Cartoonist answers questions regarding gag cartoons and cartooning
Gag Cartooning Questions
Gag cartooning questions come up when somebody wants to know about drawing cartoons and what I do. I thought I’d make a quick post about this and write it in the form of a question followed by a basic answer. These are the most common questions over as many years. Hope this helps to understand, since it’s pretty darn basic and I try not to take what I do too seriously. Although some aspects I need to treat like they’re a priority in the cartooning business! Here are what I get asked most of the time – – –
What comic strip do you draw?
I’m not syndicated by any syndicates. I do single panel gag cartoons and those have been published in newspapers in the past when I operated my own syndication operation.
How many magazines use your cartoons?
I used to have dozens of magazines considering and publishing my cartoons. Over the years I have stayed with a group of reliable editors and publishers who either still use my panels regularly or who assign a new cartoon each month or based on their publishing schedule.
Did you go to art school?
I didn’t have any formal art training or take any course in art. I just liked to draw and had an inherent interest in creating funny drawings. When I realized doing gag panels offered the potential to see my work in print, I tried it and sold cartoons from the first submission.
When I realized intensifying my efforts to more magazines and expanding offers to new publishers could result in earning a living from cartooning, I didn’t look back and focused as much of my time in creating cartoons for magazines.
How many cartoons do you offer editors to consider?
Since I now offer them via this web site, I can say that I offer thousands of different cartoons for a potential editor & publisher to sort through. If I make a submission using the U.S.P.S., I normally submit ten to 15 drawings (photocopies of course) per mailing….depending on the recipient, I’ll indicate they can use an enclosed self addressed stamped envelope and sometimes I don’t even include a SASE.
How long have you been a cartoonist?
I sold my first cartoon in 1976 but was sending them out from time to time just for fun, before that date. I always liked drawing cartoons for as long as I can remember back to the time I could pick up crayons or pencils
How long does it take to create a cartoon?
Every creative effort is different. I began creating gag panels and in a single day I remember knocking out 35 panels over one day. I was experimenting too…using certain pen tips and dip pens. At the very minimum, I can do one cartoon in 5 to 10 minutes if just a black & white line art drawing.
At the longest, it can take me over an hour to do one…penciling, then inking it in, then cleaning it up with eraser and whiting out any unnecessary ink lines or spots, then scanning it in, then colorizing it in Photoshop and finally formatting that piece of artwork and saving it to a special folder on the system.
Would you recommend cartooning as a profession to anyone interested in it?
By all means, anyone who likes to draw and has a strong belief they can do this and learn along the way are those I feel who can succeed at getting into the cartooning business. Not only cartooning, but animation, graphic design and all of the related ancillary professions associated with cartoons and cartooning. I say go for it. The other positive aspect is you can control your time by being your own boss when you are a fulltime cartoonist and doing something you enjoy. The stress level is almost non existent, at least for me, since I don’t allow deadlines to dictate what I’m doing.
Can you recommend resources where someone can go to learn cartooning?
I won’t, because it wouldn’t be fair. I say this because back in the early to mid-70’s there wasn’t this internet. I learned what I did, based on investing a great deal of time and effort into reading cartooning books, anthologies of cartoon collections and comic strips. Then getting busy with pen & paper and sketching anything and everything imaginable. My aunt Marion sent me a complimentary subscription to National Geographic for Christmas or a birthday….I can’t recall. When I started getting this magazine, it was like the world unfolded at my feet.
Seeing all of the cool people and places and wonderful creatures that existed in the Amazon and the African Serengeti and so many other places. It impressed me enough to study and draw even more unusual things and places…mind you, all with no educational background in art, just the inherent desire to draw.
Which is why I’ve always said having that inherent desire may be key in anyone’s longevity doing this. Some are very good at drawing, strive to get syndicated…and actually do it and then for some reasons, the strip goes flat and the syndicate discontinues the feature and the artist then drops out of the business. It’s happened many times. However, that inherent factor needs to trump all else, or you go into another profession. Now people have the web at their fingertips…and I always tell people to go online and search, browse lurk and do whatever they need to do to learn the business. Hundreds upon thousands of cartooning website platforms make learning cartooning very easy and enjoyable….not to mention all of the forums devoted to it.
So I always advise using the web to expand your horizons. I can’t imagine anyone going anywhere else. Kids and youngsters wanting to be cartoonists (or even old timers!) can use the web to their advantage…I sure wish it was around back in the 70’s, I would have advanced exponentially but that means nothing to me in the overall grand scheme of things. I have a lot of fun doing this stuff.
Do you get writer’s block?
I’ve had spells….but more what I call ‘Cartooning Block‘…not a lack of desire for cartooning, but more of an internal feeling of laziness. A form of burn-out I think. It’s something I’ve discovered to be psychosomatic. You learn to not let your profession overcome you, in a sense. The cartooning always comes back to me full bore though…the block is always a temporary thing.
Is having a web site a necessity?
I think it is. But base it on what you are wanting to do in cartooning. If you plan on offering your abilities as an animator or wanting to do white-boarding, have a reel and put other samples on the site.
If you want to offer your services as a greeting card illustrator, show previously published samples in a portfolio you could assemble on your site and possibly an in-depth illustration portfolio if you want to expand your services outward. Overall, keep building and adding onto your site while at the same time have glossy color samples printed up and also mail those to potential clients. Everything you do in this business can work in conjunction with one another.
In closing, focus on your intended target(s), nurture any new clients along the way, don’t discount what may seem to be a “trivial” inquiry, answer every phone call or email and while all this is happening, keep promoting.