To view many of Carter's cartoons and for information
about his book, visit his Web site, http://www.cartertoons.com/
Cartoonist picked up a pen
at an early age
Jon Carter started out like many artists. He doodled
As a boy, his late grandfather, Bruce Carter of
Boston, Mass., was an influence.
"I would visit him several times a year. He had
a little woodshop. He was a fix-it guy and he had
a little craft shop. He made kits of toys, he did
magic shows for kids and of course he had drawings
he had done," Jon Carter recalls. "It was the entertainment
aspect of making people happy that I liked."
He noticed that he enjoyed drawing and other people
encouraged him to draw.
He moved to Hagerstown as a teenager. After graduating
from Hagerstown High School in 1989, he and a friend,
Vince Nirich, took some drawings to the local newspaper,
the Hagerstown Exponent, which started publishing
And Carter started working at Welliver's Smorgasbord.
He continued working there until 1996.
"I started out doing dishes and then was a cook,"
he said. "It was hard work but it was fun, like
a family. I drew everywhere, drew portraits of the
people who worked there. Sometimes I still get calls
after someone finds something I drew."
He left his mark on an outside wall at Welliver's.
On part of the building that faces an alley, he
painted a large mural of the restaurant's founder,
Guy Welliver, and other staff. It's the largest
cartoon he's made.
He moved to Richmond in 1995 and was a student
at Indiana University East. Seven years ago, he
had a one-man show in the college's Whitewater Hall.
"I'd like to do that again sometime."
Although his style has stayed generally the same
over the years, it has evolved. "You pick up little
things over the years."
His humor is compared to Gary Larson, who drew
the offbeat panel, "The Far Side." His characters
have wacky expressions and feet that seem to have
He earned a bachelor's degree in general studies
from IU East. It was there that he learned more
about using computers. He credits an IU East teacher,
Tom Thomas, with teaching him about the intellectual,
conceptual side of art and its business possibilities.
makes book possible
It's hard for Jon Carter to imagine a day when
he wouldn't draw cartoons on paper in India ink
- but 21st-Century technology is what has allowed
him to self-publish his first book.
Having 14 years of cartoon panels to draw from,
Carter found that putting together the book was
not a lot of hard work. It was a matter of choosing
which panels to publish and then laying out the
book. He sent the book off to a publisher, who printed
it, and Carter has to pay for the books when he
His initial investment was a $300 set-up charge.
He pays about $4 per book when he orders more.
But the technology Carter used to publish the book
ranges from old-fashioned ink drawing to digitized
imagery. Funny Files cartoons start as pen-and-ink
drawings. He draws in a studio room in his Richmond
"I've experimented with different media but I like
India ink," he said. "You dip it and draw. There's
just something about the line weights and the rich
black. I'm just very into the actual material piece."
When the drawing is done, he uses a scanner to
get it into a computer. On the computer screen,
using Photoshop software, he adds details such as
halftone shading, and then cleans it up and stores
it. Many of the cartoons are on his Web site and
can be viewed in either color or as black and white
When someone wants a cartoon, he can send it out
For the book, all he had to do was lay out the
cartoon panels, two on a page. There are 104 pages
of cartoons in his book.
"I saved them on a disk and sent them to the publisher
that way," he said.
"Maybe the hardest thing was coming up with a cover,"
Carter said. "When I came up with the idea, it just
hit me, and once I had the idea, it was just easy."
Carter's cover is a full-color cartoon of several
of his characters spilling out of a funny file cabinet
When Carter decided to get serious about publishing
a book, he found many companies willing to print
his book. He did some research and found a publisher
"This publisher, Page Free Publishing, can do everything,"
he said. "They were recommended by a friend and
I thought they had a pretty good deal. Then I shopped
around to make sure it was everything I wanted."
The more services provided by a publisher, the
more investment is required. Carter saved money
by laying out the pages himself and shipping them
to the publisher on a computer disk.
Self publishing, Carter said, has been such an
easy process that he'd recommend it to just about
"Even for someone that just wants a small run of
100 or so, like a small family geneaology, this
is affordable and easy to do," Carter said.