Cartoonist’s Cartoonists: Dan Piraro

With the return of the Cartoonist’s Cartoonists feature, I could think of no better person to kick it off than this year’s National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year Dan Piraro.

Dan is the creator of the panel Bizarro which is now in it’s 25th year of syndication. For the last eight years he has been nominated for the NCS’ Reuben Award which he won this year. His feature won Best Cartoon Panel of the Year in 2000, 2001 and 2002. He has 15 Bizarro compilations.

He’s also a vocal advocate for veganism and regularly campaigns for the Woodstock Animal Sanctuary in upstate New York. He has also been awarded the 2002 Humane Society’s Genesis Award for Outstanding Cartoonist for his animal rights-themed cartoons. They also recognized him again in 2006 for Ongoing Commitment.

Here is the list of the 10 cartoonists who Dan cites as the major influences on his own work.

B. Kliban – I first came across his brilliantly absurd cartoons as a Freshman in college in 1976. They showed me that cartoons don’t have to adhere to a formula – or even make sense – to be funny.

Quino – His wordless cartoons are sheer brilliance, expressing complex issues and concepts without dialogue. I’ve never been able to come close, but I strive to accomplish his level of attention to gesture and facial expression.

Sam Gross – To my mind, Sam is the best single-panel humor surrealist of the 20th century. I aspire to Sam’s economy of word and line, but haven’t a snowball’s chance in Hell of ever getting close.

Sergio Aragones – His margin images in MAD magazine were the first cartoons to capture my imagination as a child and I hide small jokes in the backgrounds of Bizarro because I remember the thrill of discovering his hidden gems.

Revilo – Simple yet detailed line work, deadpan gags, absurd humor, he continues to inspire me to further explore more surreal cartoons.

Rene Magritte – His work has the austere, deadpan graphic appeal of a cartoon, with complex, surreal imagery. One of the great cartoonists of all time, in my opinion.

Robert Crumb – His obsessive attention to detail and realism within a cartoon world have always appealed to me immensely.

Jeff MacNelly – His editorial cartoons got me to toss aside my Rapidiograph pen and learn to use a brush.

Gahan Wilson – A consummate draftsman with a boundless imagination.

Glen Baxter – A genius at the surreal slice-of-time gag and the funny-because-it’s-not genre.

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