Monthly Archives: May 2007


The Dawn of Dilbert


Reactions to the submission package were mixed.

February 17, 1988

Dear Mr. Adams:

Thank you very much for sending us your interesting feature, “Dilbert”. We were impressed with the quality of the work and in your obvious credentials.

After carefully evaluating your material, however, we don’t feel that we can successfully syndicate it at this time. This is no reflection on the quality of your work or of your ideas. Rather, it is our assessment of what will sell in today’s newspaper market.

If you should develop another feature idea, we would be very interested in seeing it.

Wishing you the very best of luck, I am,

July 6, 1988

Dear Mr. Adams:

I apologize for the lengthy delay in responding to your submission. “Dilbert” arrived at about the same time as I began work at King Features. I liked “Dilbert” enough that I placed it in a small stack of submissions that I wanted to reply to personally. Unfortunately, it has taken me this long to settle into my job enough to have the time to respond to the better submissions we receive.

We are not going to syndicate “Dilbert,” but I did want to write to encourage you in your career as a cartoonist. I am most impressed by the writing and sense of humor in “Dilbert.” The art needs to be developed to an equal level. Your lettering should be larger and try to using all capital letters. The characters are well designed, but the finished art needs to be more polished.

Look at existing cartoon work that you like and experiment with different techniques and materials. Just drawing cartoons frequently is the best way to improve.

Again, sorry for the delay in getting back to you and please continue with your cartooning.

March 23, 1988

Dear Mr. Adams:

As you may recall, a while back you and I discussed the cartoons that you sent to my syndicate. Well, I’ve continued to think about your work- especially about the fact that you could benefit from working with a collaborator who may be more accomplished as an artist but whose sense of humor meshes with yours.

I’ve enclosed the work of three unsyndicated cartoonists whose work I like. They have in common with you a gift for the imaginative gag and the quiet punchline. You might like to look their work over.

I have no idea about whether or not they want to collaborate. But I do STRONGLY suggest that you contact them and let me know how your dealings with them go.

Good luck!

The editor called me when he saw my submission of Dilbert for syndication. He suggested I take art classes. He later sent this letter with samples of work from cartoonists. He suggested I team up with somebody who could actually draw.

February 17, 1988

Dear Mr. Adams:

Thank you for submitting your feature which we are returning herewith.

Our editorial board considered the material, and it is their opinion that we could not successfully syndicate your feature at this time.

We appreciate your having thought of us.

Dear Contributor:

I regret that it is necessary for us to respond to your submission with an impersonal letter. However, the volume of materials being submitted exceeds our ability to write personal responses quickly.

I want to assure you that we have reviewed your feature submissions carefully. This rejection does not necessarily reflect on the editorial value of your work, but may be motivated by matters of scheduling and marketing.

Thank you for allowing Universal Press Syndicate to review your work. Again my apologies for the necessity of responding in this impersonal manner.

Best regards.

Universal Press’ parent company, Andrews & McMeel, now publishes the Dilbert books. Fortunately, United Media’s comics editor saw potential in Dilbert. I got a call from Sarah Gillespie, VP of comics at the time, and she offered me a development contract. I accepted. The first Dilbert strip was published in April of 1989. Now it runs in over 2000 papers. United Media does the business stuff (selling, marketing, promotion, billing, distribution, this Web site, etc.) and I do the cartoon-making. It works pretty well.

I know I’ve read a million other rejection stories. What about you? Which stories give you hope?

Clean House

WHY did I decide I had to clean house the first week of summer?!?
It’s so gross. Way easier to just sit back and forget about it. But it was too bad to continue ignoring.
I’ve thrown away three Dumpsters of junk and I have a room full of stuff to give to Amvets.

Awesome book

It took me a few tries to get into this story, but I’m so glad I didn’t put it aside forever. Talk about powerful.

From the publisher’s site: In Ella Minnow Pea, Mark Dunn transports readers to the imaginary island of Nollop, named for Nevin Nollop, inventor of the pangram (a sentence using all letters of the alphabet) “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

When I read the back of the book I thought, how cute. There’s nothing cute about this story, though. It’s scary in A Modest Proposal kind of way. This is satire at its best. I’d sit there reading thinking no way could this happen, and then realize it happens every day.

The top two reasons I’m excited about summer


I can’t wait!!!!

Summer Time!

Today’s the day of rest. The only one I’m giving myself before I start on the MAJOR cleaning effort. I’d take pictures and post them, but I’m too embarrassed. It’s been over two years since my house has been truly cleaned and it’s finally gotten to the “I can’t stand it” stage. Yes, it did take two years to gt there.
I don’t hate cleaning, but I always have something more important to do.
There’s nothing more important now, so I’m getting started.
I’m hopefully going to take one room a day.
That’s eight days.
Then I’ll start small redecorating projects. Very small because I decorate a little like I cook which is not all that much.
I’m going to wall paper my dining room too.
For thirteen years dh has said wait until we get the house leveled, but I’m done waiting.
Wish me luck.
I think this might be good fodder for a future fish out of water book.

On the writing side, my best friend and I are going to try writing a book together starting Tuesday. We’re planning a Cinderella story. WOO HOO!!

If you get a chance, check out one of the best posts I’ve ever read.

School’s Out For Summer!!!!

I survived. I didn’t have a nervous break down or quit. We have a yearbook and nine issues of the newspaper and the BEST literary magazine ever. I gave the laptops to the tech guys with a smile. 🙂 Tonight’s the big faculty party and then we’re really done.
WOO HOO!!!!!

The Newsroom

For the last three days I’ve had seniors returning to the newsroom to say goodbye. And then coming back to say goodbye. And then doing it again. 🙂
I boo hoo’d yesterday when my newspaper editor stayed an hour after she could leave and then finally left.
Today, I had a first. SIX seniors who were done with school came back just to sit in the newsroom. And when the bell rang for everyone to leave and my beginning class left, they just stayed. They played music on the computers, they sat in the deadline box and drew, they wrote on the board, they played the headline game and read the ought-not wall. And they cried. And I almost cried, but I made myself laugh instead and I told them how this next part of life is so much fun. How they’re going to love every minute of it. And how this isn’t goodbye. They can visit any time, and they can e-mail.
And they still stayed.
Because for many of my kids the newsroom becomes a home. And leaving is like taking that step. They know that even if they come back it won’t be the same.
Every one of them has been a part of something special. But graduation changes it. It’s almost like a break up. You might be able to be friends, but it’s never the same as it used to be.
I know I’m part  of the reason the kids were there. But the newsroom is there’s, and it’s the memories they made in that room that brought them back.
I’m going to miss these kids. But you know what? I’m excited for them too. Because they’re going on to great things.


Butterscotch Schnapps and Bailey’s tastes alcohol-free, but it’s not. I think I’ll remember that for the rest of my life. I might even tape it above my computer to remind myself before I go to the first of three end of school parties. UGH.

Yesterday two detectives walked into my classroom and I hear, “Whoa, Miss. Someone’s in big trouble.”
But I thought Whoa Miss. These two are hero material AND this could be a good story starter.They were there to pick up the police department’s yearbook. Good thing they weren’t around a few hours later after I’d reacquainted myself with Schnapps and Bailey’s.


The Lost I loved is back. The season finale kicked butt. Lots of questions, some cool new stuff. I think maybe getting an end date helped give the writers a goal.

School’s out in two days. Today I nearly lost it when one of my editors was cleaning out her box. I watched her work and realized this is it. Once again I have a new crop of kids going out into the real world and I hate it! I’m excited for them, but sad for me.

I realized today that superintendent’s work way too hard! Ours was at the j-banquet last night. He was at a late board meeting Monday. And he was at graduation practice until 5 tonight. Basically his life revolves around the school. I’m lucky to work in a district with such great administration. I’m always astounded when I hear my friends talk about what’s going on at their schools. And they’re always jealous when I talk about my principal. 🙂
(except Mary who says her principal is the best ever)

Tomorrow is the faculty golf tournament. It’s more about fun than golf, which is good since I’ve only golfed once before in my life and I pretty much sucked.

Tagged, 3 books

Mary tagged me. Here goes…

The Little-Known Favorites Meme Rules:

List and describe three of your favorite books that other people might not be familiar with. Then tag five people. See, easy!

I’m doing more than three because I can’t narrow it down.

Quite possibly one of the best books I’ve ever read. The Keeper was one of the first Margot Early’s I read. Since then, I’ve bought all her books. And I found her backlist in used bookstores. There’s no such thing as a bad Margot Early book. Which brings me to the new one…

This is Early’s new Everlasting and it is so wonderful. I HIGHLY recommend it.

Again, no such thing as a bad Karen Templeton book, but Swept Away saved me from romance doldrums. I kept trying to find a great books and nothing was connecting. I picked Swept Away up and could not put it down. I’ve loaned it to several friends because it’s hard to find now since it’s series.

I belonged to an e-mail loop way back when called cata when Catherine Mann sold her first book, so I bought the book just because I felt like I knew her. (she was always so excited when she left a message on the loop!)  That book was good enough to make me buy the next, Grayson’s Surrender. GS moved Mann on to my auto-buy list. I still have it and several other Wongman Warrior books on my keeper shelf.

If you don’t know Helen R.Myers’ work, you should. WOW! Whispers in the Woods is not the only of her Silhouette’s on my keeper shelf, but it is my favorite. It’s a beauty and the beast book and it’s AMAZING.

I tag Karen, Mel, April, Shelley and Anna.