Receiving a rejection slip should not cause you to want to shoot your brains out. Or even to run down to the nearest tavern for "a quick one." Nor should it make you feel like quitting, either. If you have faith in your ability and are sensible about it, you will simply roll up your sleeves and go back to work determined to "show that damn editor."
Many a rose is born to blush unseen," said Shakespeare, and many a great name in cartooning would never have become known to the world had its owner folded his tent and slunk away at first sign of a rejection slip. Make the next batch you mail better than the previous one and never throw your rejections away. They may sell some other day.
These two letters are the happiest in the cartoonist's lexicon. For him they spell room rent, meat on the table, money in the bank. As far as he's concerned the Phoenicians need never have bothered working out the rest of the alphabet. When the cartoonist finds this little notation on one of his roughs, it means God's in his heaven, all's right with the world. The literal translation of "OK" is that your preliminary sketch is approved and you may now proceed with a finished drawing.
This procedure of doing a rough sketch first, and then a finish is the one followed by most cartoonists. The degree of roughness should depend on how familiar editors are with your finished work. If you are a beginner, obviously it is wise to make your roughs as comprehensive as possible. Besides, since you are just starting out, a little additional practice won't hurt.
Alternating 'twixt being raised to the heights of heaven by okays, and being plummeted to the depths of despair by rejections, the free lance cartoonist sometimes feels like an elevator operator. Check your oxygen mask at the beginning of each new day.
"Does it hurt to imitate a well known cartoonist when you are just starting out?"
All cartoonists imitate, or at least are affected by the work of others, particularly those they like. I cannot see any crime in this provided the imitating is unconscious. If you are consciously imitating someone, you are only hurting your own chances of developing an individual style. Young ball players study and imitate a star batter's stance and swing. But it is when they add to it their own talents, that they really come into their own.
Modern man is a creature of speed. He moves fast, thinks fast, lives fast - too fast for his own good, perhaps. And the cartoon, saying so much in so little time, fits right up modern man's alley. A writer friend remarked to me the other day that cartoons are actually stories, replete with characters, plot, climax, etc. And the whole, he noted jealously, hardly ever takes more than twenty words, and sometimes none, to tell!
My writer friend is correct. The cartoon is all that-and more. It is a most fascinating art form, sometimes merely passingly pleasant, sometimes a sharp indictment of some weakness of our social structure, constructively pointing to a better way of life.
Society needs the cartoonist just as it needs the doctor, the architect and the farmer. If you decide to make cartooning your profession, tell your mother to rest her fears. It's as time honored a profession as any other. If you decide to merely use it as a hobby, there are many delightful hours in store for you.
What will the cartoon of the future be like? I don't know. Like all art forms, I suppose it will change form in some way. But one thing I'm sure of - it's here to stay.
So, dear reader, that's about it. I had intended asking the publishers to include a sheepskin diploma with this book - a sort of manifesto that you have satisfactorily completed the Hoff course in cartooning and are entitled to draw your breath anywhere in this state. But, on retrospect, I grew afraid that some might interpret a diploma as meaning that their studies are concluded.
This is not the case! The pursuit of perfection in any art - and I hope you have gotten the impression that cartooning is an art - goes on and on. The best people in the profession are constantly striving to improve their work, never quite satisfied with what they have done. Every new picture is a brand new challenge which must be better than anything they have ever done! The artist who does not suffer this torment is suffering from stagnation. .
But torment:'shmorment! This is the creative life, and the joy of giving birth to a picture is compensation for almost anything. I hope you pursue the Muse and one day come to share this feeling.
And now there is nothing left for me to do but close by wishing that in all your endeavors, you meet with