Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Joy of Networking

I'm a firm believer in the power of know...meeting people through various means for the purpose of building your business. Whether it be connecting online or in person, networking can be a very effective way of making contacts which can be beneficial to both parties.

I'm an associate member of the National Cartoonists Society, a professional organization with chapters all over the country. Through this organization I've made hundreds of contacts. They have open meetings which means even if you're not a member you can attend their local get-togethers. I live on Long Island, which has a very large chapter of the NCS. I've attended their luncheons on and off for about 16 years and have met wonderful people. Living close to New York City, I now also attend the monthly get-togethers of the Manhattan chapter. I'm even invited to the summer barbeque of the New Jersey Chapter!

Since most writers and cartoonists work by themselves it's really important to get out and talk to people who do the same type of work you do. If you're a 'people person' like me, it's a necessity. It's a great opportunity to let others know what you do, show your work, get tips on how to improve your work, find out about markets for your work, and maybe even find someone to collaborate with.

Online I have profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook. I'm a member of several groups on both of these sites. Because I know about the power of the written word, I started this blog four months ago to share some of my insights about cartoon gagwriting with others. It's been amazing how many people have written to me through this blog, saying they do the same type of work I do and really appreciate my suggestions. Through this blog I've gotten new work and let people know what I do. Networking at its finest!

I also enjoy talking about what I do. I've spoken to groups about cartoon gagwriting. Many people have come up to me and said they never realized that some cartoonists have writers coming up with ideas for them. Made me feel like a rock star!

I cannot stress enough the power of networking, whether in person, online, on the phone or through the mail (who writes letters anymore?). You have to let people know what you do. You have to show enthusiasm for your work and other's work. You have to be willing to help others, be encouraging, answer questions, congratulate people on their accomplishments and above all, always stay positive.

Any comments or questions, email me at:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Writing Cartoon Captions - 102

As I continue to come up with ideas for single-panel gag cartoons and, specifically, come up with effective captions (going on 19 years now), I continue to see the value of making lists of words and phrases. If I were a painter, it would be like having more paint colors to choose from. The longer the lists, the better the writing. And, it's not just the words that everyone would think of. You have to make lists which include small things, minor things, that maybe no one else would have thought of.

Let's say I want to write gags about food. It's not enough to list beef, chicken, fruit, vegetables and potatoes. You have to get specific: Beef Stroganoff, Chicken A La King, Kung Pao Chicken, papaya, mango, smoothie, organic, fat free, gluten free, sugar free, tofu, fish taco, meatball sliders, quinoa, cucumbers, winter squash, summer squash, spaghetti squash, eggplant, seedless grapes, bok choy, cloves of garlic, iceberg lettuce, Romaine lettuce. The list could go on and on. Think of walking through a farmer's market and the fruits and vegetables you'd see. Write down the odd items - the ones you don't see everywhere. Think of walking around a large supermarket and the various departments: meat, fish, cheeses, the bakery, the bulk foods aisle, the dairy aisle, the frozen food aisle, the prepared food aisle (items to grab and go). All these items can go on your list.

If you're writing about Chinese food, think of the various foods on the menu: the Hot and Sour Soup, the eggrolls, the Lo Mein dishes, the Sweet and Sour Dishes, the Chow Mein dishes, the fortune cookies, the chop sticks, the fried noodles and duck sauce. Kind of makes you hungry, doesn't it?

The thing is, you have to get specific. You have to make lists of things that people identify with, and also the obscure, the things that only someone "in the know" or "on trend" would know about. That's why I try to keep up with the latest trends in food, fashion, digital devices, etc. That's why I read a lot of contemporary magazines and newspapers. I make lists.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Song Titles, Book Titles, Movie Titles, etc.

A great source of gags for single-panel cartoons is song, book, movie, television and Broadway show titles. If you pick a familiar title (current or in the past, although current is better) and change it or do the reverse of it, you can many times come up with an idea for a cartoon.

My local library loans movies and I've been known to go down the rows of movies, with pen and paper in hand, and jot down titles that I think would lend itself to a great gag. Same for what seems to be thousands of books in my house, many from my college days as an English major. These titles, well known because they're classics, can also be used, as can song, television and Broadway show titles. Try doing the reverse of the title and see if it becomes funny. Then visualize how it can be illustrated.

Of course for those who use the Internet for all kinds of information, you can find titles of almost anything online. Just Googling "Top songs of the '60's" will get you all kinds of good stuff. (It will also bring back all kinds of memories, hopefully good ones. You might spend so much time singing to the oldies that you'll forget about the gagwriting).

Good luck with these ideas and let me know if they help you. You can send me an e-mail at: