Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Scammed If They Do Give out Cartoons?

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Scammed If They Do Give out Cartoons?

Article excerpt

Not always. But syndicated creators are aware that some of the people requesting originals turn around and sell them.

Walt Handelsman received a request for an autographed drawing, so he did a sketch of Bill Clinton and mailed it back. Later, he discovered the art selling on the eBay auction site.

"I was naive," said Handelsman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist for The Times-Picayune of New Orleans and Tribune Media Services (TMS). He thought the man wanted the drawing for himself.

Handelsman added that he gets a number of "sob-story" requests for sketches and already- published originals from people who say they or their children are gravely ill. Some are legitimate, but others are from perfectly healthy people planning to sell the drawing on the Web or at a flea market.

"If they want to sell it, they should be up-front about it," commented editorial cartoonist Steve Kelley of The San Diego Union-Tribune and Copley News Service.

Several other cartoonists contacted also suspect they're at least occasionally scammed.

"I've gotten to the point where I don't know who to trust," said Jack Ohman of The Oregonian in Portland and TMS.

"I think most want [the art] for themselves," said "Rose is Rose" cartoonist Pat Brady of United Media. "I suspect other motives when they insist -- in all caps and with many exclamation points -- that I not personalize it to them."

Other scam clues? Handelsman observed that some requests are very "generic," with no indication that the person is familiar with his work.

"Eight out of 10 cartoon requests are from people who wouldn't know my work from Walt Handelsman's," said Kelley, adding: "I get a lot that look like form letters. That to me is a pretty good indication the request is less than legitimate."

Ohman said there are requests "written by adults trying to write like a child." He added that some stealth resellers must talk to each other, because the content of their mailings often seems similar. Lately, for instance, Ohman has received a number of requests for art that will supposedly be exhibited at middle schools.

But cartoonists don't always know if they're being scammed. So what to do?

Handelsman has stopped doing autographed drawings, unless he's convinced the request is legitimate. …

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