Saturday, August 31, 2019

Rhymes Against Humanity

Ambiguity is OK. Ask the reader to meet you halfway.

With those wise words from a master cartoonist, we enter Back to School Season with the regular weekly recap from Bizarro Studios North.

Monday was the Inverted Bird's birthday, and the entire cast of Secret Symbols took the day off to celebrate. 

This gag references one of the worst lyrics in the history of popular music, Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville." In order to set up a rhyme with the word "fault," he wrote the awkwardly-phrased "searchin' for my long-lost shaker of salt." The song is already horrible, but this tortured syntax is the rancid icing on a flavorless cake.
This sketchbook page shows the results of time spent brainstorming for items to include. I limited my final choices to phrases that syllabically match the original lyric. It's a shame we didn't have room for five, or I'd have included "paper of wax."

Even the Reaper has to put up with rebellious offspring. Note that although a meat cleaver appeared on two consecutive days, it isn't a new secret symbol.
We tucked a couple of (expired) Easter eggs in the art. I was particularly proud of the Tainted Food & Wine magazine.

I opted not to show the character carrying bagpipes, hoping that the reader would need an extra beat to make the connection, with the slight delay adding to the payoff.

Thursday's offering is a testament to the faith we have in the literacy of Bizarro's readers. To get this one, you must understand the phrase memento mori, and also recognize the reference to Bill Murray. High and low, baby, high and low. 

Speaking of puns, on a recent Bizarchaeological dig, explorers turned up what may have been the first recorded pun in a comic panel, along with the first occurence of the comment cartoonists hear more than any other.

Along with cats, dogs, clowns, pirates, and the Grim Reaper, Frankenstein's monster is a favorite character around BSN. Here, we make note of a parallel to modern research methods, and imagine a non-traditional Doctor F.

Come back next week for another edition of the blog, as we ease into September. Also, please drop by Dan Piraro's blog for Dan's latest Bizarro Sunday page, and to learn the difference between a dork and a nerd.

Bonus Track

No, I won't subject you to "Margaritaville."

Instead, here's Danny Elfman's Overture to the 1986 Rodney Dangerfield film "Back to School."


"Back to School" was Elfman's second film score, following 1985's "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure," and was eventually released on CD along with the Pee-Wee music. These early works are my favorite Elfman scores.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Putrid Proposal

Another week has elapsed, and we've added another feline cartoon to the BSN archives. Let's see what else we covered in the past six days.

If you want to give the staff your highest regards, stop by the kitchen to regurgitate dinner on your way to the litter box.

Sasquatch just can't take a decent selfie, so he keeps using that same old blurry image, but it only seems to make him more desirable.
Intriguing potential dates since 1967
When we're around family members, we often revert to our childhood roles and behavior. At the end of this newscast, the meteorologist promptly squealed to their parents.

It's hard to find good accomplices these days. You should see the guy who didn't make the cut.

Advanced translation software has revealed that the language of love is practiced by all species. This gag was fun to color, but I was really hoping that at least one of our client newspapers offered scratch & sniff printing. 

Has this ever happened in real life? I'd love to hear from any IT professional who's encountered this question on the job.

If you can't get enough comic strip commentary, direct your browsing apparatus to Dan Piraro's Bizarro blog. You can check out Dan's latest Sunday page, and see what he has to say about this week's round of laffs. His posts often put mine to shame in terms of pithy analysis and humorous asides, but he's semi-retired and I'm lazy, so it's not surprising.

Bonus Track

"Human Fly" by The Cramps
Recorded October 1977 at Ardent Studios, Memphis
Produced by Alex Chilton)

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Junk Food

This week's batch of cartoons starts with an imagined scriptural scenario.
Figs are indeed tasty, but if they came from a plant that also provided your foundation wear, the appeal might be diminished. 

Please don't offer any "corrections" as to whether Adam and Eve actually wore fig leaves, since they aren't actual historical figures.

These superfans had previously followed the "Odessey & Oracle" farewell tour.

Fish oil offers many health benefits, and taking it in pill form is easier and safer than ransacking trash cans.

This pup is the perfect host. After all, 50,000 fleas can't be wrong.

A word of advice: Don't turn that handle unless you're sure it's where he'd want to be scattered.

Even in the animal kingdom, gentrification can become an issue.

Postmarked Project

Outside of my normal Bizarro work, at the end of the month, I'm participating in The 4 x 6 Mail Art Show, a cool exhibit organized and curated by my friends at CommonWealth Press and Kim Fox of WorkerBird.
Every piece in the show will be 4 by 6 inches, and has to have arrived via postal delivery. My untitled contribution is a surreal image executed in ink on paper, with some blue pencil showing through. A few of the elements in this composition were taken from comics I had recently drawn or was working on at the time.

Thanks for continuing to follow Bizarro. Please check out Dan Piraro's blog to read his take on the past week's comics, and to see his latest Bizarro Sunday page.

Musical Mystery Solved (Partially)

Last week, we ran a gag referring to that weird trombone sound used for adults' voices in various Peanuts animated specials. I mentioned in my blog post that the name of the musician responsible for that distinctive effect was unknown.

A few days after the cartoon's publication, we received an email from a Bizarro reader named Michael Brady, who told us that his late friend Dean Hubbard (1953-2018) provided the "voice" of the teacher, and other adults in most of the Peanuts TV specials.
Dean W. Hubbard
Further research turned up a discussion on a trombone forum, which quoted an email from Dean Hubbard himself, mentioning the specific instrument and mute he employed:
I was the teacher's voice on the Charlie Brown cartoons, specials, and commercials from the mid-seventies until about 1990. I used my trusty Conn 6H and a Shastock wooden Solotone mute I purchased from a pawn shop to do the sound. It was and is amazing to me that the noises that got me thrown out of many high school rehearsals allowed me to buy our first home.
Hubbard was known to be a versatile musician with a wicked sense of humor. His credits certainly confirm his versatility. He played with many artists, including Dizzy Gillespie, Nelson Riddle, Dave Brubeck, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett , Aaron Neville, Linda Ronstadt, XTC, and Joe Strummer.

Another close friend of Hubbard posted this on the forum:
Somewhere there's a recording of a session where the director reads him the spoken line and he plays it back. He had the guys in the booth cracking up.
Now, that's something we'd love to hear!

However, we still don't have a confirmed name for the musician who first did the "wah-wah" sound in those Peanuts cartoons. The trombone forum included a detailed listing of the cartoons that used the sound effect, which was first heard in the 1967 special You're in Love, Charlie Brown. Dean Hubbard would have been 14 years old at the time, and he also mentioned in the email above that he started doing the sound in the mid-seventies.

The trombonist listed on the session records for the 1967 cartoon was Frank Rosolino, so it's not too much of a stretch to posit that Mr. Rosolino was the originator of the sound.

Bonus Track 

Since this post has been so trombone-centric, our bonus track features trombonist, singer, actor, and second banana to Bob Hope, Jerry Colonna.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Sliding Scale

Happy Saturday, Jazz Pickles. It's once again my pleasure to present the weekly cartoon recap from Bizarro Studios North, in scenic Hollywood Gardens, PA.

We started the week with yet another feline gag. While I was drawing this, Monty Python's "Four Yorkshiremen" bit was playing in my head.

People have been making pickles since well before Arthurian times. Pickle jars from 2030 BC have been discovered in archaeological digs. King Arthur's existence, however, is a matter of debate among historians.

Wednesday's gag is based on the odd trombone sound effect used as a proxy for adult speaking voices in various Peanuts television specials and films.
Peanuts Music Director Vince Guaraldi
Longtime animation director Lee Mendelson told Mashable that, "We chose not to show the adult. So I asked our music director, Vince Guaraldi, 'Would there be some instrument we could use as a sound to emulate what an adult might sound like to a kid?'" Guaraldi brought in a trombone player, who created the distinctive "wah-wah" by employing various plungers and mutes. The musician's name has sadly been lost to cartoon history.
Some of Charles Schulz's lesser-known work
We did a bit of image research using books Charles Schulz published in the late 1950s and early 60s featuring churchgoing teenagers, to get a feel for how Schulz might draw a grown-up Charlie Brown. 

Thursday's panel depicts a more practical and commercial offering from the Omni Consumer Products corporation.

We like to run the week's best gag on Friday, and although we're not above punning, that form of wordplay rarely makes it to the Friday slot. However, when I showed this one to my editor (Bizarro CEO Dan Piraro), he told me it actually made him guffaw. I figured a guffaw made this one worthy of a Friday appearance.
I used a mirror image of the art to adapt it for the strip layout, which actually placed the tape in Lefty's left hand.

Saturday's cartoon documents an actual conversation between a younger person and Your Humble Cartoonist. Any articles of clothing that originally I bought as "vintage" now actually qualify as museum pieces.
The hat in question was recently retired due to multiple blowouts, and is now part of my dog-walking and gardening gear. It came from a long-gone hat shop here in Pittsburgh, and has served me well over the years.
Tucker & Tucker Hats, Pittsburgh PA, circa 1965
Thanks, as always, for following, sharing, and commenting on Bizarro. You can find more behind-the-scenes discourse at Dan Piraro's weekly blog, where you can also check out his latest magnificent Sunday page, and score some fashionable Bizarro swag.
A satisfied reader wearing a Pie of Opportunity beanie

Bonus Track

Vince Guaraldi had a prolific recording career outside of animation, not to mention an impressive moustache. Here's an interesting take on a Beatles tune by the Vince Guaraldi Trio with Brazilian guitarist Bola Sete, recorded in 1966.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Yesterday's Technology Today

It's Saturday morning, kids, and that means it's time for old Uncle Wayno to share a bunch of cartoons while you enjoy a bowl of cereal.

I must admit, I relate to the kids in this comic. Some of my earliest memories involve a portable record player similar to the one in the drawing.
When I sketched out this idea, I also did an alternate version, shown above. Bizarro CEO Dan Piraro and I liked it with or without the caption. I ultimately decided to delete the caption, making the cartoon more universal, since it's about a particular behavior rather than a particular individual. This image is typical of my drafts. I've usually draw roughs using a Wacom tablet and stylus to speed up this more "disposable" part of the process. I still sometimes scan penciled thumbnails from a sketchbook, and I always draw the final comic art with ink on paper.
That's an actual record mentioned in today's cartoon. Young Master Jack would be jealous of the copy here in the Bizarro Studios Archive, which has the original picture sleeve.

Tuesday's comic is a simple inversion of a common phrase, and in no way is intended to question the therapeutic value of companion animals. People love all sorts of pets, even gargoyles.

Unlike Monday's gag, this one doesn't work without its caption. That would simply be a documentation of my life.

This fellow knows he's messy, so he always eats dessert while strapped to a high-velocity turntable.

Here we see a customer enjoying a day at the spa(r). Even a grizzled sea dog deserves to be pampered from time to time. In his Comic Strip of the Day column, Mike Peterson referred to this spa treatment as a "mahogany-pedi."

We saved the weirdest gag for last. When working on this batch of cartoons, I was thinking about the familiar Spider-Man origin story (since there's a new Spider-Man movie every few months), but I can't recall what inspired the leap to imagining a spider being bitten by a radioactive accountant. A cartoonist's brain often makes unexpected connections, and we're compelled to put them on paper.
Converting the art for the strip layout called for some tricky manipulation, but I think I pulled it off/
L-R: Panel and strip drawings
We're especially proud of our attention to detail in redrawing the brown spider's eyes.

That's it for this week. Thank you for following Bizarro, and for reading my Saturday ramblings.  When I took over the daily Bizarro cartoon duties, I promised to write a weekly blog post, following the tradition started by Dan Piraro, who still does his own highly entertaining commentary over at While you're there, don't miss his latest Sunday page.

Bonus Track
"The Horse in Striped Pajamas" by
Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo) and Hugh "Lumpy" Brannum (Mr. Green Jeans) with the Jimmy Carroll Orchestra.


Most recordings of this song feature an adult identifying zoo animals for a curious child. Keeshan's version casts Mr. Green Jeans in the child's part. Although the vocal performance by these two grown men is more than a little creepy, the homemade video is rather charming. I love the fact that there's a nickel taped to the tonearm. And at first glance, I could have sworn that the plush toy at the top of the frame was an inverted bird of some kind, but on closer inspection it looks more like a moose.

Coincidentally, Captain Kangaroo received some unflattering internet action in recent weeks.

Title Search
The title for today's post, "Yesterday's Technology Today," is a tagline frequently used by my friend Ben Vaughn on his podcast, The Many Moods of Ben Vaughn. I've mentioned The Many Moods before, and recommend it to anyone who loves to be surprised. You never know what Ben will play on an episode, but it's always interesting and entertaining.