New Comic Alert: Mannequin on the Moonby GoComics Staff
We are very excited to welcome Mannequin on the Moon into the GoComics family this month! Named for one of its first cartoons—that features, aptly, a mannequin … on the moon—this one-panel comic explores any theme that make creators Pia Guerra and Ian Boothby laugh: space, relationships, television, time travel, saunas, fairy tales, and, obviously, obscure facts about otters.
Guerra and Boothby have enjoyed incredibly successful careers—both individually and together—before launching this project on Instagram in October 2020. Guerra is a comic book artist and prolific editorial cartoonist who penned the editorial cartoon book, Me The People. Boothby, a writer and comedian, is best known for his comic-book writing and work as lead writer on Simpsons Comics and Futurama Comics. Together, the husband-and-wife duo have contributed to The New Yorker, MAD Magazine, The Nib, and DC and Marvel comics.
You’re both immensely successful in your separate (and collaborative) work and careers. Do we have COVID to thank for this joint project?
Ian: I’m going to pass on thanking the global pandemic for anything (that’d be taken out of context in the future), but you’re right that a bunch of things we were making got put on hold. We’d been working together on cartoons for MAD Magazine and The New Yorker, and had a bunch of extras that we’d been sharing online. This is our way of finding good homes for all these jokes. They’re mutts but they’re lovable and mostly housebroken.
Pia: This is our escape from COVID and all the existential dread. More talking cats, hon. MORE.
Some creators talk about cartooning as a sometimes lonely, solitary endeavor. What’s your style of collaboration and is it different than when you work alone?
Ian: First of all, I’m worried about these other cartoonists you’re talking to. Are any of them named Pagliacci? Pia and I are constantly joking and working on ideas. When one makes us both laugh, I scramble for a pen to write it down and she… doesn’t. Because her memory is much better than mine. When I’ve got about ten ideas, I’ll write them up, trimming the joke down as much as possible. Then I send them to Pia who, while I’m asleep and I assume with the help of elves, magically turns them into full cartoons.
Pia: Yep. Elves, it’s totally elves.
Related, tell us a bit about how each comic comes together. Does the caption come first? The art? Do you chat about them over dinner at night?
Ian: Some jokes come out of conversation. Some come out of it being close to deadline time and we’re looking for something easy to draw, this is where the snowmen, stick figure, and Invisible Man jokes show up.
Pia, how does the process of joke cartooning differ for you from editorial cartooning?
Pia: There’s a lot less anger involved. Editorial cartoons come from a very reactionary, sometimes explosive place. It’s the part of the brain that’s an old man yelling at his TV, waving a cane, scaring the dog. It’s all impulse to clap back at an outrage, followed by the release of having gotten that emotion out and expressed. It can be very therapeutic. Mannequin on the Moon comes from a much more laid back part, the kitchen party part, where you’re telling funny jokes with friends and the dog is curled up by your feet hoping someone drops a Cheeto.
We’ll joke around during the week and discuss subjects that might be fun to tackle and then Ian takes all these notes and translates them into a lovely, beautifully crafted list of jokes. I read the list and the one that makes me laugh the loudest is the first one I draw, and then I keep drawing, going down the list until my hand gets tired or until the very last moment of the deadline, and then I ship them off.
Ian, your turn: how does this process differ from comic book writing?
Ian: With comic books you’ve got a full issue to play out your story. With a one-panel cartoon you have… one panel. So it’s about cutting out everything not needed and usually just showing the most interesting part, leaving enough room for the reader to figure out the rest.
What satisfaction does Mannequin on the Moon bring you that you don’t get from your other projects?
Ian: I do comics about sisters who fight demons and two cats that dress up as a dog to save the Earth from aliens. This lets me write about everything else in the world while working with my favorite person in the world. Not a lot of jobs let you do that.
Pia: Doing editorial cartoons means watching a lot of news and it can get pretty heavy sometimes. These cartoons are my weekly oasis from reality where cats talk and the laws of physics get silly for a while. It’s very different from anything I’ve done before, the focus is all about getting a laugh, that’s it. Love it.
Not sure I’ve ever chatted with such prolific creators before! How does this project fill out your creative portfolio?
Ian: Pia and I have worked together on TV pilots, plays, podcasts, stand-up comedy puppet shows, and comic books. We both have our own projects and that makes it a treat when we get to work together. Because we have such a shorthand together and trust we can get a lot done quickly, so there’s seldom a chance to get bored with a project.
Pia: You get one life and who knows how long you have to experience stuff. Try everything you can; there may be some weird new passion out there waiting to make you happier than you ever expected. And if you can do something new with your best friend, even better.
How do you know when a joke works?
Ian: When someone has to stop everything else they’re doing to process it and laugh. Put down the phone, pull the car over, stop the surgery.
Pia: You know how when you dream of someone you know having a really great idea and you get really angry you didn’t think of it first and then you wake up and realize it was your idea all along because you dreamed it and now you can do it without guilt and ha ha ha, take that dream, Sheryl! It’s like that.
Tell us about the meaning of the name: Mannequin on the Moon. What came first: the cartoon or the name?
Ian: As far as I can remember the cartoon came first, and then it was so much fun to say we named the comic after it.
Pia: Because Running of the Goldblums was a bit of a mouthful.
What comics do you read every day?
Ian: The Amazing Spider-Man (he’s teamed up with Ant-Man now, which seems like a very dangerous situation for Scott), Nancy (they’ve been so good lately), The K Chronicles, Sarah’s Scribbles, and anything by Tom Gauld.
Be sure to follow Mannequin on the Moon on GoComics, where it will be updated every day.