Saturday, July 27, 2019

Real Virtuality

I'm writing this post in advance so we can attend a favorite music festival here in Pittsburgh on Saturday. Early this week, we were reminded once again to grab every opportunity to hear music you love, when Art "Poppa Funk" Neville, the eldest of the four Neville Brothers, died at age 81.  

Now that the most recent heatwave has passed, I'm looking forward to an enjoyable day of food, wine, and music among friends. I urge you to get out and experience some live music as soon as you can. It's good for the soul, heart, and brain.

But, since you're online now, why not take a look at the latest batch of cartoons from Bizarro Studios?

I've often wondered why movies, TV shows, and comic strips (yes, I'm guilty) always show abductees dressed in overalls and flannel. I reasoned that it might simply be an interstellar prank.
Like the panel, the widescreen version of this gag includes three secret symbols, but replaces the Flying Saucer of Impossibility with the Lost Loafer, which looks particularly forlorn as it drifts away in space.

This one's for the kids. A few people accidentally typed the question "What's EDM?" into the comments section rather than in an internet search field.

Fellow music nerds may have noticed that the patient's head is decorated with records on the Laurie and Blue Note labels, although I took some liberties by showing the design usually associated with Blue Note LPs or 78s on a 45 rpm single.

I realize that running this cartoon was asking for trouble, but at Bizarro Studios, fear will not deter us in our quest for laughs.
Most of my preliminary roughs are loose digital scribbles, but the sketchbook version of this one could almost have run as finished art.

Today, this con sips prison hooch with his pinky extended.

We enjoy a gag set in a therapist's office almost as much as we love to draw clowns, dogs, and the Grim Reaper. I was pleased with the depiction of the doctor's low-key reaction to his odd patient.

The song is called "The Ballad of Abandoned Pastimes," and will be performed by the as-yet unformed band, Serial Dabbler.

Thanks for reading Bizarro, following the blog, and your kind and thoughtful comments. For further insight, and more behind-the-scenes stories of the glamorous world of cartooning, surf on over to Dan Piraro's weekly blog, where you can view his latest Sunday masterpiece and buy some cool Bizarro swag.

Bonus Track

"Cha Dooky-Doo"

Art Neville' is probably best known for his work with the Neville Brothers band, or his keyboard playing with the Meters, the classic instrumental funk group. Although his brother Aaron is the more well-known singer, Art also recorded many excellent vocal numbers in the 1950s and 60s. This is a favorite, and one my band includes in our regular set list.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Three Ring Science

With a record heatwave affecting two-thirds of the US this weekend, staying indoors to read a blog post about cartoons is a relatively healthy activity.

Here's a look at what we've been up to at Bizarro Studios North.

We kicked off the week with the latest in our never-ending series of clown gags. I apologize to physics teachers everywhere, who have probably heard this mispronunciation before.
The strip configuration of this comic includes a peek at a specialized piece of lab equipment on the left edge of the image. It seems to be some sort of accelerator.

Tuesday's gag confirms the fact that corporate jargon has made its way into the avian workplace.

Wednesday's cartoon is a simple turnaround gag, which, while fun to draw, made me thirsty for a Mai Tai.

Job seekers should target organizations that offer opportunities for advancement. This young lad followed the practice of dressing for the job you want.

readers noted a resemblance to Ernie Bushmiller's Sluggo. I'm a fan of Bushmiller's Nancy comic strip, and did indeed draw this character as a tip of the hat to Ernie.

In related news, Zippy the Pinhead's creator, Bill Griffith, is currently working on a graphic biography of Ernie Bushmiller, based on deep primary research. We're eagerly anticipating this new book here at BSN.

No one who's serious about conservation still wears a ten-gallon hat, even in the wild west.

One could say we bookended the week with clowns, if jesters count.

Keep yourself cool, and check out Dan Piraro's weekly blog, where you can see what he has to say about this batch of gags, and admire his always-stunning Bizarro Sunday page.

Bonus Track

Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag"
performed by Tom McDermott

This bonus track isn't related to or inspired by any of the week's cartoons, but is included simply to share a beautiful performance by a master musician. This past Tuesday, I had the good fortune of hearing pianist and composer Tom McDermott at an intimate house concert not far from BSN, and this piece was part of the evening's selections. 


Tom's a wonderful performer, a crack historian, and an all-around swell gent. I highly recommend his new CD, Tom McDermott Meets Scott Joplin, as well as his illustrated book of limericks, Five Lines, No Waiting

It turns out he's also a regular Bizarro reader, which flatters us to no end.

Tom McDermott & Wayno, July 16, 2019

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Shaving Custard

It's been another productive week here at Bizarro Studios North. Let's review our latest published output.

Monday's cartoon is based on a real concern for people with parrots and other long-lived pets. A friend responded positively to this cartoon, noting that their avian companion is indeed covered by their will, but made no mention of a saltine clause in the document.

This panel was retweeted by The Ernest Becker Foundation. They're a nonprofit whose mission is to advance understanding of how the unconscious denial of mortality influences human behavior. I'd not heard of the foundation before noticing that they shared the cartoon, and have been looking around their site. Their work is fascinating, and among their projects is an examination of ways in which humans' fear of death can be used to manipulate behavior, particularly in political messaging. They also explore the role of humor in thinking about death, which is where we cartoonists come in.

If you steam those armored knights, they pop right open, making them favorites among fire-breathing dragons.

This one was prompted by a public service announcement about standing water as a likely breeding spot for mosquitoes, which is worth remembering in the wettest year on record here in the US.

The art was flipped horizontally for the strip layout. It required very little additional drawing: an extension of the desk and vase, and a few straight lines on the back wall.
Filling in the solid black area on the left side, however, almost made it look like an entirely new drawing.

I was pleased with the simplicity of this one, and the self-referential conundrum presented by the eightball's message. The caption is almost unnecessary, but it provides an extra beat to punctuate the gag.

It's become clear that we'll never run out of clown gags, and I'm always happy when I can tell a joke without words. 

I had some fun with the strip layout, adding a reflection of the barber's pole in a wall-mounted mirror...
...but only in the color strip.
Check the funny pages on Monday for yet another clown cartoon.

Mindful eating is often defined as chewing slowly, without distractions, being aware of each bite, and appreciating one's food. It could also mean doing these things in order to savor the annoyance of a parent. It's a matter of perspective.

In social media news, the July 5 cartoon got significant traction on Instagram, with over a quarter of a million views, and over 25,000 likes.
I guess I should do more bagpipe gags, although all of that internet activity resulted in a gross income bump of zero.

Don't forget to look in on Dan Piraro's blog to see what he has to say about this batch of laffs, and to gaze in wonder at his latest panoramic Sunday Bizarro page.

Bonus Track

Calling back to Friday's wordless cartoon, here's a favorite funk record without words, or at least without lyrics. There are a few shouts of encouragement in the mix. Nevertheless, it's a great record, with a perfect summertime vibe.

   H "Gatur Bait," by the Gaturs

The Gaturs were a New Orleans band led by keyboard player and occasional vocalist Willie Tee (born Wilson Turbinton). The Gaturs only released a handful of 45s, but every one is a killer. Had some fun with the ttps://

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Doone at the Crossroads

This post goes up on Saturday, July 6. With luck, Washington DC will have recovered from having to roll out heavy artillery for the amusement of a giant four-year-old.

Let's see what popped up on the comics page since our last update.

Compare and contrast: Body modification and dead body modification.

Gentlemen, let's be honest. We've all been that guy at one time or another.
Here's a cartoon trade secret: When converting a vertical panel comic to a horizontal strip, sometimes it helps to give the dialog to a different character.

Although I always put the strongest gag in the Friday slot, this one turned out to be my favorite of the week.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Paul Stanley, a member of Kiss, tweeted this gag to his 494,000 followers. He even took the time to photograph the strip from an actual newspaper. Mr. Stanley's "Starchild" makeup is parodied in the cartoon, although I'm told he wears the star on his right eye. Kudos to him for having a sense of humor and sharing the cartoon. 

Apologies to anyone who ended up with a Kiss earworm as a result of reading it.

This punishment manages to be both cruel and unusual.

Friday's cartoon plays fast and loose with the legend of Robert Johnson selling his soul at a crossroad in Mississippi and becoming the King of Blues Guitar. In our Bizarro reboot, this poor guy omitted a crucial detail.

Surprisingly, a web search for "Blues Piper" turned up this video of Gunhild Carling, a Swedish multi-instrumentalist. I don't care much for big band swing, but it's interesting to view as an experiment.

Too many people perform this sort of calculation when considering return on investment. My original dialog had the corporate kingpin basing his decision on whether the predicted horrific consequences would affect his grandchildren or later descendants, whom he probably would never meet anyway. That was a little too depressing, though not beyond belief.

On that uplifting note, I'll thank you once again for reading Bizarro, and for visiting the blog. As always, I encourage you to check in on Dan Piraro's weekly post for his thoughts on these cartoons, and a glorious new Sunday page.


Due to a cartoonist malfunction, the signature notation in Saturday's gag incorrectly indicates a total of three Bizarro secret symbols appearing in the panel, when in fact there are four, as highlighted below.

Several sharp-eyed readers pointed out the error, and we hope to get a corrected version up on the King Features website soon. In the interest of historical accuracy, and as a reminder to your cartoonist, we'll keep the erroneous panel here on the blog.

Bonus Track

Rufus Harley, Jr. (1936-2006), was an American musician who played bagpipes in a jazz context, and released his first album, Bagpipe Blues, in 1965.

This amazing video is a 1987 performance of John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, with Harley backed by the Sun Ra Arkestra.

The bagpipes are well-suited to this composition, with a sound similar to Coltrane's soprano saxophone on the original recording. Enjoy.