Saturday, July 25, 2020

Way Out West

Happy Saturday, friends. I hope you've navigated safely through another week in the hellishly awful year MMXX.

Here's a look at what kept us busy at Bizarro Studios North:

We kicked off the week with a metaphor for any number of daily struggles we all face. Which reminds me, it's time to reorder a case of Tasty.

Frankie hates commuting as much as anybody.

Terminology note: We know that the character isn't named "Frankenstein," and is in fact properly called "Frankenstein's Monster," but there's nothing wrong with affectionately referring to him as "Frankie."
I asked for this model kit as a birthday gift many times over the years, and never got one, but I'm composing a persuasive letter to Santa this year.

This gag features two characters, but only one I had to draw. Since the patient is unseen, I hoped it would make them relatable to every reader.

It was surprisingly difficult for me to leave that empty space in the upper right. I had to remind myself that it's not necessary to fill every square inch of a panel. This is a visual application of a lesson I've learned (and continue to learn) from making music in a trio. My bandmate, Tom, has taught us that with fewer instruments, it's important to leave space in the arrangements, and not make them too "crowded."
The decision not to show the patient was also helpful in configuring the strip version of this gag. It would have been nearly impossible to include another character in the drawing and deliver the joke in the same way. Both the panel and strip imply more content outside of the frame.

Sometimes less truly is more. Thanks, Tom!

Additional research note: I've found references online to "furniturephobia" as an actual condition, but that doesn't sound convincing. However, a friend informed me that fear of couches is known as lechophobia.

I'm not a parent, but I'm reasonably certain this would keep a child quiet, not to mention entertaining the family with the classic "crawling against the wind" routine.

For this cartoonist, cowboys are as much fun to draw as clowns or the Grim Reaper, which is part of the reason they turn up often in my work. Friday's gag was unintentionally timely, given the recent passing of composer Ennio Morricone, whose many musical achievements include defining the sound of so-called Spaghetti Western films. This scene takes place in an imagined Eastern European production.

We wrapped up the week with a Saturday Switcheroo. Inside that tiny human dwelling, there's a microscopic mouse-hole. Inside of that, there's a subatomic human door, and on and on, in an infinitely recursive series.

For additional "inside comics" talk, please visit Dan Piraro's weekly blog, which usually pops up on Monday. While you're there, you can admire his newest Bizarro Sunday page, and check out the Bizarro Merch Table, where you still have a chance to snag some Secret Symbol enamel pins, and other stylish accessories. 
A portion of your purchase will be donated to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, America’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice, which shows yet another reason I'm honored to work with Dan.

Bonus Track
Here at Bizarro Studios North, we not only like to draw cowboys. We also enjoy cowboy music. One of the most durable cowboy tunes is "Ghost Riders in the Sky," first recorded in 1948 by the composer, one Stan Jones. Many dozens of cover versions followed over the decades.

This recording is one of our favorites, by Benjamin Sherman "Scatman" Crothers (May 23, 1910 – November 22, 1986), released in 1956 by Tops Records.

Tops was a budget label that issued soundalikes to cash in on other labels' hit songs. Their album covers were often more interesting than the music they contained, like this 1959 LP featuring a photo of a young Mary Tyler Moore.
The Scatman album, however, is a gem. The image used on the above video was taken from a 2006 CD compilation. Here's the 1956 cover design, in its original typographical and sartorial glory.
Courtesy of the Bizarro Studios North Archive


  1. I always wanted a Big Frankie, too, but never got one, alas.

    1. I knew you were a kindred spirit. Just gotta love Big Frankie.

      On the other hand, The Great Garloo terrified me, and gave me a nightmare I still remember vividly.

    2. Oh, The Great Garloo! I would love to have one of those, but the prices are through the roof!

  2. Somehow I had heard the title without having heard the song or understanding its cowboy context. So I was left wondering why there would be ghostwriters in the sky. (Honest.)

    1. Ha! That’s a wonderful misheard lyric!

  3. For what it's worth, Big Frankie is still available in reissue (though somewhat rare) if you don't want to wait for Santa.