Saturday, December 07, 2013

Odd Man Out

Today's Bizarro comic features the unfortunate victim of electronic crime.
The final, published cartoon turned out to be quite a change from the submission sketch, although the character looks very similar.
Dan Piraro, Bizarro's head honcho, liked the concept of an identity being almost a physical object that could be returned as well as taken, but thought the gag needed some more work. He suggested that we show the same awkward character talking to someone (perhaps at a party) and have him say, "I had my identity stolen last month but, unfortunately, they returned it almost immediately."

That change sounded good to me, as interacting with another person would add to the guy's discomfort and reinforce the joke.

I drew this a couple of months ago, and looking at it now, it seems there's an tinge of sadness (maybe even unfairness) to this gag. I remember the idea coming up as a joke made in conversation. Some friends and I were speaking about someone with a cranky personality and no clue about keeping his personal information secure. We reasoned that if his identity had been stolen, the thieves would probably return it right away.

If the comic had included a continuing character with a well-established odious personality, the gag could have been built on the reader's knowledge of the character's history. Being a standalone gag, we had to show him as generally weird-looking. I'm wondering if I might eventually have found some other way to get the idea to work, without making the character the butt of the joke just because of his looks.

Comments are welcome. Is this gag simply funny, or is it also a little cruel?

Of course, there's no excuse for any adult to wear that shirt.

December will be a banner month for my collaborations with Dan. We've got at least four more lined up before the year ends. The next one will be up on Monday, and explores a favorite setup for gag cartoonists.

All of our previous joint efforts are viewable in this blog's Bizarro archive.


  1. In general, I loath the syndicated strips which mock the looks or intelligence of characters on a regular basis. That you are questioning your own work shows that the Bizarro team remains a class act.

    I thought the fact that the final product has the character delivering the line gives him a level of self-awareness that makes him almost an object of sympathy. He knows he's a misfit, but doesn't know what he can do to change his situation. In that sense, having his identity stolen was a blessing in disguise but having it returned has added insult to injury.

  2. You're over thinking this. It's just funny.

  3. I could see him being oblivious to his flaws...personal hygiene and inappropriate attire. And I could see him saying, "Fortunately they returned it right away." As funny as unfortunately, I don't know. It's got to the point of dissecting the frog.