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

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Hipster Cuisine

As an early Halloween gift to Bizarro readers, we kick off today's post with a cartoon that disgorges treats when you beat it with a stick.

At least the little generalissimo allowed his prisoner one final candy cigarette.

This cartoon is the second pi├▒ata-based gag of the year. The first one ran in January, when I'd just come aboard as your daily cartoonist. My inaugural weekly Bizarro blog post featured that gag, plus two naughty rejects.

On the plus side, his migraine's gone.

I encountered this unintentional pun in a poorly-written Yelp review, which I wish I had bookmarked. The angry consumer wrote that their server responded to a complaint "like a deer in the headlines."

The most enjoyable aspect of working on this gag was drawing the beloved cartoon character after he'd gone to seed.

I originally wrote this one in 2011, as part of a batch I submitted for one of my stints as Bizarro's guest cartoonist.
We selected different gags for my guest week, and I slid this image into a "use later" file. I'd forgotten all about it until a few weeks ago, and decided I should do a finished version. 

Although the sketch is dated "18-13-12," the actual tag in the digital file is March 21, 2011.

This is a true farm-to-table restaurant, with no stops along the way.

My initial sketch showed the waiter carrying a smiling piglet, which seemed more upsetting than funny, so we replaced it with a full-grown, indifferent hog.
The strip configuration of this cartoon worked out well, with the dialog interrupting the image, so the pig is the last element the reader discovers.

Some people like to sit on a giant exercise ball while they work. Some prefer a standing desk, while others have treadmills or stationary bikes at their work spaces.

I once knew a guy who really did keep a sleeping bag beneath his desk. When he crawled in and pulled his chair up close, you could walk right by his cubicle and not know he was there, as long as he didn't snore.

As always, thanks for reading Bizarro. Be sure to cruise over to Dan Piraro's blog, to catch up with his latest Sunday page, and read his pithy comments on this week's gags.

Bonus Track of the Week

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Four Strings, No Waiting

Happy Saturday, Jazz Pickles. It's time to celebrate Harvest Season with the latest crop of cartoons from the rooftop garden at Bizarro Studios North.
Monday's offering depicts a situation that occurs in countless corporate break rooms on a regular basis. Think before you tweet, folks, unless of course you're a high elected official with the impulse control of an infant.

I wrote and rewrote follow-up remarks on this gag, but discarded them because they all sounded gruesome. We'll let the cartoon stand on its own this time.

Our metallic hero isn't secure enough to admit that he enjoys something others see as inept or amateurish. At least he makes his own snarky comments, and doesn't rely on scripted surrogate observers to do it for him.

Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) was directed and produced by cult figure Ed Wood Jr., who was well-known for his love of angora sweaters. At the turn of this century, I had an assignment to do 150 celebrity portraits for Rhino Records. Most of the images were musical recording artists, but the gig also included a drawing of Ed Wood, which I must say turned out pretty nicely.

The day this comic ran, a friend pointed out that October 10 is actually Ed Wood's birthdate. I didn't know this when scheduling the comic, but was pleased to learn of the weird coincidence.
I had a lot of fun sprinkling Bizarro Secret Symbols throughout this panel, particularly the Inverted Bird. I also enjoyed coloring the Bunny of Exuberance and the Lost Loafer. Next time I'm facing a tight deadline, I just might color a full week of cartoons using this technique.

Simpsons creator Matt Groening is often quoted as saying that the secret of designing cartoon characters is that they should be instantly recognizable in silhouette. Gumby's creator Art Clokey hit on this too, and supposedly modeled the character's slanted head after a photo of his own father sporting an asymmetrical haircut, which is surprisingly similar to Ed Wood's coiffure above.

I, too, believe that cartoon characters should be recognizable by silhouette, but not to each other. 

In a second accidental tribute, I just learned that the day this cartoon ran was Art Clokey's  birthday (October 12, 1921).

In addition to cartooning, I also perform with a musical trio. All three of us are such self-doubting neurotics that each one constantly worries about being fired by the the other two.

Some readers incorrectly assume that whenever I draw a hipster type character with a handlebar mustache, I'm portraying my partner-in-cartooning, Dan Piraro. Similarly, when I draw a dandified nerd holding a ukulele, it's not (necessarily) a self-portrait.

That wraps up another week of jocularity. You'd be well advised to pop on over to Dan Piraro's blog to read his observations on the week's comics, and to see what he's cooked up for Sunday's widescreen Bizarro

Since moving to Mexico, Dan's also been creating some amazing paintings featuring surreal depictions of costumed wrestlers. His online shop now features his Lucky Luchador Enamel Pin, which is a thing of beauty.

Bonus Track

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Flip, Flop, & Fly

It's October, Jazz Pickles! The weather at Bizarro Studios North in scenic Hollywood Gardens has been weirdly warm for this time of year, and while we're enjoying the brief return of summer, it feels a little ominous.

Superman has his own complaints about warmer temperatures, as well as the demise of old-fashioned phone booths. His super-sense of smell isn't always an asset.

I drew this gag back in August. If I were doing it today, I'd have some better photo reference for the "something stinks" face.

On second thought, maybe this guy wouldn't be such a good model. I don't believe he represents truth, justice, or the American way.

This kind of thing happens to every tourist walking the English countryside, if one believes horror films. The foreboding pub sign has been a cliche for a long time.
John Landis tweaked this trope in his 1981 film, An American Werewolf in London.

Wednesday's gag is an example of the "Rule of Three" for humor writing, which posits that a trio of similar things is the most effective number for delivering a story or joke. Some speculate that it's because three is the smallest number that establishes a pattern, and economy in writing is always preferred.

This wasn't planned, but suddenly, it looks like Hikers in Peril Week here at Bizarro. This technique for looking your best in a selfie has been confirmed by Cosmopolitan, so it must be true.

Perhaps more humans should follow Wolfie's lead and own up to the fact that they simply like camouflage as a fashion statement. Imagine the reduction in accidental shootings.

Saturday's cartoon is for the typography nerds among my friends and readers.

Thanks for reading and commenting. Be sure to check out Dan Piraro's weekly blog for his comments on this week's gags, and to read his latest magnificent Sunday page.

Bonus Track

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Puttin' On The Ritz

Happy Saturday, Jazz Pickles. It's a hectic day here at BSN. My musical colleagues and I are loading up equipment and steaming our suits for tonight's gig celebrating the release of our debut CD.
The Red Beans & Rice Combo
(l-r) Dave Klug, Wayno, Tom Roberts
We wish you could all be here for the fun. If you'd like to check us out (and support your local cartoonist), the album is available at Amazon, CD Baby, Itunes, Spotify, and YouTube.

Now that my commercial is out of the way, let's review the week in cartoons.

The dummy's name is Marshall Stax. 

My initial sketch took a weirdly different approach to the idea of a very large dummy.
We decided to scrap that first version, because you almost never see a left-handed ventriloquist.

When a dog or cat loses its collar, 97.5 percent of pet owners will joke that their animal is naked. That's a known fact.

I once threw a plumber out of my house, after he'd written a $17,000 repair estimate without for an ordinary clog (later remedied within 10 minutes by a non-thieving professional). Weeks later, a hapless employee of the crooked company called to ask me to take a customer satisfaction survey. It didn't go well.

Dog-whistling often attracts the wrong followers, and their stench is nearly impossible to scrub away, but apparently it's a hard habit to break. Just saying.

A waiter and customer attempt to out-curate each other in this hipsterish display of metaphorical chest thumping.
In case you were wondering, our man's Leporine Jazz album is, of course, a mono promotional copy on the Pickle Records label.

Serving suggestion photos are the original misleading profile pictures. The cereal boxes of my childhood years are largely responsible for my deep-seated cynicism.

As always, sincere thanks to those who read and comment on Bizarro, those who share the comic without altering the art or cropping out the credit line, and especially to those who put up with my weekly blog posts.

Please also check out Dan Piraro's blog, for his insightful analysis of the week's gags, and to admire his latest Sunday page. That's also where you can snag official Bizarro swag.

Bonus Track

A favorite selection from the Captain.