Saturday, July 03, 2021

Front Roe Seat

It's the eve of America's Independence Day holiday, and I'm slowly getting used the the idea of moving about freely in society. I'm not there 100% yet, but am enjoying seeing friends after so long, and we even ventured out to dine in an actual restaurant. We hope you're enjoying newly-restored personal freedoms, too.

We scoured the internet to find a suitable July 4th pipe pic, and think that this one works nicely.

I'd never seen this side of Uncle Sam before. He impressively holds a pipe in one corner of his mouth while blowing smoke out the other side, all without smearing his cherry red lipstick.

Before you assemble your pyrotechnic display for tomorrow night, perhaps you'd like to review this week's Bizarro comics.

As one of three highly competitive siblings, I grew up with this mealtime blessing:

In the name of the father, son, and holy ghost
Whoever eats the fastest gets the most.

I've fought against my speed-dining impulse since adolescence, and this comic served as a reminder to slow down.

I have only rudimentary knowledge of superhero comics, and had to do some research to figure out who I could draw as members of this team and what they look like. I was scolded by some readers for leaving out their favorite character, and others complimented me for including ones they liked. The most interesting comment read:

Bro the Wally west is so wrong in his kid flash costume he didn’t have a white emblem it had just the red lighting

Apparently this stickler for accurate comic book visuals isn't as strict regarding punctuation and capitalization.

If we did half of everything we claim during our medical exams, we'd be in great shape. My suspicion is that more people fudge the truth when their doctor asks how many alcoholic beverages they have in an average week, but I'm too tipsy to look up the data to support that hunch.

At Bizarro Studios we'll stop at nothing to set up a pun.

Friday's gag is my favorite of the week, and also my favorite of the year so far. When I sent my sketch to Dan Piraro, his review was: 

It’s hilariously and uncomfortably sexy, but not. Very strange.

That told me that I had something in this one.

I wrote and drew this panel back in March. The other day, I was searching the web for a drawing by my cartoon hero Virgil Partch. I remember seeing a self-portrait he'd done that would be an excellent pipe pic for the blog. I couldn't find a decent of that, but I ran across a mermaid cartoon by the master; one that's much naughtier than mine.

It's likely that I'd seen this comic sometime in the past, and I'm relieved  that my gag is different from VIP's, but it shows his strong influence on my work.

Oh, the problems faced by the privileged class.

Unfit for Print

Here's a comic we decided not to run, when some potential concerns were brought to our attention.

After we sent in the files for an upcoming week, our hardworking editors at King Features alerted us that the image might be viewed as a representation of domestic violence. They noted that domestic violence against men is an issue that often goes unreported.

My intention was to poke fun at the sport of mixed martial arts with a punning caption, and it hadn't occurred to Dan or me that it could appear that we're making light of a real-life social problem. Our editors suggested some ways the art might be changed to make the joke work, but after some discussion, we (Dan and I) decided to drop this panel and put another one in its place.

I've self-rejected tons of gags for various reasons, and usually get them weeded out early in the process. This is the first time I've dropped one after the art has been completed. Initially it bothered me, but I realized that since taking over the daily duties, I've done about 1,200 comics, and ditching one out of that number is a good success rate. It tells me that I've dumped most the stinkers early.

Although we chose not to run this in syndication, we decided to share it here on the blog, and hope that by providing context for the joke, it doesn't cause anyone discomfort.

As a relatively new syndicated cartoonist, I was impressed that the decision about this panel was left to the creators. Our editors offered insight and suggestions, but never once told us what we should do. I depend on them every day to spot typos or correct miscounted symbols, and this week I gained a deeper appreciation for what they do on our behalf.

After you've finished reading all of this, you ought to check out Dan Piraro's blog. Dan always has something interesting to say about my latest comics (among other topics), and his Sunday pages are stunning week after week.

Bonus Track

A song for tomorrow, performed by X.

"Fourth of July" was written by Dave Alvin of the Blasters, another great American band.

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Thanks, and have a safe holiday weekend.


  1. I half expected your mermaid cartoon to count her tail as one of the secret symbols.

  2. *snicker* Wayno typed "do do" in the blog.

    Seriously, thanks for another great week of toons.

    1. Thanks for alerting me to the scatological typo, and for the kind words.

  3. Really good version of Dave Alvin's "4th of July". Also check out Robert Earl Keen's take on this song.

  4. Wally West in his kid flash costume did in fact have a white emblem. The flash ... usually red, sometimes yellow. Just Google "wally west kid flash" and click on Images.

    Yeah I got hung up on the mermaid tail too. So to speak :-)

    1. Thanks for the clarification!

  5. Well well. It happened again. On Friday July 2 the Montreal Gazette substituted a cartoon where a doctor are seated across from each other and the doctor is saying: "Your test results came back & I'm afraid I have some bad news. You flunked every subject. You're an idiot and there's no cure."
    Dated 7-2 but no year.
    I get an extra cartoon once a month.

    1. That one was from 2015. How odd. Both times it was on the first Friday of the month. Please let me know what happens in August!

  6. I got curious after seeing the comment here saying that the Montreal Gazette didn't run the (excellent) mermaid cartoon. I looked around a bit on the website "Pressreader," and counted at least 6 newspapers that did the same thing and ran that 2015 cartoon in its place. All of them are Canadian newspapers owned by some company called Postmedia Network. All the American newspapers (whose print comics pages I could see online) had no problem and ran the mermaid cartoon just fine, so it was apparently only Canadians who saw the substituted cartoon. I'm guessing that someone at that Canadian newspaper conglomerate took issue with the subject matter, same with the June 3rd "remains to be seen" cartoon, and decided not to let their subscribers see it.

    I wonder how often this has happened over the years with Bizarro, and other comics, in various newspapers. It's quite interesting to me that someone somewhere has the power to effectively censor individual comics they think are too edgy, or for whatever other reason, on a whim, and apparently without even having to inform the artist. I once read about a specific British newspaper owned by catholics, which censored a bunch of Calvin & Hobbes during its run whenever something was deemed too offensive or anti-religion or whatever. This industry, with all its ups and downs, is fascinating to me.

  7. Anonymous6:56 PM

    Meanwhile the "Doctor" gets falling-down drunk on the weekends and smokes like a fireplace...