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MAD Magazine rejection letter to Tom Richmond

MAD magazine cartoonist Tom Richmond has posted a rejection letter he received from MAD Magazine back in the early 1990s. There’s something to be learned in how to reject somebody from that letter.

Community Comments

#1 Clay Jones
July/29/2010
@ 11:12 am

I got that same letter in the late 80’s. I loved it. But it lost it’s novelty after further rejections.
I had a shoe box full of rejection letters. While rejection was the norm, it was better than not getting any reply.

#2 Tom Richmond
July/29/2010
@ 12:50 pm

Actually that’s not the letter I got, it’s one that was posted recently on the internet that I reposted on my blog.

I did get a MAD rejection letter back in 1991 or so, but it was in the form of a checklist that had different reasons for the rejection, and it had the same sort of irreverent humor. Sorry now I didn?t save that? can’t even remember what the box was that was checked. Might have been the one that said “You suck!”

#3 Stephen Beals
July/29/2010
@ 2:09 pm

That’s the best rejection letter I’ve seen. How can you not love MAD?

I’ve been going over old rejection letters (kind of like the way somebody looks through an old photo album). I was thinking that these letters are probably a piece of the past that you won’t see anymore. A scribbled note from a syndicate or magazine is so much more cool than an email.

Not that an email can’t be cool.

Or maybe I’m the only one who can find something fun about rejection.

#4 Jerry Z.
July/29/2010
@ 3:09 pm

I once got a rejection letter from Harvey Kurtzman when he was at Health Magazine. I can’t find it now but it just had the word
“REJECT!” written in big magic marker letters on it…at the bottom, he said he hoped this didn’t discourage me and send him more …

#5 dan reynolds
July/30/2010
@ 1:09 pm

What cartoonist doesn’t love to get the chance to read someone else’s rejection letter?

#6 Nelson Dewey
July/30/2010
@ 7:57 pm

MY MAD rejection letter was around 1960. I was about 17 and had made a couple small gag cartoon sales. I sent a batch to MAD, and I think, in my cover letter I somehow compared my drawing style to Paul Coker.
I don’t recall the exact words, but it was something like, “Dear sir; You are most presumptuous to compare your scribbles to one of our professional artists…” (and a couple more equally un-funny, un-flattering remarks). Signed by Jerry DeFuccio.

I’d have been happy with a printed rejection slip!

Well, the drawings probably WERE crap… but it made me feel truly rejected for some time after that.
My bruised ego recovered, and I kept trying (anywhere but MAD) and within a few years I was making a living as a freelance cartoonist.
I lost any interest in MAD forever.

#7 Derf Backderf
August/3/2010
@ 9:15 am

There are stories of Fantagraphics rejecting submissions by writing “nope” in sharpie across the first page.

#8 Stephen Beals
August/3/2010
@ 9:47 am

@Derf,

I have one of those, but not from Fantagraphics. At one point Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine was “iffy” on running cartoons. I got my cover letter back with “Sheila, cartoons?” written in blue ballpoint pen and a “NO” in black marker written underneath.

It was to the point.

#9 John Sheppard
August/3/2010
@ 11:47 am

Years ago when doing gags for the “girlie magazines”, I received a rejection from Hustler. It was an index sized card stock with a bathroom tile background and a roll of toilet paper on it. Lettering on the paper said, “This is not the kind of sh*t we’re looking for.” It was signed “the Editurds.” I’d have to put that one right up there with the best rejection slip I ever received.

Nelson, my experience with DeFuccio was a meeting in the MAD hallway where he proceeded to look thru about a dozen gags and told me they were all crap!

Yes, thick skin is a pre requisite for cartooning.

#10 Stephen Beals
August/3/2010
@ 6:31 pm

@John,

A friend of mine who’s been published in Hustler a number of times receives normal Christmas cards from Larry Flynt. I think I’d rather have your rejection letter.

#11 John Sheppard
August/3/2010
@ 7:38 pm

@Stephen, …

I’ve looked for them over the years. If I ever find them I’ll send you a copy. They were pretty funny.

#12 Stephen Beals
August/4/2010
@ 9:42 am

@John, Oh, that would be cool! Next time somebody wants to show off their baseball card collection, I’ll brag about my rejection slip collection.

There was also some magazine, a rotary club or something, that would send a cartoon of two guys chopping down a tree, saying something like “Sorry, these ‘toons just aren’t good enough.” I thought the tree was supposed to be some Freudian representation of the ego or something.

#13 Nelson Dewey
August/4/2010
@ 10:22 am

@John:
Good to know I wasn’t the only one… but sad to hear it happened at all.

Yup, developing a thick skin came early.
The next thing I had to develop was a way to overcome shyness, and force myself to be outgoing and even somewhat aggressive when it came to selling my work.

#14 John Jonik
January/27/2011
@ 5:21 pm

Mad— in the 70s?— had a rejection slip that said something like— “Sorry for the rejection. Don’t feel bad. No need to kill yourself.
BUT…if you choose to do so…..”
[ And they there was a drawing of how to tie a noose.]

The times they have a’ change-ed…

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