Top 5 reasons for (cartoon) rejections

Rejection is not a good thing, isn’t? I also feel so.

Especially, when you create something by investing time, thoughts and energy. And then your creation is rejected. It will for sure not make you happy.

Every time I create a publication cartoon, the exam begins! The quest begins to find whether it will be accepted or rejected by the editor of the publication.

And let me be honest, 6 to 7 times out of 10, the submitted cartoon is not received well (in other words rejected).

Do I feel bad? Well, “bad” may not be the best word to describe my feelings, but yes, I am not happy.

Of course, there is learning whenever there is a rejection. And I strive to learn from it and see how can I increase acceptance rate.

Let us dwell on varied reasons for rejections. I thought of penning top 5 rejection reasons below, based on my experience:

1. The cartoon is not funny – While toons are supposed to be funny, but humour is subjective. Something laughable for me may not be as amusing for you. And that is where knowing the audience is essential. Balancing the gag with the audience’s age, ethnicity, gender, socio-economy background, education, etc. plays an important role. But sometimes it fails. And the cartoon is rejected.

Check out one such example below in figure 1:

Figure 1

2. The cartoon is funny, but ‘our’ audience may not understand it – For a given subject, I will make sure that I am well read. With reading, I will be enriching my knowledge, but that means, I may be creating cartoons that are probably “intellectual”. However, me being smart on the given subject turns out that my toons act over-smart. Although the terminology used is specific to the topic – it is not mandatory that audience can relate to it. Hence, it becomes a catch 22 situation. But, given the disconnectivity between the gag and audience – the toon is rejected.

Check out one of the rejected toons below (figure 2), for the said reason.

Figure 2

3. The cartoon is funny; the audience will understand but may become controversial – WOW! I have satisfied both the conditions, but you know what? The toon can attract unwarranted attention OR can lead to controversy OR may hurt sentiments of a group. And hence, it is rejected. Many times, humour is taken seriously or literally. Or maybe, we no longer like to see the reality wearing the lens of humour. But the outcome is – the toon is rejected.

Check out one of the examples (figure 3 & 4) of such toon.

Figure 3
Figure 4

4. The cartoon seems cliched – Well, everyone laughed and understood the toon. But, it is showing a lack of originality; it is based on frequently repeated phrases or opinions. I again face the same catch 22 situations. If I pick up a phrase that is well understood by the audience because it has been around for some time, it is tagged cliched. And it results in – rejection.

Check out one such example below (figure 5):

Figure 5

5. Not sure why, but “I” did not like it – This is best! No objective data points to interpreted. I just did not like it. You grill to some extent – but the answer from the editor remains the same. And, I will be advised – do something different. Hmmm. And I go back to the drawing board (literally). But for now, the submitted cartoon is rejected.

Few such cartoons illustrated below.

Well, I am sure the editor is entitled to his / her opinion, and I have to learn the art of balancing.
As I draw more, read more and explore more – I am hopeful that my cartoon acceptance success rate will increase and rejections will cease.

I hope you like reading the article, and I would ask to express your opinion and observations which could help me to reduce the rejection rate!

Till then, I will continue to draw more.