Monday, January 25, 2016

Peanut Bummer

My latest collaboration with Hilary Price appears today.
The published comic looks very much like my submission sketch, although Hilary's revised dialog has a more natural rhythm, and delivers the punchline more effectively.
RWO is, I believe, the only daily strip that includes a title block. Hilary always makes excellent use of the extra flexibility it provides to her comic, which is somewhere between a strip and a panel. In today's edition, the title ("The Estate Plan") sets up the gag without giving it away, and also adds an extra beat before the reader puts the joke together.

To see another side of Hilary's personality and humor, check out her recent appearance as a Moth storyteller.

All of my previous RWO gags are viewable in this blog's Orange Crate.

I've also got a new WaynoVision cartoon online, so my fingerprints are spread around the web today.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Tonsorial Tinsel

Today, I'm happy so share my latest collaboration with the mighty Hilary Price:
Cartooning is mostly a solitary pursuit, so it's a treat to toss ideas around with someone else whose work you admire as much as I do Hilary's. 

Here's the sketch I sent for her to review:
When I pitch gags to Hilary, I like to present them in the strip format she uses, to see how I can make it work in that layout.

The idea here is simple. We're exploiting two different meanings of the word "trim." Trimming a beard normally means to cut some of it away, but we applied the seasonal definition of adding decorations. Hilary capped the drawing with the title "Hipster Christmas," which adds a festive touch.

All of our previous collaborations can be viewed in this blog's Rhymes With Orange crate.

Thanks for checking in, and Happy Hipster Holidays to you and yours.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Small Platelets

This comic generated quite a few comments, ranging from "Horribly funny!" to "You're a sick puppy!" to "I had to Google it, then I laughed for quite a while."

The fact that it got some attention was gratifying, because I'd pursued this idea for a few months before the gag took its final form.

The first sketches featured vampire bats. I reasoned that if a human provided them with a meal, perhaps mosquitoes would serve as appetizers. Here, we see a pair of bats and a sleeping man, in two attempts at a satisfying gag.
These fell flat, but the idea kept stewing. I tried another approach.
This turned out to be worse than the earlier sketches. My intent was to show the advice-dispensing vampire feeding on a smaller victim. Why I drew a Disney-style dwarf is anybody's guess, but it didn't work at all.

Both the dwarf and the maiden look like they're dead, which is disturbing as well as distracting. The only part I liked was the tension created by putting mundane dialog on an unexpected drawing, but this sketch was more confusing than funny.

A few days later, something reminded me of the familiar cartoon image of parents looking at an array of bassinets in a hospital nursery. I thought that would be a perfect setting for this undeveloped vampire gag, and the sketch almost drew itself.
The finished cartoon follows the rough very closely, requiring only a few tweaks and a little cleanup. Finally, the gag made me smile—it uses a common setup in an unexpected way, and it requires almost no dialog.

A cartoon may take only a second or two to read, but it's a safe bet that the artist worked obsessively to edit the drawing and the text, deleted many failed attempts, fretted and agonized over it, and then worried whether the final product would connect with readers.

As always, your comments are most welcome.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Now We Are One

Exactly one year ago, my cartoon panel, WaynoVision, launched on the GoComics site. Today, we celebrate with a rare Tuesday installment.
This gag has been rattling around in my head for a few years now. I originally pitched it to Dan Piraro as a potential Bizarro gag back in December of 2012.
The cartoon was too late to make it into the pipeline, as daily comics are actually finished weeks or even months ahead of the publication date. We both liked it, and filed it away, though we fervently hoped that Trump would be long forgotten by the following December

How wrong we were.

This year, the blowhard billionaire is even more visible than he was during the last Presidential election pre-season. So, I dusted off the gag and swapped out the "birther" dialog for a more current anti-immigration line.


Three years after doing the initial sketch, it was fun to draw it for publication, particularly after deciding to dress the character in a full-blown Little Lord Fauntleroy get-up, which is more in line with his personality than the business suit he wore in the earlier version. The drawing was also based on the late Joe Besser's portrayal of Stinky, the overgrown brat of the old Abbot & Costello show.
Joe Besser, Lou Costello, and Bud Abbott
Actually, Trump is more petulant that Stinky ever was.
• • •
As I sit back and look over the stack of cartoons I've drawn for Year One of this feature, I'd like to extend my thanks to everyone who's read, shared, and commented on the comic. My deep gratitude also goes out to John Glynn and the fine folks at Universal Uclick/GoComics, for inviting me to join them on the virtual funny pages. I plan to keep doing it for many years to come.

As always, your comments are most welcome.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Real Stuff: Dennis P. Eichhorn, 1945-2015

Dennis P. (Denny) Eichhorn died yesterday.

Denny was a prolific comics writer, who collaborated with dozens and dozens of alternative comics artists over a long career. He usually wrote about events from his own life, and he had a seemingly endless backlog of wild and memorable tales of sex, drugs, rock & roll, alcohol, violence, pranks, and general mayhem. 

Through my good friend J.R. Williams, I met Denny at one of my first San Diego Comics Conventions, and saw him there every year from the late 80s through the early 2000s. Denny was a sweet, generous, and funny guy, but based on his work, I kept thinking "This can't be Denny Eichhorn. He's too calm and nice!"

Denny and J.R. collaborated on several hilarious stories about the notorious outsider musician Larry "Wild Man" Fischer, who was a regular at Comic-Con back in the old days. One year in particular, Wildman
was upset about one of these comics. I can't recall if he was angry about the way he was portrayed, or that he wasn't receiving payment for being the subject of a cartoon. Maybe a little of both.


I shared a booth with several other cartoonists, and during the Con, an agitated Wild Man leaned across our table, and snarled, "Tell Denny Eichhorn I'm looking for him!"

Denny returned to the convention later that day, after an overnight visit to Tijuana. I told him that Wild Man was after him, and looking for trouble. Denny just smiled, and pulled a long switchblade out of his back pocket. As he flicked it open he said, "Let me tell you something about Wild Man Fischer. Wild Man Fischer is AFRAID OF KNIVES!"

I smiled and thought, "Now, that's Denny Eichhorn!"


Denny was a true larger than life character, and a great friend to many fellow cartoonists. He died at age 70, and left us with much more than a lifetime's worth of stories.
 
• • •

I illustrated one of Denny's stories, which appeared in Real Stuff #16, in December 1993.




Saturday, August 08, 2015

It's Not Easy Being Green

Here's my third gag to appear in Hilary Price's multiple-award-winning Rhymes With Orange over the past month.

And, for those interested in the process, here's my submission sketch.
Hilary's version is pretty close to mine, though she changed the dialog from normal English to Hulk-speak. I like that revision, as well as the expression she put on his face.

I find comic book superheroes to be absolutely ridiculous, and have no interest in them other than as fodder for gags. The Hulk is a particularly tempting subject, in no small part because "The Incredible" is part of his name. 

And let's not forget the fact that when he makes the transformation from skinny twerp Bruce Banner, quadrupling in size, his white shirt and purple pants stretch, but never to the point of shredding and falling away. They just enlarge right along with him.

Earlier this year, I commented on this character in my comics feature, WaynoVision.

I've been contributing the occasional gag to Rhymes With Orange since 2011. They can all be viewed in this blog's Orange Crate.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Puppy Love

I'm happy to share today's Rhymes With Orange, which features my latest collaboration with the comic's creator, Hilary Price.
As is usually the case, the final comic has changed a bit from my very rough rough submission sketch. Hilary tightened up the dialog and made the interaction more of a conversation by showing the two dogs strolling along as they speak to each other.

During a recent Q&A session, I was asked if it's easier to write gags about people or animals, and I somewhat glibly replied, "Even when they’re about animals, they’re about people." To be sure, sometimes an dog or cat gag is no more than a clever comment on the animal's attributes, but I almost always use animal characters as surrogates for people, to comment on the human condition. I think that's the case for most cartoonists who aspire to any depth in their work.

This gag also highlights a consistent theme in Hilary's work—using anxieties and fears as a springboard for gags. She often discusses this when talking about her comics. I had hoped that this gag about making a good impression on a date would resonate with her, and it did.

As I've mentioned before, it is a true pleasure to work with other cartoonists, particularly someone as excellent as Hilary. She won a Reuben Award from the National Cartoonists Society this May, as well as an Inkpot Award this month at San Diego Comic-Con, so don't just take my word for how great she is. Both awards were well-earned.

As always, thanks for reading and commenting!

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Mimes With Orange

After a long break, here's a new Rhymes With Orange collaboration with my good pal Hilary Price:
This one percolated for a while before taking its final form. It started as a doodle in the margin of a sketch for another panel, and originally depicted a mime ventriloquist holding a dummy that looks just like him:
I thought the image was interesting, and had some promise as the seed of a gag, so I sent a larger sketch to Hilary to see what she might come up with.
Hilary thought that the ventriloquist shouldn't be a mime, but possibly a a novice, starting off with a mime dummy; or maybe a dissatisfied customer returning it to the store, saying "I couldn't get it to work." After further consideration, she came up with the very funny gag published today.

This is a perfect example of the way Hilary and I collaborate. Her final cartoon is often quite different from the submission sketch. My rough usually serves as a springboard for her own take on a concept, and the results are always surprising and rewarding to me. It's a joy to work with other cartoonists from time to time, and to gain a fresh perspective.

In fact, this sparked yet another idea that I just might use sometime in the future...

We have a few more joint comics in the pipeline, so stay tuned. In the meantime, you are invited to peruse our previous collaborations, archived in this blog's RWO Suitcase.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Don't Haze Me, Bro

Today's WaynoVision cartoon presents an imaginary phone conversation.
Last week, I drafted a lengthier post about this cartoon, but deleted it in favor of letting the panel speak for itself, at whatever level of meaning each reader may find in it. 

I'll close with a brief (if less than eloquent) exchange from a Twitter Q&A session that GoComics hosted last month:
Q: Which do you prefer, puns or slapstick?

A: A joke can be fun nonsense, but the best gags have a point of view and make a comment. I prefer a layer of truth beneath the layer of funny.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Old Salt

Here's a wordless WaynoVision comic for your amusement.
This cartoonist is always pleased to come up with a gag that's purely visual. Although the idea is as simple as it can be, I of course agonized over the details. 

First, I had to decide which of the nautical nonagenarian's legs would be wooden. That was a relatively easy decision—it had to be in the foreground or else it would have been hidden.

Placing the boot on the walker presented more choices. Should it be on the same side as his peg, for balance? Should there be two boots so the walker and the pirate were both fifty percent peg? Should it match the boot he's wearing?

Ultimately, I fell back on some advice I took from one of many nerdly discussions on technique and process that I've had with Bizarro mastermind Dan Piraro. Dan once told me that he assumes the reader's eye usually travels from the upper left corner of a panel to the lower right, the way we in the Western world normally read text. Following that logic, I placed the walker's boot as close to the lower right corner as possible.

I wish I'd remembered that before I produced and discarded so many sketches.