Saturday, January 25, 2020

Get Off My Back

Today is the beginning of the Year of the Rat. Whether you celebrate Lunar New Year, Gregorian New Year (January 1), or none at all, I hope 2020 treats you well.

Let's look back on this week's (rat-free) Bizarro comics.

We started the week by combining two recurring topics: cats and a doctor's office. My spouse and I live with two feline family members, who regularly demand breakfast much earlier than we'd like. One of them has learned to turn on the clock radio. On particularly frigid mornings, they sometimes choose warmth over food, which inspired this cartoon.

Working on Tuesday's gag proved to be a rich educational experience. My search for high-resolution reference photos taught me that hippopotamuses are repulsive up close. To be fair, they're probably put off by humans. I also learned that the birds who eat ticks from the hides of hippos and other creatures are called oxpeckers, and that their eating habits aren't mutually beneficial, as was once thought. They're now considered to be parasites, since they often pierce the skin when pecking at ticks, and cause injury or infection.

The strip layout of this gag  required some additional flora.

Multiple commenters on one of the social networking platforms mistakenly thought they were being asked to guess our dapper devil's entry code. Others assumed they should explain the joke to your cartoonist.
There's a thin (mint) line between marketing and racketeering.

Friday's panel shows the influence of Sam Gross's 1970s work in National Lampoon, although if Mr. Gross had done this, the last word of dialogue might have been "asshole."

This program runs back-to-back with America's Got Scales.

Thanks for following for yet another week. Don't forget to visit Dan Piraro's blog, for additional commentary, and a shiny new Bizarro Sunday page.

Dan also reported on a comic being removed from his Instagram feed for a supposed violation of Instagram's "hate speech guidelines." The comic is still up on my feed, and apparently IG is okay with the many hateful comments posted in response.

Bonus Track

"Hippopotamus," by Sparks, from their 2017 LP, Hippopotamus.

Sparks, the musical project of brothers Ron and Russell Mael, have been active since 1972, and have released more than two dozen albums. Their music is consistently funny, smart, and unique. The brilliant filmmaker Edgar Wright is working on a Sparks documentary, which we at Bizarro Studios can't wait to see.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Black & White in Color

It's been an odd week for Bizarro. There wasn't a single gag involving a cat, a dog, a clown, or a pirate. We'll try to remedy that situation  next week.

Here's a look back at this
uncharacteristic batch of drollery.

This gag ran on the day the 2020 Oscar nominations were announced, and is a riff on the Motion Picture Academy's conditional acceptance of films produced by streaming services. There was an unsuccessful movement among old-school members to disallow streamed features, but they can still qualify as long as they have a minimum seven-day run in a Los Angeles theater.

Content aside, I understand the appeal of streamed features: They're not preceded by a string of commercials, and they don't get interrupted by (other) people's phone conversations.

For those who follow the Oscars, and whose livelihoods are affected by them, the nominations and awards exhibit many of the exclusionary biases present in other societal structures, which are probably more important than quibbling over how and where audiences see any particular film.
The strip layout for this gag shows a deeper view of the Alley of Reluctant Acknowledgement.

We at Bizarro Studios can't get too worked up about the Oscars. Cartoonists have our own awards to fret over.

Tuesday's panel depicts the closing scene of an imagined Twilight Zone episode.

A peek into the near future, if not the present.

Parent-child conflicts are the same everywhere, including the afterlife.

Friday's comic brings us back to the cinema, and counts on the reader to be familiar with the term film noir, and to realize that its antipode might possibly be termed film blanc.

We recently watched a 1949 film noir titled The Window, which featured a strong and believable performance by a young actor named Bobby Driscoll. After watching the movie, we looked him up, and learned that his work in The Window won him a miniature statue, The Juvenile Oscar, which was occasionally awarded to child actors.
Unfortunately, as is sometimes the case with showbiz kids, Driscoll's post-adolescence career was erratic, and his life took a series tragic turns. 

If you have an opportunity to see The Window, we recommend checking it out.

We started and ended the week with gags about degrees of unfairness. Saturday's caption is a simple pun on the term "den of iniquity," referring to a place where people gather for naughty purposes.

For additional color and commentary on this week's gags, take a peek at Dan Piraro's blog, where you can also see his latest Sunday Bizarro page, and stock up on Bizarro swag. Now that he's mostly retired from cartooning, he's been creating an amazing body of fine art, which you can view (and buy) at the Diego Piraro site.

Bonus Track

"The Washington Affair"
Syd Dale

A noir-ish theme taken from the KPM Library Music LP Impact and Action (1967). This is a fine example of what's often referred to as Crime Jazz.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Industrial Accident

We had a minor mishap at the studio this week, when I knocked over a "tip-resistant" ink bottle. Damage was relatively contained, although I had to abandon a comic in progress and start over. If I'd been inking digitally, this could have been avoided, but I can't quit my beloved analog tools.

At least I can be proud of myself for not pinning the accident on one of our cats.

Let's review the week's cartoons, as I await delivery of an area rug to hide the carpet stains.

The hamster wheel's always crowded in January, isn't it.

Every politico needs an experienced a spin team.
When a gag has a word balloon and a caption box, I generally try to place both items on the right-hand side of the strip. When I did that with this one, I had to assign the dialog to a different character, which involved swapping their mouths.

As I typed the paragraph above, I realized that I probably could have gotten away with simply using a mirror image of the panel art. A lesson learned for the future.

This is the way they tell the story of Sisyphus in Hannibal, Missouri.
I broke my own rule about word balloons and caption boxes with this strip, but it worked just fine with the diagonal composition of the art.

My cats have never changed a password, but one of them loves to help when I'm working with Photoshop. He often types undecipherable text, but most of his hi-jinks are maddeningly subtle, and more difficult to reverse. 

I use a stylus and tablet instead of a mouse, and he regularly switches the tablet into "precision mode," which locks it into a super-enlarged view of the screen.

Of course, he's never spilled a bottle of ink.

Friday's architectural joke is my favorite of the week. Bizarro's readers confirmed my confidence in their vocabulary.

This gag includes a relatively rare appearance of the Frozen Pie of Opportunity secret symbol.

This is a simple gag, utilizing a favorite form of wordplay, which I refer to as a streptonym. I may be the only person in the world who uses that term, but I'm sticking with it.

Don't forget to browse Dan Piraro's blog, where he'll share his thoughts on these comics, and present his latest panoramic Sunday Bizarro page.

I'll share a scan of the ink-damaged page I had to scrap, when the final, cleaned-up panel is published a couple of months from now.

Bonus Track
The Jam, mocking my clumsiness.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

Panic in the Year Three

We're back from our New Year's celebration, where we tried our best to ignore current events for a night. I hope you all had a fun and safe evening.

Our celebration was fun, but I got the least popular noisemaker.

This week kicks off my third year as Bizarro's daily cartoonist, and I'm looking forward to writing and drawing a lot more comics for your enjoyment and/or puzzlement.

Here's a look back at the most recent batch, published as we crossed over into 2020.
We got in under the wire with one more pirate comic.
Here's an early sketch, which eventually turned into the kebab gag.

Old Man 2019 ended his tenure looking remarkably intact, given the events of the past year. Let's hope that Baby 2020 has an easier go of things.

Unsurprisingly, these passengers trampled each other in a stampede to claim overhead compartment space.

A friend, who is a Doctor of Neuroscience, shared this comic on her Facebook page, prefaced with the following note:
For Sophia Tolstaya, Colette, Vera Nabokov, Dorothy Wordsworth, and so many other other "thank you to my dear wife and typist" who were actually editors and ghost writers.
The good doctor not only got the joke, but also provided a wonderfully thoughtful and appropriate context for it, for which I am grateful.

I just noticed that Vlad's "explaining hand" pose is very similar to Adam's body language from the day before.

Another example of humans creating the deities they want.

If you've a hankerin' for more color and commentary on this batch of cartoons, check out Dan Piraro's blog, where he'll also show off his first Sunday Bizarro gag of the New Year.

Bonus Track

Brian Eno's "Burning Airlines Give You So Much More"

The "Hades Express" cartoon made me think of this song from Eno's 1974 album, Taking Tiger Mountain (by Strategy). There's no real connection other than the song's title, but it gave me a reason to share a favorite number from a favorite LP. 

Tiger Mountain was Eno's second solo record after leaving Roxy Music. This one, and his first, Here Come the Warm Jets, are delightfully weird, and still sound fresh nearly fifty years after their original release.