Why Gag Writers Should Work With Illustrators

Gag writers have the humor, illustrators have the drawing skills. Pair them together and there's profit to be made.

| January/February 1970

  • Drawing Board
    Gag writers can land more jobs by teaming up with an illustrator.
    Photo by Fotolia/Denis Pepin

  • Drawing Board

Gag writers are funny people — they really are. Particularly when you face the fact that 80 percent of all published cartoons are written by them and not the cartoonist.

We inkstained churls can titter all we like about gag writers thinking themselves more important to cartoondom than they really are, but when the batches are ready for mailing, we cannot (dreamers though we may be) fail to admit a hell of a lot of us would, many times, be up the proverbial creek had we no faithful, talented gag writer to churn up the basic idea or complete idea ready to be decorated with characterization, perspective, and styling.

I say this simply because — in addition to drawing cartoons — I write cartoon ideas. This makes me a gag writer, doesn't it? It must. I write ideas for my own drawings. I've written them for other, more proficient artists and I've sold typed ideas directly to various magazines.

Don't knock gag writers to this gag writer, boys. I'm too sympathetic to the breed.

But I must also admit that most gag writers are missing the boat in a very profitable field, and have been missing it for Lo, these long years. That's funny too.

Here the magazines are practically screaming for good, slanted humor copy (in lengths of 1,500 to 2,000 words) for which the editors will delightedly pay $0.03 to $1 a warped adjective — and yet the gag writer insists upon sticking solely (or almost solely) to batting out cartoon ideas. Leaving potential checks of $75 to $200 just laying there in favor of $2.50 checks for ideas sold through some cartoonist's medium.

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