Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Art of Compromise

The Week in Review
Welcome to another recap of the week's cartoons, from the staff at Bizarro Studios North.

The trickiest part of the date depicted in Monday's gag was selecting a bottle of wine to share.

It occurs to me that restaurants might be more interesting if all diners wore bibs sporting pictures of their entrées.

This poor kid never stays awake long enough to hear how the story ends. 

We got the name Örvar from Örvar-Oddr, a character who's the hero of a 13th-century Icelandic epic. We pride ourselves on the research that goes into your daily cartoon, especially when it gives us a reason to use an umlaut.

Literary scholars estimate that Shakespeare wrote Richard III two years before writing Richard II. This supports the theory that the term "spoiler alert" originated in the Elizabethan era.

Everyone dreads presentations with slide after slide of bullet points, but this guy took an overly literal approach. After the meeting, the org chart behind him was immediately revised.

There are so many choices for entertainment "content," the program mentioned here is probably available somewhere.

This is the first time head lice have appeared in one of my comics, so I searched for reference photos before working on the art. The drawings are simplified representations, but I'd like to imagine that an entomologist could identify them.

For clowns, "gag reflex" is a response to humor stimuli rather than a contraction at the back of the throat. We're not sure where you tap that tiny hammer to test for it.

It's my continued pleasure to work with Dan Piraro on the Bizarro dailies. Don't forget to read Dan's blog for his comments on the week's offerings, along with his latest Sunday panel. 

Unrelated Bonus Thing 
I just added this book to my reading pile: Poetics of Music by composer Igor Stravinsky.  

While reading another book on music, I came across a reference to Stravinsky describing the job of a composer as simply putting the time and energy into the work of writing music, rather than waiting for inspiration to drop from the sky (I'm paraphrasing). That explanation of the work behind creative endeavors made me want to read more.

Much of the material will most certainly be over my head, but it should be interesting to follow as much as I'm able.

This 1956 paperback edition also has a terrific cover designed by Paul Rand (1914-1996). Rand was an influential modernist graphic designer, and was responsible for the iconic logos for
IBM, UPS, Westinghouse, ABC TV, and many others. In addition to logos and books, he did advertising and editorial work, product packaging, made paintings, and was an art director and educator. He lived to the age of 82, which doesn't sound like enough time for all he accomplished.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Art Imitates Tech

The week of February 12 started out amicably and ended on a belligerent note. We hope each day at least included a laugh for Bizarro's readers.

Monday's gag was intended as nothing more than a humorous comment on the similarities (and differences) between the social activities of canines and humans. I imagined a networking site for dogs might be called "Sniffer," and I liked that it sounded similar to "Twitter." To our surprise, the cartoon was shared by a guy named Scott Darling, who co-founded Sniffr, an actual dating app for dog lovers. It looks like a fun and useful app, and includes options to arrange play dates for your dog or send out lost pet alerts. Who knew?

Customer Support explained that their product performs precisely as advertised.

For Valentine's Day, another social media/dating app cartoon, reminding us that people both expose and conceal themselves online.

Paradoxically, their baby shoes are gigantic.

Thursday's offering may be read simply as a dark and somewhat disturbing gag set in a creepy guy's basement. Or, it might illustrate the wisdom in hiring qualified, experienced professionals over "outsiders" who want to "shake things up."

For someone who's always trying to hide, this Waldo fellow ought to consider a less conspicuous wardrobe.

Thanks for following our shenanigans for yet another week. Don't forget to read Dan Piraro's blog for his perspective on this batch of gags. Oh, and check out the snazzy Bizarro Enamel Pins Dan's offering in his online shop!

See you next Saturday.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Philosophical Puppetry

Groundhog Day has come and gone, and as of this writing the wind chill factor outside Bizarro Studios North is barely above zero. Your faithful cartoonist is staying warm by working over a glowing lightbox to keep you supplied with fresh gags as we count the days til Spring.

We started the week with a rather bleak cartoon, showing two puppets (or two puppeteers) debating the existence of free will. I had fun drawing the weird, old-fashioned toys in this one. Although it's not necessarily a laugh-out-loud joke, Dan Piraro and I agreed that it is a Bizarro cartoon. Dan will undoubtedly have more to say about this one, so be sure to visit his blog.

After Monday's Kafkaesque offering, we lightened the mood by eavesdropping on a pair of coworkers at the local apiary, enjoying their morning cup of nectar.

Today's panel reminds us that it's possible to over-prepare for some things. When drawing a cartoon with an inanimate object or an animal as a sentient character, I generally try to render it as realistically as I can. Maybe "realistic" is a stretch, but I prefer to avoid adding arms, legs, and eyes if they aren't necessary to get the joke across. It's not an inflexible rule, more of a preference. And sometimes a pencil is just a pencil.

I wish I was clever enough to come up with an Ambrose Bierce style definition of populism, particularly in its current manifestation. Since I'm just a cartoonist, this panel will have to do.

Criminal investigators who tack photos to the wall and connect them with pieces of string are probably not as common as TV and movies would have us believe, but we all immediately recognize a scene like this. Before photography existed, fictional detectives had to set up evidence walls like the one shown here.  

The most enjoyable part of creating this gag was playing around with the "Olde English" language. The least enjoyable part was drawing those ropes.

By the way, our cartoon sleuth is the forefather of a famous 20th century gumshoe.

These guys are nearly as frightening as War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death, and probably equally inevitable. 

Side note: Today's cartoon includes no Bizarro Secret Symbols, because the cartoonist barely left enough room for the signatures and the date. This is yet another reason I'm so happy when we come up with a wordless gag.

As always, I thank you for reading and commenting, especially if you slogged all the way through this post. Don't forget to read Dan's weekly recap, and order your Bizarro enamel pins while supplies last!

Populism Postscript

The Blasters performing their incisive tune, "Common Man," in 1985:

Saturday, February 03, 2018


The Latest Batch of Bizarritude

Here's something the groundhog didn't predict yesterday: another cartoon recap from Bizarro Studios North.

Last week, we ran a cartoon making fun of the banjo. Now we're picking on accordions? Where will it end? (This isn't even my first accordion-based gag.) 

In the interest of full disclosure, I admit that my first musical instrument was in fact an accordion. Today, I'm a harmonica player, and, really, what is a harmonica but an accordion without the bellows and keyboard?

A couple weeks ago, Bizarro showed a newly-arrived angel in therapy for being overly happy. That one and today's both came out of conversations over a sketch that didn't quite hit the mark.

My initial rough of the angel at the shrink (below) was okay, but Bizarro CEO Dan Piraro and I both felt it could be improved.

Dan suggested that the patient say something like "Heaven is amazing and all, but to be honest, it still isn’t as much fun as I had on Spring Break in Tampa back in 1997." He explained that he chose the year because a person who was in college back then would be about 40 now, which is a common age to begin lamenting the loss of youth. The new line of dialog and the nostalgia for college days suggested to me an image of a couple of angel-dudes clinking beer glasses. The "Amen" response gave it a little extra comedic bump.

One could argue that this gag goes overboard in terms of being "meta." I prefer to think of it as "multidimensional."

I refuse to comment on this cartoon in order to avoid self-incrimination.

We never tire of jokes about dogs sniffing each other's territorial markings. My favorite detail in this one is the chihuahua as the jaded plainclothes detective.

Prior to the procedure, the patient wasn't very bright. I don't know where I first got the concept of a society of pumpkin-headed humans, but I've used it as the basis for a couple of things in the past.

Truck on over to Dan's blog for his take on this week's funnies, and (I hope) a peek at some of the fine art he's working on lately.

By the way, have you seen the amazing enamel pins in the newly-opened Bizarro Shop? No lapel, necktie, or hatband should be without one!

Five Weeks In...

I'm happily shocked to realize it's already been more than a month since I joined up as Bizarro's daily cartoonist. I'm thrilled to be working alongside a dear friend who's the best in the business, and to receive so much great feedback from the loyal and attentive readership. Not every comment has been positive, but I do read every one, and they're all appreciated. I'll keep doing my best to provide laughs Monday through Saturday, and will join you every Sunday in marveling at Dan's masterful work.