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Thursday, September 06, 2007

How to Sell a Cartoon to The New Yorker 

“Mom, can Tommy and I go for a gelato?”

I seem to recall seeing an old one from 1975 or so, in which the office boss is greeting a sheepish, late-arriving employee, saying: “Wimpelmeier [or some surname]! Quelle surprise!” (You have to know that the phrase, or some variant on it, was fresh at the time.)

Or how about this: two kids on bikes in some leafy suburb, one asks his pleasantly startled mother, “Is it okay if Joey and I go for a gelato?” (At that time gelato was a realtively new thing in the US.)

The thing is, both of these gags have been done in The New Yorker at least twice a year since 1925, always with a new value plugged in. You just need to detect the latest catchphrase (or reference to a trend) and work it into a caption underneath some slick charcoal drawing of some people looking at each other. But it must be a catchphrase which is just about to spill into the everyday. You have to snatch it before it turns up on sitcoms.

You could end up with egg on your face, of course. You might hear something and think it was going to be the next thing, and it turns out to be just stupid. So, yeah, there is some risk, and you should be prepared for a certain amount of disappointment.



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Watching TV is a good way to tear yourself away from the computer.