Exactly six years ago, unsuspecting Bizarro readers encountered my first published collaboration with the amazing cartoonist Dan Piraro.
I was lucky enough to work with him as a regular gag writer for more than five years, and spent three of them assisting as Bizarro's colorist. I also had the distinct honor of occupying Dan's space as guest cartoonist for two week-long stints. All told, we did over 150 comics together.
During our collaboration, Dan was always very generous with his time. I spent a few days in his home observing and learning his painterly coloring technique, and we often had detailed discussions on editing, pacing, and staging in cartoon panels. I learned a lot from him, and feel that my work improved significantly as a direct result of working with him.
Another aspect of Dan's generosity (one could even call it bravery) is that I was acknowledged and credited as a writer for Bizarro. Many people who contribute to the comics you read every day do it anonymously. Quite a few comics are truly one-person shows, but many feature the work of multiple collaborators who remain hidden behind the name of a single creator.
Having the Bizarro byline certainly helped open up other cartooning opportunities, and gave my writing and art a much wider mainstream audience.
Bizarro is my favorite comic, and I continue to learn by studying Dan's work every day.
To Dan I say: Thanks, buddy! You've been, and continue to be, an esteemed colleague, mentor, drinking buddy, and dear friend.