Saturday, April 03, 2021

Mail Order Mischief and a Momentous Milestone

Happy Saturday, Jazz Pickles. We're back to share the latest six-pack of gags, along with another amusing pipe-related image.

First, however, I'd like to mention that it's a special day for Your Obedient Cartoonist.

Twelve years ago today, my first published collaboration with Dan Piraro appeared. After nine years of writing gags, including three years as Bizarro's colorist, and a couple of week-long runs as guest cartoonist, I started doing the daily gags myself. After more than three years on the job, I'm learning a little more about the craft of cartooning every day, and loving the best gig I've ever had.

My sincere thanks go out to every reader, and eternal gratitude to my comrade Dan for leaving the side door unlocked and allowing me to show my work in the gallery he established in the late twentieth century. I hope to keep doing it for a long time to come.

We now return to our regular programming.

This week's pipe pic comes from a well-used book on my reference shelf: a reprint of the 1929 Johnson Smith novelties catalog, which seems appropriate as we just celebrated April Fools' Day.

This essential hardcover (in a slipcase, no less) was published in 1970. I most likely bought it from the remainder table in a mall bookstore, when such places existed. It includes a wonderful introduction by humorist, writer, storyteller, and radio and TV personality Jean Shepherd (1921-1999). Shepherd's voice, if not his name, is familiar to most of America thanks to endless airings of A Christmas Story, the film based on his writings. Shep, as he was known to fans, narrated the film, and made a brief on-camera appearance.

Before we go searching for our whoopee cushion and cigarette loads (a teenage favorite of a certain mononymous cartoonist), let's review the week in Bizarro.
What do scientists know, anyway? The vacuum of space is a hoax intended to control your behavior. Some readers interpreted this cartoon as a form of political commentary, but I prefer to see it as an exploration of the baffling human practice of willfully ignorant, even prideful self-destruction.
Tuesday's panel explains the real reason side-by-side washers and dryers are usually configured with their doors handles facing each other. They're less intimidating when they look a little goofy.
If you fall out of the boat, you'll be late for the torment and damnation. 
By the way, the gondolier of Hades is wearing wail-cancelling headphones.
On prior April Fools' Days, we've been known to place an intentionally incorrect Secret Symbol count in the signature. Last year, I even used a different number in each configuration of the comic. This time, however, I made a fool of myself by undercounting the number of symbols in this panel. There are actually seven, not six as indicated. 
If this gag didn't stimulate your funny bone, you can still laugh at the boneheaded cartoonist.
After a year of lockdown, many of us can relate to having a conversation with a plant.

While researching Saturday's gag, I learned that these ubiquitous annoyances are called "air dancers" or "tube men."

That's the recap for this week. Don't forget to pop by Dan Piraro's blog to see what he has to say about this batch of drollery. While you're there, take a peek at his latest magnificent Bizarro Sunday page, and feel free to shop for some groovy Bizarro swag.

Bonus Track

Charles Mingus: The Clown
Atlantic Records, 1957

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.

Our previous bonus track (and pipe pic) featured Charles Mingus. I hadn't planned to share another of his  recordings this week, but when I was writing this post, I was reminded of the unusual collaboration between Mingus and the aforementioned Jean Shepherd, which shows a darker side of Shep.

Mingus described the genesis of this piece in an interview:

I felt happy one day. I was playing a little tune on the piano that sounded happy. Then I hit a dissonance that sounded sad, and I realized that the song had to have two parts. The story, as I told it first to Jean Shepherd, is about a clown who tried to please people—like most jazz musicians do—but whom nobody liked until he was dead.

And people think we're harsh toward clowns in Bizarro.

The Pipes Are Calling

If you run across any amusing images featuring pipes, be sure to alert us. We're on the lookout for pipe pics to share on the blog. Thanks!


  1. "Tuesday's panel explains the real reason side-by-side washers and dryers are usually configured with their doors handles facing each other."

    I don't know if you were being facetious, or serious. If you've ever done laundry, you'd know the real reason the doors face each other.

  2. Facetious, as charged!

  3. It's probably weird but I feel bad for the teenager in the Hades bound gondola. What did he do to be in that cartoon?

  4. Not sure when this was done, but sadly Shep became quite dark and bitter toward the end of his life. As a kid, I used to listen to his great improvised stories on KFRC, San Francisco. Had to do it under the covers because it came on at 11pm and I was supposed to be asleep.