Dave Coverly

Cartoonist, Ann Arbor
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Photograph by Scott Stewart

Who knew that classroom doodling could lead to a day job (and three books, a series of greeting cards, and soon, a children’s book)? From his attic studio in Ann Arbor, Dave Coverly has created scores of cartoons for The New Yorker, Parade magazine, and more than 250 newspapers, including The Washington Post, The Globe & Mail of Toronto, and the Detroit Free Press. Most of his time is devoted to Speed Bump, a daily sampling of funny outtakes from everyday life. “My cartoons are about what we all have in common, whether it’s traveling, sitting in a business meeting, or shopping,” Coverly says. “Coming up with ideas is the coolest part of the job.” Acting as his own CEO, Coverly creates cartoons Monday through Wednesday, and uses the rest of his week to work on side projects. All of which produces a tidy, six-figure income (newspapers pay based on circulation) for a business that offers no training. “You can’t really go to school for this,” he says. While the prospect of working alone might be attractive, there are challenges. “The big gray area is the Internet. Few [cartoonists] have figured out how to make money. It’s like the wild, wild West.”

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