The New Yorker may be one of the best magazines in the country. Every week, this publication supplies its readers with the latest information about what’s going on in America’s entertainment center, and it also includes various types of writing such as cultural reviews, social commentary, satire, fiction, and poetry. But let’s face it; probably its most popular feature is the cartoons. Who doesn’t love the cartoons?
I first became aware of The New Yorker when I was in high school, and I saw a pile of old issues sitting on an end table in the waiting room of our dentist’s office. At that age, I would have much preferred Mad Magazine or Sports Illustrated, but they weren’t available, so I began leafing through The New Yorker and was pleasantly pleased to see so many cartoons. Honestly, I didn’t understand a lot of them, and I didn’t have to because my takeaway at that immature point in my life was somewhat encouraging.
“Wow,” I thought. “Some of these cartoons are as simple as the drawings I create in my school notebooks.” Granted, my drawings weren’t funny, but maybe someday, I, too, could draw for The New Yorker.
So I began to take my doodles more seriously. I moved gradually from Christmas trees to baseball stadiums and even to the faces of my teachers and my fellow classmates. Ironically, all of the trees looked alike as did the stadiums and the faces. I was not a natural by any means, but I was determined and persistent.
During the next 50 years or so, I must have drawn approximately seven actual cartoons. Yes, you read that correctly. Not seven thousand and not even seven hundred but seven. That’s all. Enough to share with you in this weekly blog.
I began with two drawings for the student newspaper at the community college where I taught, and they were both published immediately. “Wow,” I said again to myself. “This cartooning work is easy. Maybe I am finally ready for The New Yorker.
Next, I did some research, and I discovered that, yes, it is possible for an inexperienced amateur like myself to submit cartoons to The New Yorker. As I looked over the submission guidelines, I noticed only one small detail that caught me off guard: “You may send as many as ten cartoons per submission.”
Ten cartoons. I don’t even have ten cartoons. At that time, I only had four: my two published cartoons and two others, also inspired by my on-campus activities. Thus, I decided I would create one more and submit drawings three, four, and five to The New Yorker. Optimistically, I assumed my cartooning success waited just around the corner.
And that’s where that success still stands today. Three months after my submission, my three cartoons were rejected rather quickly, but they were rejected by The New Yorker. The experience reminded me of that competition cliché that advises, “Go big, or go home.” By sending my work to The New Yorker, I definitely went “big,” and my drawings definitely belonged at “home.”
So, yes, drawing cartoons for The New Yorker isn’t really that hard; having a cartoon or two actually accepted by The New Yorker, however, is another matter altogether.
Does that mean I am ready to give up my cartooning ambitions? No, not yet. I have devoted too little of my time to give up so soon. Since those initial rejections occurred about five years ago, I have created two more cartoons, and once I get an idea for a third and complete that drawing, I will be ready to submit again. Until that happens, I will stop right here because, quite honestly, I am so bad, I can’t even draw a conclusion.