One to a Thousand Cartoons: A journey

One to a Thousand Cartoons: A journey

Back in 1999, after a short course on cartooning at a local night-school, I decided to try my luck at drawing a few cartoons. I grew up in France, you see, and I have collected “Bandes Dessinees” all my life (well, as soon as I had pocket money at least). I have therefore a pretty impressive collection by now, with the likes of Asterix, Tintin, Gaston Lagaffe, Jeremiah, Largo Winch, Les Tuniques Bleues, Spirou, etc… So, being surrounded by all these great cartoon-books all my life, I tried to immitate the Masters as soon as I could hold a pencil. My teenage years were full of half-baked projects and ideas on how to start a “Bande Dessinee”, but of course, it was way too hard and I was too busy with school and let’s face it, I was not good enough!

So, having finished school, moved to Australia and started working, it didn’t leave much time for cartooning but always though for doodling. However, in September 1999, I drew my first single panel cartoon as the final assignment of the cartooning course and decided to call it “It’s a Jungle out there!”. My goal was to draw a few gag cartoons focussing on animals and see where it would lead. Well, I kept at it for a while and tried to draw a couple of new cartoons every week, but when you add up getting married and the arrival of two children (thankfully not at the same time), cartooning has not been my first priority, so I became a small-time freelance cartoonist.

My best move, however, cartooning-wise (I have to say that because my wife will read this), has been to join the Australian Cartoonists’Association, first as an Associate Member, then eventually as a Full Member once I had a proven track record of professionally published cartoons. To me, having this whole body of people willing to share their experience, tips and critiques has been invaluable and I have been able to draw from that (no pun intended) to improve, I believe, my cartoons.

All that to say that, in September 2007, 8 years after drawing my first “It’s a Jungle out there!” cartoon, I drew number 1000. It was therefore a time to reflect on my achievements as a small time freelance cartoonist.

My cartoons, now syndicated by Auspac Media (an Australian Syndicate), appear now daily in two newpapers (one of which is in the USA) and weekly in two also. Not too bad for an amateur. I’ve also sold cartoons, through Cartoonstock.com for newsletters, magazines, prints, books, T-shirts, aprons, coffee-mugs, etc… I am still to cross somebody wearing one of my cartoons on a T-shirt though, but I am still amazed that somebody out there could be cooking with an apron or drinking coffee from a cup bearing one of my cartoons! My website (www.hagencartoons.com) is visited quite frequently and I am pleased to see that most visitors add me to their “bookmarks” list.

However, like most “amateur/semi-professional” cartoonists, I do have a day job, thankfully, as my income from cartooning would not place me above the poverty line. But cartooning so far has been fun, and it is definitely different from my day job as a scientist where making the client laugh is definitely not a way to get a promotion…

“Hagen”, is a Sydney-based freelance cartoonist who draws a single-panel series called “It’s a Jungle out there!”. See www.hagencartoons.com for samples of his cartoons).

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