Who'd like a few moments' escape from the horror and chaos that's filled our screens these many months? You could do worse than reading a few cartoons, and maybe having a healthy laugh in the process.
Here's the batch I put out this past week.
Your cartoonist could almost participate in this group. I'm not worried about literally being chewed up, but I'm unnerved by the sound of a person eating or chewing. Those TV and radio programs where a colorful host talks about a restaurant's food while eating it are more horrifying to me than any slasher film.
The finished art is pretty close to my initial sketch, with a slight change to the caption. "Fear of mastication" sounds slightly more scientific.
Here at Bizarro Studios, we rarely make direct comments on current events or specifically address politics in our cartoons. We're working many weeks ahead of publication, and any timely commentary would most likely be stale by the time the gag's been printed. This idea seemed a little more universal, and more about human interaction than trying to be newsy.
Predictably, some of the online comments turned into virtual shouting matches. I'll just say that arguments against a simple courtesy that shows concern for others strike me as having been reverse-engineered to justify unfounded pronouncements made by a nincompoop with a huge megaphone.
Wednesday's offering was built on a nearly-invisible pun. When I submitted the sketch to my esteemed editor/partner, he told me that he read the gag three times before noticing that the last word wasn't "mignon." Sometimes our brains run an auto-correct algorithm that cartoonists can use to their advantage.
We got a few questions asking how the server's bow tie was attached. I believe that the pelt came from a nearly-forgotten animal known as the mastodandy, which evolved that unique marking.
There's no denying the End Times are closer than they've ever been. In my fantasy, if the angel Gabriel existed, he'd definitely be a jazz player.
The Four Sidemen here are all based on musician friends of mine. That information isn't required to understand the gag, but it made it more fun to draw.
We may have lost count, but we still aren't out of clown gags.
This should be read in that double-speed semi-whisper that accompanies ads for pharmaceuticals.
If you can't get enough of this behind-the-scenes comics talk, check out Dan Piraro's weekly blog, where you can also view his latest magnificent Bizarro Sunday page.
The sax player in Thursday's gag is the late Ralph Carney. Ralph was a talented multi-instrumentalist and composer, in addition to being a generous and wonderfully silly gent, who cared deeply about his fellow humans. When the cartoon was published, I received quite a few heartfelt comments from friends who loved our Ralphie and miss him.
I first heard Ralph's music in 1977, when I picked up the debut record by Tin Huey. Many years later, we became close friends when he had me design a CD cover for his Serious Jass Project band.
After releasing a couple of independent EPs, Tin Huey were signed to Warner Brothers Records, and released their brilliant LP, Contents Dislodged During Shipment, in 1979. This selection highlights Ralph's musicianship and humor.