Valentines Day Cartoons

Only 2 weeks now until Cupid’s big day! So, to get you in the mood, I thought I’d share some recent Valentine’s Day cartoons!


I thought of this cartoon early one morning and had to keep repeating it to myself under my breath to remember it.

This is actually pretty much how I, and I suspect most men, shop for cards. Not being comfortable with the flowery romantic stuff, we tend toward ones including the words hubby with cartoon bears that fold out like an accordion.

I’m betting the Mrs. would prefer something mushier, but, especially when you marry a cartoonist, goofy usually wins out.

(BTW, you can watch a video of me sketching this cartoon here.)


I thought of this because it’s impossible to think “box of chocolates” without thinking “life is like a.”

It’s annoying and irritating, sure, but instead of pushing past it, I decided to embrace it and finally define exactly what you’re going to get.

You’ve got your basic chocolate, your thin disappointment, your renamed knockoff (I’m looking at you, “tortoise” candies), and, my personal favorite, white.

Now you know.


This Valentine’s Day cartoon was a bit of a trick. Te idea is that more than one arrow makes the person a stalker instead of just in love. So, you have to make the guy look like something is wrong with him, but not so disturbing that the cartoon goes from funny to creepy.

After scanning in the original sketch, I spent a good amount of time in Photoshop tweaking things to get what I hope is juuuust the right expression. I hope I got it, I think I did.

Also the Cupid’s name changed a few different times. He was Larry (too funny name-ish), Lloyd (too Gary Larson-ish), Bill (not funny enough) and Phil (used too often in other cartoons). But for some reason when I was typing in the caption, Stan just worked.


This is another take on getting away from Cupid. I’ve done some more standard heart themed cartoons before (heart as organ, heart as playing card suit), but this is a decidedly different tack, heart as flowchart shape!

I actually had to look up some flowcharts to see how they looked and worked (it’s been a while), and I think this one looks complicated enough to make sense for the gag, but not so complicated that it doesn’t read quickly.

One thing I noticed almost too late was that the name I’d used in the caption started with a different letter than either of the first name initials in the heart, so I had to make a last minute change to “Debbie.”


Recently I’ve been playing with the new iBooks Author, and there’s been a bit of a kerfuffle over Apple’s EULA. Some people assume Apple is trying to make some sort of giant content grab, others assume it’s less onerous. Either way, it got me thinking about EULAs in general, and this cartoon popped out.

I think it totally makes sense that before someone shoots you in the heart with an arrow that there would be some sort of legal paperwork, and kudos to Cupid for using an iPad!

Well, I hope these get you in the mood for the big day! Feel free to check out all of my Valentine cartoons, and don’t forget to use the decoder!

Cow Boy is Awesome

cow boy

I have read the upcoming Cow Boy by Nate Cosby and Chris Eliopoulos and it is awesome!

What is Cow Boy? From the Archaia site:

The story of a young bounty hunter determined to send his entire outlaw family to jail. He travels the Old West on a horse that ain’t his, and won’t stop til every one’a his kin’s in the clink.

The writing is awesome, the art is awesome… Cow Boy is awesome!

And if that weren’t enough:

Also in this volume: Short stories by the likes of Roger Langridge, Brian Clevinger & Scott Wegener, Mike Maihack & Colleen Coover.

Hee-hee! AWESOME!

Seriously, go pre-order this right away! (I’ve already ordered it for the boy for his birthday.)

Valentine’s Day Cartoon – Sketch Video

I’m trying a whole new approach to blogging this year, and one aspect is going to be some video content.

And, since people seem to enjoy watching the drawing process, I’m beginning with a video of myself sketching an upcoming Valentine’s Day cartoon. It seemed a good place to start.

(Note – I don’t reveal the cartoon’s gag until the very end of the video, but if you’re one of those people who just can’t wait (like me!), I’ve posted an image of the final sketch below the video/transcript at the very end of this blog.)

Anyway, enjoy:

If you want to see the video bigger, you see it at YouTube here.

Hi there, this is Mark Anderson from, and today I’m going to be sketching a Valentine’s Day cartoon. I’m only doing the sketch; I’ve done videos before where I’ve done a sketch and then the ink and then the Photoshop, but I thought this time I would just concentrate on the sketch portion.

So, here I am starting my guy… Here’s my big giant hand…

I tend to draw really small, as you can probably tell by the hand to drawing ratio. I draw relatively small. The final sketch will probably end up being like 5″ x 7″. I don’t actually have an oversized giganta-hand, but that’s why it looks so big.

This is an idea I came up with at about 4:30 in the morning yesterday. I was laying in bed, woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep, so sometimes what I do then is I sort of brainstorm ideas, and this one popped into my head.

(Sorry about the focus there. I’m using my iPhone on my lamp on my drafting table to record the video. So it’s a little shaky and sometimes the focus goes in and out. My apologies. This is the best system I could come up with other than hanging something over my head, and I’m not sure I want anything that permanent.)

The idea is a guy at a card store for Valentine’s Day. This will start looking better here in just a second. I think I’m writing “Valentines” on the sign above.

This is an idea I came up with the other day very very early in the morning. I have to make sure when I come up with an idea like that that I sort of repeat it to myself. I actually have to mouth it to myself, and I have to mouth it quietly because I don’t want to wake anybody up. I have to lay there in bed and say “Valentines. A guy shopping for cards…” I have to do it like two or three times, otherwise it won’t stick. Or I have to get up right away and go downstairs and write it down. In this case I got up, and went downstairs and wrote it down and now I’m sketching it here soon after.

I was trying to come up with something different than your standard Cupid cartoon, so I branched out into Valentines cards.

You can see I stay pretty loose with a sketch (the guy there is really sketchy). I start with basic shapes and do details from there. I would assume everybody sketches largely the same way. I don’t think I do anything special, but I thought it would be interesting to see how this works.

This ended up being a problem with all of the cards. I’ll tell you the idea at the end, I don’t want to jump to the joke. But part of the problem with this cartoon is having to draw all of these cards. There is a reason I have to draw somewhat specifically on each card to make the joke make sense. That will become evident at the end.

I’m using a ForestChoice pencil which I love! I adore these pencils. If you get a chance to get a box of those… I think you can just go to and buy them. I love ’em! They keep a nice point, it’s a good eraser, the pencil just feels good in my hand. I love these. I think the paper is just some standard laser printer paper.

So here I am drawing hearts and frilly lace stuff on the sides. The person there shopping for the cards is obviously a guy.

I tend to draw pretty heavy too. I normally, and you probably can’t see it in this video because I’m so tightly cropped on what I’m doing, I normally sharpen my pencils every 30 seconds. Even though the ForestChoice keeps a pretty decent point, I sharpen my pencils a lot. Because I just have a thing about sharp pencils.

Some more hearts and pretty Valentine’s Day cards… (Focusing iPhone.)

I apologize that you can’t see what I’m drawing there until my giganta-hand moves out of the way, but this is the best system I could come up with. I tried coming at it sideways, and this is the best system.

I actually tried drawing stuff on Photoshop. I got a nice pencil brush type thing on Photoshop and I tried it out because I thought it would be easier to record a screencast, but as much as I like coloring in Photoshop, I don’t like sketching and I don’t like inking in Photoshop. Maybe I just haven’t put in the time or gotten myself the correct tools, but sketching or inking I go really really fast, generally.

This one is slower, I think this whole video is about 10 minutes from beginning to end, and the reason this is… I can normally do a sketch in about half this time, but this is a scene I’m not familiar with. I don’t draw a lot of guys shopping for cards, so I haven’t learned the tricks yet of who goes where.

You know if this were a sales graph scene I could probably knock out a sketch for that in like two minutes because I know where everybody sits, I know where the table goes, I know how to set that scene. This is a different scene, and some of it is that there are a million cards to do stuff on.

So you can see on the left side I’m doing a happy bear, and there’s a cat, and a guy, and I tried to draw some cartoon panels and there’s a bunny, I think there’s a wolf… So I tried to draw funny cartoony stuff on the left series of cards, and on the right side I did romantic-y stuff.

Again, I won’t fill in the gag until the end, but see if you can figure it out.

The scene itself is pretty simple. You just have a guy, and then you have that sort of angled card display, and there isn’t need to do a whole lot more than that for this joke. I could draw another thing of cards in the background, and a woman shopping. Or I could draw a register in the background or a display or a sale thing. You could draw the whole card shop if you wanted to, but it doesn’t help the gag.

This gag has got to read quick. You’ve got like 3-5 seconds and so the card… It has to read that it’s a card store, it has to read that it’s a guy, and it has to read that they’re valentines. So you have to get all those things across, it needs to read left to right, and you need to do it all quickly.

You need to set the scene, set the characters, set all that stuff up quickly, so I tend toward as simple a scene as I can.Of course everybody likes to put in details now and again, of course that’s fun.

Here I’m sort of darkening this guy up so you can see him a little bit. Not that you can see him with my giganta-hand in the way, but I’m trying to darken him up a little bit. You get a little reflection off the graphite there. I apologize for that. Looks like I’m darkening up the signs that are up top.

There’s two sections of cards as I mentioned, so I’m starting to write what’s going to be the joke. There’s no caption, it’s a captionless cartoon, so there’s not a gag line underneath. It’s all dealing with the signs in the card store here.

I’ll end the transcript here and show you the finished sketch below:

valentine cartoon sketch

Thanks so much for watching, I hope you enjoyed it! And let me know if there are any other videos you’d like to see!

And feel free to check out some finished Valentines Day cartoons!

Adding a Cartoon (Or Any Other Image) To Your iBook in iBooks Author – Tutorial

As I’m sure you’ve heard, Apple recently entered the textbook market in a big way. They’ve partnered with Pearson, McGraw Hill, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, revamped the iBooks app/store, and created the iBooks Author application to make publishing and selling books quick and easy. This is a big deal, and I’ve got a front row seat being married to an educator and having two children in school.

But as exciting as it is educationally, as a cartoonist I’m thrilled not only by the self-publishing opportunities for myself and other artists, but by what could conceivably be a whole new market for cartoons.

I can imagine all kinds of people writing and selling all kinds of books via iBooks Author, so I thought I’d explain the process of inserting a cartoon (or any other graphic) to help liven up all of that text.

Starting Your iBook

The first thing you’ll need to do is download the free iBooks Author app from the App Store and wait for it to install. Open iBooks Author and you’ll be greeted with the Template Chooser:

ibook cartoon templates

For the purpose of this tutorial we’re going to choose the generic Botany textbook. Click on it and you’ll be greeted with the book’s first chapter in landscape orientation:

ibook cartoon template

Apple has already included a stock image to show you how much an image can improve your book, but we’re going to navigate to page three where there’s a huge swath of text just waiting for a funny cartoon to liven things up:

ibook cartoon text

Because this is a botany iBook, I’ve chosen this one about roses:

Now let’s get started!

Inserting Your Cartoon

There’s a number of ways to import your image, but I’m just going to grab the JPEG off of my desktop and drag it over the text:

ibook cartoon drag jpeg

Here’s how the image looks inserted into the text:

ibook cartoon placement

Nice, huh? Just what all those words needed.

The cartoon is placed on the page by default as either an anchored or floating object (that will be important later) which can be moved, resized, and aligned with some intuitive clicking and dragging:ibook cartoon center resize

Now our iBook page is looking just like we’d like it to. Let’s preview it on our iPad to see how it will look to our soon-to-be readers.

Connect the iPad to your computer, open iBooks, and, if you’re like me, you’re going to preview it in portrait orientation first:

ibook cartoon ipad portrait 1

Here’s a screen shot of page 3 from my iPad, but where’s the cartoon!? And what’s with all that white space on the left? Flip the iPad 90 degrees and you’ll see it appear in landscape orientation exactly as you inserted it:

ibook cartoon ipad landscape 1

So what’s going on? Where’s the cartoon in portrait?!

There are two ways to deal with this. The first changes some elements of the existing image, the second is a different way of bringing images into your iBook. Let’s start with what I think is the simpler of the two:

Adding a Title or Caption

Images imported into iBooks Author are referred to as objects, and there are three different kinds of objects. You might remember earlier I said that images are inserted by default as either anchored or floating objects. Those two types of objects don’t appear in portrait orientation unless you give them either a title or a caption. Thankfully, that’s pretty easy to do.

Click on your image, then click Inspector in the upper right menu bar. Next click the rightmost icon in the Inspector menu; it looks like a folder with a gear on it. (If you leave your mouse on it you’ll see “Widget Inspector.”)

ibook cartoon title caption

Click the Title check box underneath Layout and your cartoon now has a dummy text title as well as a light gray border around it:

ibook cartoon title changes

You can also opt to add a caption below the image instead, but since the image we’re using is a cartoon, I chose a title. I also played with the background and margin settings. Now let’s look at it in portrait orientation again on the iPad:

ibook cartoon portrait title 1

There it is in the upper left, and when you click on it:

ibook cartoon portrait title 2

Pretty nice. Here it is in landscape again with the title over the cartoon:

ibook cartoon landscape title

Now, you might not want that extra text above or below your image. In that case, still click Title or Caption, but just delete the dummy text and don’t replace it with anything. You get a little extra padding on the top and/or bottom, but it’s not obvious.

Adding A Cartoon Inline

I said earlier that there was another way to insert your cartoon into the text to make sure it appears in portrait mode, and that is to change the image to an inline object. This is best done when you’re first inserting the cartoon into the text, but it’s still fairly simple.

Let’s begin again with a page 3 full of text:

ibook cartoon inline prep

You could drag in your image and then change the object type to inline, but I’ve gotten some wonky results that way. Here is what I think is a better way to add images inline.

First, choose roughly where you’d like to add the cartoon and insert a blank line there. For this example I’m going to add it before the second paragraph on the left half of this page:

ibook cartoon inline blank line

Now this is where it gets tricky. Press and hold the Command key, then drag the image off of your desktop and into the document where you left your blank line:

ibook cartoon inline insereted

It might take a little trial and error, but you’ll soon get the hang of it.

And now when we preview on the iPad we see the cartoon inline in both landscape and portrait orientations:

ibook cartoon ipad inline landscape

ibook cartoon ipad inline portrait

With the inline method of inserting your cartoon there’s also no need for title or captions. In fact those are not available to an object designated as inline.

You might be asking yourself why you’d want to present your images inline, but if you’re considering publishing an iBook collection of cartoons where there’s very little text, inline begins to make a whole lot of sense.

As exciting as this new opportunity is, both as a potential publisher and content provider, there’s bound to be some glitches in this first iteration of iBooks Author, but I’m finding it hard not to daydream about the possibilities. And I can’t wait to see how other people use this new tool!

So now that you understand how to insert a cartoon or other image into your new iBook, there’s the small matter of…

Buying Your Cartoon

Of course the first step to adding a cartoon is to find a relevant cartoon you’d like to include in your iBook. Andertoons has thousands of cartoons on thousands of topics that are super easy to browse, buy, and download. That being said, this is a brand new market and I’m a bit unsure as how to proceed as far as price.

Normally I charge hundreds of dollars per cartoon for textbook usage, but I’m envisioning a lot of independent authors self-publishing via iBooks Author, so I’m going to begin selling iBook cartoon usage at the $30 per I currently charge for presentations.

If you’re interested in buying a cartoon for your iBook, just click the $30 presentation button and follow the checkout – no need to email me for permission. If you’re a big name publisher, drop me a line and we’ll work out something fair.

I hope this helped explain how to add a cartoon or other image to your new iBook via iBooks Author. Anyone have have any big plans for an iBook?