Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Summer Slowdown

It seems like the whole world is on vacation in July and August and no one is buying. June wasn't so great either. That's fine. I actually took a week off in June myself. My favorite season is summer and I try to get to the beach as often as possible. But, it's been a really slow summer for me sales-wise. I know that cartoonists and editors are on vacation and can't be reached. This is the case in many professions. The world of work seems to take a vacation in the summer and come back to life in the fall...hopefully!

When things are slow - "holds" but no sales, no "holds" and no sales - it's very easy to get discouraged. I check my mailbox constantly beginning around 2pm even through my street is now at the end of the route and I get my mail around 5pm. Great expectations and great letdowns. I also check my email constantly for news of "holds" and sales. Again, great expectations and many days, great letdowns.

All is not terrible, however. I really love what I do and find great pride in seeing my ideas and captions in published cartoons. I get excited when I talk to others about what I do even though many  don't really understand what I do. Sometimes I don't either. Actually, I've received a lot of support and congratulations from members of my family and friends who do understand. It keeps me going. So does talking to other writers and cartoonists. Even though I write alone I need to get together with other creative people who can help and inspire me. For me, this is very important.

I've learned a few things about how I can be more productive. I know that I'm much more alert in the morning and therefore need to do my actual writing then. Many times by 4:30 or 5pm I'm ready to call it a day. I also need to prioritize what's the most important thing to accomplish that day and do that task first. I also know that I need a quiet place to write. When I'm sitting in the library trying to read a newspaper and come up with new ideas and someone sits down next to me who's talking on their phone I'm just kidding myself to think I can accomplish anything there. Best just to move to a better location.

Well, it's time to get back to work. It's early morning and I have writing to do.

Any comments? Write to me at: Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

I Could Write A Book

There's a lot of rejection in this business of gag writing. If you can't take rejection, this may not be the career for you. I've been doing this for many years and I still get frustrated and discouraged when nothing seems to sell. Cartoonists take very few of my gags. Cartoonists hold my gags but very few sell. I seem to be recycling gags from one cartoonist to another. Then I write lots of new ones - topical ones - business gags - gags about what's trending - and these seem to fall flat as well.

I know I can do this because I've got three portfolios of published cartoons whose ideas and captions are mine.

I'm still trying to fine-tune what I do. Over the years I've written for many cartoonists - some I still write for almost 20 years later - many I no longer write for. From the cartoonists who I currently write for I'm constantly re-evaluating how I can write better - how I can zero in on what they want - and, also - when it's time to take a break and focus on what I'm good at and can easily do.

I've written other things as well. I told you I have a background in news and feature writing, advertising copywriting, editing and proofreading. I believe my background in advertising definitely helps with my cartoon gag writing.  I actually read ads - and the copy provides ideas and phrases that I use in my gag writing.

Many times I've said to myself and members of my family, "I could write a book." Well, in a way I already have. I have three large portfolios of published cartoons whose ideas/gags are mine. These are the books I've written. It's all my writing. It's my outlook on life. And when I get discouraged I need to go through these books and tell myself that I wrote all this and I will get published again.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Interview in "Ink Spill"

In last week's entry I told you about attending a cartooning event at the Museum of the City of New York on June 29th which featured a panel discussion by four female New Yorker cartoonists. It was a great evening as I was able to meet  some of the cartoonists I had never met - each with their own styles and personalities. I was also able to meet Michael Maslin, also a New Yorker cartoonist who has a blog on his website which focuses on news and events of the magazine and its cartoonists. I read this blog every day and it's very informative and interesting. I introduced myself to Michael at this event and he asked if he could interview me for his blog. A week later he did and the final product can be found by going to and clicking on the icon on the upper left hand side: his "Ink Spill" blog. The entry is dated July 7th.

The interview goes into depth about where I get my ideas, how I work, the process by which I send gag ideas to syndicated and non-syndicated cartoonists and a few of my opinions about the role of the cartoon gag writer. Included is a gag slip which shows how I would send a gag to a cartoonist via regular mail and the resulting cartoon in The New Yorker. When I admitted in the interview that I don't draw, Michael asked me to draw a tree for the article, which I did. It appears in the interview.

I guess if you're interested in finding out how I work, reading this article could be very informative. I've already received many positive comments about the interview. I thank Michael Maslin for the opportunity to do this.

If you have any comments about this article or a previous entry on my blog, send me an email to:


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Two Outstanding Cartoon Events

Not that I spend all my time attending social gatherings, but I see it as a very important part of being a gag writer. I recently attended two wonderful cartooning events six days apart that I'd like to tell you about.

The first, the "Bunny Bash," was held on June 23rd at the home of Bunny Hoest of "The Lockhorns" fame, on Long Island. It's an event for the Berndt Toast Gang, the Long Island Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society. However, cartoonists from the local group and across the country plus many other invited guests gather at Bunny's home each June for a wonderful day of friendship, great views of Long Island Sound and terrific food. I've been a member of this group for about 17 years and it's great to speak to others who do the same type of work I do. There's also plenty of  opportunity to make new connections.

At this year's Bash, Bill Morrison, NCS President, presented Bob Lubbers with the "Gold Key" NCS Hall of Fame Award. George Booth, celebrating his 90th birthday, was presented with a huge cake. To compile a list of cartoonists who were in attendance would be exhausting, but a few more were: Mort Drucker, Mort Gerberg, Sam Gross, Sy Barry, Sandy Kossin, John Reiner, Hilary Price and Adrian Sinnott. A great afternoon in a great location!

I also attended a panel discussion on Funny Ladies of the New Yorker at the Museum of the City of New York on June 29th. Four female New Yorker cartoonists, Marisa Acocella Marchetto, Barbara Smaller, Liana Finck and Liza Donnelly, discussed their cartoons and where they get their ideas. Some other cartoonists in attendance were: Michael Maslin, Roz Chast, George Booth, Bob Eckstein and Isabella Bannerman. I really enjoyed hearing about where the panelists get their ideas and meeting new people. I walked away inspired and ready to get back to work.

I also realized that I'd like to be part of a panel discussion - where I'd be able to tell my story, and how I come up with ideas.