Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Why I'm Qualified To Write Single-Panel Gag Cartoons

This entry will be like a job interview. The hirer asks me why I think I'm qualified for the position and I tell him or her.

But first, let me start by saying my career has always been very important to me. I worked for over 20 years in the newspaper business - something I cared and still care deeply about. For years I've asked myself, 'Is this what I should be doing?' as I sold print advertising full time and wrote cartoon gags on the side. I was always questioning - always wanting to do more - always wondering if I had found the thing I should be doing.

Almost two years ago I left my full time advertising job and began writing gags full time. Since then my writing has improved as I now devote so much more time to it. I'm very committed to my work and take this writing gig very seriously. I have to say that I believe I have found what I should be doing.

Here's 10 reasons why I believe I should be writing cartoon gags:

1. I must keep up with what's going on in the world - reading newspapers, listening to news radio, watching the news on TV - you get the picture. This is really important if you want to write topical material.

2. I like being able to make characters say things to each other that I wouldn't or couldn't say to someone in person.

3. I like making fun of arrogant bosses, snooty waiters, demanding diners, nasty know what I mean.

4. I read all the time - and not just newspapers. I also read non-fiction books, magazines, menus, shopping circulars, junk mail, etc. If I'm not reading several books at any given time  I get really nervous.

5. I have to say I'm interested in things - not every thing, but I enjoy going to museums, restaurants, shopping malls, flea markets, weddings and gala fundraisers. I love being with people (but not all people) and listening to what they say to each other.

6. I like to see my work in print (but online is okay, too).

7. I like to think that someone is getting a good laugh from reading my work.

8. I have pen and paper with me wherever I go - and I actually write down funny things that people say to each other.

9. If you saw my desk, you'd say, 'This is the desk of a writer!' There are piles of paper, index cards, calendars, to-do lists, pens, markers, notebooks, a computer, a typewriter, paper, paper and more paper, of course, in neat and not-so-neat piles...definite signs of a writer!

10. Things are getting better for me. I can honestly say I love what I do.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

What I've Been Doing Lately and Where I'm Headed

My husband and I attended the Manhattan Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society's holiday party this past Saturday night at the Society of Illustrators. What a wonderful evening! It was great to catch up with cartooning friends from the city, Long Island, New Jersey, Connecticut and wherever else they were from, meet new people, share lots of laughs and eat some great food. The Society of Illustrators is a wonderful place to have a party. Lots of great artwork line the halls of this welcoming spot. The holiday decorations just added to the whole scene. Our thanks to chapter president, Ed Steckley, and his team for putting on such a terrific evening.

Recently I saw the documentary "Very Semi-Serious" at the School of Visual Arts in the city, which focused on The New Yorker cartoonists and their journeys to get their cartoons accepted into the magazine. I enjoyed this film so much and plan to see it again.

I've been seriously thinking of doing some speaking to groups about cartoon gagwriting. Not being very computer-literate this could be a major project as I need to prepare a presentation where I can show published cartoons that contain my gags. My children are quite computer-literate and I plan to ask them to assist me in doing this - when they have the time. My goal is to start by speaking at area libraries and, once I know what I'm doing, speaking at bigger libraries! If anyone does this I'd like to hear from you. You can send me an email at:

Now that 2016 is just around the corner, it's time to write out lists of goals I have for the new year. I include such things as monetary goals, events I want to attend and specific people I want to meet. What can I say? I'm a writer. One of the things I write is lists. It works for me.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Letting The Humor Out

In order to write funny stuff - whether it be cartoons, comedy skits, screenplays or slogans on buttons and magnets, I think you have to have a skewed way of looking at things. I think you have to recognize the comedy and craziness in everyday life and, then, take the risk of putting it on paper. Sometimes this makes you appear to others as "odd" or "strange." I've watched how people interact with each other, argue, stand their ground, and once said to someone in the middle of a heated exchange, "You have no idea how funny you are." This was met with stares of disbelief and anger, which was funny in itself.

But while you're looking at the world differently and seeing the humor in everyday situations, you have to be able to put this "funny" on paper, or online, or however you want to make a record of it. You have to be willing to let the humor out - you have to be willing to put things down on paper that you would never say in public. You have to take risks. It's what I call "letting the humor out."

Recently I was at an event where I struck up a conversation with another writer, someone who wrote news and features (my background) and seemed interested in how I came up with ideas for cartoons. I told her I try to see the humor in various situations. In the case of human relationships, I have the characters say things to each other that I would  never say to someone in real life. The surprise of people saying these things to each other (speaking the truth when it's hard to do so in real life) is what creates the connection and the humor. You have to be willing to take the risk of putting these thoughts on paper and not just thinking about them.

The funniest thing in the world is the truth.

You have to let the humor out.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Handling Rejection

I won't lie to you. The cartooning business is filled with rejection. If you can't handle constant rejection, you should try another career.

I've written tens of thousands of cartoon gags over the years. These gags have circulated to many, many cartoonists, been rejected again and again, been revised again and again, and hopefully, someday, maybe, will actually sell. Sometimes a gag will sell that has circulated for over ten years. And then there are other gags you send out and they're bought almost immediately. Such is the ironies of the cartooning business. Anyway, rejection is the norm.

I wouldn't be telling the truth if I said that rejection doesn't bother me. I can take repeated rejection of my writing. I really can. However, there are times when the constant rejection does get to me, especially if I think I wrote something BRILLIANT AND IT'S STILL REJECTED! It's like, 'What does this person WANT?' Don't they realize how much I'm much time I've put into much this MEANS TO ME??? It's like the straw that broke the camel's back. I can take 15 rejections all in a row but when the 16th rejection comes...WATCH OUT! I can't deal with this anymore! Then I tell myself that I'm STILL A GOOD PERSON...EVEN IF THEY DON'T LIKE MY GAGS!

Of course, then, after a long bout of constant rejection and the urge to give up, a letter arrives with a check in it. Or an email arrives with news that something just sold! Then everything is right with the world again. My writing is good...THEY DO LIKE ME!

Does any of this kvetching sound familiar? How do you handle it? Tell me about it at

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Question For My Readers

This week I'd like to pose a question to my readers, who are mostly made up of writers and cartoonists. I'd like to ask where you get your cartoon ideas, specifically, what is the most reliable way you get them. Over the six months I've been writing this blog I've shared many of my ideas with you. Now I ask that you share some of your ideas with me and I will then try to compile this information and share it with you.

Send me an email at: and let me know what works for you.

Thank you in advance.