with permission from Scott Adam's "DNRC Newsletter" (The Dilbert
is the value of a kind word?
January of 1986 I was flipping through the channels on TV and saw the closing
credits for a PBS show called "Funny Business," a show about cartooning.
I had always wanted to be a cartoonist but never knew how to go about it.
I wrote to the host of the show, cartoonist Jack Cassady, and asked his
advice on entering the profession.
few weeks later I got an encouraging handwritten letter from Jack, answering
all of my specific questions about materials and process. He went on to
warn me about the likelihood of being rejected at first, advising me not
to get discouraged if that happened. He said the cartoon samples I sent
him were good and worthy of publication.
got very excited, finally understanding how the whole process worked. I
submitted my best cartoons to Playboy and New Yorker. The magazines quickly
rejected me with cold little photocopied form letter. Discouraged, I put
my art supplies in the closet and decided to forget about cartooning.
June of 1987 -- out of the blue -- I got a second letter from Jack Cassady.
This was surprising, since I hadn't even thanked him for the original advice.
Here's what his letter said:
was reviewing my "Funny Business..." mail file when I again ran
across your letter and copies of your cartoons. I remember answering your
reason I'm dropping you this note is to again encourage you to submit your
ideas to various publications. I hope you have already done so and are on
the road to making a few bucks and having some fun too.
encouragement in the funny business of graphic humor is hard to come by.
That's why I am encouraging you to hang in there and keep drawing.
wish you lots of luck, sales and good drawing.
was profoundly touched by his letter, largely I think because Jack had nothing
to gain -- including my thanks, if history was any indication. I acted on
his encouragement, dragged my art supplies out of storage and inked the
sample strips that eventually became Dilbert. Now, seven hundred newspapers
and six books later, things are going pretty well in Dilbertville.
feel certain that I wouldn't have tried cartooning again if Jack hadn't
sent the second letter. With a kind word and a postage stamp, he started
a chain of events than reaches all the way to you right now. As Dilbert
became more successful I came to appreciate the enormity of Jack's simple
act of kindness. I did eventually thank him, but I could never shake the
feeling that I had been given a gift which defied reciprocation. Somehow,
"thanks" didn't seem to be enough.
time I have come to understand that some gifts are meant to be passed on,
expect at least a million people to read this newsletter. Each of you knows
somebody who would benefit from a kind word. I'm encouraging you to act
on it before the end of the year. For the biggest impact, do it in writing.
And do it for somebody who knows you have nothing to gain. It's important
to give encouragement to family and friends, but their happiness and your's
are inseparable. For the maximum velocity, I'm suggesting that you give
your encouragement to someone who can't return the favor -- it's a distinction
that won't be lost on the recipient. And remember there's no such thing
as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.
see the result of this letter: DILBERT!