Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How I Got Started

I still receive messages occasionally from people asking for advice about how to get started as a cartoon gag writer. As someone who knew nothing about this type of writing when I started I can tell you a few things I did to learn how to do this.

I started by reading every book I could find about comedy to write a joke...the set up and punchline. Even though you may not think a cartoon caption is a joke necessarily, it really is, and you have to know about joke construction. It's really pretty easy to understand.

I also obtained, either from libraries or bookstores, single-panel cartoon collections and studied them. The New Yorker has published many books of their cartoons over the years. I think I've read all of them. Some I own, some I've borrowed. An outstanding one I own is "The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker," published in 2004, which contains, in two DVD's, every cartoon from 1925 to 2004. I've looked at every one of them. These cartoon collections are my textbooks, showing recurring themes and thousands of captions. By studying them I learned how to write for cartoonists.

At the same time I studied the cartoons in Harvard Business Review, Barron's, Wall Street Journal, Reader's Digest, Better Homes and Gardens and many other publications. I also took out a subscription to Gag Recap, which lists publications that are buying cartoons, a description and caption for every cartoon, the name of the cartoonist, the rate they pay, the procedure for submitting cartoons, addresses, etc.

I still search the library and bookstores for new books about cartoon creation. One book that has been very helpful to me is "The Cartoonist's Muse" by Mischa Richter and Harald Bakken. I believe it's out of print now but still can be found in some libraries and online. I also like to read books about cartoonists and how they come up with their ideas. Very helpful.

I think that if you want to create cartoons you have to be an avid reader. You have to keep up with what's going on in the world. I read newspapers and magazines. I watch TV newscasts several times a day and listen to news radio when I'm in the car. I get news briefs on my computer. I think keeping up with trends and what's going on in the world is an essential part of the job.

These are just a few of the ways I taught myself how to write for cartoonists. I'm still learning how to do this, every day.

Any questions or comments? Write to me at:

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Best I Can Do

This has been a very busy summer for me and I've been negligent about writing this blog, which I apologize for.

So, I'm back doing what I've been doing for so many years: coming up with ideas for cartoonists. Reading newspapers and magazines (and not always completely understanding what I'm reading), jotting down words and phrases, spending time in various libraries (trying to find some peace and quiet and rewarding myself after writing for many hours by checking out DVD's), looking over old, published cartoons in various magazines (especially The New Yorker) and watching newscasts and reading online breaking news briefs, all for the purpose of getting new ideas for cartoons.

Some things work and some things don't. Sometimes just going through the daily newspaper works. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes reading news and feature articles online works. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes going through hundreds of published New Yorker cartoons gives me ideas for new ones. Sometimes it doesn't. And if I'm tired because it's the end of the day and I'm really a morning person, nothing works.

So, I just keep trying. Plugging away. Writing down my ideas. Sending them out. Believing that I have something to say and that someone else will relate to what I'm saying.

I guess that's the best I can do.

Any questions or comments... write to me at:


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Words Are My Tools, Supplies, Paints, Etc.

As an artist works with paper and paint, ink from a pen or lead from a pencil, I work with paper and words. To find words, I'm always reading and jotting down words and phrases from newspaper and magazine stories (both in print and online) and books.  In the 20+ years I've been writing cartoon gags, I've gone through many notebooks. I have paper and pens in almost every room of my house...just in case.

Lately I've been looking for new words and phrases by going through books with lists of idioms and clich├ęs. These lists have been very helpful in creating ideas for cartoons. They're available in most library's non-fiction and reference sections. I take them home whenever possible and keep renewing them if I can. Of course, this same information can, I'm sure, be found online.

Over this Fourth of July weekend, sitting on a chair under an umbrella at the beach, I reread  "The Naked Cartoonist," by Bob Mankoff...a very good book filled with useful ideas for generating single-panel cartoons. So, I got to spend a beautiful, relaxing day at the beach and didn't feel guilty because I came up with several new ideas for cartoons. We'll see if any of them sell!

Have a productive week!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

New Writing Opportunities

As I continue to write for my regular group of cartoonists, I realize I have some time to take on a few new writing projects. I would really like to work with a cartoonist on a collection of cartoons on a particular subject, possibly in book form. (Business, heaven, hell, the Grim Reaper, desert island, prisoners, therapy, relationships, all seem to be my favorite topics).

I'm also interested in working with a few new cartoonists who send their work to The New Yorker, Harvard Business Review, Barron's, Wall Street Journal and Playboy.

If anyone out there would be interested in collaborating with me in any of these areas, please contact me at:

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

New Humor and Cartoon Editor at Esquire

Yesterday I read Michael Maslin's blog, Inkspill, ( and found out that Bob Mankoff, former cartoon editor at The New Yorker, is the new cartoon and humor editor at Esquire.

In a related article in the Washington Post, written by Michael Cavna, Mr. Mankoff speaks about creating a collaboration process with writers and/or other creative humorists working with cartoonists. I look forward to this new market and am anxious to see the type of cartoons they publish.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

My Interview on

Hello, Everyone! Happy Wednesday. I thought some of you might enjoy reading an interview I gave recently to Simon Sandall's website, Once a month Simon interviews someone around the world and asks them about their creative process and which books have inspired them. If you go to this website you'll find out something about my process and how I reached this point in my writing career.

Any comments, contact me at:

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sad News from the Cartooning World

I just got the news that Jack Ziegler, a cartoonist whose work has appeared in The New Yorker since 1974, has died. You can read an interview Michael Maslin conducted with Jack Ziegler in October on Michael's website, and click on "Inkspill."

As for me, I'm always looking for new people to write for and ways to improve the writing I send out to my regular cartoonists. I guess you can say I'm focused. This entails studying the cartoonist's published cartoons to figure out what they really want. Sometimes I can figure it out. Sometimes I can't. In the end, I send out what I think is funny. I'm lucky that I can work at home and it's quiet here (usually) during the day which is good because I work best with no distractions. Then, after spending too much time by myself, I need to get out and see people, which is good because I get ideas based on real life, interacting with the outside world as well as with family. And, recognizing the humor that's right in front of me as I observe the interactions between family members gives me plenty of material.

Truth is the basis of the best humor.

Have a productive week.

Email me at:

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Last night I attended a party at the Society of Illustrators, where the Manhattan Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society celebrated the 88th birthday of its member, Arnold Roth. It was a wonderful gathering of syndicated and non-syndicated cartoonists, writers, friends and family of a very funny, warm and talented person. There was food, cake, beverage and lots of laughter and good times which comes naturally with being with good people. My husband and I even won a very special raffle prize!

After being away from the group for several months, it was an especially happy occasion for me to be back together with creative people in the industry. I work alone, as so many of the people there do, and it was great to trade stories, meet new people and just enjoy being together in a lovely venue with wonderful people. Gatherings like this keep me going.

Any comments, contact me at:

Have a great day!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Still Writing

I've been absent from writing this column for several weeks but, rest assured, I'm still writing! Still reading newspapers and magazines. Still writing down words and phrases to use in my gags. I seem to be more determined than ever to have my ideas appear in a published cartoon. I seem to be more focused lately, getting rid of a bunch of time-consuming stuff that leads nowhere and concentrating on the project at hand. There's humor all around. I truly believe that the best humor is based on the truth. I just have to figure out the best way to get it down on paper and then I have to go with what's funny to me.

Continued success to all my readers!

Now it's back to work!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A New Chapter in My Life - 2017

A Happy & Healthy New Year to All!

Every new year is like a blank slate. It presents all kinds of new possibilities. "Anything is Possible!" is one of the slogans I keep at my desk. Here are a few things I plan to do to make 2017 better than 2016 as far as my writing career is concerned. Hopefully, these items will help you generate your own list.

* I look back over 2016 and see where I had the most success...who I wrote for, how many gags I sold, how much money I made. What worked and what didn't. Because I keep records of every sale to every publication and with every cartoonist, I can easily figure out where I should spend my time and effort for 2017.

* I set monetary goals for 2017. I list the cartoonists I worked with in 2016 and set a specific goal of how much money I plan to make with each of them in the new year. I guess you could call this forecasting. I also set goals like "I will find three new cartoonists to write for in 2017," or "I will regularly read The Wall Street Journal," or "I will start submitting gags to so-and-so cartoonist on a weekly basis" or "I will join such-and-such writing organization."

* I continue my writing routine. For example, I send gags to a certain cartoonist on Mondays, I read the Sunday New York Times on Tuesdays, I write new gags for another cartoonist on Wednesdays, I write my blog on Wednesdays.

* I make to-do lists. In every creative job I've held, both full time in advertising for various publications and full time as a freelance writer, I've always made a to-do list in the afternoon for the next day's work. Believe it or not, I get a great sense of accomplishment when I can cross an item off my to-do list! Because I work on so many things on any given day and I don't want to forget anything, to-do lists keeps me focused. (I understand, it's not for everyone, but it works for me.)

* I'm continuously looking for new markets for my writing. I search the Internet for cartoon writing opportunities, keep in touch with other writers and cartoonists (networking!) and just generally be willing to try new projects. I also do proofreading and editing for a local direct mail firm. Another marketable skill!

* I try to keep focused on what I want to accomplish with my writing. For me, I enjoy making people laugh and hope that the cartoons that contain my gags will bring a laugh to someone. I also keep copies of published cartoons with my gags and keep them in a portfolio. Periodically it's helpful to look over these cartoons. It lets me know I can do this. It's also something I'd like to leave for my children.

Any comments? Send me an email at: