Playing In the Minors

Mw-RromToday there are two really interesting blog posts out there: Mike Lynch discusses the uneasy business of gag cartooning, and The Daily Cartoonist reported on an upcoming panel on non-traditional syndication at the New York Comic-Con.

The combination of the two got me thinking about the nature of gag cartooning and our status within the larger world of cartooning.

I think gag cartoonists are seen as minor leaguers. Most comic strip cartoonists start out, at least partially, doing gag cartoons. Then, if you’re good enough, you get called up to the big leagues of newspaper syndication.

If you’re not syndicated, there’s a certain stigma about you. You’re more or less looked down on as obviously a lesser talent. You see it a lot, and it’s painfully obvious at cartoonist get-togethers. (That being said, what’s funny is that the absolute biggest names couldn’t be nicer and, generally, are actually interested in who you are and what you do. It’s weird – almost another tier within cartooning.)

Here’s the thing though, I’m not sure I want to be a big leaguer anymore. I like it here.

After almost a decade of doing it professionally, I’m reasonably confident in my ability to earn a comfortable living. I don’t have an editor per se, so I can pretty much do whatever I want, and I don’t have to rely on or pay anyone else to sell my work. It’s pretty great.

One of the things I like most about gag cartooning is the competition. Syndication is competitive too, but not in the same way.

As I understand it, with syndication you submit to the syndicates, you get your development contract, you launch, you get a year or so of hard selling and then you’re left or sink or swim. Hard, yes, but the main hurdle seems to be getting the contract.

Gag cartooning works like this: you draw up a bunch of cartoons, and send them around to a bunch of different publications. Out of 15 or so that you do in a week, you might sell one. The others come back and are rerouted to other publications. It’s a much more focused competition here. It’s all about who’s funnier right now.

I think if your average comic stripper had to worry about editors choosing every day’s strips based on how funny they were that day, there’s be a lot more Pepto consumed.

Let me clarify, though, that I’m not anti-syndicate or comic strip. Everyone who does it seems to be mostly happy, and it’s worked very well for a long long time. It’s just not my brass ring anymore.

I think it all comes down to respect. My work is well drawn, funny, and published consistently in markets large and small worldwide. Cartooning is isolating enough, it’d be nice if more cartoonists outside gag cartooning took notice.

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About Me 2.0

So I’m putting the finishing touches on the new website, and one of the page that’s desperately needed an update is the About Me page.

This sort of thing is always uncomfortable for me. Do I use a photos of myself? A caricature? Do I show myself at all? Will anyone care? Why am I here? (Oops, too far…)

Anyway, I finally decided on a photo, but as you’ll can see, I used one from a few years ago to make myself seem a bit younger. (Click the image below to see the entire new About Me page.)


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Primatech Update

 Cartoon Blog Primatech

Got an email back from Primatech (read here to see what I’m talking about). I think I can relax:

Thank you for your interest in Primatech Paper and taking the time to complete our employee application.

Unfortunately, after reviewing your submission, we don’t have any openings that match your skill-set at this time. You are always welcome to re-apply at a later date.


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Submit! Submit I Say!

Reubenstatue350-2Yes, it’s that time of year again when we cartoonists dig through our file cabinets to find the funniest cartoons with the fewest creases, send them to the NCS and…  well…  usually nothing happens.

Still, every year a few really talented people win a neat statue!

Think you got what it takes, bubby?!  Huh?!  Well do ya?!

Then get to it!  Here’s the info (thanks to Mikey for the control X/V-able text):

The 2007 National Cartoonists Society Division Awards

Cartoonists are invited to submit their work (or the work of someone else) for consideration for one or more of the following Division Awards.

NCS members, and non-members alike, are eligible.

You will need an NCS Division Awards Entry Form. Contact information is below.


Submit one or more samples in VHS or DVD format of aired or exhibited work that was released in the year 2006.


Submit one or more samples in VHS or DVD format of aired or exhibited work that was released in the year 2006.


6 samples of published work.


12 samples of work published in 2006.


6 samples of work published in 2006.


12 samples of work published in 2006.


12 samples of work published in 2006.


6 samples of work published in 2006.


6 samples of work published in 2006.


12-20 samples of work published in 2006.


4 samples of work published and marketed in 2006.


3 samples of work published in 2006.

DEADLINE: February 23, 2007

Three finalists will be announced at the National Cartoonists Society web site by April 2007.

An award plaque will be presented at a black tie dinner at the 61st Annual Reubens Award Dinner in Orlando, Florida on May 26, 2007.

FOR AN ENTRY FORM and more information contact:

Mike Lynch


Dave Coverly

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