Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Love is Visually Impaired

Today's Bizarro comic plays with alternate meanings of a single word ("the existence of three dimensions in space" versus "complexity or profundity of thought; intensity of emotion").
As we like to do here, we also present the original submission sketch for comparison.
Dan Piraro, Bizarro's mastermind, edited the dialog a little and rendered the characters in his own unique style, for a nifty little gag. 

This one was fun to write and draw, once I figured out a setup that enabled me to show the woman wearing an eyepatch. I suppose she could have been a pirate, too.

For the male character, I was thinking of a smarmy 70s lounge lizard, as exemplified in the screen capture below of actor Jess Nadelman, in a 1975 episode of The Bob Newhart Show.
We've got more funnies in the pipeline. Meanwhile, you're invited to explore our earlier collaborations down in the depths of the Bizarro Fruit Cellar.

As always, your comments and readership are greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The Sweetest Tattoo

Today's Bizarro, I believe, comes close enough to qualify as a wordless gag.
Dan's final art certainly brings extra life and personality to the gingerbread man, and he tweaked the staging a little.

I can't recall the exact circumstances leading to this particular funny, but wouldn't it be nice if tattoos were as painless (not to mention removable) as frosting on a cookie?

By the way, this finished art,
including the spectacular coloring, is all the handiwork of the mighty Dan Piraro. I've been coloring the daily (Monday through Saturday) Bizarro comics for the past three years, totaling around seven or eight hundred panels. Currently, I'm taking a brief sabbatical from the daily coloring duties. It seems that I was late with my dues payment to the ABCCP (The Amalgamated Brotherhood of Comics Colorizers and Paint-Slingers). The union steward for Local 412 paid me a visit, and he made a very persuasive case for taking some time off while they sort out my membership status. And to allow my knuckles to heal.

I've almost felt guilty getting paid for the privilege of coloring Dan's drawings, and have learned a lot during this run. When I pick up the digital paint bucket again, you, dear readers, will be the first to know.

I will, of course continue to collaborate with my good pal Dan as a contributing gag writer. Our next joint effort will appear in less than a week.

As always, you are cordially invited to review our many collaborative gags, which are housed in this blog's Bizarro Storage Locker.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cost of Doing Business

This spot illustration appears in the latest issue of the Pittsburgh City Paper, and describes the practices of some club owners that result in musicians paying for the privilege of performing in their venues.
CP's Art Director, Lisa Cunningham, and I bounced around several ideas involving parking meters, instruments with coin slots, bouncers holding musicians' gear hostage, and feeding money into a vending machine to retrieve an instrument.

I thought that an upright bass would work well, offering a nice expanse of space to add a large, readable coin slot, and a natural-looking way to show the player inserting a coin. At first glance, it just looks like a guy playing bass, and then those details emerge.

Even when doing illustration work, I am, for the most part, a cartoonist.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Preferred Seating

Today's Bizarro comic is set in the lobby of a famous establishment, and plays with a familiar expression.
As is our practice here in Squaresville, we present the original submission sketch for comparison.
There's not a lot to say about the genesis (sorry) of this gag. It was one of those rare ideas that presented itself in fairly complete form. I'd heard somebody use the expression "There's a special place in Hell reserved for..." in reference to some group or wrongdoers. Applying it to a former spouse seemed a natural fit.

You are welcome, as always, to view all of my previous collaborations with Bizarro Grand Poobah Dan Piraro, in this blog's Bizarro Cellar.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Blue Light Special

Hey, there, friend... You say you're not allowed to smoke in restaurants, the office, elevators, buses, taxis, the ballpark, or even your own home? Is that what's getting you down?

Well, chin up, cousin! Now, instead of simply satisfying your nicotine habit with gum, lozenges, or patches, you can feed that monkey while reinforcing your infantile oral fixation, all the while annoying everybody in the immediate vicinity with your incessant puffs of water vapor!1
Please don't get me wrong, dear readers. I encourage everyone to stop smoking. But, with so many nicotine replacement therapy options available, this new item seems to be a cynical corporate maneuver designed to keep people hooked by having them mimic the physical actions of consuming burning tobacco products.

Not to mention the fact that no matter how hard one tries to appear cool sucking on a blue flashlight, it just looks silly.
Would-be tough guys blowing little poofs of steam bring to mind children play-acting with candy cigarettes. The "e-cig" is merely the latest in a long tradition of fauxbacco toys. I admit to once owning a ballpoint pen disguised as a cigar, but I gave it up when I started fourth grade.
Photo from Sam's Toybox
Now, in keeping with this blog's traditions, we present the submission sketch for today's cartoon.
All of my other collaborations with Bizarro's Dan Piraro can be viewed in the Bizarro Cartoon Storage Facility.

Cultural Footnote
1The opening paragraphs of this post were written as a tribute to the comedian Eddie Lawrence, who released several recordings as his character The Old Philosopher. The first Old Philosopher record appeared in 1956.

Eddie revisited this formula often, and even parlayed it into a sideline doing commercials.

At the time of this writing, the Old Philosopher is still with us, and will celebrate his 95th birthday on March 2 of this year.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Tragicomic in One Panel

Bizarro takes a literary turn this morning.
Here's the submission sketch that resulted in the above cartoon.
Dan Piraro reworked the idea a little for the finished panel. Although the driver in the sketch sports a day's worth of stubble, the poor schmo in the published version truly looks like he's been standing there forever. Dan's most astute artistic decision was not showing the guy looking at his watch, which was simply not necessary—just seeing the name Godot should be enough to suggest the word "waiting" to the reader. Besides, it's difficult to make a convincing drawing of a character looking at his watch, as clearly evidenced by that sketch.

This gag evolved quite a bit on its way to publication. I wanted to do something odd involving a person waiting for a passenger, while holding a sign with the arrival's name.

My first rough showed an inexperienced detective trying to apprehend a criminal. This felt less than fully-formed, and I rejected it.
After a while, it occurred to me to put the name "Godot" on the sign. Placing the driver at Beckett International Airport added a nice layer to the joke.

In this previously-unseen sketch, I tried working the Beckett name into the drawing, but quickly realized that the signage would overwhelm everything else.
The third stab, finally, had all of the elements in place. They just needed to be rescaled and rearranged, making the ultimate submission sketch fairly simple to execute.

Color Commentary
As the colorist for Bizarro, I have the pleasure of reading the comic about three weeks prior to publication. Each week, Dan emails me the black and white panels (which most newspapers run). I then color them in Photoshop, and return them to Dan for review and any tweaks he'd like to make before I color the strip versions.

This is the original monochrome panel for today's gag.
I colored the windows using a pale gradient, and turned the diagonal highlights white. Dan, however, was bothered by that empty space, and added silhouettes of other passengers behind the windows, as seen in this enlarged detail.
Nice work, eh?

Old Business
Please feel free to browse our many joint efforts in this blog's Bizarro Warehouse of Wonders, and check back for our next one, coming up on Monday.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hell With the Lid Off 2014

My friends at Kelly's Bar & Lounge are holding their annual barleywine festival, Hell With the Lid Off, on Saturday, March 8. If you're in Pittsburgh that weekend, you ought to check out this beloved joint. Their mac & cheese is as famous as their impressivley-stocked jukebox.

In previous years, Kelly's called on me to design a poster and t-shirt for the event. This year is the tenth annual HWTLO, and they've decided to issue a limited edition silkscreen print, which will be sold at the festival.
The two-color 11" x 17" print is being produced at Commonwealth Press (who also work with my colleagues at Espresso A Mano and East End Brewing Company.) It's going to be a signed, numbered edition of just 40 prints. Twenty will be available for purchase at each of the two sessions. This digital mockup shows the art on a stark white background, but the actual poster will be screened onto French Paper Company's Madero Beach Speckletone stock, which is more muted, and has a nice organic look.

In addition to the special silkscreen, Commonwealth is also producing a black & white t-shirt for HWTLO.
And, finally, we adapted the design for a full color window poster, which should be popping up around town any day now.
I'm planning to be at Kelly's for a portion of both sessions, to answer any questions about the prints, sample a barleywine or two, and catch up with the friends I see there from year to year. Oh, and to snag some t-shirts.

Bottoms up!

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Happy Horsey Days

Today's Bizarro is a public service comic, reminding readers that we're already a full week into the Lunar New Year.
For your further amusement, here's the sketch I submitted. In the published art, the composition is flipped horizontally, allowing for a view of the shop window.
Chinese New Year is one of my favorite holidays. It comes in the dead of winter, after the traditional western holiday season is over, and not much else is going on. It offers an excuse to get together with friends for great food, and, since my heritage is not Chinese, it carries absolutely no familial obligations. In short, a perfect holiday.

A few years ago, I did a set of twelve paintings based on the animals of the Chinese zodiac. The paintings all sold long ago, but the link to the exhibit is still hanging around the Internet.

I've been sending Lunar New Year cards since 2004 (Year of the Monkey), and will complete a full twelve year cycle in 2015. After that, I think I'll probably start over. Here's this year's offering.
Please check out my previous comical co-creations with Bizarro's Dan Piraro in this blog's Bizarro Warehouse.

Don't miss Dan's new EP of four original songs. That guy's got buckets of talent!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Hero Sandwich

Today's Bizarro comic is my 150th published collaboration with my good friend and colleague, Dan Piraro.
The gag imagines costumed heroes taking on the dietary characteristics of their namesakes, something I've used as inspiration in the past.

The submission sketch is cropped in closer, with less background detail, but overall the final art is very similar.
Did I mention that this is our 150th joint effort? It's hard for me to believe we've crafted that many gags together, until I stop to think that Dan does 365 cartoons every year, and has been doing it since 1986. He's produced something in the neighborhood of 10,000 installments of Bizarro, so a mere 150 doesn't sound very significant.

To see if I'm showing any improvement, here's my first published Bizarro gag, which ran in April of 2009.
Working with a masterful cartoonist like Dan is rewarding in many ways, and after five years, it's still every bit as thrilling to see a new gag make it to print. With every comic we co-create, I learn something about cartooning. For instance, last week I learned that I will never write a gag that features a bouquet of foil balloons, unless some other poor sap is coloring it. (You'll see what I mean in a couple of weeks.)

If you've got time to kill, and plenty of it, please feel free to browse our earlier joint efforts, in this blog's Bizarro Time Capsule.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Portmanteau Pup

Today's Bizarro is nothing more than a silly image, inspired by a goofy, made-up name for what we lovingly used to refer to as a mutt.
The finished comic, created by Bizarro's alpha cartoonist, Dan Piraro, includes a lot more detail than my submission sketch, shown below.
Although the joke is simple, its effectiveness depends on the reader first recognizing the incongruity of the scribbled pet next to a (relatively) realistic dog. The dialog provides resolution of the perceived paradox, which, we hope, is surprising enough to result in a laugh.

Dan's version added much more in the way of realistic detail, and made the 'doodle stand out even more. The sketched version would work too, and could be improved with final art in which the speaking dog is drawn to be even more lifelike.

As stated earlier, this cartoonist finds these grafted-together names to be rather silly. Although for a cross between a Labrador retriever and a poodle, the name "Labradoodle" is preferable to "Poo Retriever."

Speaking of unusual hybrids, please enjoy the other gags Dan and I have co-parented over the years, all of which are archived in this blog's Bizarro Warehouse.

Many more laffs are in store for the new year. Come back soon and see for yourself!