How To Be A Successful Cartoonist

by Curtoons

Is Writing Harder Than Drawing?

I saw this question pop up in my stats from a question posed on Google. I thought I would take a quick moment to answer it since it may be one of the lost secrets to getting a cartoon published and becoming a successful cartoonist.

In the business of gag cartoons, syndicated strips, greeting cards and comic books I would say that writing is easily the hardest part of becoming successful. A successful cartoon is comparable to a television sitcom in that the writing makes the show funny while the acting only compliments it.

The same is true in cartooning. Cartoonists that can draw are becoming a dime a dozen, especially online. If you’ve noticed in the past several years, many of the most popular cartoons weren’t actually drawn very well but the writing was exceptional. Once you’ve learned how to draw a character or object it’s just a matter of repetition. You don’t have to learn to redraw every cartoon or strip. The hard part comes in when you have to make each cartoon or strip funny.


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Magazines and syndicates see hundreds of thousands of cartoon submissions a year and yet only a very slim few every get published. Why do those special cartoons get published? Because of the writing. The humor is funny or the angle of the cartoon strikes a nerve with a large portion of society. Continuing to keep things funny and strike a nerve is a daunting task.

So, if you’ve ever wondered why your super cool cartoons, strips and characters are not getting published you might need to take a look at the writing. I’m almost 100% positive that a very well written cartoon or strip with poor drawings would ultimately get published before a well drawn strip with poor writing. Bad drawing can be improved and fixed, poor writing cannot.

Think about the old guy on a deserted island gag cartoon. Pretty much every cartoonist worth his weight can draw this cartoon, a guy, an island, water, a palm tree. Why don’t magazines publish every deserted island cartoon? Because they’re not all funny. And funny is in the writing.

I guess the moral to this story is that unless you are strictly an illustrator or graphic designer you had better brush up on your writing skills if you want to compete in today’s cartoon market. Spend as much time writing as you do drawing and see if your results don’t improve.

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