Really Big Coloring Books ® Inc. publisher Wayne Bell captured the imagination of the politisphere last fall by releasing “Ted Cruz to the Future,” an activity book chronicling the rise to power of a certain headline-grabbing Texas Republican.
The kiddie book is such a runaway hit — “Amazon the company itself orders by the pallet. Several pallets in fact,” Bell gushed — that RBCB has rushed three more politically themed projects into production. Bell declined to identify whom, exactly, might grace the mostly blank pages (“We prefer not to tell, as we really do not want those being profiled to ‘see it coming,’ ” he told HOH), but did intimate that a handful of Senate lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are on the short list, while House members remain more iffy.
The new books are expected out within the next six months.
Having amassed six years of political workbook savvy beneath his belt, Bell has learned to pick his subjects carefully.
He published the debut entry in his burgeoning catalog of “cultural event and political coloring books and novels ” shortly after President Barack Obama clinched the keys to the Oval Office.
“Volume 1 sold like mad — at $4.99 [it] went over six figures in about 30 days,” Bell said of the inaugural workbook.
The company kept plugging away after that, spinning out books tracing the history of the Democratic and Republican parties, documenting the ascendance of the tea party (first book appeared in 2010, with a follow up released in 2012), commemorating the tragic events of 9/11 (“We Shall Never Forget 9/11 — The Kids Book of Freedom”) and delving into the Occupy movement in 2011, creating gratis Fiscal Cliff-related coloring pages in 2012 and weighing in on the culture wars in early 2013 with the “Being Gay Is Okay” tome.
Naturally, not everything stuck.
“Sadly, we cannot give it away,” he suggested of the poorly received 2012 presidential follow-up, "America's Leaders Obama-Biden 2012."
“We even tried … some schools sent the books back.”
The character sketch of Cruz, on the other hand, has taken on a life all its own.
Bell said he felt compelled to put his own stamp on Cruz after watching the tea party poster boy get battered in the press.
“As I watched some in the national media try to beat hell out of this man, for being who he is … I said to myself, ‘I will make a coloring book about this guy.’ The book will be beautiful, it [will] tell the truth, unabated,” Bell explained.
Once he began poring over the Canadian-born pol’s backstory, Bell became convinced he had to share his findings with the world.
“The more I read about Cruz and his poor immigrant history, the more I realized, that scrutiny could happen to anyone in America." Anyone, he counseled, adding, “This man’s history is … the American history.”
Bell did not, however, let on what he was up to, conducting his research entirely in secret. Per Bell, no one on Team Cruz had any inkling that the book was happening — “Not his staff, not his friends, not his family. No one. Not a single clue one,” he asserted — until, of course, it was all over the news.
“In fact, I know it took him [Cruz] by complete surprise,” Bell said of the closely guarded project.
The ambush approach doesn’t usually win one a lot of fans here in Washington. But, at least according to Bell, things have worked out extraordinarily well in this case.
“From what I understand, Mr. Cruz loved the fact that his two little daughters, Caroline and Catherine, on Christmas morning put their toys and other gifts aside … and they together colored the family line art picture on page 3 of the Cruz book, because the girls wanted to,” Bell said.
Team Cruz did not respond to queries regarding when the famous filibusterer first learned of the book, or whether the holiday bonding session described by Bell actually took place.
“From what I was told, Mr. Cruz said that simple family event made the book, ‘so worthwhile,’ ” Bell said of the second-hand reports — “I have never spoken to Cruz or his people; only to the media,” he counseled — he received about the spontaneous coloring party.
Whether Bell can pencil in another top seller remains to be seen. But there’s certainly no lack of interest from those now looking to be profiled.
“More famous media people and famous actors have asked, much more than the politicos,” Bell shared of the self nominations that have crossed his desk.