can I draw one of your comics on a shirt? I'll only make one and I definitely will not sell it lmao, I'll also put your website on it to maybe get some publicity?
Hey, thanks for your interest. I’m glad you enjoyed one of my comics enough to want to wear it on a garment. I also appreciate that you asked permission to do this. Unfortunately, this is kind of a big can-of-worms question, so here are some thoughts on what you’re asking:
1. Like most cartoonists, I don’t have the money or the power to stop people from bootlegging my stuff. It still happens and I don’t like it. My pal Rachel Dukes wrote a great piece about this, well worth reading.
2. What kind legal holes would this open? Would this be an exclusive one-time licensing thing? Would there be a contract? Would you draw it yourself or print it? How would I ensure quality control? If I say yes to you, other people might wrongly interpret that as carte blanche to print their own shirts without asking.
3. Many cartoonists make their living off t-shirts and other merch, and that’s great. I don’t really do that for a number of reasons, the main reason being that I only care about the comics and everything else just seems like a distraction to me.
4. The point is, if I wanted there to be shirts, there would be shirts. I’ve dabbled into this, and I haven’t been thrilled with the results.
5. Please, don’t ever offer a cartoonist free publicity. We get this all the time, and it’s insulting even if it isn’t intended to be. Cartoonists are almost exclusively poor. We like money because we like food and shelter. We can’t eat publicity.
6. With the internet, we also have all the free publicity we could ever want. I don’t like to talk numbers because they are not an indicator of quality, but suffice it to say that I have a lot of followers on Tumblr alone, and I’m not even a particularly well-known cartoonist.
7. My comics have also been collected into a published book with a second book on the way. My work has appeared in The Best American Comics, Mad Magazine, and even on a giant banner at the Toronto Pearson Airport. The point is, offering publicity from a single shirt with my URL on it likely won’t do much good for me.
8. This is a losing battle. If even Bill Watterson couldn’t stop people from bootlegging Calvin pissing on a Ford logo, then what hope do the rest of us have?
9. If you like someone’s work and you want to support them, buy the things they offer. If they sell shirts, buy their shirts. If they sell books or prints, buy those. We tend to be very particular about the way our work gets out there.
10. I’m sorry this turned into a rant that was more about the big picture than your question. Thank you again for asking permission instead of just doing it. That’s really, really important.