Welcome to my blog! Here you'll find many samples of my finished art, conceptual work, unpublished material, and other miscellaneous jobs. You can find a complete list of my published books at this link.

I currently have signed copies of THE GREAT MONTEFIACO, WHACKO THE CHOOK, THE PUMPKIN EATER FROM PONDICHERRY, and THE SHIKKER COLA COWS available for purchase. For more info, please contact me at whackothechook@internode.on.net

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I mentioned in Part 1 there were problems with reproducing biro, well, that's half right. You can reproduce biro if you know what you are doing, and the reproduction in the final book turned out okay, but the journey there was a bumpy one!...

The author left me in charge of overseeing the printing side things, so I organised a meeting with the printer once they'd scanned everything. I was shown one or two of the uncut printed sheets that they'd done... what I saw was appalling.

All I could see was what looked liked mere photocopies of my illustrations. They weren't photocopies, but that's what it looked like. What's more, it was on a cheaper, thinner stock of paper, not the thicker coated paper the author had paid for. Furthermore, we had agreed to see proofs before they went and printed off the entire print run! But they had done the whole lot, and they all looked like crap!

At the time I knew nothing about printing, or scanning, or computers in general, so I had no idea what they had done wrong exactly, but looking back now I do know. Because my drawings were cross-hatched, but not in the traditional sense, ie. straight black and white line work, they treated my pictures as though they were black and white line drawings. When in fact they were greyscale images masquerading as line drawings. They even told me they "corrected" my pictures by making them solid black lines. One can only imagine because so many of the lines are so fine in these pictures, turning them to solid black would literally turn parts invisible. My art had been turned into a mess of black patches. There was no logical justification for it, only that it was cheaper this way.

I am fairly timid by nature, more so back then, and I do not like confrontation. What happened next surprised me... I had expressed my disappointment at what I was seeing in front of me I told the lackey at the printers to get his boss. All smiles, his boss (the salesman we dealt with at the beginning) came in and 'explained' to me what they had done, that my artwork was a bit tricky to deal with, that they had to tweak a few things, that it was all rosey in the end, blah blah blah. To which I told them it was all wrong, it was rubbish, and that I'm not happy with it, and they have to do it all again. Before long his smile had turned to a scowl, and I was subjected to a tirade by this dishonest bully. At one point he told me it was all my fault because my work is "unreproducible"! I could see the workers there stopping what they were doing to see what was happening. In between rants you could hear a pin drop.

Ordinarily I would cower when confronted with such a display, and I think he expected this intimidation to work, but with the 6 months worth of painstaking work on my mind I remained calm and assertive, determined not to have the book look like garbage! I dare say I got a small thrill from this encounter, and by the end I left there on a high, because I knew my protests were valid ones, and he didn't have a leg to stand on. I knew he was angry because of the money he'd already wasted getting everything printed, but it was his corner-cutting that cost him way more in the long run. Diddums.

But the saga doesn't end there folks!... I thought these posts were going to cleared up in two parts, but there might be a third... Meanwhile, the following pics are unused and redone, unpublished pictures from the book:

Bah, I don't want to exhaust anymore time talking about this book really. To cut the story short, we got our way and got everything reproduced satisfactorily. The print run was 1000. However, before long we began to notice some of the books weren't quite right. A lot of them had unsightly inky smudge marks through out, about a dozen were sitting upside down in their jackets, and some even had big dirty boot-prints on the page! We decided to go through every book and single out the defective ones, and by the end over half were duds! It was just one thing after the other... I won't bore you with the profanity-laced conversations we've had about this publisher since, and needless to say we don't highly recommend them. I also don't highly recommend self-publishing, but this is just based on my one experience, and I'm sure there's been plenty of success stories from others who have self-published...

This book was a dismal failure financially (not for me necessarily), but I was thrilled to have something published in book form, and it was nice to have this under my belt when seeking work.

Of the eventual 500 salable copies, there is still a limited number left. If you would like to order one (signed of course), email at whackothechook@internode.on.net and we can arrange something.


  1. Hey Ben,looks awesome as always with your artwork. Its really great to see people form the 'old animation class' making something of themselves with their outstanding talents. Keep up the good work.
    P.S. When you are collecting Joker cards are you buying a whole deck? Do tell.

  2. I have my own horror stories of self publishing. It's an unpleasant experience that I hope never to go through again! Fabulous art, my friend. I'm truly jealous!

  3. I have very limited skills as a business man, which is a hindrance when self-publishing. You have to be pretty dedicated to do all the distribution and promotion yourself, and all the legwork and paperwork that's involved in publishing! I just want to draw!

    Re Jokers, yep, I usually buy whole decks, but only if I can see the jokers first to see I'm not doubling up. How much I'm willing to spend on a deck depends on how cool or unusual the joker is. I have a big box full of jokerless packs of cards!