PLaces that still do the Cartoon thing
June 8, 2010 8:02 AM   Subscribe

Places that still pay for cartoonists? I'm a professional cartoonist. I've been in the New Yorker, The Chronicle Review, Narrative, etc. It's okay very side job but as a result I'm sitting on literally hundreds of unsold cartoons. My copy of Writer's market is very bad/out of date at telling me what trade publications still use cartoons and even worse at ones that still pay. Anyone know of publications, online or otherwise, that still run single-panel gag cartoons?

My personal cut-off point for toons in $50 per - but I wiling to go down to $20 if something that wouldn't otherwise sell hits a real specific niche ( Say a joke about bees that finds a hope in Beekeepers Monthly, or something). I'm close to approaching other magazines (locally, The L, and AmNY) to see if they would be interested in running a regular, locally-made cartoon feature (by sending them a letter with already published examples, of course).

The other idea is to clean up a bunch of them over the summer and make a kind of gift-bathroom book of gag toons (bonus cause I can use some already published cartoons), but not sure if that's worth the effort.

Yes I have been rejected by the rejection collection, twice.
posted by The Whelk to Work & Money (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
See if Apelad's business model could work for you. I'm not sure, but I think he (kind of) lives off his cartoons.
posted by Doohickie at 8:22 AM on June 8, 2010

A high school classmate of mine is a regular New Yorker contributor, but I'm sure that's not his only gig. Would you like me to hook you up?
posted by Madamina at 8:27 AM on June 8, 2010

Many, many cartoonists have been able to make a successful living online by publishing their work. You may wish to look into this, because I think your opportunities for dead tree publishing will start to evaporate.
posted by micawber at 9:16 AM on June 8, 2010

The Funny Times, Cleveland, Ohio!
posted by By The Grace of God at 9:53 AM on June 8, 2010

Response by poster: (not to steer the thread buuut)

I've been in the New Yorker a few times, had chats with the cartoon editor, it's been going on for 7 years now and the buy rate is ....low.

As for Online, I do specifically single-panel gag toons that as of yet do not have a model like the 3-panel newspaper-style strips which are currently popular. I have no reoccuring characters for one. And if you take a look at How Much I Money I Make you see the bulk are in T-shirts that have nothing to do with the strip. Most successful comics *seem* to be fronts for t-shirt operations and god how would I even *start*

The Funny Times pays very very little and is my journal of Last Resort.
posted by The Whelk at 10:01 AM on June 8, 2010

You seem to know what "most successful comics" *seem* to be, but you don't seem interested.

You might want to read this link, specifically the second italic quote block. Techdirt: Content Value

This is the future. When selling the content becomes hard, or impossible, you have to provide reasons to buy, and different products that are buyable. I don't think you'll have much luck simply selling comics to traditional media. Lots of Techdirt posts cover this specific ground, and highlight lots of situations where the traditional media market has broken down. You might want to at least familiarize yourself with those concepts, and see if you can apply them somehow.
posted by Phyltre at 10:09 AM on June 8, 2010

Would syndication make sense? Are they similar enough or cover similar topics that you could pitch it as some kind of Live From Inside the Whelk's Head kind of thing...?

Barring that, I have a small publishing company if you're interested in trying the book route.
posted by at 10:18 AM on June 8, 2010

I suggest pursuing the specific interest periodicals. The ABA Journal (for attorneys) still publishes cartoons, and the ABA also publishes other periodicals for special groups like business lawyers.
posted by Sukey Says at 10:18 AM on June 8, 2010

Response by poster: Sukey Says, yes more or less exactly what I am looking for - The Chronicle OF Higher Education has been one of my best clients and I'd like to get into more trade journals., I'll keep that in mind.
posted by The Whelk at 10:24 AM on June 8, 2010

Hustler pays insanely well, but generally require racist, sexist, obscene and/or puerile work. (Like, $100 to $150 per page, as the ed in chief used to be a cartoonist). If you want, I can track down the contact info, but using my name will not win you friends necessarily.
posted by klangklangston at 10:53 AM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Most (probably all) financially successful online comixing is only possible through t-shirts and other merchandise, but recurring characters aren't necessary if you look at someone like Kate Beaton or Joey Comeau or John Campbell, all of whom have their merchandise handled by the ever-expanding Topatoco online store for webcomics, which keeps their overhead lower. If you were interested in exploring an ongoing web presence, information on applying for Topatoco is here.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:19 AM on June 8, 2010

That Parade magazine tha tcomes in the sunday papers still shows single panel cartoons.
posted by WeekendJen at 1:04 PM on June 8, 2010

Response by poster: Parade magazine (and almost all newspapers) use a syndicate to get cartoons.

Syndicates are ...not things you want to join.
posted by The Whelk at 2:39 PM on June 8, 2010

Are you interested in following a single character around for awhile?

Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate have been HUGE recently and they are basically just comics with more long running gags. I think that we really need a similar book for adults or maybe even non-fiction. Something like a history of 2010 via cartoons. I would read it at least!
posted by aetg at 5:03 PM on June 8, 2010

Yeah, you may want to think about ... gah ... commercializing. Dickens wrote what the medium demanded -- serial stories that fit in to X-page folios, one after the other. It isn't awful. Several political cartoonists built themselves a nest egg by conceiving a moneymaker daily strip, and not always executing it themselves. So finding a way to adapt your writing style to the demands of the webcomic market may be something you'll have to wrap your head around.

That said, I can definitely see ways to fit your style into, say, a more geek-friendly format. You could have your UWS chicks talking about iPhones, say. Or draw geeks in the same fashion-y style and give them ironic non-geeky topics. Then you'd be able to pursue a decidedly online and viral-friendly audience. I'm just sayin'.

Also, did I mention Facebook yet? Or an iPhone app for your content? These are going to be increasingly ... necessary. Whether or not you deem them evils.
posted by dhartung at 10:30 PM on June 8, 2010

Response by poster: I'm not adverse to any of these things, it's just they would require the creation of cmpletely new strips and formats and sites and that is not my question.

It's like this, I produce about 10 cartons a week for the New Yorker, of that 10 maybe 3 get put into the maybe pile. A week later they all come back unbought. Repeat for a few years and you've got a stack of unsold, perfectly funny cartons that I want to be making money for me and not just cluttering up my flat-files. Since I've had luck with trade journals before I am asking if there are other journals you've noticed that still run cartoons so I can submit my unsold back catalog- and or- other ways to turn a pile of rejected toons into something.
posted by The Whelk at 7:59 AM on June 9, 2010

While I can't give you a direct line, I've definitely noticed that a lot of my textbooks had cartoons of New Yorker style in them. Even better news is that they put out new editions each year. I've still got some of the textbooks sitting on the shelf (like Language Files 9 and The Struggle For Democracy) that definitely use single-panel strips, even if they are thematic. Maybe head down to Jonmc's bookstore and peruse their textbooks to see if there are any publishers you should approach?
posted by klangklangston at 8:18 AM on June 9, 2010

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