Emdashes—Modern Times Between the Lines

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Before it moved to The New Yorker:
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Best of Emdashes: Hit Parade
A Web Comic: The Wavy Rule


On his blog, cartoonist (and occasional Emdashes advertiser) Mick Stevens continues to provide his poignant and entertaining insight into the nerve-wracking process of submitting New Yorker cartoons and waiting fraught days for the magic OK (or the Steinbergian No).

Having just witnessed Carolita Johnson faxing off her batch and observing the fax machine’s temper tantrums as it tried to reject the wavy sheets of well-drawn-on paper—and that was before cartoon editor Bob Mankoff could see them—I have some inkling of what these extremely productive, slightly paranoid artists go through week after week.

Two of Stevens’s recent treats: a batch of witty “recipes” for cartooning à la Chast & co., and a sampling of his comrades’ first OKs. The respondents so far: Kim Warp (“I actually called my friend after we hung up to make sure it wasn’t a cruel cruel joke”), Tom Cheney (“Wisely, Lee had selected a drawing that he was sure I could handle with my fledgling drawing style”), and Gahan Wilson (“There was also a never-opened door painted with the same paint and a small, barred window looking in on a tiny room”).

Carolita, Drew, Matt, Eric, and all the rest of you, I hope you’ll take a moment and post yours! And dare we hope for Barsotti and BEK?


I have to wait until everybody concerned is deceased, for security reasons. Sorry!
Actually my story is rather boring. The most interesting part of it was that I was told to expect years of rejection, and then I sold a cartoon after my first meeting. How boring is that?

I was like, “What? No suffering? I was all geared up for total rejection, dejection, ejection. Now I have no story to tell.”
On the other hand, it did take me fifteen years to get back to cartooning, so maybe that period of dormancy counts as longtime suffering in anonymity. They were long, hard years.

And of course, once you’ve sold stuff, it’s that much harder during the dry spells when you don’t. The hard parts came later!

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2008 Webby Awards Official Honoree