Saturday, April 30, 2022

Observation, Perception, & Puppetry

This is the weekly communiqué from Bizarro Studios North, where I (Wayno®) have been writing and drawing the Monday through Saturday Bizarro comics since 2018. My partner and friend, Dan Piraro, who created Bizarro in the late twentieth century, continues to do the Sunday comic from Rancho Bizarro in Mexico.

Like many people, I dislike hearing my own speaking voice. Nevertheless, a few days ago, I did an interview for The New Yorker Caption Contest Podcast. It was an honor to be added to their list of guests—a who's who of cartoonists I admire. The hosts were knowledgeable and welcoming, and I hope I did a passable job. 

When the episode is posted, I'll most likely hear only mistakes and annoying verbal tics, and will think of much better responses to every question.

My sincere thanks to podcasters Beth Lawler, Paul Nesja, and Vin Coca for letting me blab for an hour. I'll share a link when it's available, unless I go into hiding after listening to it.

Our pipe pic for today is a drawing rediscovered in a forgotten corner of my computer.

This was created for a quick & dirty art show consisting of 4" x 6" pieces mailed to my friend and neighbor Worker Bird. It was a stream of consciousness drawing, and it included The Pipe of Ambiguity more than a year before its introduction as one of Bizarro's secret symbols. I've no idea what's going on with that canister vacuum cleaner. Like a lot of my work, it may have been inspired by music I was listening to while drawing.

Don van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart
Trout Mask Replica photo session, 1969
photo by Ed Caraeff

This picture appears on the cover of the boxed set, Grow Fins: Rarities 1965-1982, by Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band. Around 1961, the future Captain had a brief career as a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman, and is said to have sold one to writer Aldous Huxley.

No vacuum cleaners were harmed during the production of this week's cartoons, as can be seen in the following recap.

The order clearly specified, "Hold the garlic." This panel includes a tiny callback to a project from ten years ago, when I had the privilege of designing boxes for a wonderful pizza shop in my neighborhood.
Sometimes, we all feel down in the troughs.

At least she didn't say, "It's okay, he's friendly."
The strip layout of this gag swapped one secret symbol for another, and features dramatic lighting effects. This variation is part of a failed strategy to get readers to subscribe to multiple newspapers so they can read both the panel and strip every day.

Thursday's comic revealed Sasquatch as an outsider artist. Many online commenters interpreted the character as an ape, which will remind me to strive for a more recognizable drawing of Bigfoot if the creature's feet are out of frame.

I enjoyed making pop art versions of our secret symbols, and created an extra one for the strip.
A character we love to parody makes yet another appearance, depicting a philosophical thought experiment contemplated by puppeteers through the ages.

We rounded out the week with a reversal of a familiar idiom. Bizarro's Inverted Bird symbol rarely wears anything other than a hat, but dressed as a stereotypical mobster for this panel.

Thanks for viewing our pictures and reading our words. We appreciate your eyeballs more than we can say. Drop by next Saturday for more comics and commentary.

If you'd like to be informed when a new blog entry is uploaded, and get an exclusive peek at an upcoming Bizarro panel, plus a dusty image from my illustration archive, you might like to sign up for my weekly newsletter. It's free, and you can of course unsubscribe at any time.

And don't forget to visit Dan Piraro's blog, for the latest news & views from Rancho Bizarro, along with a fresh Bizarro Sunday page.

Bonus Track

Robert Johnson
"Hell Hound on My Trail"
Recorded June 30, 1937
in Dallas, Texas

Robert Johnson was the earliest popular musician with the dubious honor of being included in "The 27 Club," a pop-culture catchall for performers who died at the age of 27. It's statistically insignificant, but remains a pop culture trope.

Johnson's brief career resulted in recordings of just 29 songs, but his influence can't be overstated. 

Had they been contemporaries, one wonders if Weird Al Yankovic would have recorded a parody number called "Hell Hound on My Lap."


  1. I love this week's pipe picture! Have you considered selling prints of it? I'd buy one!

  2. Tom Graner7:57 PM

    Regarding the pipe picture, it launched my memory banks to Harry Nilsson's album, "The Point". (also was an animated film on TV - kinda hard to find.) I have the original album with an illustrated saddle stitched piece with each song and the story tied in. So. One of the songs, "Think About Your Troubles", has an illustration that is in the same spirit/vibe that I see and get with yours.

    I have a link to a page on the Nilsson website page for The Point and if you scroll down they show the illustrations (love them) - the 2nd one has the Think About Your Troubles illustration.


  3. I recently saw a drawing from Harper Lee (who offed a mockingbird) and thought of your pipes. She had Julius Caesar smoking a pipe. You'll have to google it I guess.

  4. I haven’t seen those images for years! There is a similarity, for sure!

  5. Thanks, Kenton! I found the delightful Harper Lee sketch!