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The Illustrator Said: Let There Be Cartoons!! And Lo, There Were Gags…

January 28, 2015

Gags– that means jokes, not choking and retching. I hope… : )

As previously mentioned, I started out as a cartoonist. I drew a lot of gag cartoons between 1982-2000. One submits them to cartoon editors “on spec” (speculation). Maybe they buy some, maybe they don’t.

My sales were few and far between. Eventually, I realized I’d missed “The Golden Age
Of Magazine Cartooning” by more than 20 years. Magazines that use cartoons are an endangered species. They’ve dwindled to just a few major markets since 1960.

A couple of weeks ago, I was surprised to get an email from a cartoon editor who said
he was in the market. So I dusted off some oldies, scanned them in, and submitted them electronically.

Here’s a sampling. They date to 1999-2000. Hope you enjoy them.

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gypsy woman fortune teller says banana future he'll be sliced up and lying on top of corn flakes

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Peter Rabbit crying in cemetery has left bunch of carrots on Beatrix Potter grave

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pastor welcoming big bad wolf to Bible study group with three little pigs who are terrified

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little bird in tree holding up compact disk to woman says song he just sang is on his new CD

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cat world cat accessory store at mall has scratching post to attract customers encourage them to look at merchandise

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dad and son about to part company, dad to play pinball machines, son to play video games

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two guys on desert island, cases of writing tablets glass bottles have washed up, but they don't have pen to write note

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dog walking toward fire hydrant to urinate, saying focus, control, flow

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fruitfly responding to magazine subscription phone solicitation, says year's subscription makes no sense fruit flies only live two weeks

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Did any of the cartoons make you laugh? Did you have a favorite?

Ever tried to draw a cartoon yourself?

Are you one of those folks who only looks at The New Yorker for the cartoons??

Hope you’ll leave a comment.

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Other Posts You Might Enjoy:


Sherlock Holmes: The Case Of The Scandalous Soap

St. Peter Seems A Little Testy Today

Oh Waiter, There’s A Fly In My Dinner, But Who’s Complaining??

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footer for all future blog posts showing picture of blog author Mark Armstrong, along with short bio and contact information

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36 Comments leave one →
  1. January 28, 2015 12:26 PM

    The fruit fly one made me chortle. As someone who gives short shrift to cold callers, I think I rather identified with that one. I’m going to show these to my kids. My two oldest (9 and 11) love to draw cartoons. I think these will inspire them.


    • January 30, 2015 9:03 AM

      Ha! You can’t beat that ol’ fruit fly humor! And they’re definitely a lot more lovable than telephone solicitors… : )

      You have a coupla budding cartoonists in the family? Excellent. I can tell they’re good lads, I’m happy to contribute to their, um, development. Always good to see you, Laura, many thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. soul . to . earth permalink
    January 28, 2015 3:20 PM

    The fruitfly one rocks! The fortune teller (in my case) would tell the banana: Blended, shaken and stirred….smooth, eh? 😉 Good luck! Great to see you back in action post-flu…..I can picture a doodle of you telling the flu to “bug off” 🙂

    I find most newspaper cartoons to be more cynical than funny. I like Sherman’s Lagoon, Calvin & Hobbes, Mutts, For Better Or For Worse…….


    • January 30, 2015 9:30 AM

      A thumbs-up for the fruitfly, bless his hairy little legs! Fluitflies and bananas– there’s a natural association there, but they both wanted their own cartoon… : )

      You’re a banana smoothie person? I understand Tarzan likes ’em, too, tho it’s hard to drink and do the grapevine thing at the same time. I suspect that’s also been your experience… : )

      I agree with you about newspaper comics: nowadays they mirror what passes for stand-up and sketch comedy: cynical, rude, smart-mouth. There’s something lazy about it. A good gag takes some mental gymnastics. That’s why my brain has so many lumps and bruises… : (

      Thank you for your usual vivacious commentary, my dear Radhika!! : )

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lily permalink
    January 28, 2015 4:50 PM

    Ahh! That poor banana!!

    I like a good cartoon – and I thoroughly enjoyed all of these! 🙂


    • January 30, 2015 9:35 AM

      Bananas– the poor devils! They’re a very giving fruit– they’ve provided us with a lot of laughs over the years. Think of all the comedians who have slipped on a banana peel. Yes, we owe those mushy fruits a lot. Why, they’re even shaped like a smile… : )

      And you and your comment made me smile, my dear Lily! Glad you enjoyed the toons, and thanks as always for your cheerful support!


  4. January 28, 2015 6:27 PM

    I hope you also sent an anchor with your work, or else I fear that editor might be lost in space, wandering with a great big smile on is face. I always come prepared when i visit! Not that I’d mind a little space wandering but I do mind missing the next work of Mark Armstrong! 🙂 I tried to choose by the way but my memory banks crashed trying! Yes, the smoke you see coming from Greece is from my brain! All I could hear was:


    Wishing you a beautiful and bug free Wednesday, my friend! 🙂


    • January 30, 2015 9:51 AM

      Send an anchor with my work–! Hmm… I’ll have to give that some thought– people tell me my work’s a big drag as it is… : (

      What a lovely image you’ve conjured up, my dear Marina– namely you sitting at your computer, tapping the keys with one paint-stained hand, holding fast to a big anchor with the other, wearing your toga and a sporty yachting cap!! Yes, I’ll be contemplating that image a lot today… : )

      Thank you for that lovely, rollicking comment, and the longest smoky-brain stream-of-consciousness thought ever recorded on this blog!! You have put a big smile on my face, and blasted all flu microbes to the other end of the galaxy!! : )

      Liked by 1 person

  5. January 29, 2015 6:08 AM

    You are so funny Mark! Where do you get your ideas from? I’ll never be able to look at my breakfast banana in the same way…


    • January 30, 2015 9:59 AM

      Where do I get my ideas? I think having a warped and twisted mind has something to do with it, but I hesitate to speculate too far in that direction… : (

      Do people still slice up bananas on cereal? That used to be the picture on every cereal box when I was a kid. I imagine the practice has been outlawed, thanks to The Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Mushy Fruit. We live in a sensitive age, Jen… : )

      Great to see you, thanks for stopping by!


  6. January 29, 2015 10:38 AM

    It’s 7:34 of the a.m. and I have been up since 3 working on a project. You blog hit my inbox, so I took a laugh break. Your cartoons were wonderful. . .I got a kick out of the imagination or thought process behind them. Can’t imagine why they were not picked up by publishers. New Yorker is the only source I know for cartoons (never really researched others). I once found a book about Bill Mauldin that had his WWII cartoons-nothing captures a moment of experience like a line drawing with caption.


    • January 31, 2015 8:37 PM

      What a wonderful comment– it made me laugh with delight! Up since 3 AM?? Are you sure you weren’t slap-happy by the time you got to the cartoons?? That may have been a factor… : )

      Thanks so much for your kind words. Yes, it is discouraging to have cartoons rejected over an extended period. Makes you wonder what you have to do! One gets philosophical about it over time. It’s a strange business! And you’re right: The New Yorker’s about the only game left in town for “general” cartoons– and much has been written about their very unique take on what’s funny… : )

      I’ve read a couple of Bill Mauldin‘s books. I stand in awe of what he was able to do: drawing cartoons out in the field during World War II. Amazing to think he produced all his cartoons with pen and ink and paper, long before there were any computers. Even more amazing to think he drew them in the middle of a war in actual battle zones.

      Thanks again for your lovely comment– now get some sleep! : )


  7. January 30, 2015 11:11 AM

    Ha, ha, ha! The merchandising bird is my favorite. Does he also offer shirts with prints like “get up early” ?
    I love your bible group, too. May I join?


    • January 31, 2015 8:46 PM

      Ha! Yup, good ol’ merchandising bird! Seems like everyone’s peddling a CD these days. I’m thinking of recording The Bratwurst Boogie, one of my original compositions. The flip side will be I Took Her Out For Sauerkraut, And Our Romance Ended On A Sour Note. I think it could be a big hit… : )

      Yes indeed, you’re very welcome to join our Bible study group. We need more sinners in the group. I’m tired of being the only one… : (

      Thank you for your always delightful comments, my dear Tutti!! : )

      Liked by 1 person

  8. January 31, 2015 1:01 AM

    I wouldn’t be good with comics. Jokes would be flat as a pancake, Mark.
    I enjoyed your 2 cavemen bereft of a pen and paper…on the deserted island. Truly lost!


    • February 1, 2015 11:11 AM

      Ha! Many of my jokes have fallen flat as pancakes, Jean. They can’t all be winners, as the racecourse bookie said to the poor guy wearing a barrel… : )

      Glad you liked the desert island gag. I wonder how many desert island gags have been done over the years? Must be up in the millions. They’re the ultimate cartoon cliche. The weird thing is, there’s always room for another one that hasn’t been done!

      I always appreciate your support, Jean– thank you! : )


  9. January 31, 2015 11:51 AM

    Hello, my favorite illustrator! You are also my favorite cartoonist. These are all great! I especially liked the three little pigs. 🙂 Thanks for sharing them with us after you dusted them off.

    I’m so glad you had someone knock on your door looking for cartoons!


    • February 1, 2015 11:22 AM

      Maddie! Blush, blush! Thank you for those stirring endorsements! They put a twinkle in my eye, which always looks so much nicer than the usual bloodshot veins… : )

      Glad you liked the toons. Yeah, you can’t miss with the three little pigs– they always know how to ham it up… : )

      Nice to have cartoon editors knocking on my door. Now if only one of them would remember to bring his checkbook… : (

      Great to see you, your cheery presence is always appreciated!! : )

      Liked by 1 person

  10. January 31, 2015 3:32 PM



  11. drakesdoodles permalink
    February 1, 2015 3:29 PM

    Love the fruit fly!


  12. February 1, 2015 9:20 PM

    Mark … I have several faves: the fortune teller and the banana, the wolf joining the Bible study group, and the cat scratch fever (at Cat World). Hope you hit a grand slam on all of them. 😉

    The competition might be stiff, but you’re one mighty talented guy.


    • February 5, 2015 8:51 AM

      Ha! Thanks, Judy! Yeah, that “cat scratch fever” was a strange one. I’d never heard the term “shoppertainment” before, and decided it definitely belonged in a cartoon somewhere! Many thanks for your kind comment and all your support!! : )


  13. February 2, 2015 8:14 AM

    The banana got me in from the start and I laughed at the fruit fly joke – my favourite here. Great take on the wolf and the three little pigs too. I find gags difficult to think up. Sometimes I can come up with a funny caption for a photo. I like gags though and have a lot of fun reading comics. 😊


    • February 5, 2015 9:02 AM

      Bananas, fruit flies– there seems to be a natural progression there!! For me, gags are all about free association. Often it’s a matter of pairing one unlikely thing with another, and musing about how they might interact. I’m not sure if “bible study” popped into my head while I was thinking about The Three Little Pigs, but once I put them together, I soon had my gag. I’m laughing just thinking about how that study group might have evolved from there!!

      Nice to see you, Maria, many thanks for your kind comment! : )

      Liked by 1 person

  14. sn9alltime permalink
    February 3, 2015 12:39 PM

    Though each one of them were good, the fruit fly and the pigs did make me smile wider than the rest. Definitely when the person who draws them is good, they are much cuter when they are cartoons. 🙂


    • February 5, 2015 10:11 AM

      The fruit fly and the pigs!– where would we be without these charming creatures?? OK, they lose some of their charm in real life… : )

      Glad you enjoyed the toons, thanks for your kind words, and a big thank-you for visiting my blog!


  15. February 3, 2015 2:19 PM

    What a twisted tale your illustrations tell! Love them all. Best to you on your new GIG 🙂 Shoe in, I say, shoe in.


    • February 5, 2015 10:17 AM

      Twisted tales– I guess they’re a specialty of mine! : )

      Nice to see you, Lesley, always a pleasure. Hope the new year is a-treatin’ you right.

      Shoe in?? Lord knows I’ve put my foot in my mouth a few times. There must be an easier way to floss… : )

      Many thanks for your kind comment and good wishes– cheers and all the best to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. February 8, 2015 3:04 PM

    I laughed, I cried, I enjoyed and I absorbed your wit. Delicious. Interesting point of view. I live in Winter Haven, Florida and the air quality is great. I work at Lego Land in the open air and breath it in. I am retired but I need to keep the juices flowing and the air circulating through my lungs. i got a real chuckle out of your work. Thanks for making my day. Barry


    • February 9, 2015 9:43 AM

      My dear sir–! You really made my day! Thanks for one of the best, most delightful, and most gratifying comments I’ve ever received. I’m very happy you enjoyed all the cartoons and the (cough, cough) “smog post.”

      Glad to hear you’ve got nice clean air down there in Winter Haven, and we are totally in sync re the need to keep the ol’ juices flowing and the lung-air circulating. We don’t have any Legos up here in New Hampshuh, but I find plenty of wood to chop, and snow to shovel. The latter just keeps on comin’– been one of those “interesting” winters!

      Great to meet you, Barry, and thanks again for your delightful comment! : )


  17. Angie K Walker permalink
    February 28, 2015 6:38 AM

    I liked the bird with the CD one and the beatrix potter one “best”, but I enjoyed them all. I like those two cos they are gentle and sweet and “off the wall”. The bird with the CD one seemed so unique and cute. Is it possible to be unique and cute? Anyway, I just enjoyed them. And that’s enough..


    • March 2, 2015 10:29 AM

      Thank you for that lovely comment, Angie– truly delightful. I wish more cartoon editors had your keen insight into what makes a cartoon enjoyable!! : )

      Is it possible to be unique and cute? Absolutely!!– people like you and I are living proof… : )

      A pleasure to meet you, and I do hope you’ll stop by again– cheers!


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