The gold nuggets of this industry are, of course, the ideas. If you think Jeter was elated when he struck number 3,000, you should see a cartoonist when he finally dreams up a gag.
"Where do you get your ideas?" is the question that has driven so many of the boys batty. You better be prepared to have that one thrown at you over and over again if you have any intention of remaining in the trade. And never does a cartoonist look dumber than when he's trying to think of the answer. Where do I get my ideas? Why, they come from, er... you see, that is ...
Let's face it, ideas are hard to get. The guy who tells you they're not is either being entirely too modest or he simply steals them.
"I got a great idea for you," people will say when they learn you are a cartoonist. You'll listen very patiently and try to keep that pained look off your face. If it happens to be a friend, you'll perhaps manage a sickly smile, and murmur "Not bad," But your friend will be hurt to the core by your lack of enthusiasm. He'll never give you another idea for drawing - till next time.
The longer you stay in the business the grimmer the task of getting ideas becomes. At parties people will be amazed to learn that the morose fellow sitting alone in a corner is the celebrated cartoonist who turns out all those very funny belly laughs.
Some standard methods of getting gags for cartoons.
Sometimes the ideas will come by themselves so easily and so fast that there's no stopping them. In these delightful periods you will record in your diary that you have hit your stride. Great days, those. There'll be extra tipping for the waitress and the barber, a kind word for all the neighborhood children.
But in those other stretches? Mothers will pull their young indoors when they see you approaching, and dogs will slink away. Your girlfriend will wonder what's come over you. But after she's been married to you she'll know - a slump is on. You'll rue the day you ever went in for cartooning and wonder whether it's too late to get back into that other business where people seem so nice and normal. But just when you're ready to quit, the gags will start coming again. Sound maddening? Heck, yes - but there isn't anyone in the business who'd give it up!
Next: How to get cartoon ideas continued