Sturm writes about trying to get into the New Yorker

An interesting read by Center for Cartoon Studies co-founder James Sturm and his experience submitting to The New Yorker for the first time.

If making graphic novels felt like a staid long-term relationship, then doing gag comics is like playing the field. One day I could draw a fortuneteller; the next, an astronaut. I went from sultans to superheroes, robots to rabbits. I felt liberated. I refused to get bogged down or fuss over the drawings. I spent no more than an hour with any one cartoon, and many took far less time than that. For the first two weeks I was feeling my oats. I already had a half-dozen keepers and was confident there were plenty more winners on the way. It was at this point that I started dreaming of actually selling a cartoon to The New Yorker.

9 thoughts on “Sturm writes about trying to get into the New Yorker

  1. I agree with Sturm 100%

    My pal Evan Forsch hooked me up years ago and I went to one of the Tuesday reviews. It was a humbling experience for an arrogant, sparky young cartoonist.

    The best part was that one of the “old men” thought my family name sounded familiar and indeed he had known my uncle who was a cartoonist in the early 60s.

    All in all, I left the building with my tail between my legs, but increased respect for the New Yorker.

    P.S.: Forsh eventually sold some cartoons to them!

  2. ?Mankoff said so many submissions he looks at are not even in the neighborhood.?

    That line reminded me of when I (cluelessly) submitted to The New Yorker in 1993, when I was just starting to draw gag cartoons. They were pretty bad, like any beginner’s work. At the time I clearly didn’t realize that The New Yorker is the Mount Everest for gag cartooning. I was only ready for Mt Tamalpais (Northern California reference!)

    Not only was I not in the neighborhood, I wasn?t in the same zip code, state, country or hemisphere.

  3. Very good read! I once had a showing of my cartoons in a local bookstore; underneath the cartoons I papered the exhibit wall with rejection letters from the New Yorker.

  4. If talented cartoonists want to give up after only one round of rejections, that’s fine. I read Sturms entire article and don’t buy his argument that, by eventually selling a cartoon, he’d be taking someone else’s spot. The gag cartoon market is open season. If you have what it takes to sell a cartoon, you earned that spot.

    The real question is, do you have what it takes to not give up in the face of initial defeat? After all, what if his first sale was that easy? We’d be reading an entirely different article.

    Sparky said it best:

    “A beginnner can make no worse mistake than being caught without an iron in the fire which in his case is an evelope [email] of cartoons in the mail.”
    – from My Life With Charlie Brown, p. 109 (Ed. by M. Thomas Inge)

  5. Mike: and Sparky practiced what he preached.

    Speaking of Sparky, he did some early single-panel gag cartoons that seemed worthy of The New Yorker, but apparently never submitted any. His humor was that subtle, that sophisticated. In fact, as soon as you see these cartoons, you think “New Yorker.” What a New Yorker cartoon is, isn’t easy to describe, but I think we all know it when we see it – and we know it when it misses. So many rejected submissions seem to just barely miss it, and even the works of cartoonists who’ve already been in the magazine are rejected. If you’ve seen their rejections, you also can see why. Sort of the difference between something good and something great.

  6. I love Sturm’s article. The weird high-level of hostility in the comment section (there – not here) is disheartening. It’s nice that people aren’t afraid to share their opinions – but, sheesh, I wish people would lighten up.

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