Saturday, September 28, 2019

Surrealistic Pizza; or, The Persistence of Anchovy

This weekend, I have an interesting gig at the Carnegie Science Center here in Pittsburgh. On Saturday and Sunday morning, I'll be hosting and introducing a program of classic Warner Brothers cartoons at the Center's Rangos Giant Cinema. I'm expecting a good crowd of kids, accompanied by nostalgic parents wearing pajamas and eating sugary cereal.

Now, let's review the week's (inanimate) Bizarro cartoons.

A reader commented on Facebook that they counted ten, not nine, Secret Symbols in this gag. If there are in fact ten, that last one isn't even visible to the cartoonist.
For the strip layout, I moved the Crown of Power from the plainclothes detective's coffee cup to the uniformed officer's shoulder. If you're counting symbols that are out of frame, I suppose that does make ten.

We almost captioned this one "Sauvignon Bland," but decided that "Sauvignon Blah" also delivers the gag, while sounding funnier.

Wednesday's panel documents a pivotal moment in sports marketing history.

It's no secret that Bizarro CEO Dan Piraro and I are both fans of surrealist art, especially the flamboyant trickster Salvador Dali. Bizarro is often described as surreal, and Dan's paintings certainly fit that description.

Dali's best-known work is the 1931 painting, The Persistence of Memory, with its famous melting clocks. I imagined that if Dali had ever worked at a pizza shop, he'd approach the job like no one else.

This one was fun to write and to draw, although it's based on a deadly serious and pervasive problem, which is not limited to spelling and grammar.
I create the strips in the later stages of my weekly process, which can be a lot like solving a puzzle. Configuring this one for the strip layout was more challenging than I'd expected. The two characters fill the vertical panel nicely, but if they had simply been reduced to the height of the strip, the signs and their expressions would have been too tiny to read. However, a little shuffling and cropping did the trick.

We wrapped up the week with another look at feline crime and punishment. I live with two cats, and they're beloved family members, but I also realize that they're fully capable of heartless murder. Which reminds me, I'd better go and feed them before they decide to go for my liver.

Don't forget to check out Dan Piraro's blog, where he offers his analysis of this week's drollery, along with his latest widescreen Sunday page. See you next Saturday.

Bonus Track

Salvador Dalí and his works are referenced in this suitably weird track from Todd Rundgren's 1973 LP, A Wizard, a True Star.

I've never compiled one of those "Desert Island Discs" lists, but if I did, there's a good chance that A Wizard, a True Star would make the cut.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

We'll Meat Again

It's the last Saturday of summer, so I hope you all get a chance to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine today. Right after we review the week's cartoons, of course.

Monday presented a typical morning meeting at a local ad agency, where the new hire is being introduced to the team.

As we've often said, we try to limit our use of puns to those we think are surprising. Here, we play on the use of the word "creative" as a name for someone who works in a creative field. I liked the fact that the reader might not notice the substitution, and at first would read it as "creature."

Some of us are lulled to sleep by the hum of white noise, while others prefer a series of random bangs and thumps, or this

Here's what happens when you become involved with someone from the wrong side of the staff.

This gag is an example of our preference for drawing inanimate objects realistically. I believe that a gag like this is more effective when the objects aren't wacky, anthropomorphic cartoon characters.

Yet another musical genre is featured in Thursday's panel. Although my modest but odd recollection encompasses a wide range of styles, I don't think there are any barbershop quartet albums on the shelves.
UPDATE: This cartoon confused quite a few readers. The idea was that the classified ad  said "butchershop" instead of "barbershop." The disappointed applicant with the paper hat, apron, and meat cleaver was intended to suggest the word "butcher," and explain the source of his misunderstanding. As I said, that was the idea, but for a lot of readers, it simply didn’t work. 

I'm thinking that the word "mistake" might have been a better choice than "typo."

I won't include this one in any comics award submissions for 2019. 

This one wasn't inspired by something naughty, honest. One evening while I was reading a book, one of our cats sat beside me and began bumping my hand with his head, in effect using me as a petting device. It happens regularly, but this particular time I wondered if there might be a market for simulated human hands to provide comfort to domestic animals.

I imagined an establishment where a dog or cat might buy such a toy, and this gag is the result.

After it left the drawing board,
I tweaked the art a bit.
This intermediate file shows the inked original superimposed on the panel layout, before I added the UFO in the upper left. There's also a subtle change to a product displayed in the lower right corner. As a private joke between Dan Piraro and myself (and now, readers of this blog) the original drawing showed a packaged tube of "K2 Jelly," which I later changed to a nondescript box marked "O2."

Incidentally, the "535" below the signature isn't the secret symbol count, but a sequence number for the art. This gag is the 535th I've drawn since starting as the daily Bizarro cartoonist in January 2018. I'm looking forward to producing many more in the coming years.

The courtroom is a dependable source of comic material. Today we illustrate that old criminal rule never to leave behind your fingerprint, an accomplice, or especially your marotte.

If you haven't had enough commentary on these cartoons, wander on over to Dan Piraro's blog, and while you're there, check out his latest widescreen Sunday Bizarro page.

Bonus Track

I had planned to showcase "Creature From the Black Lagoon," as recorded by Dave Edmunds, but while searching for it, I found this killer demo version by Billy Bremner. Mr. Bremner wrote the song and played guitar on the Edmunds record.


Saturday, September 14, 2019

Preferred Seating

Today, we wrap up a full week of Bizarro without any cat or dog gags. I must have been off my game the week I drew these, but fear not, we've got a canine comic lined up for next week.

Here's the uncharacteristically pet-free batch for your enjoyment.

Chef's table experiences usually include a verbal introduction for each course, but that's not the case at this particular bistro. The owners pride themselves on their fine selection of celebrity chefs treading water in a giant aquarium.
Quite a few historically-informed readers caught this panel's reference to plenary indulgences, those handy Get Out of Hell Free cards that the Catholic church used to sell to wealthy believers. This practice bugged Martin Luther, who expressed his objections in his famous Ninety-Five Theses in 1517.

I updated the idea by making a verbal comparison to the modern idea of carbon offset credits, although this type of purchased forgiveness is used to support projects intended to reduce greenhouse gases. My understanding of the concept and process is admittedly incomplete, but I think that carbon offsets are a more legitimate product, although they also allow people with more money to get away with certain "sins."

Plenary indulgences were reintroduced by the church in 2009. They're no longer for sale, but you can obtain one by making a "charitable contribution," combined with other "acts." That's more equitable, right?

Oh, and there's a limit of "
one plenary indulgence per sinner per day."

This gag was the result of dogged persistence on the cartoonist's part. It originally had different text, which made no reference to television, and wasn't very funny. I liked the drawing, though, and after hanging it near my drawing table for a week or so, I began to wonder what TV shows ghosts might enjoy. My favorite imagined program is "Normal Things."
Rearranging this panel for the strip layout wasn't particulalrly difficult, but I found this composition to be visually pleasing.

Like most innovations, the "good cop, bad cop" interrogation technique resulted from trial and error. Thursday's cartoon commemorates a pivotal moment in the police biz.

Friday's cartoon imagines a graphical placebo effect. Sadly, this is probably an actual "benefit" in some health plans.

For those who like to count the Bizarro Secret Symbols, I welcome feedback on today's, as I was particularly proud of one of them. Since I'm the one who drew it, I spot it right away, but I'm curious to see if it was challenging to the reader.

We're not in the editorial cartoon business at Bizarro Studios, but as observers of the world around us, we occasionally base a comic on behavior in a way that some might see as political commentary. It's difficult to make a case that citizens with greater wealth are treated the same as those with less. Preferential boarding exists beyond the airline gates.

Thanks, as always, for your comments, tips, and social media shares. Be sure to visit Dan Piraro's blog, where he offers his own comment on my recent work, and shares his latest Sunday Bizarro page.

Bonus Track

We featured vampires and ghosts in our comics this week. To add to the spookiness, we're listening to Michael Hurley performing his composition "Werewolf."

Hurley is a unique singer, guitarist, cartoonist, and painter, who often does wonderful cartoon art for his recordings. He's also a fellow Pennsylvanian, born in Bucks County, PA.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Knock Me Your Lobes

Fall is in the air, and another Bizarro recap is on the blog. 

Here we go with the latest batch of foolishness.

The vacuum cleaner has long been the natural enemy of domestic animals. This is probably the first time I've done a canine gag that doesn't actually depict a dog.

He's also rushing the Delta Cro Magnon fraternity.

I was a little worried about showing a child at a bar drinking whiskey, but if you have a passing familiarity with Victorian literature and are decent at math, you've figured that he's 33 years old.

A few readers speculated that this was in some way prompted by Hurricane Dorian, which was in the news the week this gag was published. In fact, this cartoon was drawn in mid-July, long before Hurricane Dorian had even formed. It's simply one of those odd coincidences.

Modern boxing trainers keep a few of those newfangled plant-based burger patties on hand for just such a situation.

Thirty days seems excessive, even for those who enjoy that sort of thing.

Viktor had something of an ego problem. He named his castle and both monsters after himself, creating confusion that lasts to this day. It seems that the newly-arisen creature had enough sense to recognize a codependency situation and get out of that dungeon.

Thanks for sticking with us for another week. I recommend checking out Dan Piraro's blog to see what he has to say about this week's gags, and to check out his latest magnificent Sunday page..

Bonus Track

Lord Buckley: Hipsters, Flipsters, and Finger Poppin' Daddies

Richard Myrle Buckley (1906-1960) was a singular American performer. In his book, Chronicles, Bob Dylan said of His Lordship, "Buckley was the hipster bebop preacher who defied all labels."

Amen, Brother Zim.