So you’ve got some cartoons that you drew, and you want to get them published. Where? In a magazine? In a newspaper? Online? Answering this question is the second step to getting your cartoons published. (The first step is, of course, drawing them.)
There are basically two paths you can take – aiming low or aiming high. Aiming low means submitting your cartoons to magazines or other markets with low circulation, who don’t necessarily pay for submissions. While you certainly won’t get rich this way, you will (hopefully) accumulate some credits and be able to see your work in print. Placing multiple cartoons in the same publication is a great way to build up name recognition and a relationship with an editor or two.
Find a local newspaper, maybe a weekly or biweekly, and submit a few cartoons. Even if you can’t find specific guidelines for cartoons, take the chance and submit them – maybe the publication doesn’t regularly publish cartoons, but if the editor likes what you send him, he’ll make room for your work. Literary journals and small humor magazines are also good markets to submit to. Check out magazines such as Nuthouse or Axe Factory Review, which I can tell you will publish cartoons but don’t have specific guidelines for them, and which pay in contributor copies.
Getting published online is often easier than getting published in print. Many online magazines publish cartoons (usually with no payment). An Internet search will turn up some, including Wild Violet and Mad Hatter Review.
If you plan to aim high and start out with guns blazing, submit your cartoons to the higher-paying “glossy” mags. These are the ones you see on the newsstand with slick covers and prices that end in “.95” – magazines like Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, The Bark, The New Yorker, or The Writer. Their websites don’t always list cartoon guidelines, but you can pick up a sample copy and see the kind of work they are looking for. You can also always email the editor to see if they have any guidelines or restrictions regarding cartoons.
Another publishing route is syndication. If you’ve got the goods, syndication can be very lucrative. A syndicate is a company that will sell your cartoons to newspapers (or magazines) across the country on a regular basis, and you’ll be paid for each publication your work appears in. (Most newspaper comic strips are syndicated.) So if a syndicate places your cartoons in 10 weekly newspaper (which is a low estimate) and you get paid $10 by each newspaper,