Today's Bizarro is the latest collaboration between Dan Piraro and yours truly. I usually post Dan's published cartoon followed by my sketch, but I'm switching it around this time to show how the gag evolved.
While working with the radio on, I heard cliche "blithering idiot" used in an interview (probably an in-depth political story). It occurred to me that the word "blithering" has a rather funny sound to it, but that it's rarely seen on its own, and is always associated with the word "idiot."
I came up with this sketch, separating the conjoined terms:
Not bad for a tarted-up pencil sketch, and worth a giggle, although it's a little on the broad side.
After I sent it to Mister P, the following dialog took place over the course of a week. It provides a peek at our joint process of developing and refining a joke -- if it's possible to use the word "refining" in this context.
Wayno: Did you make a decision on the blithering idiot gag yet?
Piraro: I think I'll make something of the idiot cartoon, yes. I just had a thought that I wish I could use but I can't: I'd love to draw it as an audition, with the idiot standing in front of a panel of three judges, drooling, pants around his ankles. One judge says, "Your fucking is good but your blithering needs work." A boxed caption at bottom is "American Idiot Auditions." Hahahaha! Oh well.
W: I like your take on it! That would have been a great one! I also considered showing the goofy character talking with a career counselor, who says something like "I think you have the makings of a successful idiot, but you need to work on your blithering."
P: Your career counselor version works well, too. I'm really wanting to put another reference in there along with blithering, though. Is there another adjective that goes with idiot besides "fucking" and "blithering"? I can't think of one. If it were a British comic I could use "bloody" but I think in this case it would seem weird and gruesome. Does "Your drooling is good but you need to work on your blithering" work? Let me know if you come up with anything.
W: How about we move away from the adjective form, since I can't think of another adjective to place before the word "idiot" that would work. Maybe "Your wardrobe is just about perfect, but you need to work on your blithering."
It's possible that we're starting to over-think it! The directness of the original sketch could be the way to go. This is great... a deep, scholarly discussion of the fine points of a cartoon about an idiot! Ha!
P: Probably over-thinking it, you're right. Perhaps we are the idiots. Come to think of it, I have been blithering a bit lately. I'll sit on it for a week and see what I think then. A fresh look often changes everything.
One week later...
W: I think I have the idiot thing pretty close: The caption says "Idiot Career Counseling." The idiot is sitting in front of a serious-looking guy's desk. The guy behind the desk is looking at his resume and says "Overall, this looks good. How much blithering experience do you have?"
P: Love the idiot gag, you nailed it.
W: This has been a lot of fun. A real collaboration!
About a week later, I got a peek at today's masterpiece. Among other improvements, Dan toned down the wackiness of the character, providing more of a surprise when the reader gets to the caption. A sillier looking character would probably have been a distraction.
In Dan's version, the reader's eye starts at the word balloon, then drops down to the caption, and finally gets a little reward as it trails upward to see the slack-jawed applicant. A brilliant execution, as always.
And that, boys and girls, is how cartoon sausage is made.
Our previous joint efforts are viewable by searching for the Bizarro label, and there are more to come.