Gail Machlis has a cartooning style that would look right at home in The New Yorker. Which isn’t surprising, since that magazine was the goal of her cartooning ambition. However, when her cartoons returned from The New Yorker with rejection slips, she began sending them off to other markets. Machlis is a San Franciscan, so it was fitting that an editor at the San Francisco Chronicle took a shine to them.
In January 1989 Machlis’ cartoons began appearing regularly in the Chronicle‘s Sunday Punch section. Two years later Machlis was offered a regular weekly spot, and she chose the name Quality Time for the feature. After another year and a half, the Chronicle asked if she’d like to enter full syndication. In October 1992 the now daily and Sunday Quality Time debuted, offering papers across the country sophisticated New Yorker-style humor.
The panel did not take off in sales by any means. Was the problem Chronicle Features’ lack of marketing effort? Was it that feature editors didn’t think their readership would take to the decidedly sophisticated low-key humor? I don’t know, but Quality Time didn’t sell to many papers, though it did have some high profile major, and well-paying, clients, to soften the blow.
In 1997 Machlis moved the feature from Chronicle Features to Universal Press Syndicate, in what would seem to be a good move. However, Universal didn’t seem to be able to lend any new marketing clout, and the series was put out to pasture on August 1 1998.