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by Royston

Cartoonists doing it for themselves

January 11, 2011 in News

Cartoon by Huw Aaron
Cartoonists are continuing to use the print-on-demand services provided by various websites to get their work out there.

These sites mean that they can print collections of their drawings as and when they are needed, so they don’t end up with boxes full of unsold books cluttering up their sheds.

While the cartoonists probably won’t get rich off these books, they can work well as a “calling card” for potential clients, a kind of mini portfolio. And, crucially, they allow cartoonists to sell their books online.
Cartoon book by Huw Aaron

Huw Aaron is the latest to use this model, producing a book of joke cartoons published in magazines such as Private Eye, Reader’s Digest and The Oldie in 2010, plus a few unpublished cartoons. The book is called Does This Breastplate Make Me Look Fat? He has also produced a book compiling cartoons from 2009, his first as a professional cartoonist, called Gentlemen, I’m Off to Join the Circus. Bloghorn cornered Huw to ask him a few questions …

You’re relatively new to the world of cartooning, why did you decide to do not one, but two cartoon books at this stage?

My intent from the start was to produce a collection each year of my full-time cartooning career. After one year, I was already a year behind schedule. I’ve now managed to catch up.

The first book comes with a recommendation from Richard Ingrams, editor of The Oldie. Fair enough. But also … Jilly Cooper?! How did that come about?

I had a lovely phone call from Ms Cooper last year, asking to buy a cartoon of mine she’d seen in The Oldie. As my only celebrity “fan”, she was a clear choice when looking for a few words to stick on the back cover!

You seem to be trying out lots of different drawing styles, particularly in the first book. Is that deliberate or do you just go with what feels right?

I do think that an “Aaron look” is slowly emerging, but until it does, I hope there’s enough humour in these collections to make up for the mishmash of styles.

Does This Breastplate Make Me Look Fat? and Gentlemen, I’m off to Join the Circus can be purchased online at for £5.99 each in paperback, or £1.99 each for a digital copy.

Goodbye big print (and cheerio President Bush)

December 14, 2008 in General

PCOer Andy Davey writes:

One thing that all cartoonists are very aware of is that the face of publishing has changed. Much of it has been a little scary for established old-media cartoonists, but one of the undoubted benefits of the new trends has been on-demand printing.

While there’s still a need for hard copy (books for fireside, on train, lining impressive bookshelves, in tent up mountain etc), self-publishing sites provide the bridge between the mature and the new by converting digital files into comforting, heart-warming, cuddly books to be held and cherished.

An example, I hear you ask? Oh, if you insist. You could, for example, check out a short cartoon booklet called Bush Combat by UK cartoonist Andy Davey (see it here). This was published, like fellow PCO cartoonist Ger Whyman’s book on the self-publishing site, Lulu.

The book covers the pugilistic adventures of the boy George Dubya, from early spats with the UN, through the horrors of Iraq, right up to his search for a legacy in the Middle East. The time seemed right; it is meant as a last post to his disastrous tenure in the White house. The editorial cartoons all have brief explanations for those with medium-term memory loss; they were mostly published in The Guardian, The Times and The Independent over the last six years. Some are previously unpublished. It’s long on pictures and short on text, so even Dubya himself could order one and understand it … possibly.

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent
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by Royston

How to publish a cartoon book

October 8, 2008 in General

PCOer Gerard Whyman on how cartoonists can use the internet to bypass traditional publishers

This month sees my publishing debut: a 112-page cartoon compilation book entitled Oddly Distracted – a collection of nearly 190 cartoons of my best published and unpublished work. The book was edited, designed, produced and published entirely by myself using a PC and, the world’s largest self-publishing website.

Gerard Whyman’s new book. Click the image to enlarge

I hadn’t realised until recently that next year marks my 15th year in the cartooning business – being first published in 1994 – and so this book is a timely marker of that fact. Not that it was the prime motivator – I was inspired by seeing Tim Harries’ excellent self-published cartoon books last year and decided to have a go myself. Another factor was that Tim gave me free copies of his book with the promise that I give him one of mine when it was done. Twelve months on and I’ve managed to keep my side of the bargain.

Lulu is a “print-on-demand” service which means that books are only printed when ordered. The beauty of this system is that there is no minimum print run – you can just have one copy of book if you wish. So, with no storage costs, the process is cheap; there are no set up costs and the only investment is your time and energy. You must, however, be computer literate to be able to produce a printable book. I bought an optional distribution deal with Lulu for £79.95 which gave me an ISBN number and the availability of my book to online stores like Amazon which opens up a huge market.

The process of creating the book turned out to be a bit tricky and frustrating at times. Figuring out the software to lay out the pages was one thing – it took a while to master the Page Plus package – but using Lulu’s rather complex website was quite another. It doesn’t help if you’re like me and wade straight in without reading the small print closely. One error was to initially make the book 7.5”x 7.5” square, a size ineligible for the distribution deal I had bought with them. So I had to start from scratch and redesigned the book to a crown quarto format.

Financial Adviser, from Gerard Whyman’s book. Click to enlarge

The cartoon pages are loosely themed – there are ones on couples with troubles, business, and entertainment, among many other topics. There is work that has been published in The Spectator, The Oldie and Reader’s Digest and there are several full page cartoons that were originally printed in Punch. There is also a large contingent of my favourite unpublished gags.

I’m very pleased with the way has book has finally turned out. The print quality is first class and really does justice to the original drawings. Of course, the hardest part now is to convince the buying public to part with their hard-earned cash for my product – not easy in these difficult times.

Oddly Distracted is priced £7.95. You can see a preview of Gerard’s book and order copies by clicking this link

The PCO: Great British cartoon talent