I know that there are many outlets on-line for your e-cartoons, see a post of mine on that subject for more information.

But sometimes you just want to have a collection in hand to give as a gift, or possibly make some money retailing them.

I have profiled two publications,

The Cartoon Book of Santa Fe,” and “Laugh Along The Way” both of which were self published.

For the Santa Fe one, look at the comments by Mark Nassutti about how they marketed the book.

We formed Whispering Sands Publications, raised some money from friends and family, and self-published the book. It was great fun, even the manual cutting and pasting of the manuscript on my dining room table to prepare it for the printer. Then one day 5,000 copies landed on my driveway. Oh, oh, I thought, now I have to sell these? Michael and I sold every book, going door to door to stores, hotels, restaurants and offices in Santa Fe for about six months. We cut and formed counter-top displays out of corrugated cardboard, spray-painting them black in my garage. It was a great experience.

Back in the day, that was how it was done.  In these times, a decent laser printer and scanner will get you there.  The Joyce Hsu book has no data on how it was produced, but could easily have been done using a decent color laser printer and stapler.

So, how to produce your book. I like what is called a ‘perfect bind’, which means glued pages and cover.  The drawback to this is that the people who have the capability to do a perfect bind usually expect to do a regular print run of hundreds or more.  I have the luxury of doing short runs because I have a binder.  We will assume you do not, so let us turn to producing a quality product on the cheap.

First off, the drawings.  If you use a drawing program on your computer, you can skip the following.  Some cartoonists will sketch their cartoon, then scan it and use a computer to color it

The following is an excerpt of an interview of Revilo where he talks about doing just that.  Thank you Cartoon Fiend for the following  excerpt.

CF. I know you’ve been asked this a million times, but what tools do you use, and what format do you work to?

OC.  As for a mark making devices, I use whatever is at hand. Sometimes a Sharpie or a pen of some sort. Then I scan the drawings and color them on the computer.

If you use pen and paper exclusively, then the scanner size is your limit so draw accordingly.  If you can do a cartoon on an 8.5 x 11 inch paper, you are home free.  Come to think of it, a square 8.5 x 8.5 inch format might fit the finished product better.  Play with it.

If you draw at a larger size, you will need to explore where a large format scanner is available.

OK, you have the scans,  or computer images as gif’s or jpeg’s, now be an editor.  Remember, if you do not like the finished product, just yell at the editor.  Anyway, select the cartoons you like, if there is a logical progression go with it.  Actually, you are then tending into graphic novel-land.  Lay them out in the order you want, then go back and assemble a computer file in that order.  One image per page, PDF or doc or whatever you use.  Don’t forget pagination.  Please, don’t forget pagination.

The printer.  Almost any printer with booklet capabilities will work.  Laser would be preferable over ink jet.  The following is a screen shot of the booklet settings.


Don’t worry about pages per sheet, two sided or landscape settings, as when you select ‘booklet’, the printer will select the proper orientation and duplexing.

For paper, use at least 94 bright, 20 pound paper

Load your 8.5 x 11 paper,( if you are somewhere other than the US, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Columbia, Venezuela, Chile, or the Phillippines it will be A4, which is about 8.3 x 11.7 inches) start the run, and the printer will spit out landscape orientation side by side cartoons on one side, and the same on the other, giving you four cartoons per sheet.

Next, the cover, which you will want in color, as that draws the eye to your publication.  Keep it simple, (KISS) invite the reader to stop and  page through your collection.

For cover artwork I use a program called “The Print Shop 22.”  It is limited, but does a simple cover.  I have used on-line programs (lulu, Blurb) with mixed results.  There are probably more out there, but I have not looked, as what I have works OK.

For the cover paper I used Kromekote Laser, High Gloss 1S Cover, in white, paper.  This is a laser paper, coated on one side.  If you are working with a copy center, they may not have this in stock, but can probably match it.  I would suggest letting a copy center do the cover, as it will be cheaper in the long run, than trying to use a color laser printer, and doing it in-house.  However, I did get a decent cover with the above paper and a Canon color laser printer.  The process is slow, as I used a manual feed for one sheet at a time.  The copy center would probably be easier and not all that expensive considering your time and materials.  And an added reason would be that if you use a copy center for the cover, they will probably let you use their long reach stapler to assemble the book.

Speaking of which, Square up the body, place it face down, put the cover on top, face up, insert this bundle into a long reach stapler, set at the proper depth to staple your work in the middle of the long edge, staple, fold on the stapled center line, and viola, your book is ready.

Now, marketing.  If you want to place your book in retail outlets, you will need an ISBN, and for most stores, a bar code.  This link will tell you about ISBN’s.  And, this link will get you information on bar codes.  Individual bar codes, and/or ISBN’s can be pricey  so if you are thinking of doing more than one book, think about buying a block of them.

Also, consider what you see in the stores.  Are the books all perfect bind or are there some of the stapled kind?

The early “Footrot Flats”, and “Swamp” cartoons, along with “Cliff”, were folded and stapled.  I have a later Swamp with a perfect bind.  Come to think of it, I also have a “Footrot Flats” from the Pocket Footrot Flats series which is a perfect bind.  Anyway, onward.  If you are trying it out, or maybe just putting together a collection for local distribution, I would go for a stapled rather than perfect bind book and leave off the ISBN/Bar Code.  You could always market them to places with gift shops, such as hospitals, as opposed to booksellers.

I mentioned the Joyce Hsu book.  I scanned it, and it does not fit on my scanner, which makes me think either she had a large format scanner, or it was done by a print shop.

Joyce Hsu Cover

Joyce Hsu body

Well, my scanner is about an inch and a half shorter than her book.  Her cover does seem to be a bit busy, but certainly works.

I have done two short run books for a class.  As you can see from the one following, the cover fits my scanner, and when folded over does not look much different than the Hsu book.


There is a white border on the front cover, which makes it look like the edges do not line up front to back, but when folded, it looks fine.

So, to get your cartoons into someone’s hand as opposed to their computer screen, you will need:

-A scanner to scan your hand drawn cartoons, or a computer drawing program

-The cartoons collected in the order you want, laid out, one to a page in a document with pagination.

-This file to be printed on at least 94 bright white paper using the booklet setting on your (hopefully) laser printer.

-A cover, glossy on one side, use the paper mentioned above or talk to your copy center.

-A long reach stapler.

I mentioned a copy center.  I live in a small town in Oregon, but we do have two or three print shops and a copy center at a local office supply store.  The copy center would probably be best for your short run cartoon book.

So, the world is waiting.  Go have fun.

Let me know how it works out.



About visualhumor

Enjoy viewing and collecting visual humor from around the world.
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