Saturday, October 30, 2021

Smell You Later

Happy Devil's Night from all of us at Bizarro Studios North. In addition to the usual recap of our most recent gags, today's post includes a fancy animated GIF, and a link to a comic art auction for a worthy cause.

This week's pipe pic is also an unapologetic plug for Bizarro merch.

The Pipe of Ambiguity, which became our newest Secret Symbol this year, is now available as a die-cut vinyl sticker. It can be purchased singly, or as part of a set of twelve different stickers. These can only be found at the official Bizarro shop.

I'm proud of this little doodad. The PoA was my baby, and Dan used my art for the sticker. I'll be slapping one one my ukulele case soon.

Please note, the smoking burro is not included in the sticker set.

As we look over this week's comics, let's see how many times the pipe shows up.

Souls who roam the earth are believed to retain their sense of smell, along with a sense of indignation.

If only he'd sprung for the additional rider.
You know you're officially a parent when you give up the GTO and buy an SUB.
Call me old fashioned, but if I'm drawing a James Bond gag, Bond will probably be modeled on Sean Connery. Also, I thought it was appropriate since I was referencing Dr. No, the first Bond film.
Besides, Connery is the Bond I remember from my childhood bubble gum cards.

A familiar complaint at the local monkey bar: Never trust a weasel.
We wrapped up the week with a romantic (and wordless) date night scene. 

Just for fun, I built this animated GIF showing the panel's progress from sloppy digital sketch to penciled art, inked art, and completed monochrome panel, cleaned up and finished off in Photoshop.

On the Auction Block

As noted in the opening paragraph, the National Cartoonists Society and the NCS Foundation are currently holding an auction of original comic art to benefit St. Jude Children's Hospital. Most of the works were created specifically for this auction to commemorate milestone anniversaries of various comics and comic characters. The sale is being run by Heritage Auctions.

I donated a drawing celebrating fifty years of Zippy the Pinhead. I've been reading Bill Griffith's comics since almost the beginning, and it was a joy to draw Zippy for this project.

That covers it for this week. Thanks for following the blog and for reading Bizarro. If you'd like to be notified when a new blog entry is posted, or if I have any exciting news to share, you can subscribe to my newsletter for free. Each newsletter also includes an advance peek at a comic I'm currently working on.

I recommend popping by Dan Piraro's blog to find out what's occupying his active mind this week, and to gaze in wonder and admiration at his latest Bizarro Sunday page. And don't forget to order some stickers!

Oh, and don't get involved in too much mischief tonight. See you next Saturday.

Your Seasonal Bonus Track

The Shaggs: It's Halloween
from Philosophy of the World, 1969

NOTE: 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 image.

The story of the Shaggs is one of the oddest in music history. The Wiggins sisters (Helen, Betty, and Dot) from Fremont, New Hampshire, were "managed" by their father, who was convinced that they'd be a huge commercial success. The album is an aural cousin of what's commonly called "outsider art," and it's something curious listeners ought to experience at least once.

The blog and newsletter are always free,
but gratuities are welcomed.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Strange Case

Greetings from Bizarro Studios North, where we work every day to bring you amusing words and pictures. Speaking of which, last weekend the National Cartoonists Society held its 75th annual Reuben Awards. For the second year in a row, it was a streaming-only event.

I've been an NCS member since 2007, and attended my first Reubens when it was held here in Pittsburgh in 2013. Since that time, I've gone to every awards weekend, and always come home energized after hanging with other cartoonists, many of whom are heroes who have become friends. We all need to escape our studios occasionally and socialize, but it wasn't possible this year or last.

Good friend and colleague Mark Parisi won the Newspaper Panels award for his long-running comic, Off the Mark, which was great to see online, but it wasn't the same as being together to celebrate late into the night, or at least until the bar closes. If you aren't familiar with Mark's work, I recommend checking it out. I search his comics regularly to make sure a gag I've written hasn't already appeared in OTM.

The organization's main award (THE Reuben), given for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year, went to Ray Billingsley, the gent who's been doing the daily and Sunday strip Curtis for over thirty-three years. Ray has also become a friend since I started attending the Reubens, and I look forward to congratulating him in person when we can hold the event in person. Maybe next year...

This week, we have a pipe that's a perfect fit for Bizarro: a painting of a pipe-smoking clown.

Clown à la Pipe
Oil on panel, (8.7 x 6.3 in.)

Armand Henrion (1875-1958) was a Belgian artist with a strangely singular output. It seems that all of his known paintings are small self-portraits, with the artist/subject dressed as a clown, often smoking a pipe, cigar, or cigarette. Since we don't have any clown gags in this batch of comics, I hope this Henrion painting will tide us over. In the future, I'll probably share another of his smoking selfies.

Now, let's see what familiar Bizarro character types did appear this week.

What a relief. At least we have cats in the mix. Drawing the shredded upholstery for this panel was a relaxing exercise, unlike encountering such a piece of furniture in one's home.

My absolute favorite online response to this gag was posted by a couple of readers, who suggested that an ant-acid was called for. They made reading through all of the comments worthwhile.

My initial sketch was rather grotesque, and we ultimately decided to omit the gnarly tongue in favor of the final version, which mimics a human reaction to spicy food (with some exaggeration).

I've done several gags using this familiar corporate mascot, and have also parodied Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, so this comic was bound to happen sooner or later.

Speaking of grotesqueries, I spotted this hilarious Mr. Peanut knockoff a few weeks ago at our local farm market. I'm not sure who or what that small figure is meant to be, and welcome any speculation. Maybe it's a naked cashew.

When cartoonists employ familiar characters in order to make a comedic observation or comment on the character itself, that falls under the Fair Use" legal umbrella. This signage, however, is a clear (if clumsy) case of trademark violation.

This was another one I particularly enjoyed drawing. As regular readers know, I love using inanimate objects as protagonists. By rendering the traffic signal as accurately as I could, without any human features, I hoped to emphasize its feelings of alienation and isolation.

The first example of a ploy some still attempt, although it didn't work out for this guy.

Interspecies therapy sometimes has its difficulties.

That's the latest from our corner to the funny pages. Thanks for the  comments, social media shares, and donations to the virtual tip jar.

Be sure to check out Dan Piraro's blog for a fresh Bizarro Sunday page, along with his comments on these gags, and with other philosophical musings.

Before we close out with a musical selection, I'm compelled to share a wonderful photo of Salvador Dali walking an anteater as he exits the Paris Metro in 1969.

Bonus Track

Mose Allison: "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde"
from My Backyard (Blue Note Records, 1990)

 Note: Many YouTube videos are unavailable outside the USA.
On some mobile devices, you must select View Web Version
on this blog to see the video link and preview image.

 We can never get enough Mose Allison here.

The blog and newsletter are always free,
but gratuities are welcomed.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Rule of Law

October is whizzing by, and here at Bizarro Studios North, we're immersing ourselves in horror and science fiction movies. Some visions of dystopian futures are looking better than our dystopian present, as a significant portion of the country courts a plague while trying to drag the rest of us down with them. Thank goodness we have art and music as momentary respites from real-life bad news.

Also, this is the weekend for the National Cartoonists Society's 75th annual Reuben Awards, and the second year of having it as a streaming-only event. I'll be watching and cheering on many friends who are nominated for awards.

A while back, we shared a mysterious pipe pic drawn by cartoonist Ernie Bushmiller (1905-1982) for his iconic comic strip, Nancy. Ernie returns this week, with two panels from a Nancy strip published in 1946.

It's another one of Bushmiller's frequent jabs at modern art. The full strip included an introduction and closing, but it works well with just the two center panels.

Speaking of comic panels, let's review the latest Bizarro gags.

We think the portmanteau word "skort" was made for comical interpretation.


The current real estate market has dashed many prospective buyers' wishes for finding an affordable home.

As the saying goes, "Cats gonna cat."

At least they didn't reverse an "R" in their pursuit of kuteness.

I know plenty of people would think twice about speeding with this type of traffic enforcement in place.

The strip layout allowed for extra spacing between the sign, the cop, and the nun, which I think provides a slight delay to the payoff.

How many times have you heard that phrase uttered by proud pet owners, only to have it disproved when you extend a hand? We're happy to present a scenario where it's actually an understatement.

Well, that's the latest from Bizarro Studios North. I'm off to make popcorn for my Reuben Awards and scary movie viewing. Thanks for dropping by once again. Don't forget to visit Dan Piraro's blog to find out what's on his mind this week, and to see his latest Bizarro Sunday page. 
Last Sunday's gag featured some fun little details in the background, including references to Dan's teenage band, and my current combo. He didn't tell me about this in advance, so it was a sweet surprise to me on Sunday morning, too.

Dan also posted an informative entry the other day, explaining his process for drawing and coloring his ongoing graphic novel, Peyote Cowboy. I've known him for a long time, and admired his art for even longer, and his work continues to knock me out.
Bonus Track
Eggs Over Easy
I'm Gonna Put a Bar in the Back of My Car (And Drive Myself to Drink)
from Good 'n' Cheap: The Eggs Over Easy Story
Note: Many YouTube videos are unavailable outside the USA.
On some mobile devices, you must select View Web Version
on this blog to see the video link and preview image.
Eggs Over Easy were a band of Americans who traveled to London in 1971, and eventually landed a standing gig at a pub called The Tally Ho, where they attracted a growing audience, which included Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, and Nick Lowe, and they're often credited as a major inspiration for British pub rock musicians.

This single, with its ridiculously lengthy title, was released in 1974, after they'd returned to the US, and is one of their finest moments.

The blog and newsletter are always free,
but gratuities are welcomed.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Smoking the Bear

Your cartoonist has had a happily productive week, buoyed by gorgeous early autumn weather, and nourished by the bounty available at the farmers' market. I also got a lot of drawing done on Monday when Facebook and Instagram disappeared for several hours.

As always, music contributed to my work environment, and a highlight of this week was the latest episode of Mike Michalik's podcast, Auralcheology. The title may be tricky to pronounce, but the series is entertaining and informative. Each hour-long episode features selections from the history of recorded music, along with fascinating bits of biography on each performer. I always learn something new, and am often introduced to music I hadn't encountered before. If you have an interest in forgotten or obscure music, I recommend Auralcheology. Tell Mike Wayno sent you!

This week's pipe pic is a Yogi Bear bubble pipe, probably from the 1960s.

I was a childhood fan of the cartoon show, as evidenced by this photo of me with one of my brothers wearing giant Yogi heads, which were mail order premiums from some Kellogg's cereal.

The photo reminds me that Halloween is fast approaching, and we've got at least one spooky gag among this week's Bizarro cartoons. Enjoy the recap, and don't be frightened by any specters that turn up.

Monday's gag compelled a couple of online experts to tell me that dogs are color blind, and that Scottie wouldn't know the color of her house, without considering that she probably heard it being described as green.

These particular critics were willing to accept a talking thimble, but not a dog who knows the color of its house.

A rarely-seen reverse haunting. The Amalgamated Apparitions Union is currently reviewing a grievance filed against the kid.

Real estate can be a brutal business, particularly in a town where buildings are made out of its citizens. These prospective buyers are balancing the bargain price against their guilt feelings.

Where would cartoonists be without the therapist's couch? I mean, as a device for comical situations, of course.

Friday's panel contains a medical breakthrough, and the highest Secret Symbol count of any gag this week.

I was pleased with the portmanteau caption, which combines two medical terms. If any of you are considering marketing a product like this, I can tell you that the name is not currently trademarked. (The search feature of United States Patent and Trademark Office site is one of my most frequent time wasters.)

This panel ends a three-week gap since our last clown gag. I'm secure in the knowledge that the well of clown-based jokes hasn't run dry yet.

That's the latest from Bizarro Studios North. Thanks for dropping by, and special gratitude to all who've sent comments, suggested pipe pics, and dropped some coins in the virtual tip jar. I encourage you to visit Dan Piraro's blog, where my partner-in-comics shares his newest Sunday Bizarro page, offers commentary on my recent dailies, and speaks about whatever else is on his inquisitive and perceptive mind.

I also invite you to subscribe to my newsletter. In each mailing, I share an exclusive peek at a Bizarro comic that's currently on my drawing board, and include a link to my newest blog post.

Bonus Track

Got A Match?
Frank Gallop
ABC-Paramount Records, 1958

NOTE: 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 image.

In the spirit of Auralcheology, I'm sharing an obscure item scanned and digitized from my archives. Frank Gallop (1900-1988) was a radio and TV personality, who mainly worked as an announcer. He recorded Got A Match? in 1958, but didn't return to the studio as a singer until eight years later, when he cut The Ballad of Irving, a parody of Bonanza star Lorne Greene's hit record, Ringo. Gallop's Irving was played regularly on Doctor Demento's radio show, but in my opinion Irving is no match for Match.

Got A Match? is a fine example of a quirky musical subgenre, which I suppose could be called "one liners." The most familiar is probably The Champs' Tequila. In my college days, a classmate told me about a strange record he heard at a relative's home. He couldn't remember the melody or title exactly, and he rendered the line as, "Hey, buddy, got a match?" Based on his vague description, I knew I had to hear it, and years later, when I found a copy of the single, I wasn't disappointed.

In time, I discovered three other recordings of the tune, performed by Lou Stein, Russ Conway, and The Daddy-O's. All were released in 1958, and all are fun, but Frank's version is the clear winner.

The blog and newsletter are always free,
but gratuities are welcomed.

Saturday, October 02, 2021

Dolls, Dogs, and Drinks

The longer we live, the more we experience the passing of friends, family, and others we admire. This week was no exception, as I learned of the death of musician Dr. Lonnie Smith at age 79. 

Dr. Smith was one of the most joyful players I've ever seen. I was fortunate enough to hear perform live twice, and his love for the music and the audience was evident each time. He was a master of funk on the Hammond B3 organ, and was also an occasional vocalist, as on his 1969 hit recording, "Move Your Hand."

I listened to several of his albums while working this past week, and they sounded as great as the first time I'd heard them. His latest was released in March, and featured two collaborations with the Godfather of Punk, Iggy Pop. 

Rest in Power, Doctor.

This week's pipe pic comes to us from another American original, children's author Richard Scarry (1919-1994).

Published in 1963, this was Scarry's first book as both author and illustrator, and kicked off his popular "Best Ever" series. A corncob pipe is a common accessory for a farmer, but a farmer who's also a lion is surprising.

Perhaps we'll surprise you with one of these recent Bizarro comics.

Monday's panel was a rare two-panel gag, without dialog. I'd been trying to create with a comic involving carnival photos for a while, and finally came up with this precursor of modern day Instagram filters.

In another nod to obsolete technology, we imagined a dressmaker who designs life-size paper doll clothing. 

This panel brought to mind my grandmother Mary, who ran a home-based business as a dressmaker for over forty years. Her work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit inspired me as a youngster and still do today. Both of my maternal grandparents influenced me in many ways, and I'm grateful to have known them into my adulthood. 

My grandfather started calling me Wayno, practically from the time I was born. I assume the name my parents chose wasn't Italian enough, and he bestowed the moniker on me. He also introduced me to coffee, adding a splash to my cup of milk. Although he left school at fifteen to start a fifty-year run working at a Pittsburgh steel mill, he read the local newspapers every day, as well as the Sunday New York Times, which counts me as a subscriber for decades.

I hadn't expected to take a detour into autobiography, but a reader who's a dressmaker expressed appreciation for this panel, and it brought up some pleasant memories.

But now, let's get back to the comics.

I've used Russian matryoshka dolls as characters a few times in the past. Before I signed up to be Bizarro's daily cartoonist, I did an online feature called WaynoVision. The gag below was my most shared (and most stolen) WaynoVision comic.

I just noticed a coloring error in this panel, on the front-facing wall above the word balloon. That small section is pink instead of gray. Not one of the scoundrels who clumsily removed my signature from the panel over the years ever bothered to make an actual correction.

As a constant second-guesser regarding my own work, I'm wondering if I should have used the word "drain" instead of "siphon." It could apply to a tank of liquid fuel as well as a battery. 

It wouldn't be a normal week here without a cartoon featuring dogs or cats, would it?

We're nothing if not dedicated to making things difficult for ourselves. This simple pun took longer to draw than any other panel this week, with those shelves full of bottles. Thankfully, it gave me some good spots for placing secret symbols. Plus I got to draw Bob Denver in his second greatest role.

The strip layout only shows two shelves and a small bit of a third. The rest of the display is implied by the cropping and Gilligan's revised posture.

Converting the panels to strips can be something of a puzzle, although Monday's novelty photo comic was no trouble at all.

That's the latest from your correspondent at Bizarro Studios North. Thanks, as always for stopping by and sharing your comments. Speaking of sharing, a special note of appreciation goes out to everyone who threw a few virtual shekels into the tip jar. We keep the blog and newsletter free, and appreciate any extra support in these times of uncertainty for printed papers.

Don't forget to visit Dan Piraro's blog, too. I read it every week, despite having seen most of the comics already. Dan's Sunday pages are always glorious, and I never fail to learn from his thoughts on other topics.

Bonus Track

Dr. Lonnie Smith with Iggy Pop
"Sunshine Superman," from Breathe
Blue Note Records, 2021

NOTE: 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 image.

The blog and newsletter are always free,
but gratuities are welcomed.