Saturday, March 28, 2020

A Tip of the Hat

If you're reading this, then the internet has survived another week of overload, as our shared isolation strains the capacities of Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix.

As a relief from all of that video action, we present a selection of static images from the week's funny pages.

Despite the fact that I wrote and drew this comic, I find the image slightly disturbing.

Non-essential oils were asked to stay at home.

My favorite detail in this gag is the bib, but I was pleased to note that many readers responded positively to the server's bow tie. It's backed with a type of Velcro that adheres to anteater fur.

I recently read a fascinating article about a twenty-first century update of the longstanding tradition of postmortem photography in the home. The story also discussed the practice of laying out the deceased in the type of clothing they might choose for themselves in life. 

My work-from-home office mate insists that the character in the coffin looks like a self-portrait, but nothing could be further from the truth. I could never grow stubble with that much coverage. Besides, I've never owned a pair of purple flannels.

The truth about gnomes' headwear.

I'm going to post occasionally on the Comics Kingdom blog, which is hosted by King Features Syndicate, Bizarro's newspaper distributor. My first dispatch appeared yesterday, and summarizes this gag's evolution from sketchbook doodle to finished comic.  It's educational: I now realize that I need to streamline my process.

When I uploaded Saturday's gag back in January, it was simply a joke about a cookie-person going to the doctor. In light of current events, it doesn't land the same way it did then. That's a hazard we face working weeks or months ahead of publication. Last October, the newspaper here in Pittsburgh started running a full week of comics in a Sunday section, making the timing of cartoon topics even trickier. 

I understand that many people had to hear unpleasant medical news this week, and I apologize to anyone who was reminded of that and upset by this cartoon. Our intentions as cartoonists are to help our fellow humans by providing laughter, and to help us all deal with our fears by finding (sometimes dark) humor in them. Sometimes events undercut those efforts.

I look forward to a time when we can see a gag like this, process it, chuckle, and move on to another activity.

Please check out my partner Dan Piraro's blog for his thoughts on this week's gags, and to see his latest Sunday Bizarro page. 

Bonus Track

A small dose of escapism, courtesy of a completely dumb but annoyingly catchy record from 1957.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Cartoon With Me - Activity for Kids (of any Age)

While you're staying safe at home, let's make a cartoon together. All you have to do is print this page, and finish drawing the cartoon.

Post our finished cartoon on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and be sure to tag @WaynoCartoons and #CartoonWithMe.

Please share this activity with your friends.

I can't wait to see what we create together!

Your pal, Wayno

Hunkered Down

It's been a quite a week. All over the country, local businesses are shutting down or curtailing services and hours in response to the spreading pandemic. 

The Pittsburgh area cartoonists just canceled our monthly lunch gathering. Some of use have ordered gift cards from the restaurant's online store to help with their cash flow in the interim. We look forward to spending those gift cards as soon as possible.

I wish I could help to alleviate shortages of toilet paper, milk, and frozen food, but all I can offer is (I hope) a small dose of humor each morning. 

Alternately, the bartender could just fling him a Twinkie.

Once again I painted myself into a cartoon corner by writing a gag about Bigfoot without allowing room to show his feet. In addition to recognizing the cryptid, the reader has to understand that the abbreviation "BF" means something other than "boyfriend" in this case.

Despite these challenges, I think the gag still works.

This is a common method of foiling stakeouts by Feline PD.

King Arthur may or may not have been an actual historical figure, but his legend is familiar enough for us to lampoon it occasionally (as in this example from last April).
The published art is nearly identical to my rough sketch, with one letter changed in the caption. I reasoned that "Chez Arthur" made the legend about something larger than a single person, and that a touch of grandiosity might make the joke a little more absurd.

I developed a peanut allergy (non-lethal, thankfully) as an adult. I believe it happened because I'd gone beyond the maximum amount of peanut butter that any human should consume in a lifetime. I used to order my favorite brand by the case. I think my body finally reacted in a dramatic manifestation of hives to tell me it was time to stop. 

At least I'm not a vampire. They have a lot of triggers to avoid.

Saturday's panel is what we at Bizarro Studios North refer to as a quadruple-reverse Tufnel. (For further explanation, see this 2011 post).

Thanks for following Bizarro, for your comments, and for taking the time to read my blog. I also recommend Dan Piraro's weekly post, which always kicks off with his latest Bizarro Sunday page, and usually includes some passionate political commentary.

As we navigate these uncertain and frightening times, please take good care of yourself and those around you. May you be well and stay healthy.

Bonus Track

Dr. John: Let's Make a Better World

I love this song, which was written by the great New Orleans bluesmaster Earl King.

I've been a fan of Dr. John for decades, and in recent years, his 1974 LP Desitively Bonnaroo has become one of my favorites. As we began rehearsals for a couple of Mardi Gras gigs early this year, my musical group decided to adopt this song as our theme and guiding principle. We performed it twice in public before live gigs were shut down along with all other gatherings, and look forward to playing it again as soon as possible.

Earl King's lyrics are simple but deep.

The world we know was built on skills
But that alone don't count
Without the sweat and toil of mine
It wouldn't be worth a dime

You got to live and give, share and care
Really put some love in the air
When your neighbor's down, try to pick him up
Nobody can live in despair

Everybody let's sing, sing, sing
Everybody let's sing, sing, sing
Let's all pitch in to do our thing
Make a better world to live in

Society has no priority
We're all one part of a whole
When people scream and shout, you have to hear 'em out
Everybody is a beautiful soul

You gotta pull together, go hand in hand
You really got to do your best
Wouldn't it be a perfect sight to see?
The whole world filled with happiness

Everybody let's sing, sing, sing…
If any of you readers with better hearing than mine can make out the lyrics of the backing vocals, please send your transcription.

Thank you again for reading this far.

Take care of yourselves and your families.

Let's make a better world.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Wait for It...

Top o' the mornin' to you, Jazz Pickles. We survived another Friday the 13th, and are now waiting to see how we fare against an emerging pandemic. As we avoid physical contact with our fellow citizens, maybe we can all laugh together (separately) at this week's Bizarro comics.

Here's a peek in the cartoon rear-view mirror.

The sign at the entrance to this place says, "Two Troughs, No Waiting." 

Everything we value ends up in the Cloud.

We cartoonists strive to construct a gag that takes an extra second to make the reader laugh, but sometimes that delay can get out of hand. That is meant to be an issue of The New Yorker, but this can happen with anyone in the cartoon game. 

When humans are extinct, ostriches will finally take over the world's golf courses. They're in the rough, waiting.

Apparently, if you're a little person in the land of fairy tales, the name your parents give you determines your personality.

As I've mentioned in the past, I usually run what I consider to be the week's best gag on Friday, but as I compose this post, I'm leaning toward the "Tantric Humor" panel as the week's strongest offering. There's usually a clear winner in my mind, so the fact that I'm still torn between two panels either means I'm getting better as a cartoonists, or I've lowered my standards as a reader.

Saturday's panel depicts yet another hair-splitting scriptural disagreement between competing sects. Although Saint Patrick's Day actually falls on Monday the 17th, Americans observe this solemn holy day on the weekend preceding the actual date, to allow for an appropriate amount of drunken misbehavior.

One has to wonder if driving the snakes from Ireland would have resulted in a frog population explosion.

We're celebrating quietly at the home office this evening. I'm not of Irish descent, but who am I to argue against a hearty corned beef dinner, and a few pints of Guinness with friends?

Which reminds me, I have to go and quarter the cabbage.

Don't forget to pop over to Dan Piraro's blog, and see what he has to say about this batch of shenanigans.

Bonus Track

The Undertones

"Teenage Kicks," 1978

The fact that they came from Derry, Ireland is beside the point. The Undertones were a great punk-pop band that can be enjoyed any day of the year.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Crawl Ahead

Tonight's the night we fumble with our clocks and wonder why we still go through this strange ritual. Tomorrow morning, the official time will jump from 1:59 AM directly to 3:00 AM, while the country does its best to return to the 1850s.

Let's take a short look back in time, and review the week's Bizarro cartoons.

Monday's gag was based in part on a pair of "aspirational jeans" which hang in my closet waiting for a time when I might fit into them again. Fortunately, inking the snails' funky textures proved to be a therapeutic exercise that took my mind off my pants.

We received an angry email in response to this gag. The entire text follows:
I find your 3/3/20 publication to be OUTRAGEOUS. How dare you!
I never imagined that someone might think I was implying that Ben Franklin had returned from the dead and was driving a modern car, but that's the only reason I could come up with for such dudgeon. Perhaps the writer is an electricity denier.

I have a friend who's nowhere near retirement age, but is so intensely focused on their job, that it's difficult to imagine them performing normal, non-work activities. I know someone else who's gone beyond fifty years at the same job, and is vital, thriving, and truly seems to enjoy it. Both of these friends helped to inspire this cartoon about someone adjusting to a new routine.

Whatever makes you happy and keeps your brain active is cool, no matter what the calendar tells you.
I took advantage of the strip's wider layout to add another lecture attendee. Any excuse to draw Mister Potato Head.

At this particular establishment, the same tool is used for piercings and for punching customers' frequent flyer cards.

Friday's Bizarro led this cartoonist down a rabbit hole of research. In order to set up the caption, I read summaries of Medea, the Greek tragedy written by Euripides. Wow. I've seen some graphically violent movies in my time, but even a brief synopsis of this gruesome play is hard to take.

As I often do, I used photo reference while preparing the drawing.
My first reference image was a 1907 painting by John William Waterhouse, showing Medea and Jason in happier times, as she concocts a performance-enhancing potion for her then-husband.
I also took some elements from this sassy photo of Maria Callas as Medea in Pier Paolo Pasolini's 1969 film. This was her only non-operatic acting role.

I looked at a few other photos of stage productions, but these two images provided plenty of inspiration.

After Friday's highfalutin cultural mashup, we ended the week with a simple, stupid pun.

That's the output from this week, Jazz Pickles. Check in next Saturday for more useless information. And don't forget to read Dan Piraro's blog, where you can gaze in wonder at his latest Bizarro Sunday page.

Happy Daylight Saving. Keep that hour in a safe place. You might need it one day.

Bonus Track

Rock music for snails.