I’ve had my share of rejection letters from magazine and book publishers. My absolute favorite came from the now defunct magazine, Punch, back in June of 1978.
At that time I was reaching out to just about every publication I could find that ran cartoons (UFOlogy and Medical Economics were among the many magazines that rejected my work).
The New Yorker had just begun publishing my cartoons and I’d learned that a small handful of New Yorker cartoonists (including veterans like J.B.“Bud” Handelsman and Ed Fisher) were being published in Punch. I decided to try my luck, even though it meant there’d be a lot of time involved awaiting word from overseas.
I sent one batch of drawings to Punch and after some weeks, an envelope from them arrived in the mail. It contained the letter shown above, and highlighted below:
Dear Mr. Maslin,
Sorry to return these drawings, but I think they are just missing that elusive something. The zany joke has to have its own mad logic but on most of these the drawing is just too ‘throw away’. Hopeless to try to explain humour, as you can see, so therefore I have marked the three which were nearest for us.
I’m still grateful to the fellow who took a stab –- or was it more like a quick jab? — at explaining humor to me. I think he was probably wise to abandon the task, and let me continue out into the publishing world, mostly unschooled.