From the trenches

So here’s something to get you thinking. Hilarious or … sad? I’ll answer my own question. It’s hilarious because ALL my cartoons are hilarious (in my MIND). But mostly it is sad because it’s based on a trope that is long dead. Back in the day (last century) cartoonists each week would trek down to NYC with a packet of their work for that week and make the rounds of the different cartoon editors. All the big mags. Start at the top and then work their way down. And when the round were done, go out for drinks with their cartoonist buds.

During each meeting the editor would glance at the samples and either reject, hold, or buy on the spot. And they might buy an entire cartoon or just buy the gag and assign another artist to do the graphic. This all took place back when a cartoonist, working as a cartoonist and NO MORE THAN THAT, could earn enough to pay for food for himself. And a wife. And kids. And pay for a mortgage. And create a college fund. And … (Hold on, I’m tearing up a bit).

Okay, better now. The point is, magazine cartooning used to be a viable way to MAKE A LIVING. Seriously. Are any of you harboring the suspicion that that golden age still exists? I sure hope not …

Today illustrated that point. A cartoonist pal of mine informed me of two nuggets of information. First, that one of my crowtoons was in this week’s Barrons Magazine. That’s a big yay, Barrons is the premier business venue for single panel cartoons these days. But here’s the other shoe he dropped. Mine was the ONLY cartoon in the issue. Was it because mine was so unbelievable that nothing else could withstand the stress of sharing the mag?

No.

It was because they had money for one cartoon. Just one.

This is not “a good thing”. And it isn’t just Barrons. Back in the day (last year) the Harvard Business Review used to publish a handful of cartoons in each issue. And they paid top dollar – they were a first rank venue. This year they switched from a monthly to a bi-monthly format. And do you know how many cartoons have appeared during all of 2017? None. Zip. Nada.

It’s not just that cartoon enclosing mags have gone under (which they have) it’s that the mags which haven’t gone bankrupt have apparently decided that cartoons just aren’t a “must have” item. Don’t believe me? Just grab an issue and check. It’s not pretty.

And that’s the very small pond we’re all trying to swim in, my pretties. A very crowded pond in the hot sun that’s slowly … getting … smaller.

 

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