Sunday, December 31, 2017

Eyeballing the Future

I'm starting the year with a new comics gig, as the daily cartoonist for Bizarro.

The award-winning, multi-talented, and immaculately-mustachioed Dan Piraro will continue to produce those beautiful Sunday pages, and I'll be on board (working closely with Dan) Monday through Saturday.

Dan and I have been collaborating since 2009. Over that time, I've written around 150 gags, filled in as guest cartoonist for two weeks, and assisted as colorist for three years. Now, I'll get to work with my favorite cartoonist every day, as we plunge headfirst into 2018.

I'll have more to say next weekend, continuing Dan's practice of posting a weekly review of Bizarro cartoons.

And, we'll continue to sprinkle Secret Symbols here and there in the daily comics.

Thanks to everyone who has read, shared, and commented on WaynoVision over the last three years. I've just ended that feature so I can devote my comedic energies to Bizarro, but the entire run on WaynoVision will remain online for your clicking pleasure.

Happy New Year, Jazz Pickles!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Son of (Snow) Man

Here's my latest collaboration with my good pal, Hilary Price:
Hilary made a few subtle changes to the art and dialog, but followed my submission sketch very closely.
I've always enjoyed the art of surrealist René Magritte, and have referenced his famous painting "The Son of Man" several times in the past.

Cartooning is for the most part a solitary craft, so I take advantage of every chance I have to collaborate with an artist I admire. My previous Rhymes With Orange appearances are archived on this very blog.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Mind the Gap

All prose has factual gaps that must be filled in by the reader… "Write for your audience" means, in part, gambling on what they know.

I found this recent New York Times piece on reading comprehension and retention to be informative and thought-provoking.

Although the author, psychologist Daniel T. Willingham, specifically discusses prose, the concept applies equally to cartoons.

Cartoons often have factual (or logical) gaps that the reader must fill in—but not too quickly. That gap in a well-crafted cartoon might at first seem nonsensical, and when the reader discovers the missing connection (or explanation), the resolved tension produces a laugh. If that resolution comes too easily, or is overtly explained, the gag is unsatisfying.

In his contribution to the blog 10 Rules for Drawing Comics, Zippy cartoonist Bill Griffith concisely says, "Ambiguity is OK. Ask the reader to meet you halfway."

Another example that speaks to me as an artist comes from saxophonist Steve Lacy's transcription of notes from pianist and composer Thelonious Monk:
Don't play everything (or every time); let some things go by. Some music just imagined. What you don't play can be more important than what you do play.
Monk's advice can be interpreted as encouragement to edit, but it also applies to that idea of the audience filling in the gaps.

Of course, I spend a lot of time thinking about the structure of cartoons, so maybe my mind is simply using my own interest/obsession as a way of connecting the observations of Monk and Willingham to Griffy.

In any case, the Times article is well worth reading (and comprehending).
Monk photo ©2017 Concord Music Group

Monday, November 06, 2017

Comic Coincidence

Recently, my good friend Dan Piraro and I independently came up with the same gag, but took slightly different approaches. This happens to all cartoonists from time to time, particularly when commenting on something that's current.

Here's my WaynoVision cartoon from September 18:
The day it ran, I heard from Dan via email:
I’ve got a Sunday comic in the pipeline that makes the man-bun/man-loaf pun! I added a lot of other bread types so it goes a step further but it’s going to look like I copied you. DAMN!
And…great minds!
Yesterday, Dan's take on the very same tonsorial topic appeared:
In the Bizarro version, Dan added four more doughy variants, going much further into the realm of the absurd, hitting it out of the park and into the stratosphere with the Man Holiday Cookies payoff.

We've each said in the past that we share a similar sense of humor, but this is a little scary.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Will Work for Toys

I'll be participating in a comics festival at my local library next month. One of the organizers and I were kicking around options for an all-ages hands-on activity. We came up with the idea of providing an unfinished cartoon panel for attendees to complete. It will include a single character, no text, and plenty of free space, so participants can add their own character(s), scenery, dialog, or caption.

Later, I realized that this was a replication of a formative childhood experience. I (vaguely) recalled entering an art contest from the back of a cereal box, which included a bird character isolated in a plain white space. I'm fairly certain I completed the drawing by showing the bird dueling with some other character. One of them was using a hand saw instead of a sword. At the time, I was about 8 or 9 years old.

Although my cartoon art is just a dim memory, I still vividly recall coming home from school one afternoon to find a package waiting for me. Inside the box was a Mattel V-RROOM! Engine toy. This was a plastic contraption made to look like a motorcycle engine. You'd mount it to your bike, turn the key, and it made a loud motorcycle noise. That was all it did. I thought it was the greatest thing in the world.

A bit of Googling turned up a couple of images confirming at least parts of my recollection. The Post Cereal company ran a cartoon contest with several Mattel toys as the prizes, and apparently, I was one of a thousand fourth-prize winners.

Initially, I thought the bird character might have been Toucan Sam (the mascot for Kellogg's Froot Loops) but it turns out to be Billie Bird, from Post's 30-minute ad posing as a cartoon show, "Linus the Lion-Hearted." 
Linus & Billie
Billie was voiced by Carl Reiner, and the series boasted an impressive roster of writers, actors, and musicians. Voices were done by Jonathan Winters, Sheldon Leonard, Tom Poston, Stiller & Meara, Ruth Buzzi, and others. Some of the music was arranged by recording industry stalwart Johnny Mann.

I'd love to find a high resolution scan of the contest, so if you're a cereal box collector and you have one of these boxes, please get in touch.

Thursday, June 08, 2017


I'm pleased to share my latest collaboration with my friend Hilary Price.
Usually, we have several discussions regarding a gag, and it changes on its way to publication. In this case, there was a small revision to the dialog, and Hilary adapted the art for a better fit in the horizontal strip layout.
This change is staging put the fox and wolf on all four legs, adding at least a touch of realism to the scene.

If you enjoyed this cartoon, you're encouraged to review our previous collaborations, all saved on this blog.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Leg to Stand On

This post is a week late, but here (finally) is the May 3 Rhymes With Orange comic strip, co-created with Hilary Price.
The gag took a while to take form, as is often the case when Hilary and I work together. The strip I submitted featured a selection of shabby/inferior items with appropriate names, listed as items from a fictional low-expectations publication.
The last two items are blurred, just in case I find a use for them in a future gag*. Hilary told me she liked the image of a piano with one leg on a cinderblock, and suggested we pursue that as a standalone gag, perhaps with some sort of "there goes the neighborhood" punchline.

We toyed with the idea of either a snooty-looking couple, or perhaps a pair of Beethoven-like figures saying that the neighborhood used to be so much more sophisticated, or something like, "You said it was safe to park it here."

It didn't come together until Hilary wrote the "diminuendoed" line. That use of a musical term wrapped the gag up very nicely indeed. Using a shovel to hold up the lid was a terrific little extra in the final comic.

All told, we played around with it over the course of almost two months before it was finished. If we lived closer to each other, we could have nailed it over a couple of beers.

*Note: I salvaged the "substandard poodle" drawing for a WaynoVision gag (the link won't work before the publication date of May 31).

Friday, January 27, 2017

Slam Dunk

Here's my latest collaboration with Hilary Price.
Please feel free to browse our previous joint efforts here.