This weeks Monday MADness is a look at the pencil roughs from a piece called “You Can Write the Next American Idol Single!” written by Desmond Devlin, which appeared in MAD #466, June 2006. Clicky any to embiggen:
Before I answer this week’s Sunday Mailbag, I thought I’d point out the new title format. I’ve gotten a few requests that I start adding some information about the content of my Sunday Mailbag Q&A’s, as doing a search for topics on the blog often yields a lot of “Sunday Mailbag” hits and no alternative but to click each one to find out f the sought after info is in that post. From now on I’ll add something in the title to help with that.
Q: Have you ever had a “rep”, and if not why not? Do you advise an illustrator to have a rep, or to avoid them?
A: For those who may not know a “rep” (short for “representative”) in the art world is like an agent for an actor. They act as both the the finder and broker for work for an artist and get paid via a percentage of an artist’s given pay on a job. Most reps take between 15-20% as their fee. The services offered by a given rep can differ, but a “full service” rep will pursue and find jobs for their artists, negotiate for the pricing on a job, handle the invoicing and collecting of the payments and pay the artists their fees less their given percentage. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work.
I’ve never had a real rep (with the exception of a loose arrangement with Cagle Cartoons, now defunct). Why not? I guess just because I’ve never been approached by a good one that I thought would be an asset to my career. I once interviewed with a local rep here in Minneapolis way back in the early ninties, and she decided not to rep me. I’ve gotten calls from reps looking for a “one off” job done but none offered to add me to their permanent stable. I haven’t gone looking for a rep because I stay pretty busy already, and therefore don’t really need one. Would I agree to be repped if the right one came along and offered? Sure, why not? It would have to be a rep that could get me higher profile/better paying jobs than the ones I currently do, because I’d likely have to turn down some of the jobs I take now to make room and as they would take 15% or so it would have to make sense financially.
Certainly I would advise any illustrator who would like more work to consider a rep if a good one wants to work with them.
Finding a good rep is not easy. There are a lot of pitfalls you have to avoid, but the primary difficulty is simply finding a good one that is willing to represent you. Your style of work, it’s marketability, the number and makeup of their current group of artists and to a certain extent your established credentials will be major factors in whether or not a rep is willing to add you to their “stable”. The better and more effective the rep, the less likely they are willing to take on new clients and especially those who do not have a strongly established career already. It’s the old catch 22… and artist could use a rep to establish a career and a rep only wants artists who have already got an established career. Reps like Gerald & Cullen Rapp are famous and handle mostly big name artists, while smaller firms or individual reps might take on newer artists if the marketability of their work is strong.
Where do you find reps to contact about being part of their group? The best place is probably sourcebooks like the Directory of Illustration, Workbook and The Black Book. They have ads by reps in them and online lists of the reps in their publications (see links). You need to research these reps and look for ones that are lacking in an artist who’s style is similar to your own. Your best bet is to identify these potential reps and contact them, sending in samples your work and a resume including a fairly complete client list. The worst that could happen is they say “no thanks”. You do not know until you try.
Having a rep isn’t a magic bullet. Far from it. Good reps are hard to find, and by “good reps” I mean those that really work hard to find you good jobs. Bad reps will take on an artist and then just add them to an online portfolio and sit back and wait for jobs to come in. Some will spend 99% of their time pursuing work for the one or two “stars” of their stable and not put any effort into finding work for the other artists they represent, again merely waiting for jobs to come to them… after all it doesn’t cost them anything if you do not get any work, so why not add you to their stable and collect whatever comes their way? You can accomplish that kind of marketing on your own and not part with a percentage of your fees. Some reps will expect you to take on any job no matter how poor the pay is or how bad a fit it is for you, wanting to keep you generating money no matter how little it might be for the work involved.
If/when you find a rep willing to represent you, the details of your contract with them needs to be scrutinized. There are a few things in the fine print to be aware of. For example, you still pay for the lion’s share of any active advertising. The arrangement with most reps is that the costs of any advertising done (i.e. in a sourcebook) is split by the same percentage as the rep fee. So if you pay your rep 15%, you will pay 85% of a page in the Directory of Illustration and the rep covers their 15%. Your page is then part of a section of the sourcebook for their agency. Likewise with online advertising.
The most problematic pittfall with regard to reps is how previous clients are handled. Some reps (although this is becoming increasingly rare) insist that ALL your work must go though their office. That includes clients you already have and do regular work for, not just the ones your rep finds for you. This arrangement is unacceptable in my opinion, as any work I get from a client that my rep had nothing to do with landing should not be subject to their rep percentage. Just doing the paperwork is not enough to justify their fee. Some reps feel that once you are being represented you should not pursue work independently and should refer all new work through them. I’ve always found that to be questionable also… if through my own marketing a client contacts me directly, I should not have to give my rep a percentage of that job. That does become a little dicey if you have been working with a rep for a while, because it’s hard to determine how that direct call and project came to be. If they found you by seeing a job in print that your rep got you, then that new job should go through your rep. You should definitely not accept work directly from a client your rep has found for you. This occasionally happens when a client thinks calling you directly would result in a reduced price on illustration since the “middle man” is cut out. Accepting work like that is unethical.
The best reps are ones that are active in pursuing work, and have a network of established relationships with buyers of illustration that they can work on your behalf, and have the smarts to negotiate the highest fees they can get for you. The worst are ones who sign you to a contract, advertise (at 85% your cost) in some sourcebook and set up a website and then sit back and wait for the jobs to roll in. It’s the former everybody wants and thus is the most difficult to find and get accepted by.
Full disclosure: Parts of this answer are from an earlier, similar mailbag question.
Thanks toScott Parker for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here!
The Kenosha Festival of Cartooning is a 3 day festival, in Kenosha Wisconsin, from September 25th through September 27th of 2014. There will be live presentations, workshops, a gallery show, panel discussions, and community outreach by some of the nation’s top cartoonists. We are asking for a total of $10,000 – this amount will allow us to mount two spectacular gallery shows of original comic art, cover the expenses of the artists, pay for publicity materials and shipping of art for gallery shows, cover backer reward fulfillment, and provide catering for receptions whilst not having to charge admission.
Our AWESOME guest speakers for 2014 are: Jeff Keane of Family Circus, Denis Kitchen of Kitchen Sink Press, Lincoln Peirce of Big Nate, Rick Stromoski of Soup to Nutz, Todd Clark of Lola, Scott Stantis of Prickly City (also staff editorial cartoonist at The Chicago Tribune), Terri Libenson of The Pajama Diaries, Michael Schumacher author of Al Capp: A Life To The Contrary and Will Eisner: A Dreamer’s Life In Comics, andPaul Buhle comic historian and author of Comics In Wisconsin. And our panel moderator will be the amazing Tom Racine of Tall Tale Radio.
Don’t worry if you cannot attend the festival in person – we still have some VERY cool premiums for our backers in the way of original art and autographed posters and programs from the guest artists. New this year is a specially designed, limited edition, challenge coin – see image below. There will only be 100 of these available and when they’re gone they’re gone. So don’t dawdle if you want one All rewards will be signed and therefore delivered after the conclusion of the festival.
We believe cartooning is a wicked cool artform and have dedicated this festival to providing opportunities for the comic reading public of all ages to meet the artists behind the laughter. But the festival can only remain free if we reach our fundraising goal!
With the festival in its fourth year, we are seeking Indiegogo funding because, while we have some stalwart donors and supporters, those donations don’t come close to funding our whole budget.
One of the wonderful things about crowd funding is how affordable it can be. If we can get 500 people to donate $20 – we are there! So never think that small contributions don’t matter! And we have some exciting stretch goals if we are lucky enough to exceed our $10,000 mark.
Comic book art legend Stan Sakai and his family are currently struggling to deal with the costs and challenges related to the health of his wife Sharon, who is fighting a brain tumor and needs constant medical care.
The Comic Art Professionals Society (CAPS), a Southern California sister organization of the NCS, is organizing a benefit auction and the printing of a book, with all proceeds going to the Sakai’s. They have asked cartoonists to do their take on Stan’s classic comic character Usagi Yojimbo, and it’s that original art that will be auctioned off and will be in the book. My contribution is above. Here are the details of the CAPS benefit:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE & REPOST
Contact: Steven Wyatt
CAPS TO LAUNCH ART AUCTION FEATURING ORIGINAL WORKS BY MATT GROENING, JACK DAVIS, MIKE MIGNOLA J. SCOTT CAMPBELL, ADAM HUGHES AND HUNDREDS MORE TO BENEFIT FELLOW CARTOONIST STAN SAKAI AND FAMILY
On Thursday, March 6, 2014, Southern California’s CAPS, the Comic Art Professional Society, will launch an ongoing series of eBay auctions of original comic art. Its goal is to raise funds for medical care for Sharon Sakai, the wife of respected cartoonist and longtime CAPS member Stan Sakai, creator of the samurai rabbit USAGI YOJIMBO. Sharon has been battling a debilitating brain tumor for some time; after an extended hospital stay and convalescence, she is currently at home, but her condition requires 24-hour care and medicine that costs more than the Sakai’s insurance covers. 100% of the proceeds of these auctions will go directly to Stan and Sharon Sakai to help pay their ongoing medical expenses.
The CAPS auctions will be conducted through eBay.com beginning on Thursday, March 6, with a new set of auctions every following Thursday. Each auction, sold under the seller name of “CAPSauction”, will be ten days in length with twenty to forty items in each set of auctions. The donations of original artwork and collectibles (including newly created art unique to this event, vintage comic book pages, comic strips, illustrations, animation art, limited edition statues, and IDW Artist’s editions books) number over three hundred with new items arriving every day.
Contributors include: Adam Hughes, Alex Maleev, Arthur Adams, Batton Lash, Eric Powell, Jan Duursema, Jerry Ordway, Jordi Bernet, Matt Groening, Michael Allred, Mike Mignola, Paul Gulacy, Sanjuliàn, Scott Shaw!, Jim Steranko, Tim Sale, William Stout, Bill Sienkiewicz, Cameron Stewart, Dan Brereton, Daniel Parsons, Dave Gibbons, Dean Yeagle, Doug Sneyd, Dustin Nguyen, Bill Morrison, Tone Rodriguez, Sergio Aragonés, Fabio Moon, Francisco Francavilla, Gene Ha, Geof Darrow, Gilbert Hernandez, Jack Davis, James O’Barr, Kevin Eastman, Jeff Lemire, Jeff Smith, Kazu Kibuishi, Liam Sharp, Tom Richmond, Michael Jantze, Olivia, Oscar Martin, Paul Chadwick, Richard Corben, Tom Mandrake, Walter Simonson, Charles Vess, Dan Spiegle, J. Scott Campbell and many more.
Many of the pieces featuring Usagi Yojimbo will appear in a new oversized hardcover book from Dark Horse, THE SAKAI PROJECT: ARTISTS CELEBRATE THIRTY YEARS OF USAGI YOJIMBO, which will be released on July 23, 2014. All proceeds from this book will go to Stan and Sharon Sakai. Much of the custom Usagi Yojimbo art created for this book will also be sold as a part of CAPS’ online auctions.
These fund-raising auctions will be promoted through ComicArtFans.com, and the CAPS – COMIC ART PROFESSIONAL SOCIETY Facebook page where you will be able to see updated information such as when certain pieces will be auctioned.
If you would like more information on CAPS’ Sakai Benefit Auction or Dark Horse’s THE SAKAI PROJECT book, please contact Steven Wyatt at email@example.com.
NCS membership nomination voting has been tabulated, and the nominees for the 2013 Reuben Award for “Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year” are:
Wiley Miller is the creator of Non Sequitur, a daily comic strip syndicated by Universal UClick. Started in 1992, Non Sequitur has been honored with four National Cartoonists Society Divisional Awards, including Best Newspaper Comic Strip in 1992, and Best Newspaper Panel in 1995, 1996 and 1998. It was the first comic strip to win in its first year of syndication and the only title to ever win both the best comic strip and best comic panel categories. Wiley also worked as an editorial cartoonist for newspapers including the San Fransisco Examiner. This is Wiley’s first nomination for the Reuben award. You can visit Non Sequitur online here.
Stephan Pastis is the creator of the daily comic strip Pearls Before Swine, syndicated by Universal Uclick. Stephan practiced law in the San Fransisco Bay area before following his love of cartooning and eventually seeing syndication with Pearls, which was launched in newspapers beginning December 31, 2001. The National Cartoonists Society awarded Pearls Before Swine the Best Newspaper Comic Strip in 2003 and in 2006. Stephan is also the author of the children’s book series Timmy Failure. Stephan lives in northern California with his wife Staci and their two children. This is his sixth nomination for the Reuben award. Visit Stephan’s blog and the Pearls Before Swine website.
Hilary Price is the creator of Rhymes With Orange, a daily newspaper comic strip syndicated by King Features Syndicate. Created in 1995, Rhymes With Orange has thrice won the NCS Best Newspaper Panel Division (2007, 2009 and 2012). Her work has also appeared in Parade Magazine, The Funny Times, People and Glamour. When she began drawing Rhymes With Orange, she was the youngest woman to ever have a syndicated strip. Hilary draws the strip in an old toothbrush factory that has since been converted to studio space for artists. She lives in western Massachusetts. This is Hilary’s first nomination for the Reuben award. You can visit Rhymes With Orange online here.
Mark Tatulli is the creator of Heart of the City and Lio, both daily newspaper comic strip syndicated by Universal Uclick. Heart of the City debuted in 1998. Lio, one of the few fully pantomime strips in major syndication, began running in 2006 and earned Mark an NCS divisional award for Best Newspaper Strip in 2008. In addition to his comic strip work, Mark is also an animator and television producer, known for his work on the cable reality television series Trading Spaces and A Wedding Story, and the winner of three Emmy awards. Mark lives and works in New Jersey with his wife Donna ans their three children. This is Mark’s first nomination for the Reuben award. You can visit Heart of the City online here and Lio here.
The official ballots have been issued to all full members of the National Cartoonists Society for voting to determine the winner. Congratulations to the nominees!
The winner of the 2013 “Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year” will be announced on May 24th at the annual NCS Reuben Awards dinner in San Diego, CA.
The Lovely Anna and I have been watching the Netflix series “House of Cards” and I have to say that is one TV show that can still surprise me on a regular basis. It took a few episodes to gather steam in season one, but once it got there it never lost momentum. The above is my take on star Kevin Spacey.
The format of the show, with an entire season being released all at once, is very interesting.” Binge-watching” is the new catchphrase around the water cooler these days, but considering how long it takes these elaborate series to be shot and produced, is it a good or bad way to go? Traditionally having a weekly episode allows for a TV series to stay relevant and in the public interest for many months, and then gives the creative teams time to produce a new season as the current unfolds. So, you at most have to wait a few months for the next season to begin. Here you can watch a whole 13 episode season in one weekend if you want, but then what? It might be a whole year before new episodes. I guess there are pros and cons.
Anyway, it’s a great show. I might do a series of SotW caricatures of the cast. Robin Wright is a particularity tempting subject.
As promised. here’s a sneaky peeky at the splash page and art for the Desmond Devlin scribed parody of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” from MAD #526:
Clicky to Embiggen…
Just for fun, I did the clouds and shadows in that above panel using ink washes rather than digital… it gives things a more textural feel which I wanted for the stormy atmosphere. Here are the inks for that panel sans color:
What do you mean you want to read the dialogue? What does this look like… a library? You’ll have to go out and buy the fershlugginer magazine for that, clod!
In comic book shops, on the iPad and in subscribers mailboxes now, on news stands everywhere tomorrow:
MAD # 526 (April 2014)
Cover (Mark Fredrickson)
The Fundalini Pages (Anton Emdin, Barry Liebmann, Stan Sinberg, P.C. Vey, Kenny Keil, Justin Peterson, Will Presti, Jeff Kruse, Jack Pittman, Jay Rath, Chris Houghton, Rick Tulka, Todd Clark, Garth Gerhart, John Martz, Ward Sutton, Tom Cheney, John Kerschbaum, Jonathan Edwards)
The Hunder Pains: Getting Tired (A MAD Movie Satire) (Desmond Devlin, Tom Richmond)
The MAD Vault- (From MAD #297, Sept 1990: Jack Davis, Mike Snider)
Spy vs. Spy vs. Spy (Peter Kuper)
Why the Lego Man was Made for Hollywood (Mike Morse, Scott Bricher)
Planet TAD!!!!! (Tim Carvell,)
A MAD Look at Gravity (Sergio Aragonés, Colorist: Jim Campbell)
MAD’s Guide to Proper All-You-Can-Eat Buffet Etiquette(Dick DeBartolo, Tom Bunk)
Warning Signs of a Crappy Tanning Salon (John Caldwell)
Books for the Growing U.S. Obese Community (Matt Lassen, Scott Bricher & Richard Williams)
Tips and Cheats for Obscure Lego Video Games (Scott Maiko, Hermann Mejia)
The Strip Club (Nathan Cooper, Keith Knight, Scott Nickel, Rob Harrell, Christopher Baldwin, Phil McAndrew, Peet Tamburino)
American Girls (Scott Maiko, Kira Shaimanova, Manolo & Jacob, Mako Studios, Sarah Chalek)
The Best of The Idiotical (various)
Another Ridiculous MAD Fold-In (Al Jaffee)
Drawn Out Dramas (Sergio Aragonés, appear throughout the issue)
I did the art on the parody of the second “Hunger Games” movie, a seven page extravaganza written by Desmond Devlin, entitled “The Hunger Pains: Getting Tired”. Look for a sneak peek of my art from that tomorrow.
Well . . . What are you waiting for, clod?!? Go out and buy a fershlugginer copy already!
Q: There’s a big (pardon the pun) difference between drawing a 15″ caricature (amusement park style) and a 3″ or 4″ that goes into a Mad drawing. Did you have difficulty switching sizes?
a: There is no major difference when it comes to the drawing, really. The same basic elements should be in place in a caricature of any size. The size it will be reproduced at is something to think about when it comes to execution, though. You can obviously include a lot more detail in a larger illustration, and you need to think more economically for something that will be viewed much smaller. That’s really more about technique and execution than it is the caricature itself.
For example, if I am doing a caricature in a MAD splash page, that is usually bigger than the ones I do in the panels. I can add more detail to the splash page caricature, or to a close up in a panel. In the longer shots, I am still imparting the same information, but I have to do it in fewer lines so it’s more simplified. It’s still the same basic information though.
In terms of drawing, “switching sizes” is an interesting dynamic… especially when you talk about live caricature. I’ve always found that beginner live artists tend to want to draw the face a certain size no matter what size paper they are working with. I have had to break many a rookie out of the habit of drawing enormous or tiny faces, and get them to work in a manageable size for the 12 x 16 inch paper we use. How do I do that? I make them draw practice faces in the opposite extreme size they are naturally inclined to draw at. So, if I have a rookie drawing tiny heads, I have them draw gigantic heads for practice, and vice versa. I personally like to draw my faces a certain size, and given no requirements for a job (like when I work in a sketchbook) the sizes of the heads I draw tend to fall into a certain range. I find it useful to draw a couple of caricatures of a MAD subject at my “comfort size” first, then when I have to do a smaller caricature in a long shot, I have the basic elements figured out and can just simplify them.
EDIT- After thinking more about this, there actually is a bit of a difference when doing a smaller caricature as opposed to a larger one. The smaller you get, the more you have to not just simplify but to push the exaggeration choices more. Subtlety is out, and you have to make the exaggerations count with much less information. So, a bit of a bulbous forehead needs to be a very bulbous forehead if you want your smaller caricature to carry any exaggeration weight.
Thanks to J Jackle for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here!