Monday, December 01, 2014

See You In the Funny (Web) Pages

Today, thanks to the nice folks at Universal Uclick/GoComics, my new weekly comic panel hits the net. Here's the very first installment:
Click for a closer look, if you dare!
To kick things off, we'll run five new ones this week, Monday through Friday. The regular weekly schedule will begin on Monday, December 8.

Please check back regularly, and if you are a regular GoComics visitor, I hope you'll consider adding WaynoVision to your favorites. 

The GoComics mobile app is a nice tool for setting up your favorites to read as they're updated. I use it to follow The Fusco Brothers (as well as J.C. Duffy's other comic, Lug Nuts), Wiley Miller's Non Sequitur, Maria Scrivan's Half Full, Dave Blazek's Loose Parts, editorial comics by Jen Sorensen and Matt Bors, and many others.

As always, every comment is very much appreciated, as is every click on the GoComics site!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Like, Purr, Man

Here are a couple of recent animal-related pieces.

First up, we have Jazz Cat and Art Dog, two characters I worked up for the Manchester Craftsmens Guild Jazz Program. The Guild is one of Pittsburgh's cultural gems, a center for education and a place to hear great music, and it's always a pleasure to work with them.
Next, a piece of fan art, created for the award-winning webcomic Untold Tales of Bigfoot.
Vince is a very talented cartoonist and storyteller, although he's very soft-spoken and humble, and would disagree with any compliment that may come his way. UTOB has been running online every week for more than two years, and in 2013, won the National Cartoonists Society Reuben Award for Best Online Comic in the long-form category.

Speaking of online comics, I've spent the past few weeks hoarding gags and drawing them for on a new web comic of my own. It will be a weekly gag panel, and as soon as we set a launch date, I'll spread the word.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Hold the Parasol

Today's Bizarro comic eases us into Friday after a rough week at the office.
Dan Piraro's finished art employs a completely different camera angle from the one in my submission sketch.
Either approach works, but I see some good reasons for his choice. The view from behind the customer puts the reader more in the scene, as if we're just walking into the bar and overhearing the comment. The fish shows up a little better from this angle, and it provided an opportunity for him to depict a nice assortment of bottles behind the bartender, with several Bizarro Secret Symbols gracing the labels.

Please feel free to wander through this blog's Bizarro Cartoon Cellar to view our many collaborative gags, and stay tuned for more hilarity.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


Today's Bizarro cartoon includes character types who are favorites around these parts.
We have no real submission sketch to show this time around. The gag originated with the simple idea of a "pirate crossing" sign, followed by conversations where we tried to find a context for it. At this point, it's little more than a prop, not enough for a satisfying gag.
We wondered if it would be funny if the sugn was just sticking out of the ocean as a small sailboat goes by, perhaps with a word balloon coming from the sailboat saying, "Something tells me we're in dangerous waters."

We also tried to figure a way to show a pirate ship docked somewhere, and show the sign being observed by some puzzled landlubbers, or perhaps use the symbol on a rest room sign.

Finally, we hit on the idea that became the published cartoon.

As with all of our joint efforts, this was the result of a collaborative process.

Please feel free to unearth our earlier two-man gags by coming below deck to the Bizarro Brig.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Salty Site

Today's Bizarro reminds that there's something for everyone out there on the Web, if you know where to look.
The submission sketch is oriented opposite to Dan Piraro's final art, and uses a thought balloon for the text, but is otherwise very similar. Flipping the image places the payoff (the cracker) farther to the right side of the panel, which is something we try to do in order to add a little delay before the gag is revealed.
If you haven't read our earlier collaborations, or if you'd like to revisit, please wander over to this blog's Bizarro Storage Bin to see them all.

Monday, May 12, 2014

William Ask,...

Today's Bizarro comic features a legendary 15th century folk hero, transplanted to modern times.

The staging of Dan Piraro's finished art is very close to my submission sketch, with some improvement to the wardrobe. I wasn't sure what to do with Tell's right hand, but Dan solved that quite neatly.
I still think "Pippin" sounds funnier than "Red Delicious," but I wouldn't get into a duel over it.

Although I try never to listen to friends' suggestions for gags, and make it a practice to discourage anyone from offering them, I broke my own rule here. My friend Mike, an attorney with a weird sense of humor, emailed me with an idea involving an elderly William Tell reading an eye chart with apples in place of letters. The eye doctor would say something like "Sorry, but if you can't read at least the third line, I'll have to take your bow."

I really loved the idea of the apple eye chart, and decided to stew on it for a while, and finally came up with the familiar, stressful situation of passing a physical in order to get a job. Generally, we try to edit the wording for brevity, but the term "mandatory pre-employment physical" is such a ridiculous, clumsy piece of HR-speak, that we used it as our caption.

We've got more cartoon duets coming your way soon. Meanwhile, please browse through our previous collaborations in this blog's Bizarro Comics Corncrib.

Oh, and please don't send any ideas for gags. I'm trying to get better at writing my own! 

Thank you, dear readers.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

The Dogfather

Today's Bizarro recasts a familiar television/movie situation with canine actors.
The gag is pretty straightforward. Substituting the word "pack" for the expected "gang" creates a question, which is resolved when the reader realizes that, of course, a gang of dogs would indeed be called a pack.

Bizarro's creator, Dan Piraro, transposed the positions of the cast, which makes for a nice descending eye-trail from upper left to lower right, but otherwise followed the submission sketch pretty closely.
There was no deep strategy behind choosing the name Banjo, other than its satisfying sound, and the feeling that the head honcho would naturally address the reluctant participant by his first name, in order to lend his words a threatening air.

We'll be back with another collaborative funny early next week. In the meantime, please browse the Bizarro Comics Root Cellar to view all of our earlier joint efforts.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Wait For It...

Today's Bizarro shows us what's actually behind a common warning sign.
This gag was inspired by a conversation with my spouse when we saw a "slow danger" sign on the road, and started joking about what it could mean. She snapped a quick iPhone picture of the sign so I'd remember to do a sketch back at the home studio.

My submission sketch is a rather sloppy hybrid—the turtle was scanned from a sketchbook drawing, the road sign was clipped from the photo we took, and I digitally scribbled in some rough background details.
Dan Piraro's finished art takes an already absurd idea and refines it, replacing the turtle with a tiny snail, and reducing the time bomb to a single iconic stick of dynamite (one of the recurring symbols he loves to tuck into his cartoons). This is a nice example of the benefits of editing and economizing.

We'll have more new collaborations appearing in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, feel free to mosey through the Kartoon Time Kapsule, where you can find all of our earlier joint efforts.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Roving Ova

Today's Bizarro cartoon takes place in the local chicken coop, and illustrates a  simple rhyming pun.
My submission sketch for this gag used a wide-angle view of the henhouse, and showed the eggs lifting the chicken from her nest.
Each version works in its own way. Bizarro's creator Dan Piraro chose to zoom in on just two characters, which was a wise decision in the name of graphic economy. The simple barnwood walls and boxed nests clearly establish the setting. The third, oblivious chicken, and the expanded view of the scene aren't really necessary to deliver the gag.

I had a feeling this one might go over with Dan, as he'd done comics about the phrase "restless leg syndrome" in the past, using such variations as restless peg, and restless pants. The condition was also referenced when the annoyingly talented and prolific cartoon machine known as J.C. Duffy filled in last year as a Bizarro guest cartoonist. Dan's blog post from November 2013 provides information on an effective home treatment for RLS. 

In recent weeks, I've been reading Sigmund Freud's 1905 book, Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, to see if I could learn some things about humor and its creation. 
As you might imagine, it's a pretty dry volume. However, it does occur to me that today's gag seems to fit in with Siggy's description of one type of joke-making as "bewilderment and illumination."
The comic effect is produced by the solution of this bewilderment, by understanding the word. [Theodor] Lipps (a German philosopher and university professor, and a contemporary of Freud's) adds to this that this first stage of enlightenment—that the bewildering word means this or thatis followed by a second stage, in which we realize that this meaningless word has bewildered us and has then shown us its true meaning. It is only this second illumination, this discovery that a word which is meaningless by normal linguistic usage has been responsible for the whole thingthis resolution of the problem into nothingit is only this second illumination that produces the comic effect.
That long-winded explanation reminds me of a briefer, more memorable quote attributed to E.B.White:
Humor can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind.
On that grumpily academic note, we'll close today's scholarly post, and remind you to wander the aisles in this blog's Bizarro Research Library, where you can find our earlier collaborations.
Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Love is Visually Impaired

Today's Bizarro comic plays with alternate meanings of a single word ("the existence of three dimensions in space" versus "complexity or profundity of thought; intensity of emotion").
As we like to do here, we also present the original submission sketch for comparison.
Dan Piraro, Bizarro's mastermind, edited the dialog a little and rendered the characters in his own unique style, for a nifty little gag. 

This one was fun to write and draw, once I figured out a setup that enabled me to show the woman wearing an eyepatch. I suppose she could have been a pirate, too.

For the male character, I was thinking of a smarmy 70s lounge lizard, as exemplified in the screen capture below of actor Jess Nadelman, in a 1975 episode of The Bob Newhart Show.
We've got more funnies in the pipeline. Meanwhile, you're invited to explore our earlier collaborations down in the depths of the Bizarro Fruit Cellar.

As always, your comments and readership are greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The Sweetest Tattoo

Today's Bizarro, I believe, comes close enough to qualify as a wordless gag.
Dan's final art certainly brings extra life and personality to the gingerbread man, and he tweaked the staging a little.

I can't recall the exact circumstances leading to this particular funny, but wouldn't it be nice if tattoos were as painless (not to mention removable) as frosting on a cookie?

By the way, this finished art,
including the spectacular coloring, is all the handiwork of the mighty Dan Piraro. I've been coloring the daily (Monday through Saturday) Bizarro comics for the past three years, totaling around seven or eight hundred panels. Currently, I'm taking a brief sabbatical from the daily coloring duties. It seems that I was late with my dues payment to the ABCCP (The Amalgamated Brotherhood of Comics Colorizers and Paint-Slingers). The union steward for Local 412 paid me a visit, and he made a very persuasive case for taking some time off while they sort out my membership status. And to allow my knuckles to heal.

I've almost felt guilty getting paid for the privilege of coloring Dan's drawings, and have learned a lot during this run. When I pick up the digital paint bucket again, you, dear readers, will be the first to know.

I will, of course continue to collaborate with my good pal Dan as a contributing gag writer. Our next joint effort will appear in less than a week.

As always, you are cordially invited to review our many collaborative gags, which are housed in this blog's Bizarro Storage Locker.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cost of Doing Business

This spot illustration appears in the latest issue of the Pittsburgh City Paper, and describes the practices of some club owners that result in musicians paying for the privilege of performing in their venues.
CP's Art Director, Lisa Cunningham, and I bounced around several ideas involving parking meters, instruments with coin slots, bouncers holding musicians' gear hostage, and feeding money into a vending machine to retrieve an instrument.

I thought that an upright bass would work well, offering a nice expanse of space to add a large, readable coin slot, and a natural-looking way to show the player inserting a coin. At first glance, it just looks like a guy playing bass, and then those details emerge.

Even when doing illustration work, I am, for the most part, a cartoonist.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Preferred Seating

Today's Bizarro comic is set in the lobby of a famous establishment, and plays with a familiar expression.
As is our practice here in Squaresville, we present the original submission sketch for comparison.
There's not a lot to say about the genesis (sorry) of this gag. It was one of those rare ideas that presented itself in fairly complete form. I'd heard somebody use the expression "There's a special place in Hell reserved for..." in reference to some group or wrongdoers. Applying it to a former spouse seemed a natural fit.

You are welcome, as always, to view all of my previous collaborations with Bizarro Grand Poobah Dan Piraro, in this blog's Bizarro Cellar.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Blue Light Special

Hey, there, friend... You say you're not allowed to smoke in restaurants, the office, elevators, buses, taxis, the ballpark, or even your own home? Is that what's getting you down?

Well, chin up, cousin! Now, instead of simply satisfying your nicotine habit with gum, lozenges, or patches, you can feed that monkey while reinforcing your infantile oral fixation, all the while annoying everybody in the immediate vicinity with your incessant puffs of water vapor!1
Please don't get me wrong, dear readers. I encourage everyone to stop smoking. But, with so many nicotine replacement therapy options available, this new item seems to be a cynical corporate maneuver designed to keep people hooked by having them mimic the physical actions of consuming burning tobacco products.

Not to mention the fact that no matter how hard one tries to appear cool sucking on a blue flashlight, it just looks silly.
Would-be tough guys blowing little poofs of steam bring to mind children play-acting with candy cigarettes. The "e-cig" is merely the latest in a long tradition of fauxbacco toys. I admit to once owning a ballpoint pen disguised as a cigar, but I gave it up when I started fourth grade.
Photo from Sam's Toybox
Now, in keeping with this blog's traditions, we present the submission sketch for today's cartoon.
All of my other collaborations with Bizarro's Dan Piraro can be viewed in the Bizarro Cartoon Storage Facility.

Cultural Footnote
1The opening paragraphs of this post were written as a tribute to the comedian Eddie Lawrence, who released several recordings as his character The Old Philosopher. The first Old Philosopher record appeared in 1956.

Eddie revisited this formula often, and even parlayed it into a sideline doing commercials.

At the time of this writing, the Old Philosopher is still with us, and will celebrate his 95th birthday on March 2 of this year.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Tragicomic in One Panel

Bizarro takes a literary turn this morning.
Here's the submission sketch that resulted in the above cartoon.
Dan Piraro reworked the idea a little for the finished panel. Although the driver in the sketch sports a day's worth of stubble, the poor schmo in the published version truly looks like he's been standing there forever. Dan's most astute artistic decision was not showing the guy looking at his watch, which was simply not necessary—just seeing the name Godot should be enough to suggest the word "waiting" to the reader. Besides, it's difficult to make a convincing drawing of a character looking at his watch, as clearly evidenced by that sketch.

This gag evolved quite a bit on its way to publication. I wanted to do something odd involving a person waiting for a passenger, while holding a sign with the arrival's name.

My first rough showed an inexperienced detective trying to apprehend a criminal. This felt less than fully-formed, and I rejected it.
After a while, it occurred to me to put the name "Godot" on the sign. Placing the driver at Beckett International Airport added a nice layer to the joke.

In this previously-unseen sketch, I tried working the Beckett name into the drawing, but quickly realized that the signage would overwhelm everything else.
The third stab, finally, had all of the elements in place. They just needed to be rescaled and rearranged, making the ultimate submission sketch fairly simple to execute.

Color Commentary
As the colorist for Bizarro, I have the pleasure of reading the comic about three weeks prior to publication. Each week, Dan emails me the black and white panels (which most newspapers run). I then color them in Photoshop, and return them to Dan for review and any tweaks he'd like to make before I color the strip versions.

This is the original monochrome panel for today's gag.
I colored the windows using a pale gradient, and turned the diagonal highlights white. Dan, however, was bothered by that empty space, and added silhouettes of other passengers behind the windows, as seen in this enlarged detail.
Nice work, eh?

Old Business
Please feel free to browse our many joint efforts in this blog's Bizarro Warehouse of Wonders, and check back for our next one, coming up on Monday.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hell With the Lid Off 2014

My friends at Kelly's Bar & Lounge are holding their annual barleywine festival, Hell With the Lid Off, on Saturday, March 8. If you're in Pittsburgh that weekend, you ought to check out this beloved joint. Their mac & cheese is as famous as their impressivley-stocked jukebox.

In previous years, Kelly's called on me to design a poster and t-shirt for the event. This year is the tenth annual HWTLO, and they've decided to issue a limited edition silkscreen print, which will be sold at the festival.
The two-color 11" x 17" print is being produced at Commonwealth Press (who also work with my colleagues at Espresso A Mano and East End Brewing Company.) It's going to be a signed, numbered edition of just 40 prints. Twenty will be available for purchase at each of the two sessions. This digital mockup shows the art on a stark white background, but the actual poster will be screened onto French Paper Company's Madero Beach Speckletone stock, which is more muted, and has a nice organic look.

In addition to the special silkscreen, Commonwealth is also producing a black & white t-shirt for HWTLO.
And, finally, we adapted the design for a full color window poster, which should be popping up around town any day now.
I'm planning to be at Kelly's for a portion of both sessions, to answer any questions about the prints, sample a barleywine or two, and catch up with the friends I see there from year to year. Oh, and to snag some t-shirts.

Bottoms up!

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Happy Horsey Days

Today's Bizarro is a public service comic, reminding readers that we're already a full week into the Lunar New Year.
For your further amusement, here's the sketch I submitted. In the published art, the composition is flipped horizontally, allowing for a view of the shop window.
Chinese New Year is one of my favorite holidays. It comes in the dead of winter, after the traditional western holiday season is over, and not much else is going on. It offers an excuse to get together with friends for great food, and, since my heritage is not Chinese, it carries absolutely no familial obligations. In short, a perfect holiday.

A few years ago, I did a set of twelve paintings based on the animals of the Chinese zodiac. The paintings all sold long ago, but the link to the exhibit is still hanging around the Internet.

I've been sending Lunar New Year cards since 2004 (Year of the Monkey), and will complete a full twelve year cycle in 2015. After that, I think I'll probably start over. Here's this year's offering.
Please check out my previous comical co-creations with Bizarro's Dan Piraro in this blog's Bizarro Warehouse.

Don't miss Dan's new EP of four original songs. That guy's got buckets of talent!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Hero Sandwich

Today's Bizarro comic is my 150th published collaboration with my good friend and colleague, Dan Piraro.
The gag imagines costumed heroes taking on the dietary characteristics of their namesakes, something I've used as inspiration in the past.

The submission sketch is cropped in closer, with less background detail, but overall the final art is very similar.
Did I mention that this is our 150th joint effort? It's hard for me to believe we've crafted that many gags together, until I stop to think that Dan does 365 cartoons every year, and has been doing it since 1986. He's produced something in the neighborhood of 10,000 installments of Bizarro, so a mere 150 doesn't sound very significant.

To see if I'm showing any improvement, here's my first published Bizarro gag, which ran in April of 2009.
Working with a masterful cartoonist like Dan is rewarding in many ways, and after five years, it's still every bit as thrilling to see a new gag make it to print. With every comic we co-create, I learn something about cartooning. For instance, last week I learned that I will never write a gag that features a bouquet of foil balloons, unless some other poor sap is coloring it. (You'll see what I mean in a couple of weeks.)

If you've got time to kill, and plenty of it, please feel free to browse our earlier joint efforts, in this blog's Bizarro Time Capsule.