Saturday, January 12, 2019

Myths and Monsters

It's been a busy a week at Bizarro Studios North. In addition to our normal daily routine, we've been reviewing last year's output to assemble an entry package for the National Cartoonists Society's annual "Silver Reuben" awards, which will be presented in May at the group's annual meeting.

We'll be entering the newspaper panels division. Wish us luck! We don't expect to win an award, but look forward to seeing many of our esteemed colleagues.

Now, on to the current batch of ink-splatters...

Sometimes, it's difficult to trust your own senses. This might also have been titled "magical smelling," but I chose this caption since the phrase "wishful thinking" is much more common.

When writing this gag, I failed to consider how long it would take to draw and color the toys spread throughout the image, but I did give myself a little reward to keep going. Among the scattered items, I included Hedorah, aka the Smog Monster, my favorite Toho Studios creature (after Godzilla, of course).

Wikipedia says the character was named for Hedoro (へどろ), the Japanese word for sludge, slime, vomit or chemical ooze. What's not to love?

Hedorah (under the nickname Smoggo) has made multiple appearances in the comics and fine art of the ever-amazing Gary Panter.

The spa gave this client a discount, since his treatment only required one cucumber slice.

I occasionally get comments that some of my cartoons reference "old things," and that (other) people won't get the joke. I reject that argument, as Bizarro's readers are well-educated and knowledgeable. However, Thursday's gag is a concession to contemporary parlance. 

By the way, can you believe that stupid fish actually said the word "hashtag?"

The finest restaurants offer their customers choices. This establishment's specialty dessert specialty is tarte volante.

We ended the week with a Greek mythology mashup. This portmanteau name might be applicable to a current world leader, since Narcissus was in love with himself, and Sisyphus was a cruel tyrant. Both mythological figures got their comeuppance, which offers us some hope.

Thanks as always for reading the comic, and for following up with the blog. Dan Piraro posts his own weekly roundup over at, where you can view his latest widescreen Sunday page. 

You also owe it to yourself to check, where Dan exhibits and sells his fine art, now that he's semi-retired from cartooning. His watercolors, oils, and mixed media drawings are surreal and beautiful, showing the strong influence of his current home in Mexico.

Bonus Track

This week's musical number is "Save the Earth," the theme from the English language release of Godzilla vs the Smog Monster, performed by Adryan Russ, who also wrote the lyrics. It's still timely.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

A Headful of Ideas

Last week, we closed out my first full year as the daily Bizarro cartoonist, and stumbled right into Year Two. The staff and management at Bizarro Studios North are still recovering from the wild celebration, and we're currently testing multiple hangover remedies.
Our New Year's Eve offering shows the outgoing mascot offering words of wisdom to the new guy. I once had a summer job painting houses, and never forgot the advice I received from an experienced fellow everyone called "Uncle Jimmy," which seems more than a little creepy in retrospect. As we lingered over Styrofoam cups of lousy diner coffee, Uncle Jimmy leaned my way and said, "Never let anybody put a tool in your hand, kid." I heard his voice when I drew this cartoon.

This guy's motto is "Hey, not everybody can be first."

This simple gag required a fair amount of photo research, not only for mid-1960s photos of Dylan, but also for electric toothbrushes of the era. During that period, the future Nobel Laureate often wore pajama tops and a terrycloth robe in public.

You knew we couldn't get through the first week of the year without a pirate gag, right?

There's no explaining the workings of a cartoonist's brain, but this indication of rank made perfect sense to me.

A recent visit to the optician inspired Saturday's gag. I'd love to see a welder's mask on the wall along with the Ray-Bans.

By the way, we felt we had no choice but to include the eyeball secret symbol here.

Come back next week for another peek behind the newsprint. Also, check out Bizarro CEO (Chief Eyeball Officer) Dan Piraro's blog for his commentary and the latest Bizarro Sunday page.

Bonus Tracks

The songs of Bob Dylan, the subject of Wednesday's cartoon, can be humorous, surreal, deep, and sometimes just plain weird. He's truly a singular performer (take that however you care to) and a prolific writer. One website that attempts to track recordings of Dylan's compositions lists over 105,000 known cover versions.

For this week's post, we're offering two bonus tracks, both covers of songs written by the Bard of Duluth.

First up is "Subterranean Homesick Blues," by the fictional band Ken Bishop's Nice Twelve (featuring Jools Holland and Chris Difford of Squeeze, and Police drummer Stewart Copeland). This delightful, upbeat version showcases Dylan's inventive, dense wordplay, in a tune that always reminds me of Chuck Berry's "Too Much Monkey Business."

This week's B-side (maybe make that D-side) is an utterly horrible rendition, from an entire album of cringe-inducing Dylan songs interpreted by Sebastian Cabot, the character actor who was best known for portraying Mr. French on the saccharine sitcom Family Affair. The record was occasionally featured on WFMU's gone but not forgotten Incorrect Music Show.

Yes, I actually own a copy of this atrocity, and no, I've never played it all the way through.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Farcical Gas

Well, my first 52 weeks at Bizarro have flown by. My actual one-year anniversary is January 1, but I think I'll celebrate now, and again on Monday.

This is a good time to extend my thanks to everyone whose support and encouragement kept me going. These good peeps know who they are. If you're reading this blog post, that means you too.

On to the past week in cartoons.

We kicked off the week with a traditional Christmas scene, from the short story The Gift of the Magus who Couldn't Be There in Person.

A dedicated humorist is willing to suffer for his art. Once again, we dip into the bottomless well of clown gags.

The HR representative had backup to help understand the applicant's responses, since his mother accompanied him on the job interview. She's seated out of frame.

The poor guy will never get ahead in corporate America unless he can conquer this character flaw.

Felines know how to play head games with their human companions, and will exhibit weird and troubling symptoms right up until the time they see the vet. My two favorite details in this panel are the Eyeball of Observation on the poster showing a parasite's life cycle, and the self-satisfied look on the cat's face. He knows he's got a couple of suckers on the line.

Saturday's gag provides a peek into the near future, based on focus group studies.

Bonus Track

Be sure to read Dan Piraro's blog, and check out his latest Sunday Bizarro page.

And please do come back to this blog next week. I hear my Bizarro one year service award is in the mail, and maybe I'll show it off.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Stovepipe Envy

Another Saturday is upon us, which means it's time for the cartoon recap from Bizarro Studios North. Here's what we served up on this week's Smörgåsbord.

Proceed with caution. The first comic depicts human nipples.

Mathematically, this is the reciprocal of an X-ray, so the correct notation is probably X-1-ray.

This is also known as the Baby Step Program.

Historical fact: Stephen Douglas, at 5'4", was a a full 12 inches shorter than Abe Lincoln. 

Historical speculation: Douglas lobbied for another debate after acquiring his custom-made smokestack hat.

If you gotta go, at least go in style.

My comical colleagues Rina Piccolo and Hilary Price ran a different gag involving the Reaper and a Venetian vessel back in November, on the very day I uploaded today's Bizarro. However, we all maintain there was NO COLLUSION.

Friday's comic is an experiment in misdirection. It's fun and satisfying for a cartoonist to find a way to draw something that looks like something else, in hopes that the reader doesn't immediately recognize the thing as what it is. Like this one, for instance.

The LAPD always asks which is your good side before they snap the mug shot.

Thanks for following for yet another week!

Be sure to read Dan Piraro's blog, to see what he has to say about this latest batch, and to gape in wonder at his Sunday Bizarro page.

Bones Track

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Off the Shelf

This week's post will be less verbose than usual, since the Combo is loading up the van for a special holiday gig tonight.

Sometimes it's tough to decide. Fortunately, this restaurant offers tasting flights.

Tuesday's cartoon shows the universality of playing in the snow, and creating icons in our own image. It's an interstellar wonderland.

Did he mention that his hat is made from hand-knitted hemp fiber? In the spirit of "fool" disclosure, I must admit to owning one of those little Italian coffee pots myself, and have even been known to post photos of it.

In real life, mad scientists are few and far between. However, bad science is all the rage these days, in some circles.

We held out as long as we could, but we felt compelled to run a holiday-themed gag. This insidious character certainly adds an Orwellian touch to the season.

The police sketch artist in Pumpkintown has the easiest job on the force.

Thanks for following and reading. Be sure to check out Dan Piraro's blog for deeper insight into this week's cartoons.

Bonus Track

This is a fascinating, oddball record. It was a quick cash-in on the 1960s Batman TV show, a throwaway project for kids. The producers hired musicians to play a version of the Batman theme, and, apparently, whatever else they felt like doing. "The Sensational Guitars of Dan & Dale" was a totally fictional band, but was made up of stellar players who were actually members of Al Kooper's Blues Project and the Sun Ra Arkestra.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

A Shred of Evidence

Welcome to the weekly report from Bizarro Studios North. 

This is Volume 1, Number 49.
Most of us picture a German Shepherd or similar intimidating breed when we think about police dogs, but Labrador Retrievers are not uncommon. Labs are often employed to sniff out drugs and explosives, or to serve as the goofy sidekick. 

Some medical studies actually back up the premise of Tuesday's cartoon. If health insurers followed expensive treatments with immediate patient reimbursement, I'd guess the rates of recovery would be even higher.

Apologies to anyone named Vince. This cartoon is not meant to represent you, but no other name would work here. I have a good friend and colleague named Vince, and I asked him to review this prior to publication. He gave me his blessing in exchange for a link to his excellent comics work

In the near future, we'll be transported everywhere by self-driving cars. On long road trips, those of us who are childless will be able to enjoy simulated family time as our smart devices snipe at each other in the back seat. Pass daddy's special thermos, will you?

Rats are known to be highly intelligent and adaptable, but they're often undone by their greed and dishonesty. Bizarro Studios recognizes the many benefits provided by service animals. We employ (self-prescribed) therapy animals at World HQ in Mexico and our northern location in Hollywood Gardens, USA.

Bringing the week to a close, we return to a canine theme, this time with dogs actually appearing in the panel.

Be sure to take a look at Dan Piraro's always insightful weekly blog post, which showcases his masterful Sunday Bizarro comics page.

Bonus Track

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Calling All Carriages

It's December already, but do not fear, dear readers. We haven't started running any Santa or Nativity gags yet.
Monday's gag was inspired by an actual typo ("uniformed" for "uninformed"), and is an example of a punchline formed by adding or removing one letter. I'm not sure what to call this sort of thing. It's not so much a pun as a type of misdirection, causing the reader to look twice in order to see the unexpected word.
Unlike many social networking apps, these have actually been shown to reduce anger, anxiety, and aggression.
The opening sequence of the old Superman TV show always made me wonder if something like this happened when a bird would fly over the citizens of Metropolis.

Although I generally avoid exclamation points in dialog, they seemed appropriate here, to emphasize the characters' misplaced astonishment.
A cartoon depicting a totally believable scenario. Comments or horror stories from readers in the coffee biz are encouraged.
One should always acquaint oneself with local customs.
The saddest part of the story is that he was apparently informed of this change in status via text message.

Thanks for sticking with Bizarro for yet another week. By the time you read this, we'll be hard at work on cartoons for mid-January.

Please view Dan Piraro's ever-fascinating blog to read his comments on this week's cartoons, as well as his latest Sunday page. And it's not too late to order some Bizarro swag as a holiday gift for friends, family, and yourself. 

Bonus Track

I'd hoped to post a video of "10-4 (Calling all Cars)" by Benny Spellman in this space, but have been unable to locate one, so here's a Christmas tune with a healthy sprinkle of wry British cynicism from my favorite British Invasion band.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Space Pie

For those who celebrate Thanksgiving and are still recovering, I apologize for starting off with a culinary gag.

I'm feeling a bit logy myself, so this week's post is briefer than usual.

It's not easy working in a hot kitchen while wearing your raw selvedge skinny jeans.

Speed dating technology has finally advanced. 

The caption for this gag involves a form of wordplay I refer to as a streptonym. We're still waiting for the term to appear in a dictionary somewhere.

This tattooist is a wise craftsperson. Drawing somebody's kid is always risky, particularly when it's going to be a permanent addition to the client's body.

He also keeps his job description short.

It's not easy to get on Frankie's calendar. He's a very busy monster.

I close my eyes when the doctor says it, but I'm sure this is what I'd see.

Cruise on over to to read Dan's blogging on this week's cartoons, and to admire his latest gorgeous Sunday page.

Bonus Track

Inspired by Saturday's comic, here's a song about a medical professional.

The original recording of the tune, released in 1960, was a hit record for David Seville, the stage name of Ross Bagdasarian, creator of The Chipmunks. 

The 45 of this wacky German version came in a gorgeous picture sleeve.

Scan courtesy of the Wayno Vinyl Archive