I think the average strike rate for cartoonists is quite low; around 10 or 20%, so most cartoonists reckon on selling only 1 or 2 cartoons from a batch of around 10. If you sell more than that, its a good feeling, swiftly followed by a feeling of impending doom. Back in 1982 or 1983, I sent a batch of only 6 cartoons to Punch, and they took 3, or 50%. I knew it was an ill-omen; things could only go downhill from there.
There is something comforting in Cartoon Editors picking only 1 or 2 of your ideas. You have the impression of things ticking along just nicely. As far as you are concerned they are possibly just taking one every week because you are dependable - there isn't too much pressure on you as you sit down to knock out the next batch. Now, you take just one cartoon out of that equation, and you really are under pressure. When you submit regularly to a market that takes one cartoon every time you send and suddenly they no longer take any, then you really begin to panic. Oddly, the reverse is also true; they take three of your cartoons when they usually only take one, and suddenly you are under a whole load of pressure. What does it mean, does it mean you have to raise the bar this late in your career? Can it be that you've peaked, and it is all downhill from here?
So here is a batch I put together back at the end of 2008, before I took ill, and which I really didn't punt much, but which failed to sell. I just wasn't feeling it. Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to drawing the next batch, which should be an interesting exercise as I think I'm drawing differently; again.
You'll notice that these are mainly pencil and some wash and colour; that's because I tend to send roughs, or at least I did last year but I think in the current climate most publications will prefer finishes, so I'm likely go back to sending the finished article.
Although I haven't rushed back into drawing cartoons, I have kept myself busy drawing a strip and redrawing a couple of Tales from Lepertown stories and I'm currently cooking up one or two indie pieces for a couple of projects out there in the wild. Just the other day though, an idea for a cartoon came to me and I scribbled it down and I had another idea earlier today, so I'm pretty sure I'll have 10 over the next day or two and then, with luck, I'll start chucking them out again.