How Cartoonists Can Turn Ordinary Books Into Something Memorable
Nate Fakes is a professional syndicated cartoonist for MAD Magazine. His work has been published worldwide in greeting cards, newspapers, magazines, books, and numerous other places. As a cartoonist-for-hire and a book illustrator, you can check out his profile on Reedsy.
If you run across a cartoon, more than likely, you’ll notice it. No, trust me: you probably will. Think of the last time you didn’t pay attention to a cartoon? They pop-up on your social media feeds, on greeting cards, magazines, and —every so often— books. Cartoons get noticed and leave a lasting impression. You read them, hopefully, get a laugh, and they stick out like a sore thumb. (But unlike a sore thumb, cartoons can hurt from too much laughter.)
When I talk about using cartoons, the first thing I hear at the end of the conversation is usually, “Wow! I never thought of using cartoons before. When you explain it, it all makes sense!”
Cartoons work well in many mediums, and books are certainly no exception. Tony Robbins uses them in business and self-improvement books like Awaken the Giant Within. Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series of middle-grade novels are structured around illustrations. They’re practically a mainstay in certain types of how-to books. You’ll see them appear in memoirs, gift books, regional books, and… I can go on and on.
Using cartoons in your book
Images like cartoons can work wonders on your book, as long as they’re developed the right way, of course.
Most importantly, cartoons can help to humanize a dry topic. If you want to keep readers interested between chapters, a well-placed cartoon will add a much-appreciated burst of levity or humor.
Give your social media channels a boost
Now, more so than ever, cartoons are also a great marketing asset. They can add a lot of character to your website, blog, and social media; people will “like” and share them; they might even stick a good cartoon up on their fridge.
A good example of this is a cartoon I created for 21st Century Fox and Super Bowl LI. They wanted a custom cartoon about the upcoming game and the new technology that was included. Their post that featured the cartoon had the highest number of views on their blog and —to this day— is still the most popular post of all-time.
Actor George Takei has used over a dozen of my cartoons to help improve his social media presence. Currently, he’s up to over 10 million followers on Facebook. Here’s an example of how a cartoon can get shared by tens of thousands:
The key is: cartoons get people talking. If the cartoon does its job well, it will get noticed — and whoever’s platform it’s featured on will get noticed, too.
Working with a Cartoonist-for-Hire
If you really want to personalize your book, blog, newsletter, or social media project, consider hiring a professional cartoonist to create something unique. It’s a great way to enhance any publication with cartoons that are new and fresh. Cartoonists can take almost any idea and run with it. And if you get a true professional, think of this cartoon almost as a celebrity endorsement. They’re using their work to help your book. It’s not as affordable as licensing out cartoons, but it will add a certain quality to any manuscript.
Costco used the following custom cartoon that I created with my company, BizComics, to demonstrate how much people enjoy the free samples at their wholesale stores. The same concept can be applied toward your book.
To go back to the first point I made in this post, answer this question: did you read the cartoons on this post? Thought so.
A picture is worth a thousand words, right? So, give your fingers a break from typing and try a cartoon instead.
Head to the Reedsy Marketplace for free quotes from Nate and other award-winning book illustrators. If you have any questions about cartoons in books, leave it in the comments and Nate will do his best to reply.