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

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Klaatu Barada Nikto

Although it's only November, here at Bizarro Studios North, where we work on a six-week deadline, the New Year has already begun.

For many of you, this weekend is the last chance to relax before the long siege of familial and professional holiday obligations. I hope you find opportunities to enjoy a little down time between now and the beginning of the New Year.

Speaking of down time, this couple has found a method of achieving domestic tranquility. Too bad it resets after 5 minutes.

Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed a nod to a classic movie robot in the strip version of today's comic.
Of course it's Gort, the interstellar peacekeeper from 1951 film, The Day the Earth Stood Still.
I'd considered making it an autographed photo on the wall, but the signature would have been unreadable at the size comics are printed in newspapers.

Air travel has lost any semblance of the glamorous image it once had, at least for most of us who don't book luxury class. With the industry continually shrinking the seats, this passenger might be onto something.

Flying would certainly be less horrible without the congestion and delays caused by carry-on bags (most of which won't fit in the compartments anyway). When Bizarro North Airlines gets started, we'll allow checked bags at no charge and assess a $40 fee for every carry-on.

I was on a cruise ship once, and immediately felt trapped and claustrophobic. Being in a giant hotel with no exit is bad enough. The addition of karaoke would certainly be valid grounds for jumping ship.

This one evolved from an old sketch that was a little too on the nose.
I'm much happier with the new version, in part because of the two different, but applicable, meanings of the word "pad."

Friday, we take another peek inside the Rho Phi Sigma frat house, where the bros run free. I've used these character types as fodder in the past, even before I started doing the daily Bizarro comic.

When reading this gag, it helps to imagine Siri's voice has been set to "gruff Brooklynite."

Well, that's it for week 46 of Bizarro 2018. 

Check Dan's blog for his commentary on these gags, plus his latest Sunday masterwork.

Bonus Track

The score for The Day the Earth Stood Still was written by the prolific composer Bernard Hermann (whose most recognizable work is probably his score for Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.)

These selections from the soundtrack feature the otherworldly sound of the theremin, played by Dr. Samuel Hoffman. Dr. Hoffman (who was also a podiatrist) had a long career playing theremin, and one of his last sessions on Captain Beefheart's 1967 album Safe as Milk, which featured the good doctor's eerie sounds on two tracks.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Up All Night

After this past week, we all could use a break from politics. A look back at the latest batch of cartoon high jinks might do the trick.

Monday's Bizarro generated quite a bit of online discussion, including some particularly intolerant comments from a few readers. One person in particular complained repeatedly on my Instagram feed about finding the cartoon "disturbing." He insisted that his discomfort was not in any way homophobic, but that he was upset by "political correctness inserted in a gag." Maybe he just doesn't like blueberry pie.

Dan Piraro described our comic collaborations in a 2011 interview thusly:
Our sense of humor depends for the most part on a realistic scene with realistic people where something really strange is happening to them.
That's the way we view this gag, although the pie and eyeball skew it away from realism somewhat.

I once watched a whole concert through the screen of the person in front of me who held their phone at my eye level, but all credit for inspiring this comic goes to my friend Lisa, specifically her wonderful review of a recent show here in Pittsburgh.

The best comment on this gag came from Bizarro's CEO (Chief Eyeball Officer) Dan Piraro, when I sent him the initial sketch: I keep thinking you’ll run out of clown gags but it’s the genre that just keeps giving.

I've no doubt people have heard this when inquiring about their health care coverage, at least here in the US.

Converting this gag to the strip layout was surprisingly challenging, until I realized I could get away with showing it as the view through the registration window at a medical office.
A simple joke, but I chuckled as I drew it. I really should do more lumberjack humor.

Saturday's cartoon does double duty. It's a little giggle about the nearly opposite meanings of a single English language word, and also comments on the willful irresponsibility of certain individuals placed in such positions.

Please also read Dan's blog, for more behind-the-scenes insight, and to marvel at his latest Sunday panel, which is always beautiful to behold.

Bonus Track

Another Nail in My Heart by Squeeze
(The band I had to view through some knucklehead's phone)

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Rhythm Section

We hope everyone had a suitably spooky Halloween. We're posting this dispatch in the wee small hours of the morning because the Combo is headed to the studios of the Saturday Light Brigade for a live radio broadcast. 

Before we pack up the music truck, here's a look back at the week's shenanigans.

The patient has only scrambled memories of childhood.

In fact, this character should avoid moisture all day, every day.

Our Halloween cartoon featured a visit with the monster at home. This year marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein. We love to draw Frankie, and wondered what would would happen if he had his  ancestral mix analyzed. 

Actually, it'd be a better world if everyone realized that we're all mixed-up mutts, and are all part of one family, one race. 

One can imagine.

I recently saw a bag of sugar-coated almonds that were colored to resemble pimiento-stuffed olives. They were in a bin marked "discontinued candies," which is not surprising.

Friday's gag comments on the dynamics of musical groups, and the personality traits of cats and dogs. The art was inspired by a print created my good friend and musical collaborator Dave Klug.
I have one of these beautiful pieces hanging in my home, and see it every day. In the Bizarro version, I switched their instruments. I imagine a bass player as a laid-back feline type, and drummers as performers who bounce around like  energetic pups. 

My friend Dave is not only an extraordinary artist and designer, he's also a formidable drummer. And he's also more of a cool cat.

Snakes like to go to bars the same as anyone else, but they usually ask for straws.

Check out Dan Piraro's blog for more insight into the week's cartoons, as well as his latest glorious Sunday page. He's also got fine art prints and some of his amazing paintings for sale at

Bonus Track

I like to play the drums.
I think I'm getting good but I can handle criticism... 

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Room for Cream

The crew at Bizarro Studios North is gearing up for Halloween. We're sketching out our jack-o'-lantern designs, and warming up the Philco to watch a favorite movie while we hand out treats to the neighborhood ghouls, but we took a break today to review the week in cartoons.

Preceding your name with a self-aggrandizing adjective is a risky proposition, and few among us can pull it off.

This is the first time I've published a gag involving a fish sprouting legs, which is a popular cartoon setup. I like to think that this one actually works as a simplified explanation of the process of natural selection.

Thanks to the magic of smartphones, cartoonists can now create their own photo reference, as I did for this gag.

Many years ago, I was part of malcontent cartoonists' collective known as Sin Alley. One of the gang's ongoing projects involved savagely defacing the pages of innocent paperback cartoon books, which were then Xeroxed and sold under the table at a well-known comics convention. A particularly notorious Sin Alley "art sabotage" publication was based on a "Little Friar" book. I look back on that material as early training for today's cartoon, and, no, I can't show any of those images here without crashing the blog hosting site.

The English language is imbalanced when it comes to describing self-important, temperamental people. The most commonly-used words are feminine in form ("drama queen," "princess," etc.), so we're hoping to add to the general vocabulary. "Divo" might also apply, but it doesn't have the zing of "primo donno."

Some readers have pointed out that the actual masculine form would be "primo uomo." While technically correct, it has no humorous punch.

This cartoon is backed by science.

Although I live with two cats, a review of the Bizarro database shows that dogs appear more than three times as often as cats in my cartoons. I'm either more of a canine personality myself, or perhaps I'm afraid of offending the cats in our house, so I tend to do fewer feline gags.

Sometimes, those Type A personalities need extra time to bounce back from a week of relaxation.

Don't forget to check out Dan Piraro's weekly blog for even more insight into this week's gags, and to view his latest magnificent Sunday Bizarro panel. 

In other news, Dan's first exhibition of non-cartoon art is happening tonight in San Miguel De Allende, Mexico. Check out his stunning recent works at

Bonus Track