Shotgun cartooning was a practice I used when I started circulating my single panel gag cartoons to various magazines back in the 70’s. The discipline itself was something I was oblivious to when I first began showing my cartoons to magazine editors. All I wanted to do was try to see how I could actually get my cartoons published.
After intent study on what magazines were out there that used specific kinds of cartoons, I picked a few to target my submissions to and sent them some of my work. Much to my surprise and chagrin, I actually had sold one. For a whopping thirty five dollars. Yes, I say “whopping” because that fee went quite a ways back in the day….it actually had some purchasing power. Especially for a “newbie” cartoonist with not much to go on except for the divine inspiration that one sale bestowed upon me from an inspirational standpoint.
Shotgun cartooning allowed for quicker sales
There really isn’t a way to describe the feeling one gets, unless you are creatively motivated or artistically inclined when you get that first “sale” and eventually see your work appear in print. It somehow justifies all you endeavor to be and inspires you to continue and move forward. It validates you in a sense. It wasn’t long after that first sale I immersed myself in studying the so-called market at hand and studied what kinds of publishers were really interested in cartoons and graphic humor.
Trade journals love gag cartoons
It didn’t take long to realize there were dozens, hundreds of publications being put out into the “market”. Mind you, this was in the 1970’s, long before any digital impact and print was king. Not only magazines, but even newsletters and then there were tabs (or tabloids) that came out weekly and monthly. So many had special sections devoted to cartoons, or they had editorial pages that featured single panel gag cartoons.
Hundreds of cartoons kept in circulation
With this in mind, it became quite apparent that shotgun cartooning could increase my chances of selling even more cartoons if I was able to create a consistent flow of work and get new cartoons into circulation and keep them constantly circulating to the huge numbers of publishers which were in existence at that time. Even though there are still a lot of publications available, the internet has homogenized the market. Less and less cartoons are being used because budgets have shifted and are focused on getting advertising online, not to mention trying to drive more traffic to specific publisher web sites. I still thank many gag cartoon specialists who I later got to know and who helped guide me with accurate advice, hints, tips and techniques….name like George Crenshaw, Carl Kohler, the one and only George Hartman, Earl Engleman and Jack Corbett . . not to mention Razor, who initially blew my mind after discovering he was keeping almost 1,500 different single panel gag cartoons in circulation which is how I realized his work was being accepted by some many editors at trade journals across the U.S. and Canada.
The cartooning business is still a lot of fun but there was a lot of fun to be had back in the 70’s and into the 80’s and 90’s with such an open “buyer’s market” that was available to those gag cartoonists who were shotgunning 24/7.