Saturday, September 15, 2018

No Direction Home

This has been a week of sad memories, both national and personal, horrific weather events, and the "normal" onslaught of short-sighted, self-serving presidential shenanigans. We hope that we are able to offer some moments of relief in the form of a laugh or two amid trying times.

Fairy tales often function as allegories, and their familiar characters and stories offer cartoonists a handy framework for commenting on general human behavior, as well as specific events and situations. Any modern political subtext you might infer from Monday's Bizarro is purely intentional.

Old technology sometimes has its advantages.

The headlight response is difficult to overcome, even for an experienced professional.

This gag turned out to be well suited to the strip layout, once I decided to put the directors in a balcony box.
Since we believe that most readers' eyes travel a path from upper left to lower right, we try to place the payoff element (in this comic, the dual shadows) in the bottom right corner. In this example, the strip layout flows in that direction quite smoothly. Panels, or conventional pages, are usually assumed to be read in a "Z" pattern, and the panel conforms to that path.

The following diagrams show my estimations of the reader's discovery of each part of the gag from setup to payoff.
It's certainly not a science, but I think these are pretty close for most readers. 

The Senatus Romanus was established around 700 BC, and lasted in some form until the middle of the 15th century. That would place our fictional holdout's age at somewhere around 600, making him one of the oldest senators currently serving.

I'm not sure if it's a pun in the generally accepted sense, but I've done a few gags using this form of wordplay, where a letter is added to or subtracted from a word, resulting in a different (but comically appropriate) meaning.

We close out the week with a straight-up bro gag. My favorite aspect of this drawing is the background detail showing the Pie of Opportunity on a discarded pizza box. The word "pizza" above the illustration helps to conceal the symbol, or at least delay its recognition. The human brain is fascinating, at least the ones that function.

Interestingly, this gag is not my first time designing a pizza box.

Do yourself a favor and check out Dan Piraro's blog, for his scholarly analysis of the week's gags, and his latest magnificent Sunday page. Pick up some cool Bizarro swag while you're there, too.

Bonus Track of the Week
Ralph Carney, "Lament for Charleston"

This week, I'm sharing a powerful composition by my friend Ralph Carney, which he wrote in response to one of this country's all-too-familiar mass shootings. 

Ralph died unexpectedly on December 16, 2017. He's been on my mind a lot over this past week, since Friday marked one year since I last saw him.
Photo by Megan Hinchcliffe
September 14, 2017
, Pittsburgh PA

RIP Ralphie


  1. Beautiful tribute to Ralph. 😢. And great comics as always.

  2. "Lament for Charleston" is a powerful piece! Thank you for sharing it, and I am very sorry about the loss of your friend. Losing loved ones is the worst thing about life, I think.

  3. Regarding the witch riding the "Broombot", I think I've seen other cartoons depicting witches on classic 'Hoover-style' vacuum cleaners, but not one on a 'Shop-Vac-style' canister model.

    And the toga on the 'ancient Senator' certainly suggests he started his tenure long before the 15th century, therefore evidencing that the Roman Senate did not have any term limits.

    As for the "Tough/Trough" semi-pun, I am reminded of the collection of early/obscure Dr. Seuss cartons titled "The Tough Coughs as he Ploughs the Dough" demonstrating pretty much all the possible pronunciations of "-ough"

  4. Say Again: Thanks so much. Ralph was one of a kind. A musician who could play with just about anyone.

    Jeff: I agree. The older I get, the more I appreciate the people in my life. Ralph was flattered when the Kronos Quartet got in touch about performing "Lament for Charleston." He was a passionate person, with a deep sense of justice, paired with a wickedly playful sense of humor.

    Craig: I'd forgotten all about that Dr. Seuss book. Thanks for the reminder. Bizarro's readers offer a wealth of knowledge and insight.

  5. That Wayno pizza sounds fantastic but I doubt they deliver to California. Coincidentally, though, a pizza-loving coworker and his wife are visiting family in Pittsburgh this weekend. I just texted them and told them they need to go there.

  6. SSteve:

    If they go, please have them send a review!

    Thanks for the comment and for recommending my namesake pizza.