Saturday, June 26, 2021

Clothes Don't Make the Man

Greetings from sunny Hollywood Gardens, PA, the home of Bizarro Studios North. Since our last post, we celebrated the Summer Solstice by watching not one, but two seasonally-appropriate creepy movies. I believe I've recovered from that disturbing entertainment, and can write a post reviewing the week in cartoons.

Speaking of the blog, it seems that ye olde Google Blogger platform will no longer provide email notifications to subscribers. So, I'm going to start sending out a weekly notification with a blog link to everyone who's currently subscribed.

If you'd like to have a fresh link delivered to your inbox when we publish a new post, you can subscribe here, or by clicking the subscription link over to the right, under the Useful Linkages header. You will also have the option to unsubscribe at any time.

Before we jump into the week's gags, we have another pipe pic to share. This one is from our illustration archives.

This snappy simian was created for a beer label several years ago, and he was recently retired, so you can only see him here. Perhaps I can sell it as an NFT to some tech zillionaire. If you're interested, submit an offer.

Now, with the preliminaries out of the way, let's review our latest batch of drollery.

Monday's cartoon made me hungry, and, during the writing of it, a little bit crazy. I agonized over the dialog and changed the first word balloon from "I hear boiling water" to "I hear water boiling" and back again at least a dozen times. Without a submission deadline, I might never have finished it at all.

I had fun with this one, and spent more time than I should have tweaking the "Strawbucks" logo in the window. Quite a few readers made me laugh with punning comments. My favorite asked if the couple had met on Tinder.

Surprisingly, nobody suggested that the smiling partner was going to bale on him.

The strip layout allowed me to show more of the logo, which I found satisfying.

What he lacks in self-awareness, he makes up for in misplaced confidence.

Some businesses know exactly how to appeal to their customers' egos, such as this shop, where the well-dressed emperor can buy the very latest in exilewear.

An illustration from our unpublished book, Probing for Dummies.

I'm not quite sure how the data gets reported, but a single panel gag can avoid such questions. A close friend once had to wear a (non-reptilian) heart monitor for several days, and I have a feeling it wasn't any less unpleasant that the one in our cartoon.

That's it for the week in Bizarro. As always, thanks for stopping by. Don't forget to visit Dan Piraro's blog, where he shares whatever is on his active and inquisitive mind, along with a new widescreen Sunday page.

In non-comics news, I was out of the studio Friday morning, and stopped by a favorite cafe to buy some coffee beans. I was thrilled to find that they were open for in-person service, and I started the morning the way I did many hundreds of times before our months of lockdown, with a cup or two of espresso, friendly conversation, and the daily crossword puzzle.

I've certainly become more appreciative of small, normal things over the past year and a half. I hope each of you encounter unexpected pleasures this week, too. 

Bonus Tracks

Wednesday's overconfident mascot brought two musical selections to mind, so have a double bonus this time around.

Note: Many YouTube videos are unavailable outside the USA. On some mobile devices, you must select View Web Version of this blog to see the video links.

First, a catchy number by Gang of Four, from a 1982 television appearance.

And to close out, a laid-back tune by my old friend Ben Vaughn.

I met Ben 1988, when his band performed here in Pittsburgh, and graciously autographed their LP, Beautiful Thing for me.

Ben is a talented composer, performer, and songwriter. One of my earlier musical aggregations regularly featured his songs "A Good Woman is Hard to Find" and "She's a Real Scream" in our set list. I probably owe him a few bucks in royalties.

This is also the perfect opportunity to recommend his weekly radio show and podcast, The Many Moods of Ben Vaughn. It's up to nearly 400 episodes, and I've personally enjoyed each one. He's a knowledgeable and entertaining DJ, too.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

For Those About to Flock

Saturday has rolled around again, which means it's time for a pipe pic and a look at the latest batch of Bizarro comics.

This feline image appeared as the cover of a Polish matchbox sometime in the 1960s, if unsubstantiated claims from anonymous internet users are to be believed. Whatever its provenance, it's a charming graphic, which we're happy to share.

Our own pictorial output doesn't share the stylized elegance of the smoking kitty, but we hope that our doodles give readers the occasional laugh.

On Pun Day Monday we celebrated of the maker movement.
Gibson's Flying V guitar was introduced in 1958, with an initial run of a hundred instruments. Production resumed in the 60s, and its popularity grew over the decades. 
I reasoned that geese would be attracted to the instrument, based on their migratory formation, and built the gag around that thought.

When I see a Flying V, I think of Dave Davies of the Kinks. Davies owned one of the original 1958 Flying Vs, which he supposedly bought in an American music shop when his Guild Starfire guitar had been lost in transit during a tour of the US. 
His V sold for $33,000 at auction in1995. It was sold again in 2019, but I've been unable to find out how much it went for.

When I reconfigure a Bizarro panel for clients who run it in a horizontal strip format, I'm usually able to move elements of the art, and with a little digital cleanup, it's not too difficult. However, the row of guitars hanging on the wall in this comic gave me some trouble. No matter how I shifted, transformed, or flipped that part of the image, it looked wrong, and I had to redraw them completely. 

Several readers said that they'd like to get a "Some Band You Never Heard Of" shirt, and I may look into an on-demand t-shirt printer to see if they'd actually sell.

I spoof Batman more than any other superhero, with the Hulk coming in second. As a child of the television age, my two brothers and I watched the Adam West Batman series religiously, so he's ingrained in my psyche.

The character made the news this week, when a controversy arose over a sex scene in an animated series. An upcoming episode of Harley Quinn included a sequence with Batman about to provide oral pleasure to Catwoman. According the show's co-creator, executives at DC Comics objected, saying, "Heroes don't do that." Half the world's population might disagree.

This is a common problem among influential content creators.

Friday's caption was inspired by the BBC TV programs Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley's People, which were based on John LeCarré novels. The protagonist, George Smiley, is an officer of the British overseas intelligence agency, which is referred to as "The Circus." 

I'd always assumed that "circus" was a pun on "service." It actually refers to Cambridge Circus, a traffic intersection in London where LeCarré's fictional spy agency was headquartered. (In Britain, a circular junction is called a circus, as in the more familiar Picadilly Circus.)

Both programs are favorites in my home, and we rewatch them every year or two. During our most recent viewing, not only did I learn something, but I was also gifted with a gag idea.

The defendant was placed under doghouse arrest.

Thanks for visiting. We appreciate your readership and your comments. Don't forget to pop by Dan Piraro's blog for additional commentary, and to check out his latest magnificent Bizarro Sunday page.

Bonus Track

"Flying V" by They Might Be Giants
From the CD/DVD set Here Come the ABCs

This delightful video by TMBG was designed by Sam Henderson (an old friend of your cartoonist) and animated by Richard O'Connor.

Disclaimer: Some YouTube videos are unavailable outside the US. On some mobile devices, you must view the web version of this blog to see the video link and preview.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Classic Rock

Greetings, and welcome to our regular Saturday cartoon roundup.

This handsome fellow was part of my daily television diet as a young lad. His name was Ted Eckman, the host of Captain Jim's Popeye Club. Supposedly, someone else was using the name "Captain Ted" at the time, so he became Captain Jim. He was one of my first pipe-smoking idols.

Some of my earliest memories of making art involve trying to draw the animated characters I watched nearly every day. Let's review the past week's Bizarro comics to see whether that influence shows in my current work. I've got some chores to take care of today, so the commentary will be briefer than usual.

This cocktail is also noted for its Tangy finish.

This part of the story was redacted from most translations of the original texts, on the advice of legal counsel.

One must admire this individual's ability to anticipate his needs before it's too late.

This kid's spelling and punctuation are terrible even in spoken form. I don't usually read comments that start with the word "actually" or the phrase "It should be," but those prompted by Thursday's panel were too amusing to miss.

We like to run our favorite gag on Friday, and that turned out to be a lucky coincidence this week. Friday, June 11 was the 72nd birthday of ZZ Top drummer Frank Beard (the band member who doesn't have a beard). Sometimes the universe smiles upon a cartoonist. We wish Mr. Beard a happy birthday, and hope he may have seen this comic and smiled.

Sharp-eyed Jazz Pickles will notice that the prison librarian is holding a copy of The Mad Reader, a sacred text from my youth.

I no longer have a copy, but this paperback was my introduction to the early MAD comics, under the editorship of Harvey Kurtzman, who we featured as one of our favorite pipe pics.

My first sketch for this gag was too direct in its punchline.

The reference to Houdini's memoirs provides an extra beat for the gag to be delivered, as the reader makes a leap from "Houdini" to "escape," without having it spoon-fed to them.

That's our review for June 12, 2021. We hope you'll drop by next week for more of this stuff. Be sure to visit Dan Piraro's blog, where he also deconstructs our latest gags and shares a new Bizarro Sunday page.

Bonus Track

Eddie Bo: "Check Mr. Popeye" (1962)

Thanks, Captain Jim, wherever you are.

NOTE: some YouTube videos are unavailable in some parts of the world, and that the mobile version of this blog doesn't always show the video preview link. If you don't see it, click on View Web Version.

Saturday, June 05, 2021

They Call Me MISTER Peanut!

Welcome to our weekly cartoon retrospective, where we share the latest gags from Bizarro Studios North, plus anything else that catches our scattered attention.

We usually like to start with a pipe pic as part of our ongoing celebration of Bizarro's newest Secret Symbol, the Pipe of Ambiguity. This time, we have a beautiful double-piper for you.

Following last week's photo of the Graham Chapman, this shot features  fellow Pythons Terry Jones and Michael Palin at the 2012 premiere of A Liar's Autobiography: The Untrue Story Of Monty Python's Graham Chapman.

One of last week's comics referenced a fictional music group that exists within the Bizarro comic universe.

Dedicated readers recognized their logo from an earlier panel, which also mentioned the band by name.

Of course, it's the ever-popular Iron Bunnies of Doom. As I look at this one, I regret not adding an umlaut to the name.

Now, let's check on the current output of our fun factory.

These mugs are known as The Gang That Couldn't Keep a Straight Face.

He could eat more, but he prefers sun-dried appetizers.

A few readers didn't understand the caption, because they weren't familiar with the term "spaghetti western." Inevitably, a gag will elude some people, but I hope they return the next day and find a joke that connects with them.

The innovative lawman was loosely modeled on the late comedian, actor, and game show host Rip Taylor. Part of Taylor's shtick was tossing confetti over himself and his audience.

Isn't it refreshing to see people who truly enjoy their work?

We assumed that Mister Peanut is familiar enough to most readers that they'd know whose photo is on that screen. I also reasoned that he couldn't possibly be the only member of an anthropomorphic legume species, and imagined life in a society of peanut people (as well as peanut extraterrestrials).

Saturday's gag was based on a misspelling I spotted in a social media post. I decided that perhaps it wasn't really a typo, but a word I hadn't encountered before.

That's the latest from our drawing board. Don't forget to check in on Dan Piraro's blog for his comments on this batch, along with a brand new Bizarro Sunday page.

In one of Dan's recent blog entries, he included a neat description of the way our partnership works. In case anyone here has wondered about it, I'd like to share his summary:

Here’s something you’ve never heard before or already knew: I, Dan Piraro, do the Sunday Bizarro cartoon each week and my partner, Wayno, writes and draws the Monday-Saturday cartoons, which are a different shape. People new to this site don’t always know that so I like to mention it from time to time. Also, Wayno is in no way trying to emulate my style but our styles of both drawing and humor are similar and so there are some readers who cannot readily see the difference. Is any of this important for you to know? Important is probably too strong a word, so, no.

One of his blog readers asked, "Do you and Wayno talk about the daily comics or is he pretty much on his own?" Dan replied:

[Wayno] sends me sketches before inking and we occasionally discuss ways to improve a joke or picture. I see them all before he commits them to ink but I only rarely suggest a change, and whether or not he follows my suggestion is his choice. He's good at what he does and needs no supervision but we both enjoy collaborating. 

We've been working together in one way or another since 2009, and I started doing the daily comics in 2018. It remains the best gig I've ever had, and the quotes included above certainly explain why.

Bonus Track

Tuesday's gag gives me the perfect excuse to share this wonderful buzzard-themed song, performed by the Andrews Sisters. The clip comes from the 1945 film, Her Lucky Night.

As always, we must note that some YouTube videos are unavailable in some parts of the world, and that the mobile version of this blog doesn't always show the video preview link. If you don't see it, click on View Web Version.