Saturday, March 27, 2021

Delete All

This post appears later than usual, thanks to unstable technology. I composed and formatted the entire article on Thursday, as I normally do, and scheduled it to publish early Saturday morning. I always revisit the draft a few times to make edits and corrections, which I did on Friday afternoon. I rewrote a sentence, but decided to revert to the original, and used the control-Z undo function.

Unfortunately, Google's Blogger platform assumes that after three undo key commands, the user wants to erase the entire post, and there's no way to recover it. So as you read this, please be assured that the original, lost version was wittier and better organized.

Before we begin our over-analysis of the week in Bizarro, let's enjoy a tangentially-related photo.

This week's intense pipe pic features composer, musician, and bandleader Charles Mingus (1922-1979). The shot was taken in 1959, during a session for Columbia Records in New York City. The albums from this period (Mingus Ah Um and Mingus Dynasty) are as brilliant and challenging as they were more than 60 years ago.

Mingus wrote an immensely entertaining autobiography, Beneath the Underdog, which is a rich mix of historical fact, dubious memories, and tall tales.

He also had an interesting connection to the comics world. The review excerpted above ran on Down Beat magazine in 1962, and was written by Harvey Pekar, creator if the autobiographical comic series American Splendor. Pekar often worked as a jazz critic, and this particular review didn't sit well with Mingus. The aggrieved musician with an angry letter, writing:

My efforts at blues singing were not meant to challenge such diverse masters as Joe Turner, Ray Charles or Big Bill Broonzy, and I don’t think their singing was meant as a challenge to each other or to me. No one could sing my blues but me (if you must call it singing), just as no one could holler for you if I decide to punch you in your mouth.

Were he still among us, one can only imagine how Mingus would respond to Instagram comments.

At the risk of inviting snarky judgment from present-day critics, we offer our most recent comics.

He applied to join the X-Men as The Incredible Null.

Oddly, the doctor prescribed brand-name medication.

Speaking of online critiques, this gag prompted a reader to ask, "Why are there so many Halloween themed ones lately?" We at Bizarro Studios refuse to confine our vampires, zombies, ghosts, and monsters to a single, fixed date. These creatures lead rich, full afterlives, and don't deserve to be forgotten 364 days of the year.

The mermaid myth is supposedly based on sailors mistaking manatees for human-fish hybrids.

After consuming enough shipboard rum, it might be possible to make that assumption, but the appeal of such a being remains a deeper mystery.

To be fair, that emblem does seem to be more suited to Old Scratch.

A true friend would tell you not to feel guilty about questioning your willfully counterfactual delusions.

Saturday's panel is based on an early draft of David Lynch's first feature-length film.

That wraps up another week of amusing words and pictures. Thanks, as always, for dropping by.

Don't forget to check out Dan Piraro's weekly blog, to read his always insightful commentary, and to laugh at a new Bizarro Sunday page.

Bonus Track

Charles Mingus: Boogie Stop Shuffle
from Mingus Ah Um

A longtime favorite here at BSN.

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Saturday, March 20, 2021

Turn On, Tune In, Go Bragh

It's the first day of spring, and we met the morning with a pleasant sense of optimism. This, of course, makes us nervous. The cartoonist's brain tends to be distrustful of its own happiness, but we'll try to enjoy the mood as much as we're able to.

This week's amazing pipe pic was originally published in Vue magazine in 1954, and shows Dada artist Marcel Duchamp smoking dancer Ann Miller's leg. Thanks to Jazz Pickle Dr. Joe S, of Melbourne, Australia for alerting us to this spectacular image.

I've always had an interest in the Dadaists, and their anarchic approach to art, music and writing. When I was self-publishing minicomix in the late 1980s, I named one of my books Festive Desperation, after the title of a 1916 masked dance performance staged by the Dadaist collective Cabaret Voltaire.

The book contained a series of ink drawings executed in a jagged style I experimented with for a time. The cover was a visual interpretation of the title, which reminded me of some of my fellow citizens' misguided jingoism. Unfortunately, that still exists.

Most of the interior pages were drawings of friends, and one (above) was a self-portrait.

Returning to the more recent past, here's a look at this week's Bizarro comics.

We kicked off the week with a look at what really happens in your basement. Some gags require photo research, which I believe is always worth the effort.

Apparently, they abandoned the flat by the roadside. In case any blog readers plan to make a comment correcting me, a few helpful internet citizens already pointed out that the vehicle shown is called a sedan, sedan chair, or litter, but not a carriage.

For Saint Patrick's Day, we offered an psychedelic alternative for those who don't drink stout or whiskey. Naturally, these electric edibles are endorsed by Timothy O'Leary.
Thursday's gag showcases a member of the little-known United Utilitarian Church.
And try to limit yourself to four lobes a day.
After centuries of sporting a long, curly mane, Vlad now shaves his head, but he kept the fancy mustache.

The second vampire was modeled on Canadian-American actor Oliver Platt, but I don't recall the reason.. 

Perhaps something about the initial sketch reminded me of him, but I'm not seeing it now.

That's the latest batch from Bizarro Studios North. Thanks, as always, for visiting. Don't forget to check out my partner Dan Piraro's weekly blog post. It's always loaded with interesting observations, some of which even mention the comics. While you're there, you can also admire his latest panoramic Bizarro Sunday page.

See you next week!

Bonus Tracks

The old minicomic page shared above mentioned my teenage wish to have lived as a beatnik, although my ideas were initially based on mass media's twisted appropriation of that subculture.

As I grew older, I learned more about the Beats, but retained a fondness for the mainstream America's goofy take on beatniks, exemplified by this 1959 record written and sung by Rod McKuen (credited here as "Dor.")

Note: Some YouTube videos are not available outside the US. On some phones, you must select "View Web Version" on the blog in order to see the video preview and link.
My copy of this record is in rough condition, but fortunately other researchers have posted the song on YouTube.

"The Beat Generation" inspired punk rock musician Richard Hell's 1976 single, "Blank Generation." 
Hell's band featured the stunning, angular guitar work of Robert Quine, and his drummer was a guy named Marc Bell, who was later rechristened Marky Ramone.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Naked Spectres and Mythical Miscreants

We're feeling a sense of guarded optimism here at the studio, which must be attributable to some pleasant, sunny weather we've had over the past couple of weeks. We're hoping we've seen the last of any snow for a while. 

Our mood may sour after waking up tomorrow and having to adjust to the change to Daylight Saving Time. Time will tell.

This week's fantastic plastic pipe pic is brought to you by my old pal and fellow cartoonist J.R. Williams, who recently shared it on his thoroughly entertaining Instagram page, JR's Junkyard. "Jar" is one of my oldest cartoonist friends, and his 1980s minicomix inspired me to self-publish.

He's a prolific artist whose groovy little art pieces are quickly snapped up by savvy collectors.

Two goofs, reunited in Portland, 2017

While we're still on Standard Time, let's review this week's cartoons.

If there is an afterlife, I imagine it's full of disappointments.

At a quiet subterranean spot, it was love at first squint.

Remember when paranoid crackpots could only rant on street corners? At least back then, they were sincere in their misguided beliefs, and not reaping profits from gullible suckers worldwide. The good old days!

This panel's payoff is out of frame, which we hope gave readers an extra second of enjoyment while their brains made the connection. Also, we still haven't run out of clown gags. I'll have to do some data mining to see if we have enough on hand for a book.

We were almost a week ahead of the holiday with this one, but felt it was okay since a large segment of the American populace have adopted the Saturday before Saint Patrick's Day as the proper time for public drunkenness and back-alley micturition.

Don't fret, we have another seasonal gag lined up for the actual holiday.

Sometimes you have to suffer for your art.

That's the wrap-up for this week. Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to check out Dan Piraro's blog to see what he's been up to, and to gasp in wonder at his latest beautiful Bizarro Sunday page.

Stay safe and healthy, and when you have the chance, get yourself a COVID vaccine.

Bonus Track

Jerry Colonna: "Hey, Barmaid!"
from the 10" album, Music? for Screaming!!!
Decca Records, 1955

Jerry Colonna was a musician, actor, comedian, and singer, who was popular on radio in the 1940s and 50s as a sidekick to Bob Hope. He was caricatured in several Warner Brothers cartoons of that era. I have a few of his records in my archive, and this one is my favorite, scratches and all.

A few years ago, a Facebook friend commissioned me to do a drawing of Colonna. It was a surprising request, but one I was more than happy to honor.

Note: Some YouTube videos are not available outside the US. On some phones, you must select "View Web Version" on the blog in order to see the video preview and link.

Saturday, March 06, 2021

Arm of the Beholder

As I compose this week's blog entry, the sun is shining outside Bizarro Studios North, and we're feeling cautiously optimistic regarding the possibility of getting together with family and friends at some time in the future. My musical group has even penciled in a date for our December holiday show. That makes us happy, although we don't want to wish away the next nine months.

This week's pipe pic comes from our illustration archives. The image was originally created to promote a life drawing event at Zombo Gallery here in Pittsburgh. The gallery was the brainchild of my good friend Michael "Zombo" Devine, a musician, DJ, entrepreneur and sophisticated man about town. In the early part of this century, I had several solo art exhibits at Zombo Gallery, and I still miss the place.
Zombo & Wayno at the opening of "Stubble & Smoke," 2008

As we look forward to the arrival of Spring, let's adjust our fezzes and review the week in cartoons.

Monday's gag featured some all terrain footwear. My photo research for this one included an image search on the phrase "Elton John Tommy Boots," to find pictures of the giant Doc Martens he wore in the film version of the Who's rock opera.
The sketch above, from around 2008, was a first stab at a comic drawing parallels between gigantic tires and huge shoes. Setting it aside for a decade was a sound decision. The version published this week lets the connection occur in the reader's mind rather than on the page, providing a more satisfying payoff.
Most of us have had to endure a coworker who repeats the same stupid joke day after day.
It's been nearly a month since our last clown gag, so we were compelled to remedy that situation on Wednesday.
Thursday's panel plays with inversion, perception, and symmetry. This customer can enjoy his new tattoo in the mirror, reflected in a puddle, or by simply glancing down at his bicep.
"Any openings for marionettes?" 
Tom, my close friend and bandmate, wears many musical hats, including that of a piano teacher. In the early days of the pandemic, he began giving online lessons, and found that most kids paid closer attention to him on-screen than when he was physically in the room with them. He theorized that they're more attuned to video images than actual humans. That's possible, but knowing my friend, I imagine that he himself might also be more focused in this situation. I'm pleased to report that he has more students than ever, located all over the world.

That's the latest from sunny Hollywood Gardens, PA. Thanks for dropping by and following Bizarro. Be sure to visit Dan Piraro's blog to read about his latest adventures and activities, and to check out his always-spectacular Bizarro Sunday page.

See you next week.

Bonus Track

Roger Ruskin Spear: Pinball Wizard
from the album Unusual (United Artists Records, 1972)

An inventive reinterpretation, by a founding member of the Bonzo Dog Band.

Technical note: Some YouTube videos are unavailable outside the US. On some phones and mobile devices, it's necessary to select "view web version" to see the video preview and link.