Staring me in the face as I sit at my desk is a wooden Cuban cigar box, stamped “Ramone Allones Trumps.” I began using it as a filing system back in the late 1970s when I moved to Manhattan and began taking this whole business of becoming a New Yorker cartoonist very seriously. Each week, on a 5×7” index card, I listed and numbered the cartoons I would bring up to the magazine’s offices on West 43rd Street. The card system began before I was accepted by The New Yorker and ended in the early 1980s when it suddenly dawned on me that writing down the captions each week was pointless. The cigar box, jammed with these cards, has remained untouched all these years—it’s a time capsule documenting my early attempts to grab the golden ring.
For me, the card dated August 22nd, 1977 marked a major turning point. Up til then I’d managed to sell zip, nada, nothing to The New Yorker. But with the August 22nd card everything changed. Among the fifteen drawings sent in that week were such curious captions (curious to me now) as caption #13, “I’ve been able to find mittens, but no Mickey” and caption #2, “Are you really buying the old Tony Curtis place?” But it was caption #10, “Nothing will ever happen to you” that The New Yorker bought and then handed over to Whitney Darrow, Jr. to draw up. It was an odd moment, being accepted and rejected ( the editor rejected my drawing, but accepted the caption). It would take a number of months for the The New Yorker to finally “OK” one of my drawings and run it under my own name.