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Interviewed: Dan Piraro on his cartooning

Over at Cecil Vortex’s blog, he has an interesting interview with Bizarro cartoonist Dan Piraro.

CV: I understand that to syndicate a cartoon, you first need to stockpile a large number of comics. Was that a challenge for you?

DP: Early on it was very hard. See, on the one hand, I really love starting with a blank page — starting with nothing every day. I don’t like the restrictions of having characters or storylines. But on the other hand, it makes it harder because you’re starting from zero every single day — you have nothing to build on.

When I first got syndicated I had written maybe two hundred cartoons, most of which weren’t really publishable…. So I was just out to sea. I instantly had to start writing a joke a day without fail to keep going. And that was terrifying because every joke you write, at that point you just think, “Oh my gosh, what if I only had 327 jokes? What if I was born with 327 jokes in my head and I just wrote the 326th?” You always feel like you’re about to run out. But to my pleasant surprise over the years, I’ve noticed that it gets easier. And of course it makes perfect sense. Anything you practice tends to get easier. And so I’ve been sitting down and trying to make my brain jump through that hoop every single day for twenty-two years.

I used to write every single day. My creative time for writing cartoons is first thing in the morning, the first hour in the morning before my brain is too polluted…. Nowadays, in contrast, I don’t write more than about twice a week. I’ll sit down for an hour and I’m able to come up with a week’s worth of jokes. And then I just draw whenever I get the chance. I can actually produce a week’s worth of artwork in two days. And I can write a week’s worth in two hours. So I’ve really cut down my work time to two days a week, just strictly for what appears in the newspaper.

Community Comments

#1 Eric Burke
@ 10:02 am

I’ve always thought that Dan Piraro doesn’t get the credit that he deserves despite his 3 Reubens and multiple nominations. I love his worka dn his latest book is the type of personal look at at cartoonist, his other art work, and his strip, that I wish more cartoonists would offer.

Wiley Miller and Stephen Pastis offer some comments on some of their cartoons in a few of their books and I think it’s the type of added feature that really creates that bond between readers and their favorite comics…

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