Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sustainability Squared (Bizarro Guest Week Day 6)

Today's offering includes a relatively new term, which was the New Oxford American Dictionary's Word of the Year for 2007.
Tune in tomorrow for the hellish finale to my temporary takeover.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Funambulist's Physical (Bizarro Guest Week Day 5)

Today's comic rips the lid off the hidden health hazards in the circus racket.
Balloon animal allergies are also on the increase.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Family Dynamics (Bizarro Guest Week Day 4)

Today's cartoon explores the long history of tensions that develop when relatives overstay their welcomes during the holidays.
Tip for aspiring cartoonists: Think twice before doing a gag involving a swarm of insects or a character sitting cross-legged in a chair.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Supply Sergeant (Bizarro Guest Week Day 3)

As we hit the middle of this week's siege of Bizarro, we present a little-known military item.
These usually sell out quickly at Swiss Army surplus stores.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Best to You Each Morning (Bizarro Guest Week Day 2)

Today's gag shows us the rejected prototypes of a trio of familiar advertising icons.
These guys had a certain grubby charm, don't you think?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Rat Race (Bizarro Guest Week Day 1)

Welcome to Day 1 of my second temporary takeover of Bizarro. We tried this out in May, when Dan Piraro took a few days off, and received very few death threats, so we're doing it again.

Today's gag features a fat cat who's actually a rodent.
I'll post each day's comic throughout the week, but will forgo my usual explanation of the genesis of the gag and how it progressed from sketch to final art. I will however mention that, although the purpose of my subbing was to allow Dan some time off, he was very involved in the selection and creation of all seven gags. We started with a group of about 30 submissions, and narrowed them down to those we agreed on as the best of the bunch. Dan reviewed my pencil sketches and inked art, and gave many helpful suggestions regarding composition and color, as well as editing and refining the text.

Both of these guest week stints have been educational experiences for me, the equivalent of attending a master cartooning class in which I was the only student. My sincere thanks go to Dan for this opportunity, and to his editors at King Features Syndicate for giving us the go-ahead.

Thanks for reading. Please come back and read the subsequent installments, which will wind up on New Year's Day 2012.

Our previous collaborations, which now number over seventy gags, are still archived here under the Bizarro label.

If you're a new reader, please check out my FaceThing and Twitterations.

Blog comments are welcomed and appreciated!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Flavor Crystals

Today's insectivorous Bizarro cartoon looks suspiciously similar to one of my previous gags. Here, we offer another twist on the cliché of a customer complaining about a fly in the soup.
This time around, Dan Piraro's finished art is very similar to my submission, so I must have done a better than usual job on the sketch. Or, maybe he was facing an extra-tight deadline.
My favorite aspect of this cartoon is the unsettling image of a giant Venus fly-trap sitting at a table wearing a bib, with the human waiter acting as if it's perfectly normal. I also love the way Dan gave the plant vestigial "shoulders" to hold up the napkin. 

This cartoon might work well as a short animated sequence. The plant would be perfectly still, maw agape, giving no indication of human-like behavior. There would be no soundtrack music, just the crackly hum present in very old films, or the work of David Lynch.

I've played with this motif before. Here's an unpublished cartoon from 2007:
Oh, those waggish dealers in notions!

If you enjoy these collaborations, please feel free to browse this blog's Bizarro archive.

Thank you for following these posts. This blog's been sputtering along since early 2006, and I look forward to sharing more art and miscellaneous musings as we move into the last year on the Mayan calendar.

I'll be in training for the next two weeks, preparing for another run as Bizarro's  guest cartoonist (December 26 - January 1). While you're watching the preserved head of Dick Clark count down the final seconds of the year, think about your friend the cartoonist, who spent the night slaving away to get the Sunday comic written, drawn, colored and uploaded for your New Year's Day amusement. We're here for you, dear reader.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

No Funny Stuff!

Today's adorable Bizarro features the world's most maddeningly-recognizable character getting a small measure of comeuppance.
This gag has undergone a few changes since I first sketched it. My initial version showed the mugger accosting a clown.

That wasn't bad, but it didn't really deliver a satisfying laugh, either. I then thought of substituting the line "don't try anything cute" and showing a ridiculously cloying character being robbed. This turned out a little better, but still wasn't quite there.

For the "cute" sketch, I flopped the composition, placing the victim on the right, so the reader would encounter it after reading the line of text. This idea of placing the payoff at stage right is a rule of thumb I picked up from Dan Piraro, which has been discussed here before.

After we both stewed on the idea, Dan finally thought of using Hello Kitty, the absolute epitome of excessive cuteness. That breakthrough was just what the gag needed. It was an obvious choice, but it took a year before it occurred to either of us.

I'm particularly happy with the coloring on this one, especially the shadows on HK's head.

At some point in the distant past, I drew a comic showing Albert Einstein being kidnapped by two gangsters, with one of them saying "Dis guy knows too much." I've been unable to locate that old sketch, so you'll have to use your imagination.

Our next collaborative cartoon will appear on Saturday, December 10. After that, my name won't appear in Bizarro until the start of my weeklong stint as guest cartoonist, which begins on Monday, December 26.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Press Release: Bizarro Guest Cartoonist 12/26/11 - 01/01/12

December 5, 2011 

Wayno Returns as Guest Cartoonist for Dan Piraro's Bizarro
December 26, 2011 through January 1, 2012 

Bizarro, Dan Piraro's aptly titled outlier of the daily comics page, will again showcase the cartoon work of Wayno during the week of December 26, 2011 through January 1, 2012. While Piraro takes a break Wayno will fill in with his own quirky take on the world at large. 

The two artists began collaborating in 2009, with Wayno serving as a regular gag writer, and early this year, becoming Bizarro's weekday colorist

Since the cartoon feature was launched in 1985, Wayno is only the second artist to sit in for Piraro. Cartoonist and television writer Francesco Marciuliano substituted for Piraro in July of 2008. Wayno's first appearance as guest cartoonist was in May of 2011. 

Piraro will spend the week in his underground laboratory, where the Bizarro Research Team is working to develop a Scotch-flavored cigar, or possibly a cigar-flavored Scotch. Speaking of his guest, Piraro said, "Apparently, our first choice, Nancy cartoonist Ernie Bushmiller, is still dead. Wayno wrapped some acceptable scribbles around a brick that recently came through our window, so we decided to print them." 

Wayno remarked, "I'm grateful for this opportunity to mind the store for Dan, and this time I promise to lock the door securely on my way out." Wayno's new batch of cartoons explores such topics as the local-food movement, health risks in the clowning industry, and family dynamics in ancient Egypt. The week concludes with what he claims to be the first Sunday newspaper comic to feature jazz great Miles Davis. 

Dan Piraro is the cartoonist behind Bizarro, a columnist for VegNews, a musician, and stand-up comic. Piraro was named Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year 2010 by the National Cartoonists Society, and received their prestigious Reuben Award. Bizarro is distributed by King Features Syndicate, and appears internationally in 350 newspapers. 

Wayno is a cartoonist, illustrator, pop artist, and writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. He is a member of the National Cartoonists Society, and one of the ToonSeum's founding board members. In 2010, Animal Friends selected him as their Honorary Artist for Black Tie & Tails, which raised over $400,000 for the pet adoption & resource center. 

For more information, visit the artists' blogs and Twitter feeds: 


12/05/11 ndp

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Sketch Fest 3

Here are a couple of recent scribbles from my current sketchbook:
Divas • 11/08/11 • Pencil & Ink
I loved the composition of this New York Times photo and the singers' facial expressions. I didn't quite capture the exuberant feel of Ruth Fremson's dynamic shot, but it was a satisfying exercise.

Scott Thompson • 12/01/11 • Ink & Colored Pencil

As an experiment, I made this caricature of the comedian known as Carrot Top strictly from memory. Later, I ran an image search and discovered that the drawing should have been much more grotesque. Live and learn!

These drawings were both made without undergoing plastic surgery or using anabolic steroids.

Heävy Lifting

Today's Bizarro comic reminds us to read a contract thoroughly before signing or clicking the "I agree" button.
Dan's final art is very close to the submission sketch (below), cropped in a little, with more appropriate (and funnier) characters.
The idea of wannabe rock stars attending a camp with actual musicians (who could use some extra cash) was neatly parodied in a 2002 episode of The Simpsons. However, the counselors at Springfield's camp were for the most part of a higher caliber than those who generally appear at these things.

Check in next week (December 8 and 10) for two new Piraro/Wayno collaborations, and get your round-edge scissors ready to clip the comics from my upcoming Bizarro guest week (December 26, 2011 through January 1, 2012).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Who's Krazy Now?

Today's sticky Bizarro kartoon references and extrapolates on a familiar brand name:
I submitted two versions of this idea to Bizarro's kreator, Dan Piraro.
Dan chose the one with the salesman speaking, and re-staged the image, zooming in on the characters and the hardware display. He also edited and streamlined the dialog, greatly improving the gag's rhythm and impact.

The sketch relies on the customer's chin-scratching gesture to indicate his confusion, while Dan's final art elegantly gets the idea across by showing him holding two products while looking to the salesman for guidance. By the way, I find myself in a similar situation at the local hardware store just about every weekend.

The idea for this gag arose from a conversation with friends at a recent "event" dinner. We were discussing a household repair, and someone mentioned seeing this recent Krazy Glue commercial. I joked that since I wasn't bungee jumping, Krazy Glue seemed a little extreme, and I probably just needed a slightly disturbed adhesive. Fortunately, I scribbled the idea on a losing raffle ticket, stuck it in my pocket, and made the sketches a couple of days later.

While assembling this post, I found a blog showing the ad's storyboards, which were created by an artist named Chris Kawagiwa. His storyboard work is very good, and his personal comics/illustration work is even better.

My next collaborative comic with the rockin' Mr. Piraro will appear on Thursday, December 1, with two more in the pipeline for the following week. All of our previous two-man comics are archived under the Bizarro label.

And, don't forget, there are now just 26 shopping days until the start of my second deployment as Bizarro's guest cartoonist. The invasion begins on Boxing Day 2011 (December 26).

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Your Pets at Work

Today, we present two recent Bizarro gags showing domestic animals on the job. First up, from Friday, November 25, is a dutiful dog:
The joke of course refers to the schoolboy's standby excuse, "My dog ate my homework."

My submission sketch was very different, and in fact, resulted in the a second cartoon in addition to the one above cartoon. Showing it now would spoil the upcoming cartoon, so here's a redacted version as a small consolation to loyal readers.
Here's a gag from 2005, based on the same theme:
"My homework ate my dog!"
Following close on the dog's heels are a couple of local news hounds, or, more accurately, news cats:
The final art follows my sketch's general layout (below). As I often point out, the published cartoons are true collaborations. In this comic, the dialog in the second bubble was added by Bizarro's creator Dan Piraro, and it adds a lot to the gag.
Our next joint efforts will appear on Tuesday, November 29 and Thursday, December 1.

I'm also pleased to announce that my second stint as Bizarro's guest cartoonist will begin on Monday December 26, and will wind up on New Year's Day 2012.

If you'd like to revisit our earlier collaborations, they're archived here in the blog under the Bizarro label.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bed Bath & Beyoncé

Today's illin' Bizarro cartoon features two disillusioned music fans:
Had we referenced a rock musician, this comic might be seen as a depiction of an artist selling out, but in this case selling down might be a more appropriate phrase. It's not so much a comment on this specific rapper, producer, entrepreneur, and conspicuous consumer/endorser as simply an opportunity to make a satisfying pun.

These posts always include my submission sketch, but this one barely qualifies.

The rough is little more than a verbal description of the concept. Once again, the talented Mister Piraro fleshed it out and created a stunning visual to deliver the joke. The second talk bubble was a masterful addition. It's the perfect, deadpan rimshot, punctuating the joke. Also, his hand-lettered signage looks exactly like an actual Penney's storefront, further enhancing the gag.

Speaking of Dan, he's got a special comedy performance coming up on November 22 at New York's Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art. His live show includes music, wisecracks, audience participation, a slideshow, antics, shenanigans and lots of laughs.

We have several more collaborative cartoons lined up for the end of the month. Meanwhile, you can always review our previous joint efforts in this blog's Bizarro Archive.

My second week-long stint as Bizarro guest cartoonist will be announced soon.

Oh, and one more thing: please pull up your trousers.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Sketch Fest 2

Some recent selections from the current sketchbook:
Nile Rodgers, 10/20/11

Newt Gingrich's questionable gesture 10/24/11
Proboscis Monkey, 10/25/11
Ruth Madoff, 10/31/11
Herman Cain, 11/01/11

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Full Coverage

Here's today's satin-finish Bizarro cartoon, followed by my submission sketch.

Today's a busy work day, so these are presented without commentary. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I Fall to Pieces

Here's a cartoon for Devil's Night:
Mister Piraro's art always shines in his Sunday panels. Everything about this one is right on the money: the staging, the color, light and shadow effects, the facial expressions on the main characters, and the secondary denizens of the bar. It's a real beauty! The Bride resembles Joan Cusack, who, come to think of it, is an actor who'd be perfect for expressing the resignation, sadness, and humor in this scene.

The rough I submitted is laid out like a daily panel, and is of course, very sketchy.
Dan and I both enjoy gags where something very strange happens to a normal person, or one that attaches a surprising image to a common phrase, as we did here.

Please do enjoy our previous collaborations, and follow my 140-character offerings.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Movin' On Up

Today's Bizarro utilizes the old "plus one" trick as the basis of the joke, and features a couple of upwardly mobile aliens:
This is a device I've used before, which I'll hereafter refer to as a Tufnel. (If the gag involves subtracting a number or letter to create the gag, we'll call it a Reverse Tufnel.)

Here's the rough I submitted to Bizarro's creator, Dan Piraro:
Dan added some nice background detail indicating that the home is actually located in the Nevada desert. Also, his aliens look quite a bit healthier than the ones in my sketch.

Our previous collaborations are archived here under the Bizarro label. We've stitched together a monstrous Halloween gag for Devil's Night (Sunday, October 30), which I hope you'll enjoy.

Thanks for reading. If you prefer shorter (or additional) messages, I welcome you to follow my Twitter feed.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


As an early Halloween treat to you, Dear Reader, here's a seasonal minicomic from 1991. This was actually an invitation to a pumpkin-carving party at our house. Five or six copies of were distributed.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Aye, Walk the Line

Today's Bizarro cartoon is a neat little quickie that gets in there and delivers the gag without any fussin' around. 
As always, Dan Piraro's art is spot on. Have you ever tried to draw a bagpipe? It's no easy task. Fortunately, the joke was, I believe, worth the effort.

The identical vowel sounds and rhythm of "Scotty" and "Johnny" immediately bring that great voice to mind, and make this one work. "Hello—I'm Angus Cash" just wouldn't cut the haggis. 

My sketch is a little stiffer and simpler than Dan's version, but I think it does the job pretty well, too.

I usually draw from an eye-level "camera angle," whereas Dan incorporates more perspective, and often uses a "crane shot" point-of-view. I suspect that this helps when he formats his comics for the alternate strip layout used by some papers, and also makes things a little more interesting to draw. I've always admired Charles Barsotti's minimalist approach, so perhaps that's reflected in my own drawings.

The joke didn't pop into my head fully-formed, but was the result extended stewing. After receiving a card announcing the release of our friend Gwyn's latest book, my wife and I started batting around ideas about kilts. One thought that seemed to have legs (sorry) was a Scotsman whose "tartan" is solid black, perhaps a member of the Gaelic Secret Service. I jotted down a very quick sketch and a couple of possible takes on the concept. Interestingly, this early doodle looks more like Dan's version than the sketch I eventually submitted.

My good friend Brian, who recently helped me out with a great iPhone gag, suggested the caption Goth Ness Monster. I considered that one (and still like it quite a bit) but finally, a couple of days later, Johnny Cash (THE Man in Black) came to mind and the punchline fell into place.

I thought about discussing the connections between traditional Scottish music and some American roots music in this post, but I'm far from expert on the topic. A Google search of the phrase "Scottish roots country music," turned up a 2010 story from the Guardian about Johnny Cash tracing his own ancestry to Scotland, so it's possible that he referred to himself "Scotty Cash" at some point. At least I'd like to think so.

Oddly enough, the headline to this story reads Johnny Cash, the Man in Black Tartan. I swear, I never saw it before. Really.

Please browse all of the gags that Dan and I have produced together, and to check back around Halloween for the next three we have lined up. They'll run on October 28, October 30, and November 1.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to comment.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sketch Fest: Half of the Clash; Two Obits

Following are a few recent sketches based on photos in the morning paper.
Mick Jones & Paul Simonon
Oct. 13, 2011
Based on a Bob Gruen photo

Oct. 14, 2011

Oct. 18, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Another Fine Mess

Following up on previous posts, here are some recent sketchbook drawings.
Chris Christie - Fountain pen & markers

Sarkozy & Merkel - Ink & pencil