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Success in Comics: Stay Tooned! publisher John Read

John Read enjoyed a 21 year career in the entertainment industry (movies, commercials) and teaching cartooning to kids age 7-12. Inspired by Jud Hurd’s Cartoonists PROfiles, he started Stay Tooned! magazine. John shared the four things NOT to do with your cartooning career and the 12 you should.


  • Stay Tooned! is an old school magazine. He plans on producing an ebook format in the future
  • 4 things you should NOT do in a cartooning career #1: Quit your job that provides health benefits
  • Recounts his years working in movies and commercials and then in graphic design. Always had benefits
  • Recounts story of Marcus Hamilton who was an illustrator working at Wal-Mart when he learned Hank Ketcham (Dennis the Menace) was going to retire
  • Hustled to get samples of his work to Ketcham which resulted at him becoming the artist on the strip at age 51
  • 4 things you should NOT do in a cartooning career #2: Publish a magazine about cartoons. There’s no money in it
  • 4 things you should NOT do in a cartooning career #3. Do not volunteer to produce the NCS chapter newsletter
  • 4 things you should NOT do in a cartooning career #4. Do not put on a show (exhibit)
  • 12 things you should do:
  • Attach yourself to someone (spouse) with a steady job, salary and health benefits
  • Decide and record what you want to achieve. Write it down. Your goal.
  • When early in your career, don’t get locked down into a specialty. Be flexible and open to opportunities
  • Get business card and website
  • Learn to draw caricatures. Be able to do quick sketches for people. When they learn you can draw, they often want to know if you can do caricatures
  • Create a product that can be resold that shows people what you can do
  • Network. Get away from the drawing table. Even in the “golden age” of comics, cartoonists had to hustle for work.
  • Give back. Use your talents to lift people (hospitals, etc.)
  • Public speaking. As a local cartoonist charge to come speak to groups
  • Teach and Mentor
  • Keep a sketchbook where ever you go. When an idea comes, you should record it.
  • Read Stay Tooned!

Community Comments

#1 Bill Kellogg
@ 1:02 pm

Hey John, Thanks for taking the blown projector bulb in stride. And thanks again to Michael Jantze for being the ‘live projector’ and turning that into a positive!

#2 David Jones
@ 1:29 pm

Sound advice.

* I carry a notebook everywhere and write about three or four strips a day during my lunch hour. I strongly urge cartoonists to keep a pen and notebook handy.

* Networking is so key. I have made quite a few friends in the industry thru social media. Not that it has gotten me anywhere!!! Then again, my comic strip stinks…. lol….

* Setting goals is crucial. I did the same and never came close to hitting a single one… Time to create a new strip. I am learning drunk army ants without pants doesn’t appeal to the market. It does appeal to prison inmates age 55 – 70. I may try getting into a few prison newspapers.

#3 John Platt
@ 12:33 pm

@ David Jones
Your comic doesn’t stink David, it is very cool, and I love your gags and art. Have you tried getting any readers by advertising on project wonderful?

#4 Michael Jantze
@ 8:59 am

@Bill Kellogg
It was a lot fun. And I recommend to everyone interested in this business to go to the 2013 Success in Cartooning cavalcade. Great information and wonderful networking for all.

#5 Rich Diesslin
@ 1:48 pm

It’s always frustrating when you spend a lot of time on slides and then end up winging it, but this went well, with many good tips and Michael’s tooning in the background was a hoot.

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