David Salaguinto (pictured to the left) is a writer on the Office User Assistance team at Microsoft who uses comics he creates to have fun, and to connect with readers — see his Office Online Web Comic blog. In this conversation, David discusses how he got started, and where he gets inspiration from.
Geetesh: Tell us more about your work at Office Online. And how did you get started with the web comics blog?
David: Mostly, I write about Visio for the people who use it, although I do occasionally write about other Microsoft Office programs if a team needs my help. Every month, we look at the feedback we receive from customers, and we try to address it. Sometimes it means we write new articles or update existing ones. Sometimes it means we produce a video demo or online training. Sometimes it means we try new things. They don’t always work, but we like to think we learn from our failures.
One of the things we wanted to try was a comic. A colleague of mine found a fascinating article about comics being used in unusual places. What if we did a comic for Office Online? I thought it sounded like a fun idea, so I jumped at the chance to create a comic using Visio. For my first comic, I did a rather simple one about printing:
I personally thought it was kind of corny, but my coworkers seemed to like it, so I made more. Pretty soon, I was posting them online. You can read more about how I got started in this column I wrote for Office Online.
Geetesh: I love all the content you put up on the Office Online Web Comic blog — what inspires you for all the ideas based on Microsoft Office applications.
David: I get a lot of my ideas from my coworkers. Sometimes, someone will send me an idea for a comic, but more often than not, I’ll read something in an e-mail or overhear something in a meeting that strikes me as a possible source of humor. It turns out that jokes aren’t that hard to write. Finding irony and surprise in everyday things—like Microsoft Office—now, that’s hard. For example, I was reading something written by a coworker about how a PowerPoint deck can have multiple slide masters. I immediately thought of the saying, “No man can serve two masters,” which lead me to this comic about PowerPoint and Marketing:
That’s where the ideas come from. As for the punch lines, well…I don’t actually know. They seem to come out of nowhere, but only after throwing out dozens of bad ones. You’d cringe in horror if you saw some of the bad punch lines I came up with for the preceding comic.
Geetesh: Tell us about some favorite posts you have put up, and why they are your favorites?
David: I think my favorite comics are the ones with the little pink girl in them. I have two young daughters myself, and I love the way they talk and how they look at the world. For example, I‘ve noticed that a lot of kids have started using PowerPoint in their school projects, which lead me to this comic:
For this comic, I spent a lot of time crafting the words so they would ring true and sound believable. I also wanted to capture the excitement in the child and the caring in the father. In so far as the comic succeeds, I think it succeeds because of that (and not just because of the jibe at marketing—although that certainly helps). As you can probably tell, I have a lot of fun creating these comics—probably even more than you have reading them.