Cartoonist Profiles: Jerry King
(This interview was originally published in 2002)
Jerry King is one of the most published, prolific and versatile cartoonists in the world today.
His work has appeared in thousands of greeting cards, magazines, Web sites, books, newspapers, newsletters and children’s books. His client list includes Disney, Playboy, American Greetings, The United States Golf Assoc., and many others.
Jerry’s magazine credits include Playboy, Better Homes and Gardens, Golf Digest, The Saturday Evening Post, National Enquirer, Woman’s World and hundreds of others world wide.
Jerry is a recipient of the Reuben award for magazine cartoons.
eToon: As a start — Mr. King or Mr. Cartoon King?
Jerry King: Certainly not Cartoon King, as I’m only one of a large amount of cartoonists in the world doing this great job. But I wish I had a King’s income:0)
eToon: Congratulations on winning the Reuben award for magazine cartoons! Were you surprised by it?
Jerry King: Big time! I was speechless. I would’ve got drunk to celebrate, but I was at a bar when my wife called me to tell me Glenn & Gary McCoy had called from cancun
to tell me the news. So I was already drunk.
eToon: Why did you decide to become a cartoonist?
Jerry King: I always loved to doodle. To get paid to do it is the best. I also love the fact that I make my own hours and work at home. And it’s great having a job that deals with humor.
eToon: Here’s a little dirty secret we know about you:-) — except a brilliant cartoonist, you are a real boxing champion! Do you think this has helped you in dealing with your clients?
Jerry King: Being a former Golden Gloves champion has helped me in everything. It gave me confidence, self-esteem and the toughness to go through the tough times.
eToon: How did you become a “Playboy” cartoonist?
Jerry King: By the time I approached Playboy, I had already been widely published. Luckily, Michelle Urry saw something in me that many of the other editors of large publications didn’t. I feel my sense of humor fits well with Playboy and they gave me a chance.
eToon: What can you tell us about those … hm, the “pajamas” parties?
Jerry King: Not a thing:0( I met one cartoonist who said it took him 19 years before he met Mr. Hefner. So I have about 11 more years left. Working for Playboy is in no
way an invite to the mantion. But it matters not, I’m married and I hate to travel.
eToon: Is it true that you stole Hue’s girlfriend?
Jerry King: My wife would turn me into that Bobbitt guy.
eToon: Jerry, how do you find new markets? Do you make any “cold calls” or do you wait for the clients to call you?
Jerry King: Both! I contact magazines, websites, greeting card companies, ect… Also, they contact me. A freelancer MUST promote himself in every way possible. If one
simply waits for clients to come to him, they’ll never make it.
eToon: You have a such wonderful drawing style! Do you have any art training?
Jerry King: None. I tried art in college but was failing. So I switched to English. I really didn’t follow any cartoonist as a kid which is why, I believe, my style is original. I sometimes like to combine realistic backgrounds with my cartoon characters. Many of my Playboy cartoons are like that.
eToon: What is the schedule of a man “working @ home”?
Jerry King: I start work about 8 AM, and I work off and on until around 8 PM. It never ends. Freelancers must work as many hours as possible. Since we don’t do one cartoon
per day and make 2 mil a year, we have to put in the hours. But I do have an active social life. I golf alot, and have a lot of friends.
eToon: Jerry, is cartooning a “real” job?
Jerry King: YES! I make as much money as anybody I know, if not more. I’m incorporated, I have an accountant and I work a lot of hours. But I do have the luxury of taking
time off when I want to. I’m the boss!
eToon: If you were a golf pro, would you still be cartooning?
Jerry King: NO! But I prefer cartooning, because it allows me to stay home with my wife and child. No career is worth leaving your family all the time. If I won the lottery, I’d never draw cartoons again. I would simply golf with my friends a LOT!
eToon: What is the best thing for you as a cartoonist?
Jerry King: Being with my wife and child all day!
eToon: Where does your inspiration come from?
Jerry King: 3 things: money, money, money. I draw cartoons to make money, not to express myself. I have a nice home, nice cars and other perks. This all comes from money.
eToon: Is there a secret for being a successful cartoonist?
Jerry King: Yes. A cartoonist must “promote” and “produce.” A freelance cartoonist MUST be prolific, end of story.
eToon: Do you work with any agencies? Do you think they help the artists?
Jerry King: Awhile back, all the agencies rejected me. So F* *K them. I can do the job better than them, anyway. I do believe thay can help though. Why not have someone
out there promoting your work? BUT, a cartoonist doesn’t NEED them.
eToon: Is there a market you most like working for? Magazines, books, greeting cards, etc.?
Jerry King: I Love working for Playboy!
eToon: What us the secret for creating a funny cartoon?
Jerry King: The main secret is drawing a cartoon that people can relate to. Some cartoonists draw about some really off the wall stuff. I get my ideas from everyday life.
eToon: Do you have cartoons you’ll never sell to anyone?
Jerry King: If I could, I’d sell every cartoon I’ve ever done 10,000 times.
eToon: How long does it take you to create a cartoon from start to finish? How many cartoons do you draw per day?
Jerry King: Usually about 20 minutes, and that’s in color. Playboy, 2 hours. I draw about 10 to 15 cartoons per day, every day. I do several daily features, several weekly features, several monthly features, and greeting cards. Plus I get assignments doing cartoons for companies and individuals.
eToon: Tell us a bit about the selling process. Do you have set rates for your work and do you give discounts?
Jerry King: I don’t have set rates. I go by the size of the client. If a client can only pay $50 per cartoon, no problem. Others may pay me $500 per cartoon. A cartoonist
who isn’t an Almighty God, must work with each client seperately.
eToon: Do you ever laugh at your cartoons?
Jerry King: Nope, but I do know my cartoons are somewhat funny, because I know people can really relate to them. Life can be funny, so that’s where I get my ideas.
eToon: What’s your favorite food?
Jerry King: I love fruit, and icecream.
eToon: Do you have any pets?
Jerry King: 2 birds and a dog. Does my wife Annie count?
eToon: What is the most exotic place you have ever been to?
Jerry King: Jamaica, Mon.
eToon: What do you know about Bulgaria?
Jerry King: It’s warm and tropical, and is about 400 miles south of Miami. As you can tell, nothing.
eToon: How do people react when you tell them you are a cartoonist?
Jerry King: They can’t believe it, or they think I’m lying. It’s the type of job that lawyers, doctors… really respect.
eToon: Is cartooning “art”? Or is art cartooning?
Jerry King: It’s defintately an art form I wish universities would recognize it as such. Colleges will have a classes in glass blowing, but not cartooning. it’s not fair, boo-hoo.