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)

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 We can never get enough Mose Allison here.

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  1. Fire ants are a scourge I didn't know about when we moved to Florida. I can sympathize with that poor anteater; I have scars from fire ant bites (and the itching they engendered).

  2. Many years ago, Mose Allison played a what seemed like a hotel lounge in Vancouver. I drove across the city on a god-awful night to see him. Probably about 20 other brave souls did the same. He had two shows scheduled and no one would have blamed him if he shut it down early. He didn't. Stayed for both shows. Over four hours of pure gold.

    1. He was always great to hear. Thanks for sharing this memory.

  3. There was a giant Mr. Peanut sign in San Francisco when I was growing up. I remember every time I drove past it with my grandmother we'd call it Planters Pleanuts.

  4. I grew up in the home of Mr. Peanut, Richmond, VA. We always had fresh roasted peanuts as a treat. Seeing a likeness here, brought back so many nice memories. Thank you for that. Patricia Reid..