Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Spare Parts

Today's monstrous Bizarro comic is the result of a happy accident.
Bizarro CEO Dan Piraro created the art for this panel, but had to scrap it, because he'd somehow repeated a gag from earlier in the year. If you're keeping track of 365 cartoons every year, sooner or later one will be forgotten—or repeated.

The thought of this creation going unseen bothered me, so I got to work trying to come up with a new punchline so it could still be published. I wrote two versions, the one shown above, and one with the monster replying, "It's taken me forever to assemble my collection. I could never break it up." Dan opted for the briefer version, which is usually the way to go.

The process behind this particular comic illustrates a point that any cartoonist can verify for you: Occasionally, a gag will come to mind fully-formed, or nearly so, but, for the most part, writing comics is work, plain and simple. It requires skills which can be cultivated, such as developing an awareness of potential raw material, but the notion that creating cartoons (or any other art for that matter) is the result of some "gift" bestowed on a lucky few is off the mark. In some measure, that idea is a bit insulting to someone who works at any craft. 

Artists create good works because they do it over and over, always striving to improve, and trying to figure out what to keep and what to edit out.

I hadn't intended for this blog post to become a sermon on creativity! I just wanted to show that there are many paths from idea to finished product, and this one was a little different from my usual explanation.

Since this gag was only written by yours truly, there's no submission sketch to show. So, for your enjoyment, here's a snap of Dan Piraro celebrating the publication of today's comic.
Working with Mister Piraro is a wildly enjoyable part of my weekly routine, and I'm happy to share all of our earlier collaborations in this blog's archive. There's another dandy one coming your way in less than a week.

Happy Devil's Night. I found my favorite costume in the attic, and can't wait to break it out for Halloween.
Yes, that's me as a young'un, masquerading as a cephalopod

Monday, October 21, 2013

Music in Miniature

Here's a Bizarro cartoon that's simple and to the point.
The final art by Dan Piraro closely follows my sketch, although my version shows an electric guitar, which is just absurd, since there's no amplifier visible.
This gag was inspired by a young friend of mine named Otis, who helped me come up with a comic idea a couple of years ago.

One day this summer, I ran into Otis and his family in our neighborhood, where a terrific local band was playing. I mentioned to them that my recently-formed musical ensemble would be performing in September, and Otis's dad, Scott, asked about my involvement. I replied that I was the vocalist, adding, "I play a little harmonica." Otis fell to the sidewalk laughing, picturing a tiny instrument.

I do in fact own a Hohner "Little Lady" harmonica, but as you might imagine, it can be a choking hazard.
For live appearances, I play normal Hohner Marine Band harps, which cannot to my knowledge be accidentally swallowed.

Please feel free to enjoy our previous comic collaborations in the Bizarro archive.

Watch for a monstrous new gag coming up on Devils' Night (October 30).

Friday, October 18, 2013

Smell You Later

Today's Bizarro comic features a police officer working with a nosewitness.
Dogs and cats are excellent subjects for comic gags. We all tend to anthropomorphize our furry companions, so it's not a great leap for a reader to see them in familiar human situations, while exhibiting their canine (or feline) nature.

Dan Piraro's published comic is quite different from my submission sketch. The composition is improved, and so is the text.
"Turn around and bend over" is much funnier than "face the other way!" Try working both phrases into your conversation today, and see if I'm right.

As many readers my know, every Bizarro comic is composed twice for publication. Most papers carry the standard panel version, but some publish it in strip format. This involves shuffling things around, and often, Dan draws additional elements to fill the space. This one works particularly well in the widescreen format.
You've got to love the look of defiance on that chihuahua.

This weekend will be bookended by collaborative Bizarro comics, with a new one popping up on Monday, inspired by a young friend who's inadvertently helped me in the past.

As always, you're welcome to trudge through our previous comical conspiracies. There are now well over a hundred.
Dan Piraro blogs about Bizarro every day. His post on this comic is quite amusing and also includes an older canine cartoon from his archives.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Not Half Bad

Hot on the heels of last week's cartoon spoofing the story of Noah, today's Bizarro also has a scriptural twist. Taking us from Genesis to Revelation, we present this  discounted demon.
The final art by Bizarro's creator, Dan Piraro, fleshes out the rough sketch I submitted, and shows what's beyond the borders of my panel.
I'd been trying to come up with something using "333" as a reference to the traditional "666" number as the mark of the beast for some time. I'd drawn several sketches that didn't quite cut the mustard, and finally thought of the caption Markdown of the Beast, which is kind of nifty, if I do say so myself.

Old Scratch is one of those characters a cartoonist can return to and almost always find a new twist.

Bizarro-wise, October is a busy month here at Wayno World Headquarters. We've got three more funnies coming before the month ends, so be sure to check your paper daily. And, of course, all of our earlier comical collaborations can be viewed in this blog's Bizarro Storage Bin.

Devilish Digression

Speaking of the Prince of Darkness, here's an interpretation I did back in 1997. This was long before I met Mister Piraro, but I think it bears a passing resemblance to him.
This image was created without the use of Photoshop or any other image-manipulation software. In the late 20th century, many cartoonists and illustrators used a variation of the ancient animation cel technique to produce color art for publication. The black & white line art image was shot with a gigantic photostat camera and printed on a sheet of clear acetate. A special type of vinyl paint was then applied to the back side of the acetate to fill in areas of color. There was often a second layer used as a background. In this case, I used a combination of paint and a scrap of wallpaper from a discarded sample book.

I had this piece, titled "Suave Devil," printed up as a postcard, and I'm sure there's a boxful of them somewhere in the studio here. if people still sent physical mail, I'd offer them at a sale price.