Saturday, July 04, 2020

On Deck Circle

Happy Independence Day, fellow Americans. As we grill our hot dogs in isolation, and listen to neighbors risk bodily harm to set off amateur fireworks, let's look at the week's Bizarro cartoons.

Monday's gag ran the risk of angering my colleagues for revealing a trade secret, but everyone was cool. 
Before I do any work in Photoshop, I take a few practice swings with an IMSAI 8080 computer.
Insert celebrity parent name here.

This panel raises a question: What do porcine bikers call their motorcycles?

This stone age driver has just updated his automotive decorations. When he was younger and wilder, it sported a drawing of a mischievous cartoon kid peeing on a neighbor's wheel.

As soon as I sketched this shriveled-up character, I knew I wanted to feature him in a gag.
My sketchbook drawings are usually quite messy, and there are a few that even I can't decipher.

Saturday's drawing is loosely modeled on my friend Teresa Roberts Logan, who's a standup comic as well as a very funny cartoonist. I highly recommend her comic, Laughing Redhead. She has a unique humorous voice, and I enjoy the organic look of her artwork. I don't actually know how she feels about feng shui. That part, I made up.

For additional graphical merriment and pithy commentary, please visit Dan Piraro's blog, where you can also admire his latest widescreen Bizarro Sunday page.

Dan often opens his blog posts with well-reasoned and entertaining commentary on current ridiculous events, but the intro to last week's entry was a change of pace. Dan discussed some ideas that he formed, in part, as a result of reading The Ascent of Humanity by Charles Eisenstein. That post aligns with thoughts I've articulated (much less eloquently) regarding the way that mass-media entertainment, and technologies like radio and television, replaced self-made entertainment, and in some ways made people less social.

At one time, most homes had a piano and other musical instruments, and family members were able to play together for fun. Making music with other people is one of life's great joys, and at its best it's a social activity that relies on cooperation, listening, and empathy. When mass-marketed recording came along, I believe that people who made music for the pure enjoyment of it, began to compare themselves unfavorably to professional entertainers, felt that their efforts weren't worthwhile, and gave up on music, except as passive listeners.

Something similar happens with visual art. Just about all kids love to draw and color. Drawing is a form of communication that predates written language. It seems that at some crucial point in childhood, many kids become discouraged, whether it's because of parents, teachers, or peers. They decide that they can't draw, and give up, never developing artistic skills, and that's a shame.
Of course, some kids are wonderful, special, obsessed weirdos, who never take "no" for an answer, and pursue their creative passions despite forces that would discourage them. These are the people who create great stuff, and I'm glad to know quite a few of them.
A surprising number of cartoonists also enjoy making music, including Robert Crumb.
The tagline at the bottom of this 1972 Crumb record is a profound statement:
"Music self-played is happiness self-made."
Thanks for following Bizarro.
Bonus Track

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Pilfering in Place

Saturday has rolled around again, marking the completion of another week in These Weird and Uncertain Times.

We're still sequestered in the offices of Bizarro Studios North, trying to get further ahead of our publication schedule. We've been a lot more productive of late, since we're not doing anything that involves leaving home base. 

Of course, I realize that I'm extremely lucky to be able to continue working, and we're doing our best to support local businesses and help our neighbors as much as we can. Let's cross our fingers in the hope that, at the other side of "all this," society emerges with renewed empathy and charity.

Speaking of the job of cartooning, here's a look back at this week's gags.
Another profession adapts to the pandemic. Mask are required, pants are optional.

We were surprised to learn that Fisher-Price is still selling the "Chatter Telephone" pull toy, although they're now probably used to monitor the economic habits of toddlers.
The face looks friendly, but those eyes never close...

Old MacDonald had some complaints.
Above is a rejected preliminary gag using the familiar nursery rhyme character. We're not above punning here art Bizarro Studios, but this one failed to meet our minimum humor requirements.

He's doing field research on statistics and supposedly-random numbers.

We received a couple of comments correctly pointing out that homeschooled kids do no worse than those attending traditional schools, and are equally successful at gaining admittance to universities. Our comic refers to economists--college graduates who usually hold advanced degrees. Instead of "homeschooled," we should have said something like "self-taught" or "intuitive." It's a lesson learned for us.  

Friday's cartoon features two stereotypical characters with more in common that they care to admit. In addition to a fondness for boutique beverages, they both enjoy haberdashery, chin whiskers, and rustic garb.
The horizontal strip layout allowed me to have the connoisseurs facing each other at eye level.

While kicking around ideas based on the phrase "break a leg," as an expression of good luck, we wondered if pirates might tell one another to break a peg. I'd considered just having a pirate saying that to a shipmate, but it seemed so simple, I figured someone must have used it in a comic already. I wasn't able to find a cartoon based on that line, but I still thought it was likely. Eventually, I hit on the idea of making the dialog about the soundalike line. The extra bit of conceptual distance felt like be a more satisfying approach direct substitution.

Plus, I enjoy drawing pirates.

My partner-in-humor, Dan Piraro, also offers a weekly review of my output, along with his latest panoramic Bizarro Sunday page. He also usually includes some thoughtful commentary, and this week's is especially resonant. Check out his blog, and tell him Wayno sent you.

Bonus Track
Inspired by the craft spirits cartoon, I had planned to close this post with "Whiskey, Do Your Stuff" by Louis Jordan and his Tympani Five. However, while browsing through YouTube, I found this 1974 performance of "There Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens," and decided to go with it instead.

Jordan is one of our all-time favorites here at BSN. He was a pioneer, and a hugely influential performer. Chuck Berry cited him as a major inspiration. He's sometimes referred to as "The Last Swinger, and the First Rocker," whose music was indeed a bridge between the old and the new from the 1930s up until his death in 1975 at age 66.

Here's a treasured item from the Bizarro Studios North archives, which we love for the music it contains, as well as the wonderful 1950s graphic design.
This French TV appearance was filmed within a year of his passing, but it shows that he never lost his musical chops. His music always makes me smile and marvel at his skills.


Saturday, June 20, 2020

A Biscuit, a Bell, and a Boom

Happy Summer Solstice, Jazz Pickles. In keeping with ancient Midsummer tradition, let's look at some funny pictures together.

I once wrote a story outline for a long form comic about a voodoo doll made of Silly Putty. Fortunately, it never went beyond the preliminary stage, but the premise was enough to work a single panel gag.

This cartoon prompted my favorite Instagram comment of the week:
“COMICS” should have been “SCIMOC”. (Everything is backwards with a silly putty copy. Other than that, great humor)
I guess some people just don't understand how magic works.

An all-American mutt working on the Great American Novel.
My original art showed F. Spot without the saliva. What was I thinking? One should never pass up the opportunity to draw a drooping, drooling tongue.

Wednesday found us back at the mall directory kiosk, a favorite cartoon setting. This time, the sign was confounded by a children's book character.

If you've ever attended a Q&A session, you'll understand this one. 
I'm considering selling this as a t-shirt.

Two classic movie characters met in Friday's gag, which was set in the old Hollywood Arcade. I was pleased with the brief but indignant line of text.
My first sketch showed the scarecrow being pestered by a hungry zombie. We liked the setting, and thought it would be better with Dr.Frankenstein's assistant eagerly elbowing his way to the claw machine.

Saturday's panel probably looks better in print, and will achieve its best presentation if it's cut from the paper and allowed to oxidize for a decade or so. Here's how I imagine the alternate layout looking a few years from now.
Assembling this was enjoyable, since it was a little different from a normal Bizarro panel.
The layout was modeled after an old art instruction ad, and the customer was based on Sam Elliott's character in The Big Lebowski.
There was no compelling reason to use Elliott as a reference, other than an urge to draw that spectacular mustache.

If you can't get enough behind-the-scenes banter, drop by Dan Piraro's blog, where you can also check out his latest Bizarro Sunday page.

Bonus Track

The aforementioned Big Lebowski, a favorite here at Bizarro Studios North, boasts a interesting and eclectic soundtrack. Instead of an original score, the film uses an wide-ranging selection of existing music to complement the action.

Bob Dylan, Captain Beefheart, Nina Simone, Esquivel, Elvis Costello, Debbie Reynolds, and Dean Martin are just a few of the artists whose recordings are included in the film, along with a some well-chosen classical selections.

It also includes this piece, "Traffic Boom," by the Piero Piccioni. "Traffic Boom" was originally recorded for the 1974 film All Screwed Up, directed by Lina Wertmüller.

Piccioni was a prolific film composer, whose credits include such cool 1960s classics as The Tenth Victim and Fumo di Londra.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Pup Psychology

It's Saturday again already? That means it's time to fire up the blog machine and review this week's cartoon output.

Although we love our fur-bearing family members, we sometimes send them mixed signals.

He was simply testing the Big Boom Theory.

A somewhat timely gag. I'd been thinking about the countless small businesses that have suffered economic hardship during the trying (but necessary) shutdowns of recent months. Just before everything changed, I'd picked up a piece of art from one of my trusty local frame shops, and was wondering how they're all managing at the moment. I received some nice comments from people in the business who appreciated the gag.
A comic set in a frame shop gave me plenty of opportunities for placing Bzarro Secret Symbols. 

From now on, I'm going to refer to it as "placing" rather than "hiding" symbols in the comics. My primary goal with each cartoon is to produce a smile, chuckle, or laugh. The symbols sprinkled throughout are meant as a little extra "frosting" for regular readers, but we're not trying to replace the crossword puzzle.

Frankie made another appearance in Bizarro on Thursday, with an image from one of his popular culinary videos. He turns up regularly, in part because I love drawing him.

The poor guy's trying too hard, but he hasn't got a prayer.

This pharmacist is remarkably blasé, considering the fact that the customer is naked. The prescription's packaging includes a long list of sidesaddle effects.

Thank you, as always, for reading Bizarro, and for your comments and support. Visit Dan Piraro's blog for his take on the latest batch of gags, and to view his newest Bizarro Sunday page. Stay safe, Jazz Pickles.

Bonus Track

The ever-wonderful Nellie McKay, with her ode to the joys of canine companionship.

Saturday, June 06, 2020

Show of Hands

Congratulations to all of us for getting through another week during this crazy, frightening, and stressful time.

If you're in need of a few minutes of distraction, we offer a nostalgic look back at the week in Bizarro.
Our character's elementary school teachers always knew when he needed to be excused to go to the boys' room.
In my mental photo library, giant foam hands are (almost) always red, so that's the way I initially colored this panel. It turned out looking horribly painful, and made me uneasy, so I rejected that choice.

I'm sometimes guilty of run-on texting. When I compose a reply, I often imagine the person on the receiving end seeing this:
Fun fact: While searching for an image of the above doodad, I learned that it's called a "typing awareness indicator."

It happens to all of us, froggy. 

I recently watched a fascinating PBS Nature program on frogs, presented by Sir David Attenborough. It may have provided some inspiration for Wednesday's comic.
I can't decide whether this gag works better as a panel or a strip. What do you think?

Thursday's cartoon is based on a scene from a never-released Snow White prequel. Sleepy had a rough time, but no dwarf had crueler parents than the ill-fated Dopey.

Puppets get lonely, too.

I'm not sure why, but I now notice that we had two hand-based gags this week. 

Officer Frosty stumbled across the site of horrible niveous experiments. 
The magic of Photoshop allowed me to go overboard when configuring the strip layout of this gag.

Thank you for reading and commenting, as always.  Please visit my collaborator Dan Piraro's blog to view his latest marvelous Sunday Bizarro page, and see what he has to say about this week's cartoons.

Bonus Track

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Reaper Madness

It's Saturday, and that means it's time for yet another weekly cartoon review. For those of you who are counting, this was my 126th week as Bizarro's daily cartoonist. I still love the job, and look forward to doing it every day.
We kicked off the week with another unintentionally timely gag. At the time this was written, the term "social distancing" was just around the corner. If professional sports teams have to remain inactive, I predict a big comeback for electric football.
Tuesday's panel is the first time I've drawn a desert island gag from this angle. I've done many in the past with the classic layout of a tiny island with one or two palm trees in the center of the drawing, but I needed more space for this one.
Dave Blazek, Dave Whamond, Wayno, Mark Parisi
During a recent video chat among single-panel cartoonists, we discussed longstanding cartoon tropes, such as people stranded on an island, the Grim Reaper, a psychiatrist's office, etc. We decided that there's always another gag to be found using familiar props, characters, and settings, even if it's a struggle to locate it.

Speaking of stock characters, here's one with a pair of Grim Reapers. I was happy with my drawing of the moldy cheese in this one.

Corporate Communications at its finest. During the pandemic, they'd probably make a mass announcement over Zoom with a wacky background image.

Laura Numeroff's popular children's book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, was first published in 1985, and it spawned more than a dozen sequels and related books. By now, that mouse is certainly old enough to have a drink.

Friday's cartoon is dedicated to all artists who've lost money by exhibiting in galleries. I write from personal experience.
Don't forget to visit Dan Piraro's blog, and see what he's cooked up for the latest Bizarro Sunday page.
Bonus Rerun Cartoon
Tuesday would have been Miles Davis's 94th birthday. Here at Bizarro Studios North, we celebrated by posting a gag we ran eight years ago, and spent the workday with Davis's Complete Jack Johnson Sessions as our inspirational soundtrack.

Bonus Track 

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

Today is the start of the Memorial Day weekend, when people look forward to three days away from the office. At least that's the way it was when people used to leave their homes each day to work in an office.

We were busy here at Bizarro Studios North, sending out our usual daily doses of humor into the world. Perhaps these will provide a few moments of diversion for you.

It's a good friend who'll let you know when you're being too clingy.

I enjoy using inanimate objects as cartoon characters, and usually avoid adding facial features or human-like limbs. I find that funnier than anthropomorphized objects. I was particularly pleased when I realized that a sticky note wouldn't need a word balloon to communicate in a cartoon.

There's even a handy storage compartment for some of your native soil.
Just another day at the Department of Understatement.

Humans aren't the only ones who like to wear bibs sporting a picture of what they're about to eat.

Friday's cartoon elicited my favorite comment of the week:
As a plumber I appreciate this, and this is honestly not the weirdest thing I’ve found in a toilet.
Saturday's gag seems a little sadder than intended, given our current state of self-isolation, but it was written as nothing more than an extreme simplification of one of those mall maps. It's a trope we've played with before, and are sure to visit again.

Bonus Rerun Cartoon
Tuesday, May 19 was the 75th birthday of musician Pete Townshend. To celebrate, I posted an old WaynoVision gag that featured a young Pete.

Thanks for following Bizarro for another week. Don't forget to visit Dan Piraro's blog for more commentary and weirdness, plus a new Sunday Bizarro page.

Bonus Track

Sharing the Pete Townshend cartoon reminded me to once again look up and enjoy this stunning 1968 Who performance of A Quick One, While He's Away, the "mini-opera" that Townshend described as "Tommy's parents."