If you are a cartoonist, getting hate mail is like getting a bouquet of roses; the thornier the better.
At my first American Association of Editorial Cartoonists conference, I remember adjourning to a bar with my peeps, whereupon this milk-sipping whippersnapper commenced to whine about my hate mail to the gin and ink crowd.
Taken aback, the old pros looked at me like I was nuts and proceeded to brag about the many death threats, mysterious parcels and restraining orders their work provoked. In unison the chorus clinked their flasks and declared if you're doing your job, you'll get hate mail, and then they played the "my stacks of hate mail are higher than yours" game.
How many of you evaluate your effectiveness by the amount of loathing you spur? Here is a sample:
Dear Blank Blank Blank,
Blank you and blank your blankety blank cartoons. I'd like to blank you over a blank with a blank blank. Up your blank. You're nothing but a blank blank blank.
I'd recognize my mom's handwriting anywhere; such a kidder.
I get questions from readers: Are you out of toilet paper yet? Who gave you the crayons? Why don't you move to North Korea? Why can't you be fair and balanced? What kind of idiot are you?
I would like to answer the last question. I am the kind of idiot who is syndicated worldwide to 700 news sites and newspapers. I count myself fortunate to get mail from places as distant as Belgium, Singapore and Moscow. I even get mail from distant worlds far beyond our solar system, such as the planet Texas.
I'm proud when my doodles provoke a reaction. On some occasions my work actually results in positive change. A reader once told me my cartoons were instrumental in curing his puppy of constipation.
As much as I'm grateful for positive and encouraging letters from readers, the most positive fan mail cannot match the delight of receiving a spit-stained letter scrawled in a sputtering rage.
You're just part of the blank blank liberal media conspiracy. I'm on to you.
Dear Sherlock Holmes:
Karl Marx promised me no one could see us when we had our secret meetings in the basement of the United Nations. Great. Now my life is danger.
Sometimes I get mail from couples.
CANCEL MY BLANKING SUBSCRIPTION.
ANGRY AND OFFENDED
Dear Angry and Offended:
Which one of you wrote the letter, Angry or Offended?
If I say, "Cancel it yourself," I could be making a grammatical error. Maybe I should say, "Cancel it yourselves."
You should know the caps lock on your keyboard is stuck.
Wishing you many years of happiness together,
I still get snail mail. I recently was handed a letter addressed to "Idiot." For some reason the mailroom assumed it was directed at me. I opened it and saw, "Dear Commie Stooge." At that point I realize I had opened my editor's mail by mistake, resealed it and forwarded it.
My mail is so hot that Max, our mailroom chimp, wears a welder's mask and asbestos gloves. He carefully opens each letter with a fire extinguisher at the ready just in case.
You have to wonder about the geniuses who believe I'll waste my time reading an email with the subject line, "moron." This was the best:
I hate you. Your cartoons are stupid and you are stupid.
I'm a Realtor. I appreciate referrals.
I can't say I'd recommend him.
I recently hired Miss Cheetah Van Pelt as my special assistant to handle my correspondence. My valet and my limo driver recommended her and, thankfully, my life is easier.
This was her answer to a creative rant from "Flag Waver" encouraging me to insert segments of my anatomy into portions of my body in such a manner as to suffer lasting harm.
Dear Mr. Waver,
Mr. Fitzsimmons is fortunate to receive fan mail like yours every day, but few correspondences match the exquisitely penned commentary wrought by your astonishing hand.
Your literate, insightful and witty message has moved Mr. Fitzsimmons to instruct me to scan his junk mail folder for your name in the future.
You'll be pleased to know your glowing email was read aloud to a very attentive and grateful Mr. Fitzsimmons by a Cambridge-educated Shakespearean actor - twice. It was then inked by cloistered monks into the Illuminated Book of Ageless Wisdom using 32-carat gold ink on a hemp-based parchment and allowed to cure. Once it dried to satisfaction, it was archived in a vault under a stained mattress in an alley two blocks behind the Boondocks Lounge.
Wishing you the every best, Mr. Fitzsimmons anxiously awaits your next divine revelation.
Cheetah Van Pelt
Special Assistant to Mr. Fitzsimmons
Syndicated to 700 news sites worldwide; bringing joy and laughter to parakeets and canaries around the globe