Screw CafePress and Zazzle and their 90% overhead, if I want to do the cards thing right I think the thing to do is buy a photo printer and print the damn things myself. For this purpose I think I will get myself an Etsy store, unless anyone has some kind of Etsy horror story. Etsy's fee is 3.5% per sale, plus twenty cents for each listing, which on a three-dollar card would come to 30.5 cents. There's also the cost of materials, of course, but I don't envision this as a big moneymaking venture, just a fun thing to do that will also, incidentally, evangelize Small Peculiar aka my vast Satanic ego. This is my new project, to be embarked upon as soon as any of my clients decides to get around to paying me so I can buy the fancy photo printer and the fancy paper that goes into the fancy photo printer.
The prospect of making money from drawings of brain scientists raises the old specter of the cease and desist letter, of course. Before trying to sell the Harry Harlow Mother's Day card or the We Three Lobotomists of Orient Are card I really ought to talk to a copyright lawyer. I mean, on the one hand Walter Freeman (like Egas Moniz and Harry Harlow) was a public figure -- he in fact aggressively sought public recognition; on the other, he's not exactly a household name. He's dead, but he hasn't been dead for very long, and three of his children are still living. I can't draw a recognizable human being, but I label him. I might be safe when it comes to Moniz because he died over 50 years ago and also because he won the Nobel Prize, but even that I'm not so sure of. (Though in his native Portugal, of which he was the sole Nobel laureate for 49 years, there is at least one bigass statue of him. That statue's hands are not crippled and its ears are proportional in size to the rest of it, plus the sculptor seems to have made it rather trimmer than Egas was in life, so that on the whole it doesn't look much like him at all.)
That issue of Walter's surviving children (Walter III, Franklin, and Paul) leads me of course to the underlying question, the one, that is, underneath the question "Can I get sued?" -- "Would Walter's kids hate what I'm doing?" Of course I'd like to think not. I'd like to think they might even like it, or find it funny, or think that Walter would find it funny. And because Walter III is a public figure too, with a whole brain science laboratory named after him, it would be easy to get in touch with him. The not-so-easy part would be knowing what to say. Because while I'd feel lousy if I found that the Freeman brothers were offended or angered or saddened by my work, I don't think I would stop making comics about Walter for that reason. So maybe I shouldn't open that can of worms at all. On the other hand, it would be so spiffy if they liked it. If they liked it I could be rid of this lingering fear of being a big jerk who makes mean jokes about people's dead parents.
At any rate I should talk to the copyright lawyer first. Then I should work on getting obsessed with a dead person who didn't have any kids.