Tuesday, July 24, 2007

How To Write to a Cartoonist

A correspondence primer for those who need to put others in their place (and rightfully so):

1. When writing to a cartoonist, immediately assume a spurned, petulant or even churlish tone. This will automatically capture your intended's attention by playing off of their gnawing fear that they have once more disappointed their readership as well as their desire to make everything all right. A suitable sample opener would be "I am almost halfway finished writing this first sentence and I have still yet to get a response from you."

2. Genuine inquisitiveness is the life's blood of any healthy dialogue. Showcase your interest in the cartoonist's career with such queries as "Seriously, have you ever worked in a real office before?", "Seriously, have you ever been a member of a family before?" and "Seriously, have you ever had a ripe peach before?"

3. Form a strong, perhaps unyielding bond with the cartoonist. This can easily be accomplished by drawing obvious parallels between your life and those of the comic strip's characters. Such examples are "I couldn't help but notice that on the 7/3 strip of Sally Forth you had Ted eat a sandwich for lunch. Surely you know that I, too, have been known to enjoy a sandwich for lunch. Care to explain? Hmm? I'm waiting.", " I see that you mentioned North America, my home continent, in your strip. Clearly this cannot be a coincidence." or "Why is Hilary looking at me like that again?"

4. The workday of a cartoonist is a solitary one, oft bereft of the crucial exchange of ideas and inspiration that encourage powerful results and great art. It is therefore your task to help said cartoonists by offering your own suggestions. Make sure that they come across as emphatic as possible so that your proposals simply cannot be ignored: "Have you ever thought that maybe you shouldn't be writing a comic strip?!", "Your latest story arc is surely your dumbest yet. For the last time, when are you going to introduce some sort of mole character in the strip?!" and "I'm neither a mom nor employed. Maybe it's about time you did a strip that actually spoke to your reader!"

5. Correspondence is a two-way street, even when there's not a single chance in hell that the cartoonist will respond. That's because writing a fan letter to a cartoonist can be quite the cathartic exeprience, much to the surprise of the very author of the letter. Often in the act of pointing out the foibles of others one might well learn a little something about themselves, such as "I don't know why a comic strip named 'Sally Forth' has to put the female character of Sally so much in the front and center when I'm a real guy who doesn't like such women's lib feminism crap like my having to report to a female boss and constantly calling girls who don't return my calls and wondering just what my undying affection for Derek Jeter really means and feeling sweaty and threatened when I'm the only man in the elevator and also I hate my mom."

6. While an ultimatum can seem unduly harsh, sometimes you just have to draw a line in the sand to get your recipient's undivided attention and spur necessary action. Such demands can include "As a long time reader of your strip I will never read your strip again until you apologize for that crack about double-sided windows", "Until you find Ted and my husband a career--a good one, not just some job--I'm never reading your so-called 'funny' strip again" and "I'm not even buying a newspaper until I see 'Moley,' the mole character, in 'Sally Forth.'"


Delano said...

So, when are we going to see Moley?

Woodrowfan said...

Personally I think you need to mention by name every Sally fan from Josh's board in SF.

vclortho said...

I think you forgot a bullet point: the churlish salutation. "Dear Blockhead", "Dear Cheesebutt", and "To Whom It May Concern My Undying Hatred For This Awful, Awful Strip"

Amber said...

Okay, how about this then. Ted slowly becomes withdrawn and catatonic. Ralph shows up inexplicably to help him, where Ted reveals that he "sees Mole People." The whole story arc climaxes when Ralph discovers that he himself is a Mole people. Dénouement: Sally smirks.

Freakin' gold. This comic stuff writes itself!

yellojkt said...

What color crayon works best?

woodrowfan: Is there another SF fan? I haven't been in the comments much lately.

Patrick said...

Wow. This just confirms my belief that even semi-public figures are exposed an endless barrage of MADNESS.

I didn't even realize people wrote to comic strip authors until I started reading your stuff over at Drink at Work.

Woodrowfan said...

yellojkt: sure, there are a bunch of us! resistance is futile/.

moonwatcher said...

Ces, have you noticed that the online version of Sally Forth has made the Harry Potter cover blue? It's been making me angry every day this week.