Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Embarrassed to Death

Anyone who's shown up for an event in inappropriate attire (i.e. most Americans) will relate to today's Bizarro comic.
The submission sketch for this one was very sketchy indeed.
Dan Piraro's finished art includes a wonderfully elaborate paisley pattern on the Casual Reaper's shroud, which posed a bit of a challenge for the colorist. Also, it's no small achievement to draw skulls with recognizable facial expressions.

Our next collaborative comic will appear on Saturday, February 4, and the eighty-odd prior ones are all stored in this blog's Bizarro archive.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Enter the Dragon

"Gung Hay Fat Choy" is the traditional greeting for Chinese New Year. I've seen it translated as "Congratulations and Be Prosperous," which is as decent a greeting as any.
Dragon years include 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, and 2000.
During a busy quarter in late 2003, I missed my chance to design a Christmas mailing for my illustration clients. My wife suggested that I wait until January and send a Chinese New Year card instead. I quite liked that idea, figuring that a card arriving in January of February had a greater chance of being seen than one delivered during the December greetings onslaught.

We've celebrated Chinese New Year for many years, usually by organizing a group dinner with friends. We enjoy having an extra holiday in the dead of winter; particularly one which carries no familial obligations. The Chinese zodiac theme was already part of my vocabulary, and I was enthused to get started.

Once I completed that first card (for the Year of the Monkey), my obsessive nature forced me to continue annually, in order to complete all twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac. I'll send out the last postcard in this series in 2015.

Here's hoping you have a healthy and prosperous year.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Extraterrestrial Condiments

Today's Bizarro comic returns to Area 51, a place I've featured in an earlier cartoon.
For this simple gag, Dan's final art follows my submission sketch very closely.
The major difference (besides transforming it from a rough sketch to a fully-rendered image) is the change from a talking bottle of ketchup to a talking bottle of Heinz 57 Sauce. That tweak makes the connection to the number 57 a little stronger, and a bottle of 57 Sauce is more colorful than a bottle of ketchup, so it's a little stronger in that respect. 
Our previous collaborations are archived here under the Bizarro label. We've cooked up two new panels, which will appear in a couple of weeks, including a rare (for me) sports-related gag.
By the way, Heinz products don't really come from outer space. They originate in my hometown, Pittsburgh, PA. In my elementary school days, the highlight of the year was a field trip to the Heinz plant. At the end of the tour, we'd receive a small gift box containing a couple of sample size products, and the highly-prized Heinz pickle pin.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ce N'est Pas Une Bande Dessinée

Here's a phantasmagorical Bizarro cartoon for your enjoyment, or perhaps puzzlement, as the case may be:
And, here's the submission sketch:
Bizarro's creator, Dan Piraro, improved on the sketch in several ways. His revised text does a much better job of setting up the punchline in the caption box. As is often the case, this one was written backward, starting with the caption and then laboring to develop an image and text to tee it up. My original dialog conveys the idea that the couple is interested in buying the Daliesque property, but Dan's final text includes appropriately surreal prices as well. Viewing the drawings together, it becomes apparent that the size and position of the caption in Dan's version neatly delay the payoff for a heartbeat.

The "surrealtor" is based on René Magritte's iconic painting, The Son on Man, an image that pops up regularly in New Yorker cartoons. I used this same character as a comic springboard in an earlier cartoon

As a final masterstroke, Dan added the shrouded figure on the left, referencing another Magritte work, The Lovers. This not only reinforces the gag, but ups the otherworldliness of the drawing, and makes for a funny little reward to interested readers.

The sketch presented a good, funny idea, but definitely needed some refinement. Dan's revisions, particularly the new dialog, added more layers to the joke, turning it from a merely amusing biscuit into a rich, buttery, comedic croissant.

We'll be back with a new collaborative gag on Tuesday January 17, one which may have some extra appeal to my hometown readers.

If you've got time to kill, please feel free to browse our previous joint efforts here, or follow my occasional Twitterations.
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Update: Dan just posted this cartoon on his blog, and included multiple links to surrealist works referenced in the panel. Go take a look!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Stop Poking Yourself! Stop Poking Yourself!

Here's a brand new Bizarro gag for your mid-winter enjoyment:
For comparison, here's the sketch I submitted:
Dan Piraro's finished art is very similar to my sketch, probably because my sketch is very similar to some of his previous panels showing a person at a computer with a spectator standing to the rear, like this one:
Dan tightened up the father's dialog a bit, and added the Cyber Bully caption box. The resulting comic is more effective, and more realistic, for a couple of reasons: the father in my sketch was a little too articulate, and, it's unlikely that a bully would ever use the word "bully" to describe his actions.

The underlying truth in this gag is, of course, that an awful lot of human interaction is learned behavior, influenced by the family, for good or ill. I hope that we've added a note of sweet justice by indicating that this kid will grow up to be a slovenly, unkempt lowlife just like his old man. Not that there aren't plenty of bullies in tailored suits and neatly-combed hair-helmets.

As an antidote to today's depressing topic, we've got a couple of silly comics coming up on Sunday, January 15, and Tuesday, the 17th.

Until then, I encourage you to browse our previous joint efforts.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

A Boy and His Dogboy

I'm happy to report that Bizarro has survived my recent temporary takeover. My sincere thanks go out to everyone who sent me comments on the comics, and again, to Dan Piraro for allowing me to show my work in his space. I'll probably wait a week or two before I propose another one.

Meanwhile, here's our latest collaboration, a pop culture mashup that uses a verbal trick I refer to as a streptonym.
Dan's art for this one follows the submission sketch very closely, which is gratifying, as it tells me that he was happy with the staging and design.
Just a few months back, this gag would have been incomprehensible to most readers. Now, the name Tintin will (at least) be familiar, thanks to a new film introducing the 80-year old character to American audiences.

We've got many more new yuks lined up for you in 2012. All of our previous joint efforts are viewable under this blog's Bizarro label.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Big Fun (Bizarro Guest Week Day 7)

Today we wrap up my second run as Bizarro's guest cartoonist, with one man's vision of hell, and imagined by yours truly. 
I send you my best wishes for a Happy New Year, along with sincere thanks for following along on this experiment. Special thanks go to Dan Piraro for allowing me to show my work in his spot.

If you'd like to keep up with my comical goings-on, please feel free to follow my Twitterings and/or subscribe to my Facebook doodad.

Let's see what sort of mischief we can get into this year, shall we?

We now return control of Bizarro to its creator.