Occasional use of humor in the business of competitive selling has opened a new market for cartoons. The big advertisers, ever seeking new ways to catch the public eye, have utilized funny drawings to do exactly that. And when polls show that a consumer is more easily sold a bill of goods when he is treated to a smile, little campaigns often become big ones. Far from resenting this subterfuge and crass commercialization of his talents, the cartoonist welcomes it.
The advertising agencies pay very handsomely for such services. Their writers try to slant copy to fit the cartoonists' style. In most big campaigns, the agencies will seek a "name" cartoonist, that is, someone whose work is immediately recognizable to the public.
The "name" cartoonist, then, does not have to go out looking for work. It goes looking for him. Art Directors pursue him at home, on the golf
'course, in the steam room-there is no escape for the poor fellow. But he takes everything he can get. After all, who doesn't look well in checks?
To the best of my knowledge, no cartoonist makes a product pass his own "Good Housekeeping Test" before deciding to draw an ad for it. The annals of crime in the business even contain one case several years ago in which an eager beaver reaping the fruits of a sudden rise to fame, did two series at the same time for two different manufacturers of ladies' bras. Such behavior is unethical and indicates a base instinct to just get rich. It is frowned upon.
In some way though, the "name" cannot be blamed for such zeal. After all, sentiment in any business is a negligible item. When the graph swings down, agencies frequently act like blimps with too much ballast. Anything can get thrown overboard-even a "name."
This insecurity of accounts keeps the agencies on their toes and substantially increases the chances of new cartoonists crashing through. Art Directors must be on the alert at all times, ready, willing and anxious to explore every new portfolio for ideas that might keep their clients happy.
How can you show your work to the "A.D." of an advertising agency? The simplest way is to go directly to his office and ask to see him. It may be just your luck that this approach will work and the magic door will swing open.
If the door remains shut in your face, it may be because of a modern business invention called "the receptionist."
The receptionist, as the name implies, is the person who sits behind a desk in the reception room. This person is usually of feminine gender, and very pretty. She will look up eagerly, smile, and inquire: "Yes? May I help you?"
That smile will lead you into a false sense of security. Feeling safe and warm in its glow, you unburden yourself to the young lady. May you see the Art Director, you ask, explaining that you are an absolute nobody but perhaps if he's drunk he'll buy a drawing from you anyway . . . (you're a very witty fellow) . . .
Suddenly the room is 40 degrees colder and the very pretty young lady has changed as though she swallowed a Jekyll-Hyde mickey finn while you were talking. The smile is gone and in its place is an expression calculated to make the gargoyles of Notre Dame pleasant looking by comparison. A few moments later you are back in the elevator, going down, but not fast enough.
But by the time you reach the street you have resolved that no snipe of an office girl is going to stop your career before it gets started. You decide either to hire an accredited artist representative to handle your stuff on the usual commission basis, or try to phone the "A.D." for an appointment. Deciding, perhaps, to try the latter way first, you step into a phone booth and begin to dial.
Here's hoping it's a call worth making!
Next: The one panel cartoon