Sunday Mailbag

October 8th, 2006 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: I was wondering if you’d ever post a step by step of your live caricature technique. What you look for to get a likeness, and what your thinking is to make it look cartoony as opposed to realistic.

A: While I plan on doing another tutorial or two on the blog in the near future, I am afraid I won’t be doing one on the live caricature technique, or certainly not one that in depth. The reason being that I have a book in the works on that particular subject. While it is still at least a year away from publication I don’t want to put much or any of the content I’m working on for it on the blog. Then no one would buy my book!!! How’s that for money grubbing capitalism at it’s finest? Sorry about that.

I’ll probably end up doing some kind of a teaser or two for the book once it’s publication is near. In the meantime look for a much more detailed digital color tutorial this or next month here.


  1. Ooooooooooooo, Tom…

    I’m not all that sure of your reasoning in assuming that releasing the content of your book will result in FEWER sales.

    Hmmmm. Actually, I’m understating this. Lemme rephrase… I think you’re missing an INSANELY huge marketing opportunity by NOT releasing the content of your book!

    As Seth Godin will attest, people buy books not because of the information in them but because they’re artifacts that centralise that information. You can read a book in the bath. You can’t (easily or sanely) read a computer in the bath (yet).

    Seriously, Tom. Head for the following three blogs and change your mind about this policy of yours… the more you share, the more likely people are to make your book a bestseller.

    Seth’s Blog
    Seth Godin, marketing maven.

    Shooting War
    This is a free, serialised graphic novel that was released one chapter per week on the web. I can tell you this… I’ll be buying more than one copy when it comes out.

    Naked Conversations
    Naked Conversations is the book blog by Shel Israel and Robert Scoble. They released the entire book on the blog as they wrote it, getting feedback from readers, and making corrections as they went along. The book is about blogging. And how to get the most value out of it. And it’s a massive bestseller.

    I hope some of this persuades you to at least interrogate your stance.

    Blue skies

    PS: With or without content on this site, I’ll be buying your live caricaturing book.

  2. Tom says:

    I did say I’d put up some “teasers” as publication nears. That might end up being a less fleshed out explaination of drawing caricatures in tutorial form on the blog, with the promise of more indepth information in the book. The marketing power of the internet is not lost on me. I don’t expect the book to be anywhere near the upper 99% ranking on Amazon in either case.

    It’s a long way off right now in any case.

  3. Kannard says:

    I’d buy the book. Your style has always fascinated me. Though hopefully before the NCN convention so I can have you sign it 🙂 Well you and Sam Vivano are my favorite MAD caricaturists. Your Yell’s Kitchen was great.

    Take Care

  4. Jeff Bell says:

    Tom, I will certainly be buying that book when it comes out. I’ve only recently started doing live caricatures and am finding them so much more of a challenge than my other work. When in the studio you get time to experiment with different shapes, ideas and styles in order to achieve a satisfactory caricature likeness. But with live work you only have a few minutes, and the results can be very frustrating for a beginner like me. So the quicker you get that book out the better… I can’t wait!

  5. Kannard says:

    I’f you are serious about growing and learning as a caricaturist and if you haven’t already I’d recommend you join the National Caricaturists Network. This is a great organization with a lot of talented people to learn from. I have only been a member for a few weeks and have already seen improvement in my process and work. It’s alright to be influenced by great and warped minds like Tom but remember to make it your own. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. Remember live caricature is just as much entertainment and banter as it is drawing.

    Best of Luck

    Sorry for stepping up for the shameless NCN plug.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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