Monday, July 23, 2007

More Gag Cartooning Questions

I got a couple of emails recently with some good questions. Here are some of them.

What's a cartoon batch?

I mail in a "batch" of 10-15 cartoons, with my contact information on each cartoon. I send finished copies. No penciled roughs. No originals. It's sent to the art director. I include a SASE (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope).

How does an editor contact you if he/she wants a buy?

Depends. Some of them send you a note in your SASE. Sometimes they'll email.

How do you find gag cartoon markets?

This was my big question when I started out. I went to the library and my local big chain bookstore to look at magazines. I found that there were a number of business and women's magazines that used gag cartoons. I wrote down the art director's name and address, and made notes on the kind of cartoons I saw.

I also found out about a small press Xeroxed publication that listed all of the cartoons that appeared in all of the magazines every month, with a description of the cartoon and cartoonist. It was expensive, but I subscribed. After the third issue, I saw that the magazine actually listed fewer markets than I had seen -- and some of the information was wrong, outdated or missing. I was so disgusted with the quality of the thing that I'm not mentioning the name here. It was, for me, particularly useless and waste of my money.

After a while, I had a lot cartoons that had done the rounds. So, I would send batches to publications that did not have cartoons.

I've always wondered, of all those Conde Nast magazines -- why does only one magazine, The New Yorker, have cartoons? Maybe all an editor needs is to actually receive some cartoons and they might think about running them!

Most of the time, I struck out. But I found that it was a numbers game, I could -- and did -- sell cartoons to magazines that did not have cartoons. I even got a regular gig at one magazine for over 2 years as their regular monthly cartoonist. It ended when the editorship changed.

I would avoid being lazy about looking for markets. So much of the information I see on the Web is outdated and wrong. Go see what's selling now.

If I'm mailing in my cartoons, how do I know the editor's looking at my work?

You don't.

Hey, you depend on the kindness of strangers.

I remember one guy told me that he would send in a batch of 10 cartoons to the New Yorker with his SASE. He took note of the order of the cartoons that he mailed, and always looked to see if they were in the same (assumption: not looked at) or mixed order (assumption: looked at) upon their return. Another cartoonist would fold one of the cartoons in the middle of the outgoing batch to see if it came back opened-up when it was returned.

Me? I just figure that the editor is there to do his/her job. So, I assume that my cartoons are looked at and given professional consideration. I'm not going to lose sleep over thinking that there are people out there who aren't doing their jobs.

How do you decide where to send your cartoons?

I send them according to whether or not the cartoon is appropriate for the market. I also pay close attention to payment. Most magazine have a set payment for their cartoons. And if I have a batch of business cartoons, it goes to the magazine that pays the most first.

After sending in cartoons for a while, do you sell more based on your now-friendly rapport with the editor?

Ha ha ha!


Oh, I wish that I could say that all you have to do is be friends and the cartoon editor will buy more just because, you know, now we're pals and so forth and so on -- but that hasn't been the case. Not for me. I'm friends with a number of editors and go thru times when I sell regularly, and then there are months where there are no buys at all.

Besides, I'd rather that an editor buys a cartoon because it's FUNNY -- not because of WHO I am. The readers don't care -- they want FUNNY.

I've seen the piles of cartoons that The New Yorker has. This week, when I drop off my batch for their consideration, I'll be putting my cartoons on a pile along with (to name just two) Barbara Smaller and Pat Byrnes. Each has been published frequently in the NYer, and each submit every week. The majority of their work is rejected.

More gag cartoon Q&A here.

My pal Mark Anderson has an excellent business savvy guide from his Andertoons blog titled
The Gag Cartoonist's Business Plan.


Anonymous said...

Mike: I have the opposite problem than that of many of your readers. I want to start a publication which will use gag cartoons. How can I get the word out to the gag cartoonists? I'd prefer to Email. Thanks.

Mike Lynch said...

Anonymous, hire a cartoon editor. I'm serious.

The cartoon editor will put the word out to 10-12 cartoonists whose styles and ideas you will like. You'll receive a bunch of quality submissions, and your first 3-4 issues should be set. A few weeks after publication, many cartoonists will find you.

The good thing will be that you will have the kind of cartoons you want in your mag for at least the first quarter that you're on the stands. This will showcase the direction you want to go.

And pay the cartoonists in advance, and only want first time rights.

This has been Mike's 2 cents.