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Year-End Laffs Dept: Gag Cartoons That Won’t Make You Gag– I Hope!

December 29, 2011

I started out as a gag cartoonist, submitting one-panel gag cartoons to magazines “on spec” (as in speculation: maybe the cartoon editor would like one enough to buy it). Years ago, one sent them via snail mail. You had to enclose an SASE (= self-addressed stamped envelope) if you wanted them back.

There was actually a time (roughly 1930’s thru mid-60’s) when, once a week, on “look day,” cartoonists in big cities like New York would drop by brick-and-mortar magazine offices and show their latest gags to cartoon editors in person. I don’t go back quite that far.

Some magazines still require hard copies and an SASE, but many now accept submissions online. I hadn’t submitted cartoons on spec for many years. I decided to jump back in this year and submit some electronically (my SASE days are over).

Here are a few that made me laugh anyway. Hope you enjoy them.

Note: You’ll notice that a couple of the cartoons say No Caption. That’s because it’s standard practice to indicate to a cartoon editor that a particular cartoon does not have a caption. I wanted to include that information for any aspiring gag cartoonists out there– it’s not because I don’t think my readers are smart enough to “get” a captionless gag!!

Also FWIW: one of the cartoons (“Recycling”) has a non-spoken caption. That’s a fairly standard device in modern cartoons. You don’t see it as often in pre-1970 cartoons.

Happy New Year, see you all in 2012!

B&W cartoon showing marshal Wyatt Earp text messaging his victory over the Clanton Gang at the OK Corral

B&W cartoon showing two birds, with one dressed as Jack Sparrow, the movie pirate character

B&W cartoon showing traditional see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil monkeys, with addition of fourth monkey wearing crooked baseball cap and giving hand signals associated with street gangs

B&W cartoon of dog bringing old bones, chew toys, and mailman's pants to recycling center

B&W cartoon of librarian asking dirty old man wearing dark glasses and raincoat if he wants to view porn on library computer

B&W cartoon of doctor telling Greek god Zeus that he has torn rotator cuff and will have to stop throwing lightning bolts for awhile

What do you think? Have a favorite? Anything make you laugh out loud? Groan? Slap your forehead?? Hope you’ll leave a comment.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. robpixaday permalink
    December 30, 2011 9:09 AM

    These are a delight! All funny, all wonderfully drawn.
    The one that made my instantly LOL (truly) was “Sparrow, Jack Sparrow.”
    Saw it, and guffawed.
    All of them are full of twinkly humor, which I love.
    The one that tiptoed up behind me and tickled me nearly senseless is “OK Corral.” It’s just a treasure.

    That’s fascinating about “look day.”

    What great news, that you’re jumping back in!!!


    • December 30, 2011 10:11 AM

      Thank you for this twinkly comment which tickled me nearly senseless! (which wasn’t easy since I was nearly senseless to begin with… : )

      Yes, crossing Jack Sparrow with James Bond seemed a natural, and thank goodness for texting– I think it’s multiplied potential cartoon gags by a factor of about 10 billion!

      Thanks as ever for your cheery support. I look forward to visiting your blog and having many more twinkly exchanges in 2012!!


  2. January 1, 2012 12:29 AM

    Love it! Unfortunately I don’t get the joke of the first and the last one. Poor me. But the rest of them made me laugh out loud. They made my first day in the new year…hahhaahhahahahahahahahaahahahaha

    Thanks, Mark! Happy New Year 2012! All the best for you. 🙂


    • January 3, 2012 12:34 PM

      Ah! I can see where that first cartoon could be very obscure to someone who didn’t grow up in the United States watching a lot of western movies! It’s a reference to what’s known as the Gunfight At The OK Corral, a famous real-life American Old West shootout that occurred in 1881 (click link for background info).

      The unhappy patient in the last cartoon is supposed to be the Greek god Zeus, who has a close association with thunderbolts (click link, etc).

      Don’t worry– you’re not the only person who has ever been stumped by one of my cartoons! Glad you enjoyed the others. Happy New Year!


      • January 8, 2012 8:16 PM

        aha! Thanks for the links, Mark. You are right about the first one. And now I get the joke of Zeus, LOL.

        Thanks, Mark!


        • January 9, 2012 4:43 PM

          You’re very welcome! Sometimes even I need a few hints in order to understand my cartoons!! : P


  3. February 13, 2012 2:18 PM

    Thanks for the inside scope on the world of a freelance cartoonist. I would be interested in knowing who your favorite cartoonists are? Also love your cartoons. The OK corral I got but I don’t know who Clanton was so I feel I’m might be missing something. My favorite is Dog Recycling Center followed closely by Sparrow . . . Jack Sparrow!


    • February 14, 2012 8:23 AM

      My favorite cartoonists… ::smites forehead with fist, must think, must think!!::

      One of my favorite gag cartoonists was a guy named John Gallagher who almost always made me laugh out loud. He died in 2005 at age 79, and, inexplicably, tragically, is almost totally forgotten. My favorite editorial cartoonist was Jeff MacNelly, who later ventured into newspaper comic strips. His style was unique. I would gaze at his political cartoons in complete awe and simmering jealousy. He, too, is no longer with us.

      Perhaps I most admire Alex Raymond, best remembered here for creating the Flash Gordon comic strip, and a later strip about an amateur detective named Rip Kirby (what ever happened to amateur detectives??). Raymond was a cross between a cartoonist and an illustrator, and worked in a realistic style. To me, his pen and ink and brushwork is unequaled.

      I’m a huge fan of your Ronald Searle, and also Carl Giles. They are/were giants, both of them tremendous inspirations. I’ll also mention French cartoonist Jean-Jacques Sempé. For pure fun, energy, and inventiveness, he’s hard to beat!

      Whew! Got carried away on that answer– forgive the gas!

      The Clantons were the “bad guys” shot up by the Earps at the OK Corral– though the actual “goodness” of all participants is hugely debatable, despite what one sees in the movies!

      Glad to know you enjoyed the cartoons, Linda, and thanks so much for your kind support!! : )


      • February 14, 2012 12:21 PM

        Well thank you for that! I find it all quite fascinating. I’ve always liked cartoons as everyone does but I’ve never put any thought into this form of humor except to laugh or not laugh. Talking to a real cartoonist has sparked my interest in the subject and I will be checking out those cartoonists you mentioned to see what a real cartoonist connoisseur likes!

        And the only thing I know about the OK corral is mostly from the Star Trek episode! But it must have been a pretty big story since references to it seem to pop up all the time.


        • February 14, 2012 4:28 PM

          It’s not often I’m called a connoisseur. I think I’ll have a little name tag printed up, identifying me as such, and wear it around at the club, as soon as I can find a club that will let me in… : )

          Yes, many of us rely on Star Trek for our grasp of, er, Earth history. I suspect the OK Corral has much in common with the legend of Robin Hood. There’s a John Wayne western called The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance where one of the characters, a newspaper editor, sums it all up: “This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” : )


        • February 14, 2012 4:38 PM

          Ha ha! Love that story! And I feel I need to confess that I did have to look up the spelling of connoisseur!


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