Dan Piraro

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Dan Piraro at the 2012 Comic-Con

Daniel Charles Piraro (born 1958)[1] is a painter, illustrator, and cartoonist best known for his award-winning syndicated cartoon panel Bizarro. Piraro's cartoons have been reprinted in 16 book collections (as of 2012). He has also written three books of prose.[2]

Piraro was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and his family moved to Ponca City, Oklahoma[3] when he was 4 years old. When he was in junior high school his family moved to Tulsa,[4] where he graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in 1976.[5]

He dropped out of Washington University in St. Louis.[6] He lived in Dallas and New York City for many years and then moved to Los Angeles, after separating from his wife, Ashley Lou Smith.[7] On 30 October 2016 he announced[8] that he and his partner 'Olive Oyl' (or "O2") had purchased a house in Mexico and would be residing there beginning December 2016.[9] Syndicated since 1985,[10] Bizarro was appearing in 250 papers by 2006.[11]

In 2013, Piraro coined the idiom "New Artists" to represent those cartoonists who distribute their work directly onto the Internet, without the use of a syndicate or a business intermediary.[12]

In 2014, he hosted the Fox reality television show Utopia.[13]

Political views[edit]

Piraro describes himself as "liberal and progressive politically".[6] His cartoons have occasionally drawn complaints about his politics, as in 2005, when a cartoon he drew in support of gay marriage was sent to all papers publishing the color version without an alternative caption he had intended to supply to papers wishing to avoid the issue.[14]

In 2002, Piraro became a vegan. His activism is visible in Bizarro, often incorporating vegan and animal cruelty themes into his cartoons. In an interview, he stated, "If you look at my strip over the years, I’ve always had a form of animal sympathy and animal rights."[15] Piraro has also incorporated an entire section devoted to veganism on his website, detailing his reasons for becoming a vegan and other vegan-related information.[16]

In 2007, Piraro designed a limited edition T-shirt for endangeredwear.com to raise money for the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, a non-profit organization committed to ending the systematic abuse of animals used for food.

In a 2011 interview with This Land Press, Piraro discussed some of the troubles he faced as a liberal growing up in Tulsa, OK.[17]


Dan Piraro with a cardboard guitar at NAVS Vegetarian Summerfest 2006

Since 2001, Piraro has toured the U.S. with his one-man comedy show, The Bizarro Baloney Show, which won the 2002 New York International Fringe Festival's award for Best Solo Show. He played the full show for the final time in 2008, although he has performed bits from the show a few times since then.[18]

Piraro received the National Cartoonists Society's Panel Cartoon Award for 1999, 2000 and 2001. Beginning in 2002, Piraro was nominated every year for the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben Award, as Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year, and he finally was given a Reuben Award in 2010.[16] Cartoonist-illustrator Steve Greenberg commented:

Perhaps they finally gave him the award to get him off the ballot after so many consecutive years on it; the rule (at least since multiple-winner Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes) for the Reuben Award is once-only per creator. In any event, this is overdue recognition of a strip that is among the best drawn (for me, up there with 9 Chickweed Lane and Non Sequitur) and inventive (for me, up there with Liō and Zits). Bizarro has also given the world of comic strips signature icons, such as his ongoing placements of eyeballs, pieces of pie, aliens in space ships and somewhat menacing bunnies. It’s the comics world’s closest brush with the world of surrealist paintings (and by the way, Piraro is an excellent surrealist painter as well). To me, Bizarro hits heights of offbeat creativity and daily surprises that haven’t been seen since Gary Larson and his The Far Side panel. And speaking of panels, Piraro is one of the few creators who makes his daily offering into both a horizontal comic-strip space and a squarer panel format in order to fit more newspapers’ space needs.[16]


Piraro's Bizarro (April 1, 2009)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Inside View", Los Angeles Times, February 10, 1985.
  2. ^ Radford, Benjamin (September–October 2012). "Skewed Skepticism: Bizarro Piraro". The Skeptical Inquirer. 36 (5). 
  3. ^ Bizarro (website), 5 August 2013
  4. ^ David Zizzo, "Cartoonist fueled by life’s twists", The Oklahoman, November 23, 2008.
  5. ^ Jason Ashley Wright, Here today: gone bizarro: Tulsa's own funny man returns for a couple of gigs—one clean, one not so., Tulsa World, November 9, 2010.
  6. ^ a b John Marshall, "A moment with... Dan Piraro, 'Bizarro' cartoonist", Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 1, 2006.
  7. ^ Powell's Books: Piraro, Dan. Bizarro and Other Strange Manifestations of the Art of Dan Piraro
  8. ^ Bizarro (website), 30 October 2016 blog
  9. ^ Bizarro (website)(13 November 2016)
  10. ^ Lana Berkowitz, "Dan Piraro's symbols: What do they mean?", Houston Chronicle, May 26, 2008.
  11. ^ Alex Chun, "Torn from pages of his comic strip", Los Angeles Times, April 13, 2006.
  12. ^ Bizarro (website), 2013
  13. ^ Wilonsky, Robert (17 September 2014). "How former Dallas punk-rocker turned 'Bizarro' cartoonist Dan Piraro landed in FOX's 'Utopia'". dallasnews.com. The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
  14. ^ "Double Trouble for Syndicated Cartoonist: Alternative text for a gay marriage Bizarro panel fails to reach some newspapers.", AP in Los Angeles Times, August 14, 2005.
  15. ^ "Mondo Bizarro: The Dan Piraro Interview". Hogan's Alley. 2010. [dead link]
  16. ^ a b c Greenberg, Steve "Bizarrely acknowledged," June 8, 2010[dead link]
  17. ^ "Dan Piraro is Not a Redneck", Abby Wendle on This Land Press, August 8, 2011.
  18. ^ The Baloney Show. Bizarro (website)(30 January 2017)

External links[edit]