Friday Spill: What To Do When There’s No Art Meeting
June 18, 2021
What To Do When There’s No Art Meeting
I’m guessing that most New Yorker readers are unaware that the magazine’s cartoonists meet a self-imposed weekly deadline for submitting their drawings (“self-imposed” is in italics because it’s important to note). Even those cartoonists with contracts are not obligated to send in every week — or any week, if you’re in a Joe Mitchell mood  (and in my never-ending effort to dispel a modern myth: there is no designated number per week anyone needs to submit. The myth began about a decade ago that we have to send in 10 drawings a week. False! It was a suggestion by the then cartoon editor to one aspiring cartoonist that, like poison ivy, spread to the cartoonist community, and somehow became accepted as gospel. Send in however many cartoons you want. No one is counting).
The New Yorker‘s weekly art meeting is, for cartoonists, one of the wonders of The New Yorker‘s world and one of two high points of their week (the other high point is Friday’s news, or no news, about whether you’ve sold a drawing). The word “weekly” should carry an asterisk because it is weekly, except for those weeks when, for a variety of reasons, it isn’t. Summertime breaks, holidays, and, since the advent of double issues when the ownership of the magazine changed hands in the late 1980s, there is no art meeting during one of the weeks covered by the double issue’s date. As the magazine tells you in every issue:
The New Yorker is published weekly (except for four planned combined issues, as indicated on the issue’s cover, and other combined or extra issues)…
That means that cartoonists can expect, at the very least, a month’s worth of no art meeting weeks a year.
So, what to do when you know the usual week’s roller coaster ride is switched off? I say “roller coaster” because there’s always a bit of a rush submitting your work on Tuesday, followed by the joy ride on Wednesday and Thursday thinking that, just maybe, one of your comic gems might be (in the magazine’s parlance) OKed. Friday, the end of the ride, could be a big whoop! if you get that OK, or a real let-down, if you don’t. Let-downs are frequent —  rejection is a cartoonist’s common condition. But that’s The New Yorker cartoonist’s life. You accept it when you enter this world.
There was sort of a running joke between myself and one of my best New Yorker cartoonist friends, the late very great Jack Ziegler, when a no art meeting week was upon us. Jack would invariably cheer the break, and have something fun planned. I would ignore the break and continue working as if there was an art meeting on the horizon.
Jack pretended that my behavior really bugged him — and maybe it did. But we all need to do what we need to do, and I needed to not stop drawing cartoons daily. This no-break thing has resulted in a surplus of cartoons not-yet (and some maybe never) submitted to The New Yorker (the most recent surplus pictured left). Although I said up above that there is no required number of cartoons to submit weekly, I wouldn’t want to set off my editor’s overkill meter by sending her what I would consider an annoying number of drawings in a week. I send in what feels right to send in (sort of like a deli worker slicing and then weighing a pound of whatever in their hand before placing it on the scale). I might send in seven drawings, or I might send thirteen, or five. What’s sent in is what feels right at the time.
So there you have it.  I really miss Jack’s highly amusing pot shots at me around these no-art meeting weeks (we’re in one now), but at the same time, when no art meetings roll around, I never forget them, and bonus: I’m reminded of him.
Finally, some words of wisdom from my local Agway sales person. A couple of days ago, when I asked about her store’s masking policy, she said, “You do you.”
 
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MICHAEL MASLIN
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