The New Yorker magazine is banking on the popularity of its acclaimed cartoons with the launch of The Cartoon Bank catalog. Introduced in November, the print catalog sells prints of cartoons that have been published in the renowned magazine, as well as copies of vintage covers.
While the print catalog is new, The Cartoon Bank isn’t. Cartoonist Bob Mankoff, now the cartoon editor of The New Yorker, founded The Cartoon Bank in 1991 as a provider of cartoons to publishers and other primarily commercial users. The Website, which launched in 1997, targeted collectors and other consumers as well.
The idea behind the print version, explains Cartoon Bank vice president Cory Scott Whittier, is to tap into the market missed by the Website, especially older customers who are less accustomed to reading — and shopping — online.
Owned by Condé Nast, The New Yorker‘s publisher, the 30-page debut edition of The Cartoon Bank mailed in late November to 13,000 New Yorker subscribers, online buyers, and names rented from art museums and catalogs such as Next Monet. A second drop, in January, went to 18,500 names; a third mailing, in February, was sent to 40,000 house file names and prospects. The catalog’s conversion rate, says Whittier, is 5% for those on the house list and about 1% for the prospects. The book’s average order is $165.
Comics and covers
Besides offering prints of 30,000 New Yorker cartoons, which sell for $125-$195, the catalog sells vintage The New Yorker covers for $250-$350. Some original artworks are available as well. For instance, the most expensive item available is the framed ink-and-watercolor landscape “West Side Sunset” by Roxie Munro. The original cartoon, which appeared on The New Yorker‘s cover in November 1985, sells for $9,000.
The catalog includes editorial such as brief biographies of featured cartoonists including Roz Chast and Charles Addams. To facilitate shopping, the cartoons are grouped by topics such as sports (“Fun and Games”) and family (“Relatively Speaking”).
The size and date of the next mailing had not yet been determined by press time. But with that drop, the company plans to have virtually every cartoon ever published by The New Yorker available, Whittier says. The Cartoon Bank also aims to include more stories about the artists.