Spring Cleaning, Cartoonist Style

An ill-timed fit of Spring Cleaning (ill-timed because it’s put me back a couple of days in actual…you know…paying work) has nevertheless begun to yield some results.

My original artwork, which was in danger of crushing the poor chipboard bookcase my dad built for my closet a decade and a half ago, is at least partly on the way to some form of organization. And from the piles (and piles, and piles, and piles) of paper, I’m also finding a fair number of at least moderately interesting things I’d either forgotten about entirely, or assumed lost.

Here’s an old Wild Life cartoon from 27 (!) years ago. Won’t mean much to folks outside the UK,. but “A-Levels” were the big, important pre-college exams you took when you’re in Upper 6th Form – essentially, a high school senior. In comparing notes with my American cousins, the A-levels seemed far more important and stressful than the equivalent States-side tests, but I could be mistaken, and frequently am.

Anyway, Carson the Muskrat, circa 1980.

Now, this next letter I’m including because (a) I was just discussing it with Comics Buyer’s Guide’s Maggie Thompson the other day, over a lovely lunch in Madison, and (B) I was planning on running it opposite the Charles Schulz letter in one of the Dork Tower trade paperbacks a few years back.

The set-up: a cartoonist friend talked me into applying to the National Cartoonist Society (NCS) five or six years ago or thereabouts. I never really had that much interest in the NCS since I was starting to cut back on conventions at this point anyway, and figured if i wasn’t even making it to the American Association of Editorial Cartoonist gigs, why did I need to join the NCS to skip their bashes, too?

But anyway, my pal twisted my arm, and I dutifully sent in some stuff.

Only to be sent a rejection letter by Mort Walker’s assistant, because of the “self-published aspect” of Dork Tower.

Let me emphasize that this Bill fellow, whom I’ve never met, seems like a pretty decent chap. Nothing against him at all. And it’s going to be hard not to make this post sound like sour grapes, but trust me, it’s not. I’ve sold close to a half-million copies of “Dork Tower” with one company I co-founded and co-own, and well over three million games with the other. It’s a shame the “self-published aspect” of my work worried some people so, but I’m a big boy now. Um, despite the “drawing muskrats for a living” thing, of course.

Still, I’m actually glad I misplaced the letter when I needed it for that trade paperback, since the Schulz note deserved to stand on its own.

Now, at this point, I’m pretty far past caring, though at the time it was a big boatload of No Fun. But is there a point to this all?

Well, you know those Interweb ads you find on some sites (I’m looking at YOU, MySpace)…the ones that start some dumb little Flash game, and then brashly proclaim you a “loser” when ignore them but they play on anyway?

Yeah. Getting turned down by a clique you didn’t really want to join in the first place is kinda like that…



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