July 25th, 2007

The Zombie

A rose, a snowman, a Fish, a Trail Boss, and the Meaning of WOMP

July 24 -  Lot's to say, so I guess I'm back to the list format again (mercifully...especially for you Oz fans).

1)  I must preface the following with this statement; in spite of everything, I still really like drawing cartoons for people.  That having been said, cm'here, kid, so I can talk to you about something.   So, you say you're interested in a career as a cartoonist, eh?  I know, I know; the adoring fans, the piles of cash, the immortal works of art that will carry your illustrious name forward through history...what's not to want?  Well, kid, let me set you straight.  Cartooning is, at least in theory, an art career, and careers in the arts are as rare as roses at the North Pole, and twice as difficult to keep alive.  Worse, cartoonists are like the invertebrates of the art-species classifications; they are lowly, disgusting, and useful to the larger world of Art only as occasional ingredients.  I have been struggling, or at least dabbling, with a cartooning career for a shocking 25 years now, and I have had only a handful - and I'm talking, like, less than a dozen - cartooning jobs that transpired as I might have hoped or planned.  By that, I mean that (A) I was contacted by a client, with whom I discussed the project and agreed to an appropriate fee and reasonable deadline, (B) I successfully completed the project to the client's (and my own, higher) expectations, (C) I was paid, in full, in a timely fashion, and (D) (perhaps just as importantly), my finished artwork was used in exactly the limited manner for which it was requested (so, D.5 would be that any further use of the art, past that for which it was commissioned, was first cleared with me).  I have had several of my art jobs adhere to two or even three of those concepts, a few perhaps to only one, and far too many without any of those simple standards having been met.  Most of the time, in one way or another, I get screwed.  Sometimes I just get screwed a little, sometimes I get screwed a lot, but I usually get screwed at least "some."  And I'm not unreasonable.  I don't really expect, say, the local high school, or a mom getting a caricature of her kids, or, really, any of the locals with whom I have done business, to comply with such high expectations.  If they have a hard time paying me, or reuse a logo on a different project a few years later, or reproduce one of my old drawings for T-shirts or something, I just shrug it off, chalking it up to the peculiarities and pitfalls of my chosen business.  I'm not a jerk about it.  As "unfair" as it may be legally, I'm just saying that eponymous truck decals featuring Calvin peeing on a Ford logo are a fairly reasonable price for Bill Watterson to have paid for his career (not that I'm in the same league as Mr. Watterson...or even a peeing Calvin, for that matter).  And there are SO many ways to screw artists!  IF the artwork was paid for at all in the first place (the most common problem), it can also be stolen, misused, altered, miscredited, ransomed, and even destroyed.  That all came back to me this week as....well, this week has not been kind to my cartooning "career," as I have been hit with a series of unfortunate, and embarrassing, blows regarding three completely different, but important, recent art jobs (such setbacks are part of the reason why I put "career" in quotes like that).  Although somewhat upset, I have just shrugged these off, adding them to the list.  The WOMP Staff, however, is positively livid!  Seeing her husband so publicly pimp-slapped has been pretty tough for her, I guess.  I've tried to explain that this is just par for the course, but she hasn't had a quarter-century of acclimation to such conditions like I have.  She's that proverbial rose at the North Pole.  Me?  I'm a snowman; I'm so accustomed to all of this that I'm made of it. In fact, much to The Staff's consternation, I am already planning on working again with two of the three clients who just screwed me.  Uh...hmm.  So, what does that make me?  Don't say it! I already know; "a cartoonist."

2)  I want to send an actual shout out to Lori Schoenhard, who has just become the Official Fish of WOMP, and is well under way to becoming an Official Friend of WOMP.  HAPPY THIRD ANNIVERSARY, LORI!  Ha-ha!  I bet you weren't expecting that!

3)  I definitely picked the wrong month to feature comic book editors.  Way back at the end of Pantsless Comic Book Characters Month, the concept of featuring editors just seemed like a good counterpoint.  It never occurred to me that, because of the International Comic-Con in San Diego, coupled with the other Summer shows, promotions, and projects, July is their busiest month of the year.  If it had crossed my mind, I would never have sent brief e-questionnaires to ten well-known comics editors with any expectation of getting responses this month.  August?  Maybe.  July?  Forget it!  I still feel like some will send their answers to me at some point, but, with the nation's (and possibly the world's) largest comic book convention starting tomorrow, I think I'm out of luck for the remainder of Comic Book Editors Month.  There is a cool back-up, however!  Comics Buyer's Guide Trail Boss, and O.F.O.WOMP, Brent Frankenhoff, answered the same questionnaire that I'd sent to the comics editors.  Although Brent is technically an editor of a comic book trade journal, his answers are great, entertaining, and too good to postpone!  Tomorrow, I hope to post what he wrote...right while he, too, begins the first of several very full days in San Diego!  Good luck, Brent!

4)  OK.  What I'm about to talk about is not "official," by any means.  In fact, at this point, it's something between an impulse and a consideration.  Still, I wanted to put the following germ of an idea in front of you, dear WOMP-Blog reader; I'm thinking of changing the meaning of "WOMP" from "World of Monkey Productions" to "World of Mundt Productions."  Whatchya think?  I'm not sold on it (nor even the need for it), but it did flash through my brain, so I thought I'd see how it sounded to you.

5)  That's it for now.  Have a great day!  Here's your Comic Book Editor of The Day - Tom Brevoort!