About the book
Right from the start of writing Dr. Peeling's Principles of Management I was really worried about what to do for illustrations. I cannot draw and do not think visually. I discussed my concerns with my publisher who reassured me that they regularly used a few excellent illustrators. They sent me copies of recent books and I liked the illustrations as illustrations, but felt that they did not really add a great deal to the text. I happened to have two colleagues in my team, one of whom is a very talented amateur artist (Andy Sellick) and one who is good at creating amusing artistic ideas (Andrew 'Ed' Edmondson). They offered to have a go at creating some illustrations. My publishers were happy to let them produce some samples.
We decided very early on to have a cast of characters who would run throughout the illustrations. Our biggest problem could be summed up in one word "Dilbert". Dilbert is so influential and brilliant it totally dominates the thoughts of anyone trying to do amusing illustrations on management. The key character was the boss. It was obvious that the boss was going to be a bad boss, but what would he look like? I am very proud that I had the idea that the boss would look great but be hopeless. It seemed to me that no sooner had I said that than Andy immediately sat down and drew Edgar – although Andy tells me that it was not that easy! We discussed other generic characters – the timid, fearful employee, an ambitious young female proto-Edgar, the middle aged competent person, the creative techie etc. Then Ed and Andy disappeared while they worked up the characters, the concept, and some ideas for samples.
When they emerged from their huddle I had three samples. Edgar and Hugo blowing up Tim ("the person being terminated should not be surprised"), Edgar with his arm round the window cleaner ("recognise your key staff"), and a third idea which has since been scrapped. The concept was now clear, the gags were almost entirely visual (no speech bubbles), with a quote from the text as the title of the illustration. My publishers agreed with me that the samples were great and we were off! We all had ideas for illustrations. The best ones were Andy's and Ed's. What I liked was how a few of my lame ideas were rescued by a brilliant illustration – for example the team rowing in a galley. The cast of characters grew as Arnold the boss was added, as were the support monkeys. Other such as Sherman (the techie) improved dramatically as Andy worked on them. Andy had real problems with Samantha (the female proto-Edgar) who was eventually dropped – although she is the woman in the illustration of Edgar dreaming of being a comic book hero. The most difficult challenge I posed Andy was Marsha. I did not like the fact that the only female character was a bit of a bitch, and that all the characters were obviously white. It is really hard to do a caricature illustration of a coloured person without being offensive. I think Marsha is brilliant.
Andy spent a long time getting the illustrations right, and I feel that they really enhance the book.