I have drawn, literally, thousands of cartoons since becoming a professional cartoonist in 2005. Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of my work hasn’t ended up in the bin.
However, rejected cartoons tend to be quite popular because, I’m guessing, they were rejected.
To loosely quote Carly Rae Jepsen, I really really really really really really like the following.
My favourite rejected cartoons of all time.
The terrorist doll.
I drew this in 2010, but didn’t ever finish it. While busy, it occurred to me that no editor will have the guts to publish it. I didn’t want to cut deeper into my deadline, so I signed the cartoon and archived it.
Whitney’s greatest hits.
After Whitney Houston died in 2012, I drew this one. It was immediately rejected by the editor, on the grounds that “it is in poor taste”.
In my opinion, overdosing on drugs and leaving behind your dead body for your daughter to discover, is in poor taste. Which is what the coroner’s report eventually revealed; she overdosed.
In an interesting turn of events, the editor decided to run the cartoon three days later.
A gay walks into a bar.
Much like the terrorist doll cartoon, this one also didn’t make it to the editor’s desk. I suppose you might refer to it as “self censorship”.
Here’s the thing. I’ve worked with a multitude of editors and have learnt - more or less - where the no-go zones are. You might be wondering, then, why I drew the cartoon in the first place, if I knew its final resting place.
Because I found it funny.
She is here.
This is my Winnie Mandela obituary.
The client called me to say that, while he supports free speech and publishing of the cartoon, he would prefer trying to convince me not to run it. He agreed with the cartoon’s sentiment, but cautioned that the ANC’s possible outrage might not be worth the fight.
He twisted my arm and I decided rather to archive it.
That’s all for now.
Off the top of my head, these four stand out the most. I will flip through my library at a later stage, and write a follow-up post.