Dan Schwab was one of those kids in school who was always drawing — quick doodles, cool lettering, caricatures and cartoons. His locker, textbook covers and notebooks looked cooler than everyone else’s. And still do. That talented kid is now a Key West cartoonist.
“I tried calling myself a comic stripper, but that seemed to send the wrong message,” said Schwab, whose comic commentary has appeared in newspapers, magazines and books by Key West author (and Weekly columnist) David Sloan.
It’s also now collected in Schwab’s own first book, “The Key West Funnybook,” which has been 10 years in the making. Schwab describes the book — available as a $10 digital download, with a paperback edition coming soon — as “a collection of cartoons, parodies, comedy essays and other general nonsense from the Southernmost City.”
Although the title ties in nicely with the world’s Facebook habit, it was actually inspired by Schwab’s father.
“I used to read a ton of comic and cartoon books and MAD Magazine as a kid,” he said. “I’d have them spread all over the living room floor, and when my dad got home, he’d gripe at me, ‘Danny, get these funnybooks out of here.’”
After moving to the Keys in 2006, first to Big Pine, then Key West in 2008, Schwab discovered an island hotbed of artistic inspiration with its assortment of characters, comedy and occasionally hilarious criminals. He also met Sloan, without whom the book would not have happened, Schwab said.
“Many artists are blessed with talent and creativity,” Key West author David Sloan writes in the foreword of “The Key West Funnybook. “Schwab adds to these blessings with a twisted sense of humor, and an honesty that promoters of tourism strive to avoid. The result is an authentic look at Key West that will offend, educate, delight and make you LOL.”
The book contains a series of comic strips, song parodies, lists and hilarious observations.
There is a page dedicated to “Hints Your Bartender Doesn’t Like You,” and “What Your T-shirt Says about You,” taking aim at the crass T-shirts in downtown shop windows.
Schwab tells stories, develops characters and makes people laugh, then think.
“Key West is inherently funny,” Schwab says. “Educated people with advanced degrees who can’t operate a rental bike, snorkel or parking kiosk? The dichotomy is delicious.
“Key West … welcomes all applicants with open arms. Without judgment. Without prejudice. Without a solid credit rating. We are home to the wanderers, the ponderers, the maligned, the marginalized, the ousted, the rousted, the disaffected, the disillusioned, the rejected, the ejected, the misplaced, the misunderstood, the socially anxious, the sexually anxious, the confused, the conflicted, the refugees, the reformed, the wild, the wanton, the wayward, and even the Irish.
“…This island is funny as hell and we need to appreciate that. Every part of this work is based on the authentic absurdity that Key West provides daily,” Schwab says.Reach him via Facebook for a $10 digital download of “The Key West Funnybook.”