Saturday, June 27, 2009

Continued Sign Shop Saga

Although we are now in 1993 . . let me digress a bit to 1992, I got ahead of myself to an important point where I decided to go into cartooning full time, it was the summer of '92 . . out of the blue, I decided to jump into cartooning big time . . so I started submitting 10 cartoons to the New Yorker every 10 days or so . . I did this all the time operating a very busy sign shop. It was hectic, but doable, I just started coming in 2 hours earlier and going home one hour later and working all day Saturdays. ( And sometimes Sundays )

I would send the New Yorker rejects to the other markets and then Good Housekeeping started buying from me, then Barron's bought five from one batch and then Reader's Digest bought five from one batch and The Wall Street Journal bought and everyone was buying EXCEPT The New Yorker.

When The Harvard Business Review came on the scene, it became my number one market and I was and still am one of the top three sellers there.

This was not uncommon. I kept submitting and submitting and submitting steady and without missing a beat to The New Yorker. I never said or wrote any notes to the Cartoon Editor. One day, I looked up at the calendar and I noticed it was 1998, so, I began inserting a letter at this time in a couple batches asking maybe briefly why my stuff was not "right" for The New Yorker.

I know Editors are busy people and cannot answer stupid questions from neophyte cartoonists, they don't have the time. I don't blame them, I wouldn't either. But I thought that maybe, just maybe, just maybe I might deserve a quick answer to my dilemma beacuse I thought maybe I deserved an answer, one pro to another, just maybe?

I got ignored again. So then, being a student of human behavior, motivation, psychology, behavior supervision, and having just finished a long seminar on Practical Ways to Change Unsatisfactory behavior and increase productivity, I felt confident that I could draft the "correct " letter to elicit an appropriate response to my request from this editor . . . I was right.

The letter went something like this:

I know you are a very busy man, I too am exremely busy running a large sign shop with many employees and juggling conventions and big sign projects. In fact, I excused myself out of a meeting to type this letter.

I have been submitting cartoons on a very regular basis, to you for about 6-7 years , I know it is difficult to answer questions like this, but would you please try ? It will only take about 5 minutes to read and check the box that you THINK MIGHT be the reason why my work is not being picked. ( It is OK to be wrong, just give it a try . . no one will judge you, it will not be carved on Mt. Rushmore for the world to see. ) Remember, you can always ignore this letter and deny you ever received it, if you choose to do so, you have a perfect right !, right ? ) Remember, it is MY problem . . NOT yours. A stamped self-addressed envelope is enclosed for your kind reply. Check a box, PLEASE, and return.

Box # 1 Your drawing style is OK, but your writing and gags are not
" right ".

Box # 2 Your writing style and gags are OK but your drawings aren't
quite "right".

Box # 3 Your drawings AND your writing and gags are not quite right
for us.

Box # 4 I don't answer letters like this.

Box # 5 I'm going to read this but you can't make me do anything.

Box # 6 This isn't MY problem.

Box # 7 You are going to have to figure it out yourself.

Box # 8 I don't know WHY. I wish I knew. Please believe me.

Box # 9 I decided not to check any of the boxes, except this one.
Will not tell a soul about all this, and mail it back to you.

Box #10 I decided not to check any of the boxes, except this one,
but I WILL tell people about this.

Box # 11 I don't know what to tell you.
( Have you considered therapy ?)

Box #12 I am mailing this back to you, but at least you know I read it.

Box 13 I've got mine . . you've got yours to get !

Of course, you can read this letter and don't reply and ignore me some more, and let me continue to try to figure it out. ( Look, I've got my OWN problems, Roy ! )


Two weeks went by and I was out of the shop and returned about 2:00 PM.

I saw a note on my desk: One of these little phone notes " While you were out, Mr Mankoff called, please call him and it was his private number.

I nervously dialed the number . . after introducing myself, a friendly cartoony male voice replied , "Oh Hello, Roy You want to talk . . Yes, by the way,. . . do you play chess ?" . . I said "Yes, and I'm pretty good !" He continued . . " I've been seeing a lot of your work . . here! . . there's another envelope . . and here is another batch ! - - About all I can say is don't make your name so big and don't send so much. ". . . then it got real quiet . . that was about it . .

I said, " Thanks ". ( But looking back, I 'm trying to figure out WHY I said thanks . . thanks for WHAT ?) . . . I wonder if Lithium works ?

Interesting thing about this, he never checked a box and he never returned my questionairre. I knew no more now than I knew 7 years ago.

This submission exercise continued till May 2, 2007, when the next time he calls me on my cellphone, at 11:24 AM, it was a Tuesday, And I had taken half of his suggestions, my name WAS too big so I started making it smaller . . he was right ! I started to be more selective, is what I thought he actually meant when he said don't send so much . . But I DID send on a regular basis and my work was improving and evolving to what I was beginning to like what I was seeing come off my drawing board !

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