Meet Charlie Ciso.

Back in 1983, after agreeing to serve as a TA for Linear Algebra, I was approached by several Stevens academics, and they seemed upset. It had been pointed out, much to their dismay, that the tiny office I was sharing had no snarky cartoons taped to the door. “It is the policy of this Institution,” I was told, “that anyone instructing students must agree to provide door humor.”

Since then, I’ve used one after another of those 80-by-30-inch flat panels (OK, doors) to add some pith to the day. I started with newspaper cartoons, and then gravitated to the web for material. Dilbert made many cut-out-and-tape-up appearances outside my offices. A favorite of my techniques was to use PowerPoint to superimpose something personal onto a clearly copyrighted cartoon. (Yea, I know.)

But now that I run TAG Cyber as a virtual institution operating mostly from open space in Lower Manhattan, I no longer have an office door. What I have instead, dear readers, is all of you. And with copyright laws being what they are, I can no longer modify someone’s clever cartoon into a more locally relevant knee-slapper. So, instead, I decided to create my own strip and thus was born my progeny: Charlie Ciso.

With help from the TAG Cyber team (and a shout out to our friend Robert Hwang), Charlie Ciso was invented to wallow in the familiar mix of competence and hypocrisy that defines our cyber security racket. Ever the optimist, Charlie looks at the events of his day through the eyes of a security pro – albeit with surrounding influence from a cast of characters that might not always react to security the way one would hope.

To draw Charlie, we wanted someone with a similar world view – and our search took us to North Carolina, by way of California, by way of Long Island, and by way of our beloved New Jersey. We are so pleased that Rich Powell, who many of you will know as the wonderful Mad Magazine illustrator, agreed to become one of the new Daddies for Charlie CISO and his entourage. Welcome to cyber, Rich.

Our plan is to use social media billboards – slightly larger than my old office doors – as the initial means for helping you slog through your business day. We’ll be posting a new cartoon starring Charlie each week – and the content will be 100% free and open source. This will allow you to copy a strip into your drawing tool and superimpose a picture of your boss, or your mother-in-law, or whatever you like. Have at it.

Our goal is to create a new lens through which we can poke fun at this stressful vocation of protecting infrastructure. Hackers, auditors, and Boards beat the heck out of us, so maybe we can use Charlie to channel inner frustration and safely express some of those dark thoughts that are too naughty for the conference room. We hope you totally bring down the house at your next security off-site with one of our strips.

From all of us at TAG Cyber, we hope you will enjoy hours of reading, printing, cutting, pasting, taping, superimposing, and hopefully – laughing. Expect the first Charlie Ciso strip later this week, or whenever we manage to get around to it.