Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information


Pen Name: None

Genre: C:ADULT Fiction Illustrator




Illinois Connection

Byrnes lives in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Pat Byrnes is a Detroit native. He earned his Aerospace degree at the University of Notre Dame. He joined General Dynamics–Convair as the first pre-design engineer they had ever taken directly out of undergrad. Despite this privilege, he knew his calling was elsewhere. For a time, he honed his creative skills writing ad copy for big agencies like W. B. Doner in Detroit and J. Walter Thompson in Chicago. He scripted ads for everything from cheese to menstrual relief products, and won buckets of awards, from the Addy to the Clio. During this time, he moonlighted with experimental comedy acts, to much critical acclaim in Chicago’s night club scene. He left writing ads for reading them as a voiceover actor. Between auditions, he finally found time to answer his calling: Cartooning. Since 1998, Pat has been a regular contributor to The New Yorker. Before dad duties slashed his working hours, he was also a staple in Reader’s Digest, Wall Street Journal and America Magazine. For three years, he created the syndicated comic strip, “Monkeyhouse.” He has won the National Cartoonists Society Award for advertising illustration, and awards for his sonnets. He also writes musicals. And he used to paint when he had the time. His gag cartoons appeared for the first time in book form in What Would Satan Do? and again in Because I’m the Child Here and I Said So. His most recent book is Eats Shoots & Leaves—Illustrated Edition by Lynne Truss (Gotham 2008) of which he is the illustrator. More recently, he is the inventor of the Smurks; initially intended to be an iPhone app to help friends share their feelings better on their handheld devices, Smurks is now being embraced as a powerful new tool to help people with autism connect with their emotions and to help neuroscientists study the brain’s responses to nonverbal facial expressions.

Pat is married to Lisa Madigan, who was the Attorney General of the State of Illinois.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library


-- National Cartoonists Society Advertising and Illustration Award, 2001