Saturday, February 23, 2019

A Mean Left Hook

Before we get to the recap of the latest batch of Bizarro cartoons, I must share my favorite real estate photo of the week. This is from an actual online listing for a house in the greater Pittsburgh area.
When staging your home for sale, remember to make it look warm and inviting by including a photo showcasing your collection of Chuckie dolls.

This caption was suggested by a friend of Dan Piraro, who sent it along to me as possible fodder for a gag. Dan wrote, "Is it a guy at the bottom of the ocean trying to sell something funny to an octopus or crab? Or something else?"

After pondering it for a few days, I came up with this bit of underground theater featuring Willy Low Man.

Some experiences are universal.

Although it's a pun-based gag, we did our homework to get the first line of dialog translated correctly, and studied reference photos of Marcel Proust and the type of paper he used for his manuscripts.

Proust did in fact finish writing Swann's Way in 1912. We may sometimes be silly, but we always strive for accuracy.

Once these offspring start school, the parent will spend most of the day packing lunches.

These resourceful buccaneers have found a way to save money while preparing for a frigid journey. It's not widely known, but pirates are as proud of their frugality as of their brutality.

I didn't draw a graphic representation of a the sound of the phone for this comic because the character's ringtone was set to "dog whistle." The motion lines were required, since the phone was also set to vibrate.

Sharp-eyed readers will notice that these characters are enjoying cans of Arf (The drink dogs ask for by name.)

For additional insights and wisecracks, direct your browsing device to Dan Piraro's Bizarro blog. While you're there, gaze in wonder at his latest magnificent Sunday page, and pick up some of that sweet Bizarro swag.

Bonus Track

This week's musical selection is "Chicken Strut," by the Meters. Recorded in New Orleans and released in 1970, this record shows why the band are widely known as founding fathers of funk.

Disclaimer: Some YouTube music videos are unavailable outside the US.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Bait & Switch, or, The Great White Guppy

Well, we made it through the first Valentine's Day in over a hundred years without Necco conversation hearts candies. We hope this week's cartoons helped you cope with that loss.
While getting tattooed is undoubtedly painful, I assume there's more discomfort associated with having a design etched onto an arm bone. 

We exercised artistic license here by drawing the skeleton's humerus larger than normal, in order to make the scrimshaw image visible in the printed comic. And, if a skeleton works out enough, maybe it actually does increase bone mass.

When I was a young'un, back in the (first) vinyl era, supermarkets often had racks of cheap records near the checkout lanes. Sometimes they were "cut-outs" -- remaindered copies of poor-selling or overstock product, with a punched hole or notch cut into the cover. Just as often, they were low-budget knockoffs of popular recordings, designed to fool clueless customers. Plenty of kids I knew received bogus Beatles records as gifts.

Here are a few of the more laughable phonies:

Wednesday's gag remixes Greek mythology, with Eros experiencing an Icarus moment.

At least they won't have bites taken out of them. While drawing this gag, I kept imagining the sound a box filled with walnuts would make. You can hear it now, can't you?

Remember to show consideration to friends and coworkers during cold and flu season.

The staging of Friday's panel echoes a great gag by the late Charles Barsotti (1933-2014). Barsotti's famous Fusilli, you crazy bastard! cartoon even ran in place of a photo in his Washington Post obituary. I loved his economic, clean drawing style, as well as his observant humor. After sketching this one, I immediately recognized Barsotti's influence showing in my drawing.
The background seemed a little too sparse, and my excellent editor/collaborator Dan Piraro suggested adding a TV showing the fireplace video.

We close the week with a gag for grammar nerds. The phrase "just deserts" uses an archaic definition of the word "desert," meaning "that which one deserves," though it's pronounced the same as "dessert."

If you enjoy my ramblings, you can gain even more insight be checking out Dan's blog, where you can also dig his latest Sunday masterwork, and pick up some fabulous Bizarro swag.

Bonus Track

When it comes to ersatz Beatles music, nobody does it better than The Rutles, the brainchild of Monty Python's Eric Idle and The Bonzo Dog Band's Neil Innes.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Your Vote Counts

Before we review the week's cartoons, I want to thank everyone who responded to the Boston Globe's call for votes. The Globe dropped half of their comics in December, but Bizarro's readers convinced the editors to bring us back. The Jazz Pickle Army has emerged victorious! Your support means a lot to us here at Bizarro Studios, and we wish we could give each of you an "I Voted" sticker.

The editors of the Globe handled this professionally and gracefully.

Now, back to business...

This week's batch of cartoons features several animals, but I must apologize for not including any pigs, since Tuesday marked the beginning of Lunar Year 4717, the Year of the Pig. I'll try to stay on top of that next year.

Underwater carpentry is even tougher than you might imagine.

I had a bit of a breakthrough when coloring this one. Initially, I tried to fill in the individual areas on each item of camouflage clothing with different colors, which quickly became overwhelming. 

Eventually, I realized that the solid and shaded areas in the black & white art established the camouflage pattern.
Subtle color variations on top of the line art weren't necessary for the clothing to be recognized as camo, and when printed in the paper, they wouldn't even be visible.

Applying a single flat color to each item (
as can be seen in this view of the color layer on its own) was all that was needed.
I hope I'll remember this lesson going forward, but I know that I'll probably have to "discover" it again.

We debated whether the word "cosplay" would be understood by most readers, but our syndicate editor convinced us to use it, although she added the disclaimer, "I'm a big ol' geek."

These rodents are actually getting by quite well, as opposed to someone who's just eking out a living.

This is the first time I've used Bizarro's Flying Saucer of Possibility symbol as an actual character in a gag. I wasn't sure if that violated any Bizarro Universe rules, but my editor/collaborator, Dan Piraro (who created the SoP) gave his okay, so I know I'm on solid footing.

This fellow never gets frustrated when calling Customer Service, since he has no expectations of speaking to a representative.

Be sure to read Dan's blog to see what he has to say about this week's selections, and to admire his latest Sunday page.

Bonus Gags

In honor of the Year of the Pig, here are some previously published porcine panels for your perusal. 

Bonus Track

Imagine if corporations used music this delightful when placing customers on hold. When you finally speak with a human, you might actually be smiling.

Disclaimer: Some YouTube music videos are unavailable outside the US.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

A Farewell to Arms

Welcome to the weekly dispatch from Bizarro Studios North. I hope you all got through this week's Polar Vortex, and that you're warm and safe. If you're reading this post, apparently the server hosting our blog survived.

The parent might regret saying this. When starfish lose an arm, not only does it regenerate, but the severed limb can somethings grow into an entire second animal.

Tuesday's cartoon is not terribly far from autobiography. After switching from traditional cable to streaming, it's awfully easy to overdose on episodic programming. The phrase "big slug" could refer to a large drink, or a person who doesn't leave the sofa for hours on end. Either interpretation is valid.

It's a little-known fact that when dwarfs are off the clock, they resent being asked to whistle. Cartoonists also react badly when friends or family ask, "How about doing one of your little doodles?"

By the way, did you know that Dan Piraro's online shop offers official Bizarro Some Sports Team t-shirts? If you're a sports heretic, these shirts are a fun way to get under the skin of believers.

It wasn't easy to wrap my own head around this premise, so I sympathize with any readers who were confused by it.

This driver takes obeying the rules of the road to a new level. It's always satisfying to come up with a wordless panel, even more when it also has a bit of a delay before the gag registers.

The gag did register, didn't it? 

The odd-looking character on the right has appeared before, both in Bizarro and in my earlier comic, WaynoVision. Apologies to anyone who was creeped out by this panel. If it's any consolation, it gave us nightmares, too.

That wraps up this week's recap from Bizarro Studios North. Thanks for reading the comic and this followup commentary. After you order your Some Sports Team shirt (or other Bizarro swag), be sure to read Dan's blog and check out his latest Sunday page.

Bonus Track

Petra Haden is a violinist and singer who has established a cool niche doing multi-tracked covers of other artists' music using only her voice. The first of these projects was Petra Haden Sings: the Who Sell Out. The album, released in 2005, is a note-for-note recreation of the Who's 1967 masterpiece (and this cartoonist's favorite Who record).

Pete Townshend himself is a fan of the album, and you can't get a higher recommendation that that. 

Note: This video may not be available outside the US.