Beeing a cartoonist in the pre-Internet era
When I started collaborating as a cartoonist, in the summer of 1996, nobody talked about the Internet, or they talked about it very little. Actually, the Internet existed in Italy 10 years earlier, in 1986, but it was limited to the scientific and governmental world.
I started surfing the web in 1998/1999, in the office where I worked. Then, we paid an annual subscription to connect to the Internet. In the company we were subscribers to “Italia online”.
Looking for a cartoonist job in the pre-Internet era
In a previous post I talked about how I started to collaborate by drawing cartoons and illustrations from 1996: I published a job announcement, “Cartoonist available …“, with my home phone.
The ads appeared in a Roman newspaper, so the contacts I received were obviously limited to the city of Rome.
I don’t know if there were newspaper ads for the whole national territory, but without email I would have to send my drawings by snail mail. As all the cartoonists have always done before the World Wide Web.
In a certain sense, I regret those times. On Thursday I went to the editorial office of the newspaper “Porta Portese” and give them the coupon with my ad, filled at home. Then I waited for Tuesday and Friday (the newspaper comes out in those two days).
Usually, the business call came the same day as the newspaper came out, rarely the day after. I kept a sheet in which I marked all the calls received: day, month and year, who called, what was required and whether the contact was successfull or not.
Do you meet scammers online? You met them even earlier
There was someone who asked me cartoons, but never paid.
- Cartoons for alarm systems advertisement: the two guys did not have an office and they arranged to meet me at a bar. They approved my draft, but no one showed up at the appointment to take the cartoon (and pay me). On the phone, then, they came up with banal excuses.
- Cartoons for a Highway Code book: the Ministry of Transport was involved. I was contacted by a company hired to create the book. I drew dozens of cartoons, but nobody paid me.
- Humorous sci-fi comics: the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance were involved. As above, I was contacted by a company hire to make the comic; it was a semi-animated cartoon, with cartoons in A4 format. After drawing the first color cartoon and skethed the second one by pencil, they decided to change the cartoonist without telling me (and without paying me).
Being a cartoonist in the pre-Internet era had a certain charm, which perhaps today has been lost. The contacts were less cold, I think. It’s the same virtuality that make relationships cold. The Web brings people closer, but perhaps makes them more distant at the same time.