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Already in his professional life, McElfatrick has managed to abandon his computer-science education for that ever-secure field that is online cartooning. The petition noted that "Cyanide and Happiness's" four creators -- who also include Kris Wilson (of Wyoming) and Matt Melvin (California) -- all live in different parts of the world. As a result of the campaign, McElfatrick says, "The immigration office approved me within three days of us sending the petition off to them" in September.
As the "Cyanide and Happiness" quartet releases its second book, "Ice Cream and Sadness," this month, Comic Riffs caught up with McElfatrick to discuss art, immigration, off-color humor -- and which of the four guys is most obsessed with cartoon arson.
MICHAEL CAVNA: So first off, Dave, can you speak to the fact that you guys did the strip for roughly three years before ever even meeting in person? At that time, there was a quickly growing community of people all over the world doing the same sort of thing, and I came into contact with Matt, Rob and Kris through all that.
MC: Speaking of four delightfully deviant minds, we'd like to settle it once and for all: As humorists, who is the most twisted among you four? If [readers] go and look at some of the old stuff that that whole community produced, you'll see a lot of resemblances of elements that help make "Cyanide & Happiness" what it is today. MC: As long as we're recklessly comparing the four of you, I've got to ask: Who would you say is the flat-out funniest of you four? MC: So in the comic, Kris and Matt especially seem to have some serious fire fascination and pyro tendencies, no? MC: Visually, the loose, brush-like look of your panels is actually rather elegant and eye-catching.
DM: Why thank you on complimenting my panels -- I saw you eyeing them up all night from across the room.
MC: Perhaps more than the other guys, you write a fair number of comics than employ "face humor" and twists on visual expressions. MC: While some of the other guys do "Extreme Sports Christ" cartoons in the new book, I see that you do, say, Buddha puns instead. Going back to the Christian spoof thing, I certainly have nothing against Christianity and Christians. As for the Internet -- I think the Internet is definitely breaking cultural barriers in that it's making the world much much smaller. DM: I'm pretty sure The Purple Shirted Eye Stabber would take them all on -- after all, he has a knife.
Come in, sit down and put your feet up as we celebrate, contemplate, eviscerate and pontificate on cartoons.
He decided to enter the creative and commercial venture "Cyanide and Happiness" with three Yanks whom he didn't meet for years.
Their plea read: "In order for us to make more animated shorts, we need to get Dave into the States from Ireland. How did these four equally deviant minds spanning the globe ever manage to e-find each other, let alone create a hilarious comic so seamlessly?

The other guys were essentially kids like me who were into the same thing, and we all thought each other's work was really funny.
I don't like to play up to the image that we're inherently "sick" or "twisted" people because of the perceived nature of the comic.
So speaking in cinematic-comic terms, are you the Mel Gibson of the foursome -- and to what do we attribute this funny bloodlust? If "Cyanide & Happiness" offices and publishing houses begin to go up in flames, who among your cohorts would you most presume is the resident arsonist in the group?
Is that something you're aware of, and do you have any artistic influences or comedic inspirations in terms of your visual humor? I definitely put a lot of thought into the facial expressions of my characters, as simple as they may look. I'm a big advocate of everything being fair game in humor -- everything should be made fun of equally, and without a sense of genuine hate or anger. Our comics generally avoid preachiness of any kind, unless it's something petty like Rob's jibe at "Twilight," for example. What's your current visa situation -- am I right in hearing that just weeks ago you secured a 0-1 visa for three years, so you can work in person with the other guys? I hold in my sweaty mitts an 0-1 visa, allowing me to work on cartoons with Rob until 2013 at the very least. I think I can see a truth in that, to be honest; but then I would say that, being a smelly paddy and all myself. So once and for all: What is the funniest stick-figure web comic on the planet -- and who would win a cartoon cage match between the "xkcd" characters and your Purple-Shirted Eye Stabber, let alone Superjerk? I imagine the most wieldy weapon an "xkcd" character would have at its disposal would be a piece of chalk, or something. I'd ideally like to see "Cyanide & Happiness" explode as a popular franchise without us having to compromise our writing and art in any way. And the self-described "stupid Irishman from Coleraine" has recently left the Emerald Isle for the culture and landscape of the Lone Star State. Eventually, we decided we'd all try something new out under a single name, and so Explosm was created and "Cyanide & Happiness" was born. We're just cartoonists who enjoy having a laugh, and it just so happens that we laugh at some pretty unpleasant situations -- cartoonized, of course. Whether it's Kris's silly stories, Rob's zany observations or Matt's hair, I'm always LMAO'ing all over the place.
I think we quite often treat our characters like little lab rats trapped inside the comic panels, and we like to let loose upon them whatever cosmic combination of elements crosses our minds at the time.
It's what we all originally used to make those stick-men animations (it's the high-end standard for animation on the Web) and it's what we all use to draw the comic now.
Even if a character looks completely indifferent, with no expression whatsoever, it's because I sat and mulled over it, and decided that it was the best choice for that panel.

We get away with silly, petty stuff like that, because that sort of opinion really doesn't hurt anyone at the end of the day.
And what was that process like -- relatively easy for an internationally acclaimed cartoonist, or a serious pain in the arse? And do you think the Internet -- and in their own ways, webcomics -- are helping knock down any cultural barriers to humor? Maybe it could choke-slam The Purple Shirted Eye Stabber onto an easel for some heavy-duty damage. Thankfully the internet has no rules, and we are still thriving five years after the first "C&H" comic was created. Unfortunately, the powers that be believe Dave's work is not notable enough to qualify him for an O1 visa (for extraordinary artists). We certainly don't set out to be offensive with the cartoon -- we just draw what is funny to us, and by the same token I think we've made plenty of comics that have been funny without being perverse in the slightest. Nah, but really, I'd honestly never been aware that I was the one drawing the most viscera. I think a huge influence in my drawing style comes from old UK childrens comics called The Beano and The Dandy. Back home, everyone prefers the fall guy who's meager attempts to get by in life always end up in ruin. Randall's a fantastic person and he's been very good to us over the years -- he helped me out a lot with getting my visa. Basically, instead of going outside and doing normal teenage things like drinking Sunny Delight or arson, I'd sit in and make these little animated cartoons that I'd upload to the Internet for people to enjoy.
I traditionally draw the comics with just a mouse, but I'm feeling a little curious about using a graphics pen so I can draw on my computer like I would with a pencil on paper. They kept asking for more evidence that "C&H" was worthy of the 0-1, which only delayed the process a lot more.
There's quite often little to remind you that it's still a joke -- stuff like laugh tracks aren't used much anymore.
Like I said before, we all met each other through a community that embraced the art of making stick-men die very violently, so I think the violent side of "Cyanide & Happiness" is a natural progression of that.
They were expression-filled and non-stationary looking, and I think it made reading them a lot more fun. The folk who make these decisions, I'm guessing, wouldn't know much about the Internet other than going onto eBay to buy parts for their scooter or something -- so having to prove to them that Cyanide & Happiness is a large franchise was another big ol' hurdle.
I try to avoid jokes that are purely colloquial -- we like to make fun of things that the entire world can relate to.

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