Saturday, September 18, 2021

Four Thumbs Up

As I mentioned last time, I'm attempting to reduce the amount of physical stuff I have throughout the house and studio. It's an interesting process for someone who's been a lifelong accumulator. I'm rediscovering things I haven't seen in years, such as this sketch of a strange beast smoking a pipe.

It's an ink drawing on a 3" x 5" index card from January 2011. I found it in a file drawer along with a couple other index card sketches. I believe I was sitting behind a table at a comics convention when I made these stream of consciousness doodles to pass the time, and to hand to passersby.

Let's look at this week's Bizarro comics, and see if my drawing skills have improved at all since then.

This was the first of two clown-based gags bookending the week's output. My partner in comics, Dan Piraro, often comments on the number of clown comics I produce. In a recent entry on his blog, he articulated something I've always felt but never clearly expressed:

[F]amous clowns are often quite hilarious and artful. Those ones that roam the audiences before Cirque de Soleil shows come to mind. It’s the local, shopping mall, birthday party, amateur or semi-pro clowns that give the art form a bad name. Those kinds of clowns are sort of the karaoke of humor; anyone can do it but you might need to be real drunk to tolerate it for long.

Thanks for putting that into words, amigo.

Although I've drawn koalas before, while studying reference material for this drawing, I learned that Koalas have two opposable thumbs on each front paw, helping them climb, hold onto trees, and eat. As if they weren't freaky enough.

A gag utilizing the old reliable "plus one" technique, or as we call it, the Tufnel Method.

During my ongoing cleanup campaign, I also came across a set of 3-D postcards featuring some of my late twentieth century art.

These were released around 1992, and were produced by my friend Ray Zone (1947-2012). An early supporter of my comics, Ray was a generous champion of independent cartoonists. He was also a master of old school stereoscopic images, and was widely known as "The 3-D King of Hollywood."

My quirky, non-linear career has certainly enabled me to meet and become friends with a lot of interesting and talented people, many of whom were already heroes of mine. Eternal thanks go out to Ray, in whatever dimension(s) he currently inhabits.

Swimming, like life, is all about balance and moderation.

This panel was built on a sort of visual pun. The word "terrapin" doesn't sound at all like "terrain," but its spelling is similar enough for a reader's brain to make that assumption. It works as a joke when read silently, but not when spoken aloud. If there's a name for this type of wordplay, I'd love to know what it is.

We closed out the week with a second clown gag, and a more conventional pun. Like Monday's clown gag, this also contains seven of Bizarro's secret symbols.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope some of these words and pictures provided a chuckle and a momentary distraction from the awful goings-on in the world. 

For more wisdom like the clown assessment quoted earlier, visit Dan Piraro's Bizarro blog, where he also shares his latest Sunday page, which is always a magnificent work of cartoon art.

Bonus Track

The Who: Under My Thumb, 1967

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The Who recorded this Rolling Stones song to raise bail money for their friends Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, who were jailed after an infamous drug bust. The Who's bass player, John Entwistle was away on his honeymoon, so Pete Townshend overdubbed the bass parts on this, and a cover of "The Last Time." The record was available in shops just two days after it was recorded, by which time Mick and Keith had already been released from jail.

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  1. Wordplay (or word play, and also called play-on-words) is the clever and witty use of words and meaning. ... Using wordplay techniques relies on several different aspects of rhetoric, like spelling, phonetics (sound and pronunciation of words), and semantics (meaning of words).

  2. Assuming this funeral is the result of an accident involving a clown car, how many clowns are in the casket?

  3. Homographs are words that are spelled the same but pronounced differently. If there's not already a word for the humor technique used in your terrain/terrapin cartoon I'd suggest Homographic Allusion.

  4. I have a favourite written only joke.
    There are only 10 types of people in this world, those that understand binary notation and those that don't.

  5. I enjoy your daily comics in the paper and also reading your blog about them at the end of each week.

    I'm delighted to find your reference to the Tufnel Method. I'm not sure whether that'll be a joke for People of a Certain Age as time passes, but it would be a shame if it doesn't perpetuate.

    I compete in dog agility with my dogs (a game in which we run around an obstacle course full tilt with me giving instructions (that's called "handling") and the dog doing the obstacles), and there's one "team" relay event that occurs occasionally, where three people and their dogs take turns running the same course after switching batons. The team who runs the fastest--and believe me it can get really crazy fast--win. People often love to come up with creative names for their teams and even make t-shirts. 13 years ago, I teamed with 2 friends and we called ourselves "Handling Distortion", and our t-shirts had a large volume dial like the one you refer to and, in large print, "The Thing Is, We Go to 11." I'm not sure that we actually achieved that goal that day, but it was fun and I still chortle every time I wear that shirt. Thanks for that memory, too!

  6. Thanks for the kind comments and the great story about your dog agility team. Your dogs are lucky to have such an excellent human companion.

  7. For whom is your question intended?

    1. I was replying to the question from Charles, above.