Saturday, January 16, 2021

Under the Weather

Another Saturday has rolled around, and yet again we find ourselves at the end of a head-spinning week of events. The current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue set a record for most impeachments, and we're crossing our fingers that his final exit four days from now will be uneventful.

Since we introduced the Pipe of Ambiguity as Bizarro's new Secret Symbol, I've been seeing examples of pipe imagery on the web. I'm not implying cause and effect, only noting that since the symbol is in the front of my consciousness, pictures of pipes jump out at me.

My dear friend and fellow cartoonist/illustrator Mark Zingarelli recently posted this helpful hint (or "life hack" in today's parlance) on his Facebook page, and naturally I had to share it here.

With all that's been happening in the news, you might have missed some of our recent cartoons, so we're presenting them all in a convenient blog post for your amusement.

Health care professionals have to blow off steam from time to time, just like the rest of us.

He'll soon be leader of the cave village.

Horror writers know to build stories around their readers' fears. This piece features prominently in his literary collection, Tales of Mystery and Catatonia.

This fellow is planning for a future when we can again travel in relative safety. I managed to do a cowboy-themed comic without having the fun of drawing a cowboy. I should have given our would-be tourist a snazzy western shirt.

Friday's gag is a prime example of a cartoonist using humor to help cope with our troubles or fears. In my area of the country, a lot of us may experience seasonal affective disorder. Our winters are usually long, cold, dark, and gloomy. This time around, those meteorological factors are coupled with the fatigue of many months of isolation and self-quarantine (or at least they should be).

When we're able to move about again, I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's photos from their travels, and to reuniting with friends near and far.

One waggish commenter suggested that this comic's protagonist suffered from overexposure to Jimmy Buffett's music. For this listener, there's no safe level of Jimmy Buffet. But that's me. Whatever brings you enjoyment without harming others is fine by me.

And if we're a democracy, how did we get stuck for four years with a mendacious criminal despot? An apian monarchy would have been preferable, but let's hope for an orderly transition to something closer to normal in the coming week. Pincers crossed.

That's the latest from Bizarro Studios North. Thanks for checking in on us. If you're interested in additional comics commentary, you ought to visit Dan Piraro's blog, where you can also admire his latest Bizarro Sunday page.

Bonus Track

Therapy and psychology are recurring themes in our comics, and we certainly believe that humor can be therapeutic. Music offers similar benefits, and a terrific new album that was released this week has been nourishing my soul.

The album is Maquishti, a collection of solo performances on vibraphone and marimba by Patricia Brennan. My copy arrived in Thursday's mail delivery, and it provided my working soundtrack for most of Friday. It’s already a favorite, and I know I’ll return to it often.

Here's a live version of "Sonnet," which is one of the compositions included on Maquishti.

To quote a good friend: Music improves the human condition.

Saturday, January 09, 2021


Well, this year is off to an unfortunately eventful start, isn't it. All I will say about current events at this time is that reliable sources in Hell report that Nixon has been doing cartwheels there since mid-week.

A few readers have mentioned that a significant percentage of my Bizarro gags are cowboy-themed. I recently found some of my elementary school photos, and this one from third grade probably explains a lot.

I insisted that I had to wear that shirt for my school picture. I still believe I made a smart choice.

With the news dominated by cosplaying goons, you may have missed some of the week's comics. For your amusement, we present a handy recap.

For his sixth birthday, he's getting his first corporate directorship.

Remember when narcissists were relatively harmless figures of fun?

They do things the old-fashioned way at Dodge City General Hospital.

By the way, medical research has found that biting down on a leather strap is much more effective than biting a bullet.

Some of the windowsills show signs of waif damage, and the seller failed to disclose that the previous owner was murdered by a pair of drifters.

He needs reading glasses for closeup work, be can see far out just fine.

Sometimes when we cartoonists brainstorm topics for humor, we come up with more than one usable joke. That happened to me a couple of months ago, when I wrote two gags riffing on the phrase "memory foam mattress." The first one ran on December 28, and the other was published today.

Had I found four more variations, I might have run an entire week of memory foam gags.

Thanks to all for reading Bizarro, and for your comments and email. Be sure to visit Dan Piraro's blog, to see what he's cooked up for Sunday's comics page. It's a real beaut this week, and he also offers some solid commentary on the horrible news of the week.

And if you're not reading Dan's surreal western graphic novel, Peyote Cowboy, what are you waiting for? The art is stunning, and he's already twenty episodes into the wild and woolly storyline.

See you next week. Until then, be nice to yourselves and to each other, and don't follow fascists.

Bonus Track

Allen Toussaint
Who's Gonna Help a Brother Get Further

Allen Toussaint (1938-2015) was an American musician, songwriter, arranger and record producer, and a key figure in popular music worldwide. I saw him perform a few times, and was always impressed by his gentle nature and humility. His music is in heavy rotation in my workspace.

Note: Some YouTube videos are unavailable outside the US, and on some mobile devices, it may be necessary to select "View Web Version" in order to see the video.

Saturday, January 02, 2021

The Pipes Are Calling

Happy New Year from Bizarro Studios. Congratulations for making it through what felt like the longest twelve months of the 21st Century. Let's hope things improve this year.

Scan courtesy of the B. London Archives

For your amusement, we present a review of our final gags of 2020.

It's clearly time to replace that mattress.

Although this gag was built on a simple pun, the layout, requiring four word balloons and a caption box, proved to be a little tricky. I also discovered that I have a lot of difficulty typing the word "eucalyptus." Fortunately, it doesn't come up often, only when I text my koala friends.

The latest example of the streptonym, a favorite form of worldplay at Bizarro Studios North.

The final comic of December included two sticks of dynamite tucked into the art, including the rarely-seen peppermint twist variant.
We kicked off 2021 with the official debut of Bizarro's new Secret Symbol: The Pipe of Ambiguity. I'm enjoying placing it into the art, but we probably won't add any more symbols in the foreseeable future. We have enough to keep track of as it is.

Perhaps the blowhard who spent the last four years promising a "phenomenal" replacement for the ACA was expecting extraterrestrials to miraculously deliver it. It wouldn't be the most outlandish idea he's floated.

Thanks for sticking with us as we send our words and pictures out into the world. We hope they provide a daily distraction and an occasional laugh. Please check out Dan Piraro's blog for his always-pithy commentary, and his newest Sunday Bizarro page. 

Also, if you enjoy beautifully-drawn, surreal western adventures (and who doesn't?), you going to love Dan's graphic novel, Peyote Cowboy.

Photo Credit: A tip of the old porkpie to my good pal (and longtime comics hero) Bobby London, for the photo at the top of the post.

Bobby recently shared this scan of a TV Junior magazine from his childhood. It's his personal copy, ink stains and all, which he's held onto since 1959. When I saw it on Bobby's Facebook page, I immediately stole downloaded it. 

The upside-down image of Heckle & Jeckle caught my eye, showing them to be ancestors of Bizarro's own Inverted Bird.

Bobby is currently hard at work on The Essential DIRTY DUCK, to be published by IDW. 

In addition to collecting his long-running strip from the pages of National Lampoon and Playboy, the book will include a biography of the artist and some other surprises. It's already on my wish list. Bobby is one of the giants, and it's gratifying to know Dirty Duck is getting a proper book collection.

Bonus Track

Our closing tune has no connection to any of the week's comics. It's just a goofy record that I love.

This 1968 single is the only known release by the Family Frog. I've never located any information as to who's responsible for this oddball gem. It may simply have been a bunch of studio players having fun between takes, imitating Bob Dylan singing a Beatles song.

Courtesy of the Bizarro Studios North Vinyl Archive

I first encountered this humorous version of "Help!" on a Bonzo Dog Band bootleg LP released in 1976. For years I thought it was a rare Bonzos outtake, but it was only a bit of mischief perpetrated by whoever issued the bootleg album.