Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Entomological Mortality & Simian Positivism

I'm pleased to post my two most recent collaborations with my good pal Dan Piraro.

Today's offering revisits a theme I explored in a Sunday page during my stint as guest cartoonist in May.
Before developing the Insect Heaven cartoon, I'd sketched an elderly fly being visited by a Grim Reaper who carried a flyswatter in place of the usual scythe. It was a funny image, but not yet fully satisfying as a gag. 

I then added the fly's fatalistic comment, and we both liked it enough to put it in the "keeper" file.
Riffing like old-school jazz musicians (at least in our own minds), we developed postmortem jokes for about a dozen other bugs, and used five of them for the Sunday spot, setting this one aside for future use as a standalone gag.

As I've mentioned before, some newspapers run Bizarro in a comic-strip sized space, which requires an additional composition every day. I was particularly happy with the way this one turned out when tweaked for the "landscape" format:
Dan's art took on a wonderfully somber and ominous tone in this configuration.
• • •

 Last Sunday's panel gives an upbeat twist to an iconic image.
In our version, the three monkeys focus on what they can do, rather than dwelling on the negative. Inspirational, isn't it?

Here's the sketch I submitted to Dan a few months back:
I came up with this spin after seeing an earlier strip that Dan had published in September. Here's his story about this circular brainstorming session.

As always, you can see our earlier joint efforts right here on the blog.

Please do stay tuned for more (occasionally gruesome) hilarity.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

All You Can Eat

My latest Bizarro gag involves an infinite beef loop:
Many of us have had similar thoughts when presented with a ridiculously oversized portion at a restaurant, but for this poor guy it's mathematically true.

I quite enjoy this type of wordplay, where unrelated phrases are chained together using a shared word. Many years ago, I collaborated on an ABC book whose title (Alphabet Soup Kitchen) employs the same linguistic trick. Certainly there must be a name for this device, but I've yet to find it. It's not a pun, spoonerism, or malapropism. What is it called? Scholars of English are encouraged to comment, particularly those who have names like Johnny Carson Daly or who once played in a band called Frijid Pink Floyd.

For comparison, here's my original concept sketch, which now looks a little like a self-portrait:
My next collaboration with my good friend Dan Piraro will appear on Sunday, June 26. Our previous joint works can be viewed in this blog's Bizarro archive.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

iPhone, therefore iAm

Today's Bizarro gag tweaks our culture's obsession with having the latest technology, even if we're not sure what the upgrade is. (I include myself in that group, by the way.)

Here's the published cartoon, followed by the rough version from my sketchbook:
The joke itself is very simple, similar to the fictional musician Nigel Tufnel having an amplifier made with a volume knob that goes to eleven, because "It's one louder."

My friend Michael "Zombo" Devine, a musician, artist, DJ, and all-around swell guy, once joked on his radio show that a particularly low-fidelity recording sounded "like an mp2." that joke turned out to be fact-based, as there actually is an audio format called mp2, which is indeed of lower quality than an mp3.

Other jokes can be built around this "one higher/one lower" premise, but I won't waste any in a blog post, as I might be able to squeeze one into a future cartoon.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that this gag was plucked from an actual conversation, something I've done before. We were at dinner with a friend who is happily un-addicted to constant communication, and only uses his cell phone for calls. Another of our companions tried to talk him into upgrading to an iPhone to which he replied, "Oh, I'm waiting for the jPhone."

My next (original) Bizarro gag will pop up in a week. Until then, I invite you to browse my previous collaborations with the comic's creator, Dan Piraro.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pork Barrel Gambit

Today's Bizarro cartoon is a variation on the story of the Trojan horse:
The concept sketch is very rough, but gets the idea across. Dan moved the sentries up to the top of the castle wall, which makes more sense, as they're skeptical about the gift.
I must have been inspired in part by the Trojan bunny in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I'd also recently seen or heard some reference to a Trojan horse, and that inspired me to start casting about for a gag involving some other animal concealing at attacking army.

I decided that a big wooden pig was a pretty funny image. The line about it not looking kosher naturally followed, and plays nicely on the expansion of the word's definition beyond its original religious/dietary meaning. That added the extra "layer" that the joke needed, and there we are!

Our previous collaborations can be viewed in my blog archive.

My next gag will appear on Thursday June 16. Thanks for reading!

By the way, Dan Piraro's performance at the Rex Theatre last night was killer! Thanks to all who attended.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Feline Theology & Nordic Graduation

My stint as Dan Piraro's guest cartoonist is over, and it was a great experience. We're planning a reprise in the fall, and I've started working on that. Thanks to everyone for the feedback, even the few complainers.
I'm still coloring the Bizarro dailies and contributing gags. Here are the two most recent, appearing back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday.
Dan's final version of the preaching cat sketch is similar to my sketch, with a slight shift in perspective and a little more detail, along with an added line of dialog.

I originally drew the cat wearing a pope's mitre, but we decided to delete that, as this isn't supposed to be specifically a Catholic feline. The white area above his head is the digital erasure of the papal headgear.
This is something of an obvious, silly cat joke, but it's also meant to gently comment on the tendency of humans to imagine/choose gods in their own image, and then spin it in the opposite direction.

The dialog in the Viking gag wasn't changed at all, but it was a nice surprise to see Mr. Piraro expand it into a panoramic Sunday page.
Our next collaboration will pop up on June 10. 

As always, you can review my previous Bizarro appearances by clicking on the Bizarro label.
My hometown friends will have a rare opportunity to see Dan's comedy show this coming Thursday, June 9, at the fabulous Rex Theatre on the South Side. Tickets are available here

VIP ticket holders can attend a pre-show reception where you can meet the affable Mr. Piraro, and snag a limited edition signed poster created just for this event. I've seen the poster and it's a beauty!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Simian Suds and a Cigar Smoking Scribbler

It's been a while since I've designed a beer label, but I always enjoy working with Scott at East End Brewing Company. He's a good friend and a good neighbor, and he always has interesting, fun ideas for his projects.

Here's the latest item, which I understand is already in the bottles and awaiting application of labels, now that the Federal authorities have given their approval.

Scott contacted me about doing the label last month, during what turned out to be quite a monkeycentric week. Within days I started sketching this pipe-smoking specimen, got a preview of an upcoming Bizarro gag involving monkeys, and designed a half-dozen simian characters for a project that must remain secret for the time being. 

For a guy born in the Year of the Monkey, that week had a pleasantly eerie vibe.

Speaking of Bizarro... be sure to check out the funny papers tomorrow and Sunday for two new (non-monkey) gags from Your Humble Bloggerator, and if you're within driving distance of Pittsburgh, please plan to attend Comics for Comics III,  featuring the Bizarro Cartoon Comedy Show! Dan Piraro his very self will do one of his rare live comedy sets, talking about his life and work as a cartoonist, showing old family photos and some of his best work, and strumming a guitar he's borrowing from me. Another good pal of mine, Nathan Mazur, will open the show with some of his hilarious animations. The show benefits The ToonSeum.

Let's pack the Rex Theatre for Dan's visit to P-burgh!