Anderson said...

See, this is the kind of stuff I would've killed for starting out.

As usual, a nice post, and even nicer cartoons!

Kurt said...


Greg said...

You didn't mention anything about a price. Do they just send you a check for the regular amount that they pay for cartoons? Or do you include a price with the batch of cartoons?