Saturday, September 26, 2020

All You Can Borp

Autumn arrived this week, and 2020 continued to deliver horrible news. We lost Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an inspiring and exemplary human being, and Ron Cobb, a great editorial cartoonist who went on to other careers as a film designer and director before retiring to Australia. We don't need any more reminders of the fragility of human life, not to mention democracy.

There's work to do, and important responsibilities to meet (please remember to vote, my friends!), but don't forget to allow yourself time for small pleasures. This week, I encountered a delightful notice posted near our home.

I think I've found a new rule to live by: No favorite houses to be favored.

Here's a look at our most recent comics. It's our sincere hope that these daily cartoon offerings provide a moment of relief or distraction from the avalanche of stressful events.

Note that these travelers are watched over by their chosen figure of worship, represented by a dashboard effigy. This explains why peanuts are part of their rites of communion.

My first sketch was based on a photo of a squirrel stuffing its face. My partner/editor, Dan Piraro, suggested that the cheeks should be twice as big, crowding the driver’s space. That helped deliver the gag, although it involved more brushwork on my part.

Also, who remembers buffets?

Postscript: The squirrel gag inspired a wonderful response. The 5-year-old daughter of a Bizarro reader drew her own version of the characters, and added a second panel to the story. I'm pleased to share these works, with parental permission.

We now know that when squirrels are overstuffed, the sound they make is "BORP."

Tuesday's gag illustrates how a delicate surgical procedure can go wrong.
Creating the strip version was a little tricky, since the panel relies on vertical space, but we managed to reconfigure the image, albeit with a less dramatic spurt.
Source: NBC News
The text was inspired by a hilariously illiterate quote from an bigoted imbecile. His malapropism was reported in multiple publications, including one online rag sympathetic to his retrograde opinion, so I'm confident that it's exactly what he said.
Speaking of unique pronunciation, here's Wednesday's offering.
The final drawing is simply a cleaned-up version of the sketch. The hyphen in the caption is a subtle but crucial addition.
Horror comes in many flavors. 
This should have run on Monday, which I just learned was King's birthday.
I enjoyed researching photos for the panel, and discovered some adorable pictures of the future novelist.
I combined elements of these two images for our Bizarro portrayal of little Stephen.
In a parallel dimension, King could have been cast in a 1960s sitcom.
As the saying goes, "Hyenas gonna hyena."
Sheltering in place has taught me that I can get by without a haircut for several months, but eyebrows are another matter.
Thanks for reading Bizarro, and for your thoughtful comments and emails. Be sure to visit Dan Piraro's blog for more discussion of recent cartoons and current events. While you're there, you can check out his newest Sunday Bizarro page, and read every episode of his surreal western graphic novel, Peyote Cowboy.

Bonus Track

Note: Some videos are not available outside the US

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Mopey Mammals & Fictional Fashions

Happy New Year, Jazz Pickles!

It's still 2020, for better or for worse, but we're celebrating a milestone here at the studio, as your humble scribbler has started producing comics for the New Year.

I recently uploaded a folder that includes the first gags of 2021. I paused for a moment to remind myself that it's the beginning of my fourth year as Bizarro's daily cartoonist. It continues to be the best gig I've ever had, and I plan to keep at it for the long haul, or until my last inking brush loses its bristles.

We have a surprise or two in store for next year, especially for readers who enjoy looking for the Secret Symbols each day. We'll have more to say about that in the coming months.

Meanwhile, let's review the most recent output from Bizarro Studios North.

Storage can be an issue, and you can forget about the concept of personal space.

This meta gag was one of my favorites of the week, with the grumpy clerk apparently able to see the customer's talk bubble and read his mistakes.

Coincidentally, a few days before this cartoon was published, a tweet circulated, alleging that the Associated Press Stylebook had decided that "less" and "fewer" were now considered to be interchangeable.
This bogus claim was refuted by Mignon Fogarty, popularly known as Grammar Girl, a highly reliable source, and the host of one of my favorite podcasts.

It's not easy to apply eyeliner when those Arctic winds are howling

This is the Saharan Chihuahua Snake. Like its namesake canine, it perceives itself to be larger than it actually is.

On Friday we indulged in some absurd extrapolation, imagining a few pieces of animal-themed clothing.
My first draft attempted to show a person wearing these items, but I found it ti be unnecessarily wordy, and not very funny. I think the final version is more direct and more effective.

The familiar phrase "art imitates life" inspired this literal depiction.

That's it for this batch. Be sure to visit Dan Piraro's blog to see what's in his thought balloon this week, and to view his latest Bizarro Sunday page. And don't forget to read the latest chapter in Dan's serial graphic novel Peyote Cowboy.

Bonus Track


Note: Some YouTube videos are not available outside the US.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Umlauts and Allergies

We had a minor heat wave in scenic Hollywood Gardens, PA, but on the drawing board at Bizarro Studios North, it was late December.

We've been drawing Santa Claus, snowmen, fir trees, and reindeer, which distracted us from the high temperatures. By the time this post is online, we'll be working on our first gags for 2021.

Returning to the recent past, here's a review of the week in Bizarro.

Cartoonists' brains are abnormally wired, but fortunately we have jobs that allow us to use our strange ideas. This one makes perfect sense, as long as you don't ask how a snake operates the steering wheel, pedals, and gear shift knob.

Everything came together when investigators realized that the kid who stole that pig wasn't the son of just any piper.

This gag generated tons of comments and sharing on social media. That response was gratifying, because while drawing it, I was cursing myself for doing a comic that had to show the underside of lobsters. As a good friend mentioned in a message, a lobster's mouth is "a mess of horrible appendages and flaps."

My favorite detail in this one is the roving umlaut in the band's name.

By the way, the song in question appeared on their second album, Tyranny and Crustacean.

Thursday's panel refers to the supposedly funny "I'm with stupid" t-shirt, which I've never seen on an actual person.

The animation industry has exploited this sailor's health issues for decades. At least today's gag reminds us to remember the composer Franz von Suppé.

When you work for a micromanager, sometimes it's fun to throw them a tiny bone.

That's the review for this week. Drop by again next Saturday for more behind-the-scenes stuff. And don't forget to visit Dan Piraro's blog, to see what's been on his mind, and to marvel at his latest widescreen Bizarro Sunday page.

Also, do not miss Dan's serialized web comic, Peyote Cowboy. It's a magical, surreal, dreamlike story, and the art and writing are stunning. Best of all, you can read it every week for free (although it'd be nice to send him some support via Patreon if you're enjoying the tale and want to help it to continue).

Life Imitates Comics

Recently, Bizarro-like imagery has been popping up during my non-working hours.
One of our favorite farm market vendors was offering beautiful tiny blueberries last weekend, and my extremely talented spouse used them in a rustic blueberry galette. As I was poised to slice it, I stopped, realizing that it reminded me of Bizarro's Pie of Opportunity.

That evening, we opened a bottle of wine to enjoy with our dinner, and its name looked as if it could have sprung from our comic universe. It was a tasty Spanish rosé, and I'll keep an eyeball peeled for more in the future. You can trust the K-Pi label.

The Reuben Awards and NCS Fest go Virtual

Today, starting at 10 AM, the National Cartoonists Society will present the second annual NCS Fest and the 74th annual Reuben Awards. This virtual event is free and open to the public. 

The Reuben Awards have always been presented at a private, members-only dinner, but this year, it's open for anyone to stream. The festival includes a full day of panel discussions, creator spotlights, and interviews. 

The awards will be presented in five groups of categories throughout the day, wrapping up with the Cartoonist of the Year Award in the evening. 

This year's nominees for Cartoonist of the Year are:

  • Hilary B. Price
  • Lynda Barry
  • Terri Libenson
  • Mark Tatulli
  • Raina Telgemeier
Bonus Track

"Now Let's Pop-Eye"
Eddie Bo, 1962

Note: Video may not be available outside the U.S.

Saturday, September 05, 2020

Laborious Day

Although autumn officially begins on September 22, most people I know think of Labor Day weekend as the last gasp of summer. This year, who knows? Every day, week, and month since early March has to some extent passed as an indistinguishable blur.

I'm not complaining. I realize how fortunate I am to have a gig where I'd be working from home anyway, and that nothing about my job as your cartoonist requires me to be in physical proximity to anyone outside of my household. The Labor Day holiday has, this year, added significance as we think about and try to honor honest working people. If you have groceries delivered, pick up a takeout dinner, or unpack a box of supplies that were brought to you by the postal service or another service, I encourage pausing to acknowledge the people who make these conveniences possible. I know I will.

We're lucky to have a non-contact delivery system for our cartoons. Here's my weekly care package for all of you valued readers.

We began with our latest variation on a cartoon warhorse: a fly in a bowl of soup.

By the way, do you remember eating in a restaurant?  Me neither.

A few friends and readers asked whether I based this comic on someone named Bobby Knight. I was barely aware of the name, and figured this was simply a normal part of American sports entertainment.

This type of swimwear is sometimes referred to as a tetrakini.

A scene from the PBS series, Law & Order: Camden Town.

This work in crayon and newsprint was recently discovered in the attic of a house in Pittsburgh's east end. As I've mentioned in the past, I enjoy doing photo research for the comic, although I apparently missed the boat by not drawing Bobby Knight on Tuesday.
Thanks to Google, I was able to find a decent image of an ancient baby food jar to use as a model for my drawing.
Maybe I should have made it a jar of banana purée.

I'm not judging anyone's individual dietary choices, simply using a currently popular method as a springboard for a joke about parent-child communication, or lack thereof.

That's the output from Bizarro Studios North this week. We hope you chuckled once or twice, and that you'll come back next Saturday for more of these funny pictures with words.

Be sure to visit Dan Piraro's blog for his thoughts on these gags (and other, weightier topics), and to view his latest Sunday Bizarro.

Recommended Reading

Dan "Diego" Piraro's amazing graphic novel, Peyote Cowboy, is being serialized online.
Peyote Cowboy, copyright ©2020 Diego Piraro
The first four episodes are up, and he'll add a new one every week. While you're there, you can sign up for a free email newsletter, and, if you choose, you can support Peyote Cowboy via Patreon. It's already a wild ride, and the story is just beginning.

Bonus Track

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Back to School, or Something Like It

As the summer draws to a close, our thoughts are with the teachers, students, school personnel, and parents navigating the start of a school year unlike any we've experienced before. Fortunately, many of the country's educational leaders are focused on ways to keep the sports industrial complex humming along.

From the quarantine bubble here at Bizarro Studios North, we're working to provide temporary relief from the daily outrages with humorous words and pictures. Here are the latest from our little comics factory.

The center battery in the back row sports a logo based on the cover of Zap Comix #7, drawn by Spain Rodriguez.
As a music-obsessed kid, I spent much of my free time (and all of my lunch money) in record stores. Many independent stores also had a display case or spinner rack of underground comix, and Zap was the first title I grabbed. Several times throughout my childhood, I had the experience of finding something that I absolutely knew my parents would not want me to have. 
The first time I was aware of that special thrill was when I discovered the earliest MAD comics in crappy paperback reprints issued by Ballantine Books. Will Elder's art in "Starchie" blew my preadolescent mind.

Later, the first issue of Robert Crumb's Zap gave me a high-voltage version of that rush that came with the recognition of something that would be forbidden if Mom and Dad were even aware of its existence. I wasn't a big drug-user in my youth, but I never stopped chasing the intoxicating art & music monkey.

Don't you hate getting dumped by one of your other personalities?

Wednesday's drawing and dialog were reverse-engineered to set up the weird caption. It's not a normal joke in any way, but we liked its surreal vibe, and ran with it.

This one, on the other hand, is perfectly logical.

I thought this was simply a droll take on the cliched image of a mime trapped in an invisible box, but it prompted a wonderful analysis from a clever Bizarro reader:
My spin on today's joke by Wayno (8-28): America's evangelicals pretend to be trapped in some box of government oppression. Since the box is invisible, "fire" man T***p can promise an invisible solution!
Thanks to Bill in Massachusetts, for giving me a good laugh and a fresh take on my own work. Bravo!

I generally try to keep my drawings simple and uncluttered, since they're often printed at a ridiculously small size, causing tinier details to disappear into solid blobs. For this one, I got carried away with extra bits of business secondary to the gag. MAD's Bill Elder referred to this sort of thing as "chicken fat."
The "Bunnies" book poster is a parody of the first edition dust jacket of John Kennedy Toole's classic comedic novel, A Confederacy of Dunces. That cover was illustrated by Ed Lindlof in 1979 or 1980.
The second framed cover advertises Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden's scholarly work, How to Read Nancy. The book earned an Eisner Award for Best Comics-Related Book, and is highly recommended. I'm still learning from it.
The strip version of Saturday's gag shows more of the Nancy cover, and also features a framed image of The World of Chas Addams. That's my kind of bookstore.

Come back next week for a fresh batch of funny pictures, and don't forget to visit Dan Piraro's weekly blog for his comments, plus a new Sunday Bizarro page.

Bonus Track
"Back to School Days" by Graham Parker & The Rumour