Saturday, November 26, 2022

Good Grief

This is the weekly dispatch from Bizarro Studios North, where I have been writing and drawing the Monday through Saturday Bizarro comics since 2018. My partner and friend, Dan Piraro, who created Bizarro in the late twentieth century, continues to do the Sunday comic from Rancho Bizarro in Mexico.

Wayno


I love mankind... It's people I can't stand!
Linus van Pelt, in Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope yours was calm and uneventful, with no political arguments or food fights. Although the holiday itself is based in on a self-serving mythology, there's never a bad time to express gratitude.

I have much to be grateful for, including the ability to spend every day drawing cartoons, working with mi amigo Dan Piraro, playing music with super-talented friends, connecting with Bizarro's community of readers, and having regular meals, shelter, a wonderful spouse, and an affectionate feline companion.

Today, November 26, 2022, is the one-hundredth birthday of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, and more than eighty syndicated cartoonists (including yours truly) are paying tribute to him in today's comics.

Our pipe pic this time around is a panel from the June 20, 1979 Peanuts comic. 

It's impossible to overstate Schulz's influence on cartoonists and comic readers. In our childhood home, my two brothers and I had what now seems like dozens of paperback reprints of Peanuts comics, which we read and reread countless times. We watched all of the television specials, although I preferred the printed version, without those overdone sound effects. Still, the Vince Guaraldi scores provided an early introduction to jazz.

I literally grew up with Schulz's work, and perhaps naturally as teenager, rebelled against it, particularly when it focused on Snoopy's fantasy life, or more accurately his fantastical life. What brought me back to Peanuts was the humanity of its characters, with their varied personalities, and their mix of optimism, friendship, jealousy, petiness, fears and neuroses.

The first installment, published in October of 1950, established a wonderfully dark tone for the comic, and for this reader, it remains the perfect Peanuts strip.

I never met Schulz, but I've heard stories from many colleagues about his generosity and encouragement of younger cartoonists. His work is part of our collective DNA, and will continue to be reproduced (in ink, pixels, or something else entirely) for as long as people read, study, discuss, and enjoy comics.

Now that I've set an impossibly high bar, I'll drag you down to earth with my own recent cartoon output.

Artists and art history turn up regularly in Bizarro. I've referenced Christo in the past, but in today's panel, three Secret Symbols have been given the wrapped-object treatment.

Peanuts paid tribute to Christo in 1978, so I think I'm in good company.

I'd been toying with the trope of someone looking at a starry sky and commenting on how it puts things in perspective, but wanted to make their response resentful rather than humble.

 

My first sketch was a more typical setup. Later it became a hotel room.

In reality, alligators wouldn't survive for long in human sewage, and they'd probably dress more stylishly than we've shown here.

Easter Island's moai statues are never alone, while Liberty Island has a sole inhabitant. This felt like an apt conversation for Thanksgiving Day.

I did my homework on the look of each character, but I'm sure the relative scales are way off.

This week, I heard an interview on The New Yorker Caption Contest Podcast with cartoonist David Borchart, who mentioned a cartoon that either included Jonathan Swift's Gulliver character or used the word "Lilliputian." When he showed his cartoon to a group of students, none of them knew what it was about. That was a bit of a shock to me, but I suppose I shouldn't be surprised if some readers don't get this one. Nonetheless, I liked it enough to run it on Friday.

And, finally, my cartoon for Charles Schulz's centenary. I felt it was true to both Bizarro and Peanuts, and worked as a standalone gag, in addition to commemorating the cartoonist's milestone birthday.

That's the latest from Bizarro Studios North. Thanks as always for reading the comics, and this commentary. You might also enjoy these Bizarro-related locations:

Dan Piraro's Bizarro Blog
Dan's Sunday Bizarro page, and other nuggets of wisdom

Wayno's Bizarro Newsletter
Extra stuff from my Little Shop of Humor, a preview of an upcoming gag, and something from the files

Dan Piraro's award-winning graphic novel 
 
Thanks for dropping by. See you next week with more words and pictures.


Bonus Track

Hoagy Carmichael, "Memphis in June"
from Hoagy Sings Carmichael
Pacific Jazz Records, 1956


Tuesday, November 22, was the 123rd anniversary of the birth of Hoagy Carmichael, one of my favorite songwriters and singers. He was a pretty good whistler, too.


Copyright© 2022 by Wayno®


Saturday, November 19, 2022

Sympathy for the Demon

This is the weekly dispatch from Bizarro Studios North, where I have been writing and drawing the Monday through Saturday Bizarro comics since 2018. My partner and friend, Dan Piraro, who created Bizarro in the late twentieth century, continues to do the Sunday comic from Rancho Bizarro in Mexico.

Wayno


I'd hate to take a bite out of you. You're a cookie full of arsenic.
Clifford Odets, Sweet Smell of Success (screenplay)


A few days ago, residents of Hollywood Gardens saw the season's first snowfall. Before long it turned to rain, so no shoveling was required, but it was sobering nonetheless. It seems we'll be soon starting our supplemental winter exercise routine.

This week's dramatic pipe model is German novelist and Nobel Prize winner Günter Grass.


A tip of the ol' porkpie to Bizarro reader Dave J for directing us to this striking portrait.

In case they're forming a Nobel Committee for Cartoons, we'd like to present the latest Bizarro gags for consideration.

Everyone deserves a spa day, particularly those whose lifespan is less than a month.

Gags set in tattoo parlors provide handy spots to place Bizarro Secret Symbols. I was asked if eleven is the most I've placed in a panel, but couldn't say for certain. If not a record, it's on the high end of the scale for me.

Three of the partially obscured tattoo designs in the bottom row have Pittsburgh connections. The folding chair is a nod to the Pittsburgh Parking Chair, commonly used to hold a parking spot in neighborhoods where homes may not have driveways or garages. Other cities in the US have the same custom, but it's something of a Pittsburgh trademark.

The heart design is an homage to Mr. Yuk.


 

This famous graphic, used widely across the US, was created by UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh in 1971, as an alternative to a skull and crossbones symbol on poisonous substances.

Partly visible in the center of the row is the logo for indie label Mind Cure Records, also based in Pittsburgh. Your cartoonist designed the logo in 1992.


It first appeared on The Joy of Wine, an LP by Thee Speaking Canaries. Mind Cure went on to become a record store for several years, and is now a dealer without a physical shop, although they stock records for an independent store called Fungus Books.

One could say this panel contains some extremely secret symbols.

Alternate text: "It's not you, it's me, because you don't even exist."

We all know that kid, don't we?

Once again, Bizarro fearlessly avails itself of copyright law's fair use doctrine, peeking backstage at an animation studio.

The strip layout necessitated cropping and repositioning of characters and elements, and a flattened bow on the mouse's head.

They were so close to a workable concept.

That's the latest from Bizarro Studios North. You might also enjoy visiting these related sites:

Dan Piraro's Bizarro Blog
Dan's thoughts on this and that, along with a new Bizarro Sunday page

Wayno's Bizarro Newsletter
Additional scuttlebutt from Bizarro Studios North, with a peek at an upcoming gag, and a graphic artifact from the past

Dan Piraro's award-winning graphic novel 
 
Thanks for dropping by. See you next week with more words and pictures.


 
Unsolicited Endorsement

 

Dark Passages is The Hollywood Noirchestra's brand new album of classic crime jazz. The ensemble is led by guitarist, singer, composer, and arranger Skip Heller, and the LP includes atmospheric, moody interpretations of themes by Henry Mancini, John Barry, Jerry Goldsmith, and others.
 

 

It sports a cover painting and package design by Cal Schenkel, who's known for his covers for Tom Waits, Frank Zappa, and Captain Beefheart. Cal is an artistic genius and a national treasure. I've admired his art since I was an eleven year-old weirdo.

Full disclosure: Messrs. Heller and Schenkel are friends of mine, but if I didn't love the record, I'd have kept quiet about it.

Production of the album and licensing of the compositions were made possible by crowdfunding. Supporters have received their LPs, and the few remaining copies are being offered for sale to the general public. It's available within the US for $30 postpaid, via PayPal to anchorline(at)gmail(dot)com.


Bonus Track

Elmer Bernstein: Staccato's Theme
From the Johnny Staccato TV score
Capitol Records, 1959


Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004) composed original scores for over 150 films (The Man With the Golden Arm, The Magnificent Seven, Stripes, etc.) and more that 80 television series. He was responsible for a quite a bit of excellent crime jazz.


Copyright© 2022 by Wayno®

 

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Duck & Cover

This is the weekly dispatch from Bizarro Studios North, where I have been writing and drawing the Monday through Saturday Bizarro comics since 2018. My partner and friend, Dan Piraro, who created Bizarro in the late twentieth century, continues to do the Sunday comic from Rancho Bizarro in Mexico.

Wayno


Enjoy your free-range, cumin-infused, cayenne-dusted heirloom reduction. Sometimes it’s just better to have a BLT and be done with it.
Bob Dylan,
The Philosophy of Modern Song

This entry is being composed on Tuesday, and I'm depending on Google's scheduled publishing feature to have it online Saturday morning. At that time, I'll be somewhere between New York and Pittsburgh, after attending Thursday evening's memorial tribute to legendary comix artist and editor Diane Noomin, who died on September 1.

In lieu of a pipe pic this week, we're sharing these 1980 photos of Diane dressed as her most well known comix character, DiDi Glitz.

Photos by Bill Griffith

Here's to Diane (and DiDi). Thanks for all of the great work over the years.


The quote at the top of this post is from Mr. Dylan's new book, The Philosophy of Modern Song. I've not read the book yet, but I already had it on my list when I saw those wise words in a New York Times review on Tuesday. I don't think I should add a thing to them as commentary.

Instead, let's review my latest Bizarro comics.

I liked the fact that Monday's joke only works when one reads it silently and sees the alternate spellings of the name. Heard aloud, it's just weird. Which is also okay.


Karaoke can bring out the worst in anyone. This patron might occasionally switch to Ducks Deluxe or Nick Drake.

He won't give in to pier pressure.

And don't even try to deposit that thing using an ATM.


Dickens was known to do public readings of his works, initially for charity, and later on for his own profit. I found a few drawings of him performing, most of which showed a table with a block supporting the book, a container of water, and a towel, similar to what we see in the comic.

The image searches also turned up several photos of the author's handwritten manuscripts, and I digitally reduced two of them to use as the pages shown above.

We're not above a silly pun now and then, as long as it's surprising and we can create an amusing drawing to go along with it.

That's the latest from Bizarro Studios North. Thanks, as always, for dropping by. I'm crossing my fingers that by Saturday morning this entry will be posted online, and our democracy still be intact.

For more words about pictures, check out our related sites.

Dan Piraro's Bizarro Blog
Dan's latest Bizarro Sunday page, with thoughtful and fascinating musings from Rancho Bizarro

Wayno's Bizarro Newsletter
Scuttlebutt from Bizarro Studios North, with a peek at an upcoming gag, and a graphic artifact from the past

Dan Piraro's award-winning graphic novel


Bonus Track

Good Tone Banjo Boys: "Ducks Yas Yas"
Good Tone Records 78 rpm, 1972



The Good Time Banjo Boys were a precursor to Robert Crumb's later band, the Cheap Suit Serenaders, and featured Crumb on vocals and banjo. The song, by an unknown writer, was first recorded in the late 1920s by James "Stump" Johnson.

Its availability as a karaoke track cannot be definitively confirmed.

Copyright© 2022 by Wayno®

 

Saturday, November 05, 2022

Tropical Surrealism

This is the weekly dispatch from Bizarro Studios North, where I have been writing and drawing the Monday through Saturday Bizarro comics since 2018. My partner and friend, Dan Piraro, who created Bizarro in the late twentieth century, continues to do the Sunday comic from Rancho Bizarro in Mexico.

Wayno


Greetings from unseasonably warm and sunny Hollywood Gardens, PA. We're doing a quick blog today so we can enjoy the sunshine and take down the Halloween decor.

Since Tuesday was Day of the Dead, our pipe pic is a skull-headed character, who may or may not be related to the mysterious figure in the Peyote Cowboy graphic novel.

I took a break from the cartoon studio on Wednesday, and went into the recording studio with my bandmates. We managed to get fifteen numbers down, and will be going back next week to clean things up and add some spice to the raw recordings. I'll try to get a couple of photos for the next post. 

For now, we'll take a look at the week in Bizarro.




My subtitle for this one is "Soothsayers, Unite."

Newspaper presses may have needed a few extra gallons of black ink thanks to the strip layout.

René Magritte's Son of Man, standing in for the artist himself, returned to Bizarro on Tuesday. Since Magritte's work inspired the Pipe of Ambiguity Secret Symbol, it also made an appearance.

I apologize to any readers who were scratching their heads in response to Wednesday's gag, and I tip my hat to those who pondered it long enough to find the punchline in the caption box.

Sometimes our devices can seem a bit too smart.

Your cartoonist uses subtitles for most television viewing, so rest assured that this cartoon wasn't meant to belittle any person or group.


Someone's had enough outside-the-box thinking.


This particular sporting goods dealer goes the extra parsec to assist a customer.

Readers whose newspapers carry the strip layout didn't get to see the tentacles I labored over, but they had a clearer view of the background joke on the shelves, and got a (very small) Inverted Bird in place of the Pie of Opportunity.

That's the latest from Bizarro Studios North. Thanks, as always, for dropping by.

For additional diversion, please feel free to visit our related sites.

Dan Piraro's Bizarro Blog
Dan's latest Bizarro Sunday page, and whatever else is occupying his thoughts at the moment

Wayno's Bizarro Newsletter
News from your cartoonist, a peek at an upcoming gag, and a graphic artifact from my files

Dan Piraro's award-winning graphic novel

Next week's post might also be on the skimpy side, as I have some travel scheduled, and Google's Blogger platform is even less stable when writing a post on a tablet or phone. Please bear with me.



Bonus Track

Jimmy Heap: "Gismo"
Dart Records single, 1959

When I was in sixth grade, our homeroom had an activity where students could bring a favorite record, which the teacher would play for the class on a beat-up Crosley suitcase player. A classmate named John Macek shared this one, and for weeks I begged him to sell or trade it to me, to no avail.

I eventually acquired a copy, which is long gone, but it turned up on a 2008 compilation CD that collected songs made popular in Pittsburgh by legendary DJ "Mad Mike" Metrovich.

The song was stuck in my head this week, and I took that as a sign to share it with readers of the blog.

Thanks, John Macek, wherever you are.

Copyright© 2022 by Wayno®

 

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Halloweekend

This is the weekly dispatch from Bizarro Studios North, where I have been writing and drawing the Monday through Saturday Bizarro comics since 2018. My partner and friend, Dan Piraro, who created Bizarro in the late twentieth century, continues to do the Sunday comic from Rancho Bizarro in Mexico.

Wayno


Warm Samhain greetings, my friends. Here in Hollywood Gardens, PA, we're enjoying crisp autumn weather, and looking forward to distributing treats to the neighborhood ghouls on Monday.

Working with Nature, we no longer carve jack-o'-lanterns, and leave that job to the local squirrels.  

This is certainly more disturbing than anything I could've come up with.


Today's pipe pic is a spooky drawing by Gary Leib (1955-2021).

I scanned the image from a CD titled Duplex Halloween Planet.

Hello Recording Club, a CD of the month club run by John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants, released this disc in 1993.
 

Gary Lieb was a talented and prolific cartoonist, video director, ceramicist, animator, musician and educator. With Doug Allen, he created Idiotland, a wildly surreal comic book series, which I highly recommend. Fantagraphics published seven issues of from March 1993 to December 1994.


Let's take a look at the fresh horrors we brought to the funny pages this week.

We kicked off with a spoof of the classic Oscar Wilde story. I was surprised by one reader's reaction to this straightforward gag:

That’s disgusting. You can’t even call this garbage as a cartoon.

I almost posted a response asking why it prompted such outrage, but decided I'd rather not know what they read into it.

He might have looked less conspicuous if he had been on his way to a toga party.

These villainous characters were inspired by early cinema, so I used a monochromatic palette. On film, the dialog would probably have appeared as a standalone title card, but that would be tricky in a printed cartoon panel.

For graphics nerds reading this, I'll mention that the line art and the text are the only parts to be printed in black ink. The gray tones are mixes of the other three process colors (cyan, magenta, and yellow).

The baron in this panel is loosely based on English actor Peter Cushing (1913-1994), who played Victor Frankenstein in six films made by Hammer Studios between 1957 and 1974.

My drawing is more of an impression than a caricature or portrait.

We indulge in imagined art history with this punny appearance by iconic Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Her self-portraits were often set against leafy backdrops filled with wildlife, which worked well for placing a bunch of Bizarro's Secret Symbols.


The strip format called for a vertical layout.
 

Saturday's panel looks ahead a couple days to Halloween.

That's the latest from our Little Shop of Humor at Bizarro Studios North. For additional entertainment, please visit one or more of our related sites.

Dan Piraro's Bizarro Blog
Dan's latest Bizarro Sunday page, and enlightening musings from his hyperactive brain

Wayno's Bizarro Newsletter
News from the studio, a preview of an upcoming gag, and some old thing dug up from the archives

Diego (it's Dan) Piraro's award-winning surreal western graphic novel

See you next week. Thanks for ringing our virtual doorbell. We hope the treats were acceptable.

 



Bonus Track

Morgus and the Ghouls: "Morgus the Magnificent"
Vin Records, 1959



Morgus was a late-night horror movie host who appeared on New Orleans television from the 1950s through the 1980s.

The fictional band Morgus and the Ghouls featured NOLA musicians Frankie Ford and Mac Rebennack (Doctor John).

Copyright© 2022 by Wayno®