A daily comic series inspired by the antics of Florida’s zaniest denizens — and the bizarre headlines they help create.
Everyday is “Florida Man Day” in Florida.
Translation: People regularly do crazy and headline-grabbing things in that state.
So goes the thinking of Peter Vasquez, a one-time Florida resident who now makes comics parodying the shenanigans of Florida Man, a.k.a. the “world’s worst superhero.”
Since January 1st of this year, the New Jersey-based artist has posted a cartoon-a-day to the Instagram account, @floridaman_daily — illustrating wonky, recent, and 100% true news stories from the Sunshine State.
(Beginning this week, OK Whatever will also feature Vasquez’s daily Florida Man cartoons in our weekly Saturday newsletter.)
Hand drawn, with a freneticism that makes them look like they’ve been paused mid-motion right at the most climactic second, Vasquez’s daily Florida Man (and sometimes, Florida Woman) cartoons boil down current news articles into singular revealing images.
Here are a few examples:
January 4th: A slice of pizza sliding down Florida Man’s face after his son (who’s also technically a Florida Man) threw it upon learning that his father had helped deliver him at birth.
January 20th: Attendants at a bank’s drive-thru pointing and laughing at Florida Man for drunkenly trying to order a burrito, because he thought he was at a Taco Bell;
January 27th: The moment when a TV remote thrown by Florida Man knocks Florida Woman’s dentures out of her mouth;
January 28th: Two security guards doubled over with laughter watching video footage of Florida Man accidentally stealing laxatives, not opioids.
“It’s always one guy doing these crazy things,” Vasquez told OK Whatever.
Capturing Florida Man’s mythical aura is one of his goals with the comics; a sort of unspoken desire to advance our collective belief in this lovable yet woefully fallible anti-hero. People can’t help but laugh and be drawn into them because “it’s hard to believe that someone real would do these things,” he said.
What’s more, Florida’s Government in Sunshine Act doesn’t make things easy for the people who live there. The law essentially opens the state’s public records to anyone, granting both the public and the media access to everything from recent City Council meeting minutes to the day’s juiciest arrest records and mugshots.
And though it’s a coup for reporters looking for titillating stories, the law can make life even harder for the Florida Men and Women of whom photos have circulated on the internet, especially after they’ve served their time and are trying to rebuild their lives.
Because of this, there’s a sort of bittersweet amusement to the whole Florida Man ethos. Depending on the story, a part of you might want to laugh at the character’s outrageous antics while another part might feel crushed by an onslaught of empathy.
Vasquez is not unsympathetic to this. Rather than make his viewers waffle between pity and pleasure, he illustrates only the most silly and outlandish of Florida Man news articles — and has a particular penchant for ones involving reptiles or pop-culture characters, like Spider-Man or the minions from Despicable Me.
Also, even though many of the news articles he illustrates end with Florida Man (or Florida Woman) getting arrested, Vasquez never depicts his characters behind bars. That would just kill the vibe entirely.
“Some [Florida Man articles] can be pretty bleak, and the whole point is to make people laugh,” he explained. “So I look for the most light hearted or absurd [articles] — and there are usually plenty.”
The humor of Velasquez’s comics is further reflected in his depiction of what Florida Man looks like: big, saucer-like eyes, overly pliable eyebrows, a mullet hairstyle straight from the ‘80s. He intentionally tries to give the character “a rangey look,” too: a Wile E. Coyote type of energy that makes him seem “hungry and wild and hard to predict.”
Vasquez’s Florida Woman has a similarly unrestrained, free-spirit vibe to her, like in the Jan. 23 comic when she’s butt-naked in the parking lot of a Waffle House holding two waffles over her butt cheeks and smiling devilishly at a customer through the window, or like in the Jan. 24 comic when she’s smearing bananas onto a car parked at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, her eyes berserk, mouth open as if yelling, a bandolier of bananas strung across her chest.
After more than a year of planning, Vasquez is happy to finally see his daily Florida Man cartoon series come to fruition. Not only does he juggle it alongside his full-time job and familial responsibilities, but the work itself requires a measure of time and effort. It involves researching and reading news articles to find the best current Florida Man story, a few rounds of hand drawn sketches, scanning, and then digital rendering using the illustration app Procreate.
Not that Vasquez hasn’t picked up freelance assignments or side projects in the past. He’s illustrated two children’s books and has another Instagram account where he posts “art inspired from stuff [he’s] a fan of,” be it a specific comic series, TV show, or podcast, like “Welcome to Nightvale.”
As he sees it, “I can usually find time to read, play games, or binge watch a show, so when I have a project that needs to be done, I try to channel the energy I put in goofing off into the side projects.”
Other than finishing out the year by continuing to post his daily Florida Man cartoons on Instagram, Vasquez is also entertaining the idea of parlaying his comics into printed desk calendars.
The good thing about it all is that he knows he’ll at least never run out of inspiration for things to draw.
So long as Florida exists at “the crossroads of high heat, humidity, and close proximity of humans and reptiles,” weird things are bound to happen…and Vasquez will be there to illustrate them.