Corbett, a successful national gag cartoonist and a
resident of Salem, Oregon speaks about gag cartooning.
Jack identifies six ingredients necessary for becoming a
fulltime, professional gag cartoonist.
The first, and most important ingredient is having what's
known as a "gag sense". A gag is a funny idea. A gag car-
toonist must be able to either write strong gags or recog-
nize a stronger gag from a weaker one. If you're not
confident about your gag writing ability, you can always
buy gags from professional gag writers; however, you
must be able to identify which gags are worth buying.
The second, and in the long-run probably just as
important as the first, is perserverance. Hanging in there.
Plugging away. Not giving up. It's what Woody Allen
refers to as "just showing up". You must be willing to
accept rejection as part of the gag cartoonist's territory.
Everybody gets rejected at one time or another. But you
must never be willing to stop drawing cartoons because of rejection. The
third most important
ingredient is marketing. You need to generate new markets for your cartoons. Constantly. Subscribe to
trade journals that identify magazines, newspapers and other markets which consider cartoons as part
of their format. Refer to the latest edition of Artist's Market. Do some research. And keep your name
out there. You should present or submit your work often and at your highest level of professionalism.
Gag cartooning is, afterall, a business, not unlike many other businesses.
Jack identified style as the fourth ingredient. Try to develop your own style - the kind of gags you write
and the way you draw them. The fifth ingredient is the ability to live a free-lance way of life. Sometimes
it's feast or sometimes it's famine. It's an irregular income. It's not knowing whether this week you'll
make $1,000 or $10. For the most part, it's working alone, in the privacy of your studio and with your
imagination. It's a lifestyle that certainly has it's advantages but which also extracts a price - Emotional
as well as financial, personal as well as social.
The least important ingredient is artistic ability. You don't have to be Michelangelo to be a gag cartoon-
ist. You have to understand basic art principles and techniques, perhaps, but you don't have to draw
like a master.And, in gag cartooning, simplicity is frequently best. The more you draw, the better you
get. You should never let your current level of artistic ability discourage you from cartooning. If you
stick with it (ingredientnumber2: perserverance) eventually the drawing takes care of itself.
In addition to identifying six ingredients, Jack also emphasizes a few other healthy habits: keeping to a
daily routine (Jack indicates his early morning hours are his most creative), keeping your gags on 3X5
inch note cards or slips (one gag or idea concept per card or slip), and drawing as often as possible.
Doodle whenever you get the chance. Draw while watching television, listening to your favorite CD, but
draw, draw, draw! Jack has been a professional cartoonist for over 30 years and he has sold over ten
thousand cartoons, to hundreds of publishers including Boys' Life, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Good House-
keeping, National Enquirer, National Review, Saturday Evening Post, Wall Street Journal and World Mon-