Friday, August 7, 2009

Why is getting published in the New Yorker a career-changing event?

** The following was written and drawn by Portland, Oregon-based cartoonist Shannon Wheeler -- and appears in the August, 10, 2009 issue of The New Yorker.

** No further information is required to get the joke above, but it's worth noting that many people subscribe to the New Yorker -- just for its cartoons alone. According to figures released by the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), this seemingly "recession-proof" magazine still boasts a weekly circulation of 1.05 million copies.

** Shannon Wheeler is better known for his previous efforts, e.g., his alternative comic-strip series, "Too Much Coffee, Man" (which will soon be re-printed in book format) -- and for his Postage Stamp Funnies in the satirical publication, "The Onion." His cartoon collections have also been published by Dark Horse.

** But many believe Mr. Wheeler's career will soon shoot into the stratosphere -- because the New Yorker Magazine only began publishing his cartoons this year.

** "My age is 'old,'" wrote Mr. Wheeler in an e-mail reply to this column, "though when I met another New Yorker cartoonist, he recently called me a 'young cartoonist.' I'm 42 -- a very nice 'meaning of life' age to start getting published in the New Yorker."

** Nevertheless, getting published in The New Yorker remains a dream achievement for many budding artists and writers. It's believed to carry an instant stamp of acceptance by higher literary and artistic circles in the United States -- even though there are no guarantees that a creative talent will subsequently achieve long-term commercial success. Still, imagine what it means to an artist to get paid to do what he or she already loves -- with near complete freedom to "color outside the lines."

** No matter how agreeable or disagreeable one might feel about the New Yorker Magazine's politics, its cartoons are univerally admired for their dry wit. From the legendary James Thurber, Peter Arno and Charles Addams -- to today's Roz Chast and Leo Cullum -- the magazine's cartoonists have consistently entertained millions of readers for more than 80 years. (The New Yorker's first issue was published in February 1925. The cartoon below was drawn by Ward Sutton and appeared in the July 21, 2008 issue of the magazine.)

(Original material © 2009 by David Kusumoto.)

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