Saturday, August 17, 2019

Junk Food

This week's batch of cartoons starts with an imagined scriptural scenario.
Figs are indeed tasty, but if they came from a plant that also provided your foundation wear, the appeal might be diminished. 

Please don't offer any "corrections" as to whether Adam and Eve actually wore fig leaves, since they aren't actual historical figures.

These superfans had previously followed the "Odessey & Oracle" farewell tour.

Fish oil offers many health benefits, and taking it in pill form is easier and safer than ransacking trash cans.

This pup is the perfect host. After all, 50,000 fleas can't be wrong.

A word of advice: Don't turn that handle unless you're sure it's where he'd want to be scattered.

Even in the animal kingdom, gentrification can become an issue.

Postmarked Project

Outside of my normal Bizarro work, at the end of the month, I'm participating in The 4 x 6 Mail Art Show, a cool exhibit organized and curated by my friends at CommonWealth Press and Kim Fox of WorkerBird.
Every piece in the show will be 4 by 6 inches, and has to have arrived via postal delivery. My untitled contribution is a surreal image executed in ink on paper, with some blue pencil showing through. A few of the elements in this composition were taken from comics I had recently drawn or was working on at the time.

Thanks for continuing to follow Bizarro. Please check out Dan Piraro's blog to read his take on the past week's comics, and to see his latest Bizarro Sunday page.

Musical Mystery Solved (Partially)

Last week, we ran a gag referring to that weird trombone sound used for adults' voices in various Peanuts animated specials. I mentioned in my blog post that the name of the musician responsible for that distinctive effect was unknown.

A few days after the cartoon's publication, we received an email from a Bizarro reader named Michael Brady, who told us that his late friend Dean Hubbard (1953-2018) provided the "voice" of the teacher, and other adults in most of the Peanuts TV specials.
Dean W. Hubbard
Further research turned up a discussion on a trombone forum, which quoted an email from Dean Hubbard himself, mentioning the specific instrument and mute he employed:
I was the teacher's voice on the Charlie Brown cartoons, specials, and commercials from the mid-seventies until about 1990. I used my trusty Conn 6H and a Shastock wooden Solotone mute I purchased from a pawn shop to do the sound. It was and is amazing to me that the noises that got me thrown out of many high school rehearsals allowed me to buy our first home.
Hubbard was known to be a versatile musician with a wicked sense of humor. His credits certainly confirm his versatility. He played with many artists, including Dizzy Gillespie, Nelson Riddle, Dave Brubeck, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett , Aaron Neville, Linda Ronstadt, XTC, and Joe Strummer.

Another close friend of Hubbard posted this on the forum:
Somewhere there's a recording of a session where the director reads him the spoken line and he plays it back. He had the guys in the booth cracking up.
Now, that's something we'd love to hear!

However, we still don't have a confirmed name for the musician who first did the "wah-wah" sound in those Peanuts cartoons. The trombone forum included a detailed listing of the cartoons that used the sound effect, which was first heard in the 1967 special You're in Love, Charlie Brown. Dean Hubbard would have been 14 years old at the time, and he also mentioned in the email above that he started doing the sound in the mid-seventies.

The trombonist listed on the session records for the 1967 cartoon was Frank Rosolino, so it's not too much of a stretch to posit that Mr. Rosolino was the originator of the sound.

Bonus Track 

Since this post has been so trombone-centric, our bonus track features trombonist, singer, actor, and second banana to Bob Hope, Jerry Colonna.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Sliding Scale

Happy Saturday, Jazz Pickles. It's once again my pleasure to present the weekly cartoon recap from Bizarro Studios North, in scenic Hollywood Gardens, PA.

We started the week with yet another feline gag. While I was drawing this, Monty Python's "Four Yorkshiremen" bit was playing in my head.

People have been making pickles since well before Arthurian times. Pickle jars from 2030 BC have been discovered in archaeological digs. King Arthur's existence, however, is a matter of debate among historians.

Wednesday's gag is based on the odd trombone sound effect used as a proxy for adult speaking voices in various Peanuts television specials and films.
Peanuts Music Director Vince Guaraldi
Longtime animation director Lee Mendelson told Mashable that, "We chose not to show the adult. So I asked our music director, Vince Guaraldi, 'Would there be some instrument we could use as a sound to emulate what an adult might sound like to a kid?'" Guaraldi brought in a trombone player, who created the distinctive "wah-wah" by employing various plungers and mutes. The musician's name has sadly been lost to cartoon history.
Some of Charles Schulz's lesser-known work
We did a bit of image research using books Charles Schulz published in the late 1950s and early 60s featuring churchgoing teenagers, to get a feel for how Schulz might draw a grown-up Charlie Brown. 

Thursday's panel depicts a more practical and commercial offering from the Omni Consumer Products corporation.

We like to run the week's best gag on Friday, and although we're not above punning, that form of wordplay rarely makes it to the Friday slot. However, when I showed this one to my editor (Bizarro CEO Dan Piraro), he told me it actually made him guffaw. I figured a guffaw made this one worthy of a Friday appearance.
I used a mirror image of the art to adapt it for the strip layout, which actually placed the tape in Lefty's left hand.

Saturday's cartoon documents an actual conversation between a younger person and Your Humble Cartoonist. Any articles of clothing that originally I bought as "vintage" now actually qualify as museum pieces.
The hat in question was recently retired due to multiple blowouts, and is now part of my dog-walking and gardening gear. It came from a long-gone hat shop here in Pittsburgh, and has served me well over the years.
Tucker & Tucker Hats, Pittsburgh PA, circa 1965
Thanks, as always, for following, sharing, and commenting on Bizarro. You can find more behind-the-scenes discourse at Dan Piraro's weekly blog, where you can also check out his latest magnificent Sunday page, and score some fashionable Bizarro swag.
A satisfied reader wearing a Pie of Opportunity beanie

Bonus Track

Vince Guaraldi had a prolific recording career outside of animation, not to mention an impressive moustache. Here's an interesting take on a Beatles tune by the Vince Guaraldi Trio with Brazilian guitarist Bola Sete, recorded in 1966.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Yesterday's Technology Today

It's Saturday morning, kids, and that means it's time for old Uncle Wayno to share a bunch of cartoons while you enjoy a bowl of cereal.

I must admit, I relate to the kids in this comic. Some of my earliest memories involve a portable record player similar to the one in the drawing.
When I sketched out this idea, I also did an alternate version, shown above. Bizarro CEO Dan Piraro and I liked it with or without the caption. I ultimately decided to delete the caption, making the cartoon more universal, since it's about a particular behavior rather than a particular individual. This image is typical of my drafts. I've usually draw roughs using a Wacom tablet and stylus to speed up this more "disposable" part of the process. I still sometimes scan penciled thumbnails from a sketchbook, and I always draw the final comic art with ink on paper.
That's an actual record mentioned in today's cartoon. Young Master Jack would be jealous of the copy here in the Bizarro Studios Archive, which has the original picture sleeve.

Tuesday's comic is a simple inversion of a common phrase, and in no way is intended to question the therapeutic value of companion animals. People love all sorts of pets, even gargoyles.

Unlike Monday's gag, this one doesn't work without its caption. That would simply be a documentation of my life.

This fellow knows he's messy, so he always eats dessert while strapped to a high-velocity turntable.

Here we see a customer enjoying a day at the spa(r). Even a grizzled sea dog deserves to be pampered from time to time. In his Comic Strip of the Day column, Mike Peterson referred to this spa treatment as a "mahogany-pedi."

We saved the weirdest gag for last. When working on this batch of cartoons, I was thinking about the familiar Spider-Man origin story (since there's a new Spider-Man movie every few months), but I can't recall what inspired the leap to imagining a spider being bitten by a radioactive accountant. A cartoonist's brain often makes unexpected connections, and we're compelled to put them on paper.
Converting the art for the strip layout called for some tricky manipulation, but I think I pulled it off/
L-R: Panel and strip drawings
We're especially proud of our attention to detail in redrawing the brown spider's eyes.

That's it for this week. Thank you for following Bizarro, and for reading my Saturday ramblings.  When I took over the daily Bizarro cartoon duties, I promised to write a weekly blog post, following the tradition started by Dan Piraro, who still does his own highly entertaining commentary over at While you're there, don't miss his latest Sunday page.

Bonus Track
"The Horse in Striped Pajamas" by
Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo) and Hugh "Lumpy" Brannum (Mr. Green Jeans) with the Jimmy Carroll Orchestra.


Most recordings of this song feature an adult identifying zoo animals for a curious child. Keeshan's version casts Mr. Green Jeans in the child's part. Although the vocal performance by these two grown men is more than a little creepy, the homemade video is rather charming. I love the fact that there's a nickel taped to the tonearm. And at first glance, I could have sworn that the plush toy at the top of the frame was an inverted bird of some kind, but on closer inspection it looks more like a moose.

Coincidentally, Captain Kangaroo received some unflattering internet action in recent weeks.

Title Search
The title for today's post, "Yesterday's Technology Today," is a tagline frequently used by my friend Ben Vaughn on his podcast, The Many Moods of Ben Vaughn. I've mentioned The Many Moods before, and recommend it to anyone who loves to be surprised. You never know what Ben will play on an episode, but it's always interesting and entertaining.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Real Virtuality

I'm writing this post in advance so we can attend a favorite music festival here in Pittsburgh on Saturday. Early this week, we were reminded once again to grab every opportunity to hear music you love, when Art "Poppa Funk" Neville, the eldest of the four Neville Brothers, died at age 81.  

Now that the most recent heatwave has passed, I'm looking forward to an enjoyable day of food, wine, and music among friends. I urge you to get out and experience some live music as soon as you can. It's good for the soul, heart, and brain.

But, since you're online now, why not take a look at the latest batch of cartoons from Bizarro Studios?

I've often wondered why movies, TV shows, and comic strips (yes, I'm guilty) always show abductees dressed in overalls and flannel. I reasoned that it might simply be an interstellar prank.
Like the panel, the widescreen version of this gag includes three secret symbols, but replaces the Flying Saucer of Impossibility with the Lost Loafer, which looks particularly forlorn as it drifts away in space.

This one's for the kids. A few people accidentally typed the question "What's EDM?" into the comments section rather than in an internet search field.

Fellow music nerds may have noticed that the patient's head is decorated with records on the Laurie and Blue Note labels, although I took some liberties by showing the design usually associated with Blue Note LPs or 78s on a 45 rpm single.

I realize that running this cartoon was asking for trouble, but at Bizarro Studios, fear will not deter us in our quest for laughs.
Most of my preliminary roughs are loose digital scribbles, but the sketchbook version of this one could almost have run as finished art.

Today, this con sips prison hooch with his pinky extended.

We enjoy a gag set in a therapist's office almost as much as we love to draw clowns, dogs, and the Grim Reaper. I was pleased with the depiction of the doctor's low-key reaction to his odd patient.

The song is called "The Ballad of Abandoned Pastimes," and will be performed by the as-yet unformed band, Serial Dabbler.

Thanks for reading Bizarro, following the blog, and your kind and thoughtful comments. For further insight, and more behind-the-scenes stories of the glamorous world of cartooning, surf on over to Dan Piraro's weekly blog, where you can view his latest Sunday masterpiece and buy some cool Bizarro swag.

Bonus Track

"Cha Dooky-Doo"

Art Neville' is probably best known for his work with the Neville Brothers band, or his keyboard playing with the Meters, the classic instrumental funk group. Although his brother Aaron is the more well-known singer, Art also recorded many excellent vocal numbers in the 1950s and 60s. This is a favorite, and one my band includes in our regular set list.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Three Ring Science

With a record heatwave affecting two-thirds of the US this weekend, staying indoors to read a blog post about cartoons is a relatively healthy activity.

Here's a look at what we've been up to at Bizarro Studios North.

We kicked off the week with the latest in our never-ending series of clown gags. I apologize to physics teachers everywhere, who have probably heard this mispronunciation before.
The strip configuration of this comic includes a peek at a specialized piece of lab equipment on the left edge of the image. It seems to be some sort of accelerator.

Tuesday's gag confirms the fact that corporate jargon has made its way into the avian workplace.

Wednesday's cartoon is a simple turnaround gag, which, while fun to draw, made me thirsty for a Mai Tai.

Job seekers should target organizations that offer opportunities for advancement. This young lad followed the practice of dressing for the job you want.

readers noted a resemblance to Ernie Bushmiller's Sluggo. I'm a fan of Bushmiller's Nancy comic strip, and did indeed draw this character as a tip of the hat to Ernie.

In related news, Zippy the Pinhead's creator, Bill Griffith, is currently working on a graphic biography of Ernie Bushmiller, based on deep primary research. We're eagerly anticipating this new book here at BSN.

No one who's serious about conservation still wears a ten-gallon hat, even in the wild west.

One could say we bookended the week with clowns, if jesters count.

Keep yourself cool, and check out Dan Piraro's weekly blog, where you can see what he has to say about this batch of gags, and admire his always-stunning Bizarro Sunday page.

Bonus Track

Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag"
performed by Tom McDermott

This bonus track isn't related to or inspired by any of the week's cartoons, but is included simply to share a beautiful performance by a master musician. This past Tuesday, I had the good fortune of hearing pianist and composer Tom McDermott at an intimate house concert not far from BSN, and this piece was part of the evening's selections. 


Tom's a wonderful performer, a crack historian, and an all-around swell gent. I highly recommend his new CD, Tom McDermott Meets Scott Joplin, as well as his illustrated book of limericks, Five Lines, No Waiting

It turns out he's also a regular Bizarro reader, which flatters us to no end.

Tom McDermott & Wayno, July 16, 2019

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Shaving Custard

It's been another productive week here at Bizarro Studios North. Let's review our latest published output.

Monday's cartoon is based on a real concern for people with parrots and other long-lived pets. A friend responded positively to this cartoon, noting that their avian companion is indeed covered by their will, but made no mention of a saltine clause in the document.

This panel was retweeted by The Ernest Becker Foundation. They're a nonprofit whose mission is to advance understanding of how the unconscious denial of mortality influences human behavior. I'd not heard of the foundation before noticing that they shared the cartoon, and have been looking around their site. Their work is fascinating, and among their projects is an examination of ways in which humans' fear of death can be used to manipulate behavior, particularly in political messaging. They also explore the role of humor in thinking about death, which is where we cartoonists come in.

If you steam those armored knights, they pop right open, making them favorites among fire-breathing dragons.

This one was prompted by a public service announcement about standing water as a likely breeding spot for mosquitoes, which is worth remembering in the wettest year on record here in the US.

The art was flipped horizontally for the strip layout. It required very little additional drawing: an extension of the desk and vase, and a few straight lines on the back wall.
Filling in the solid black area on the left side, however, almost made it look like an entirely new drawing.

I was pleased with the simplicity of this one, and the self-referential conundrum presented by the eightball's message. The caption is almost unnecessary, but it provides an extra beat to punctuate the gag.

It's become clear that we'll never run out of clown gags, and I'm always happy when I can tell a joke without words. 

I had some fun with the strip layout, adding a reflection of the barber's pole in a wall-mounted mirror...
...but only in the color strip.
Check the funny pages on Monday for yet another clown cartoon.

Mindful eating is often defined as chewing slowly, without distractions, being aware of each bite, and appreciating one's food. It could also mean doing these things in order to savor the annoyance of a parent. It's a matter of perspective.

In social media news, the July 5 cartoon got significant traction on Instagram, with over a quarter of a million views, and over 25,000 likes.
I guess I should do more bagpipe gags, although all of that internet activity resulted in a gross income bump of zero.

Don't forget to look in on Dan Piraro's blog to see what he has to say about this batch of laffs, and to gaze in wonder at his latest panoramic Sunday Bizarro page.

Bonus Track

Calling back to Friday's wordless cartoon, here's a favorite funk record without words, or at least without lyrics. There are a few shouts of encouragement in the mix. Nevertheless, it's a great record, with a perfect summertime vibe.

   H "Gatur Bait," by the Gaturs

The Gaturs were a New Orleans band led by keyboard player and occasional vocalist Willie Tee (born Wilson Turbinton). The Gaturs only released a handful of 45s, but every one is a killer. Had some fun with the ttps://