Saturday, October 24, 2020

Where the Gastropods and the Arthropods Play

Here at Bizarro Studios North, we're counting the days till Halloween, and wishing we still had these giant Yogi Bear masks from our youth.

I believe that's my youngest brother on the left, sitting beside me, and that we were photographed by our middle brother. I've always liked a costume that includes a necktie.

Moving from bears to trout, let's have a look at this week's comics.

Long before Facebook challenges to post images of favorite books, recordings, films, etc., BBC radio listeners heard the famous Desert Island Discs program. The weekly show, first broadcast in 1942, features a guest discussing eight recordings, one book, and one other luxury item they'd want to have if they were stranded on a desert island. Desert islands are a staple of gag comics, so this was a perfect springboard for a Bizarro gag.
The strip layout of this comic features a rarely-seen Bizarro Secret Symbol: The Floating Saucer of Possibility.

Many sharp-eyed readers (and fellow music nerds) noted that our castaway is holding a copy of Trout Mask Replica, the revolutionary 1969 double LP by Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band. The fact that a tiny drawing of the album cover is immediately recognizable is a testament to Cal Schenkel's iconic design. Trout Mask was produced by Frank Zappa (possibly with minimal involvement) and was released on Zappa's Straight Records label.

Cal was Frank Zappa's main visual collaborator for many years, and created dozens of wonderful album covers as illustrator, designer, and photographer. I've admired Cal's art since I spotted this ad, which ran in Marvel comic books in 1967.

In this century, I've been lucky enough to have met Cal Schenkel, and become friends with him. I helped to arrange an exhibit and sale of his art here in Pittsburgh back in 2013. 

Wayno with Cal Schenkel at Get Hip Recordings, 2013

Cal was gracious and friendly to the many fans who brought records to be autographed, and he shared quite a few stories about his days of traveling with the likes of Zappa and the Mothers. We hope to have him back for another show when it's safe to do so. Until then, Cal has plenty of great art for sale through his website.

A final note on the comic: As of this writing, nobody has identified the record peeking up from front of the crate. I'll offer a hint: it's a more contemporary recording, and it's never been issued on vinyl, only on compact disc and digitally. I suppose that means this cartoon is set on Fantasy Island.

Every occupation has its hazards and temptations.

Wednesday's surreal western cartoon gave some readers pause. The gag was a simple play on the idea that a millipede is a long creature and that snails leave trails.

I took advantage of the strip's width to draw some additional segments on the millipede. If I were to reprint this one, I'd consider changing the second cowpoke's line to "Happy trail."

While writing today's post, I noticed that the character on the snail bears a resemblance to Frank Zappa. I don't recall making a conscious decision to do that, but he must have been on my mind as I drew this batch of cartoons.

With the emergence of social media, trolls have come out from under bridges to vex a wider audience.

Friday's panel depicts a Manhattan spa experience. New England hot tubs are thick and creamy.

I have nothing to add about the writing of this gag, but instead, offer an amusing bit of linguistic trivia. The Dutch word for glove is handschoen, a compound word which, when broken into its component parts, literally translates as hand shoe.

Thanks for visiting, and for your comments, emails, and reposts. Come by again next Saturday, which is a special occasion: Halloween day with a full moon. We'll continue our October 31 tradition of enjoying a pizza dinner at home while watching the 1983 film adaptation of Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Don't forget to drop by Dan Piraro's blog, where you can see what he has to say about these cartoons (along with other, more interesting topics), view his latest Bizarro Sunday page, and catch with with the current episode of his graphic novel

Bonus Track 1

For Calvin (And his Next Two Hitch-Hikers)
Frank Zappa and the Mothers
from The Grand Wazoo, 1972


Zappa composed this piece for (and about) Cal Schenkel. The album cover features a wonderful, detailed drawing by Cal.

Photo courtesy of the Bizarro Studios North Archive

Bonus Track 2

Tropical Hot Dog Night
Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band
from Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller), 1979

For those curious about the music of Captain Beefheart, Trout Mask Replica can be a daunting introduction. This recording, by a later incarnation of the band, offers a less threatening first taste.


  1. Excellent Halloween plan! That's a great movie from a fabulous book.

  2. All my music nerd friends absolutely loved the appearance of the Trout Mask Replica album in the cartoon!!

  3. Tinker Bell should have been illustrated upside down too be even more strange/weird.

  4. Another great week of cartoons! I love the photo of you and your brother in Yogi Bear masks. So cute!