Saturday, May 28, 2022

Holy Mackerel

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.


Every joke is a tiny revolution. ~George Orwell

It's been one of those weeks when current events are so horrifying that pursuing humor as a profession can feel hollow. Orwell's Newspeak has come truer than he imagined. The group that identifies as pro-life wants to put deadlier murder weapons into more people's hands. So-called conservatives oppose any form of conservation, and "the party of Lincoln" is doing everything possible to maintain and expand codified inequality.

One has to remind oneself that humor communicates ideas. Understanding humor requires thought, and totalitarians fear a thinking populace. We hope that our comical words and pictures provide moments of relief, but also assurances that free thought will persist.

Apologies for the heaviness of this week's introduction, but the country's atmosphere has been particularly toxic, as you well know. I'll try to maintain our usual tone for the rest of this post.

I chose a pipe pic for the week that elevates my mood.

It's a wonderful portrait of jazz musician Doc Cheatham (1905-1997). Cheatham was a devoted disciple of King Oliver and Louis Armstrong, whom he described as "an ordinary-extraordinary man."

In the mid-1990s, he recorded a beautiful album with his much younger friend and fellow trumpeter, Nicholas Payton. Their version of "Save It, Pretty Mama," one of Armstrong's signature tunes, is a favorite of mine.

Let's review the week's Bizarro comics, and see if they bring you a chuckle or two.

The drawing of the musician in Monday's panel was based on the late Lemmy Kilmister of the English band Motörhead. The comic isn't specifically about Motörhead or Lemmy, but when I think of heavy metal musicians, he's the default image in my head. Supposedly, Motörhead holds the record for the loudest live performance of any band in history.

The protagonists of Detectorists, a British TV series, inspired the other character. Detectorists is a low-key comedy about rival bands of metal-detecting nerds in rural England. The two main actors are Toby Jones, who you'd recognize from many serious roles, and MacKenzie Crook, who also created and directed the series. It moves at a slow, almost hypnotic pace, and has a uniquely odd style of humor. These characters, which you might initially laugh at (almost looking down on them), turn out to be weirdly endearing and exhibit a quiet dignity. That's an inadequate description, but the best I can do. If you get a chance to check it out, I highly recommend it.


Nothing too fancy on Tuesday, just some medical wordplay.
 
I love to draw classic movie monsters, and I'm always pleased when I come up with a wordless comic, so Wednesday's rumble behind the castle was doubly rewarding.


I believe this is the first time I've published a comic using the trope of a big fish eating a small fish. Most readers probably recognized the literal depiction of a familiar phrase, and others may have detected some commentary on a frequent context for that phrase. The reader can decide if this is a case of ichthyology or, "Ick. Theology."
 
This vendor should consider charging by the foot.

The strip layout works almost as well, despite a small coloring error by the cartoonist.

I'd wager that this isn't the weirdest grant proposal ever submitted.

In order to make all of the Secret Symbols visible in the strip version, I tucked part of the fumetto (word balloon) behind the edge of the desk. I could have made the balloon shorter, but the text needs some space around it for easier reading. I'd just completed a batch of gags playing with speech balloons and thought bubbles, and I believe that freed my thinking to come up with this solution.

That's the latest from your humble cartoonist. Thank you for reading my words and pictures. Please drop by Dan Piraro's blog, too. He has much to say about various topics, and even comments on these very gags.

Also, I invite you to check out my weekly newsletter. It's free, and you can unsubscribe at any time. Each mailing features a sneak peek at a future Bizarro cartoon, and something from my archives.

Bonus Track

XTC, "Melt the Guns"
from the double LP English Settlement
Virgin Records, 1982

 

Thank you, Andy Partridge and XTC.



33 comments:

  1. Thanks for the recommendation of The Detectorists. The book, Nighthawks, by Elly Griffiths [Ruth Galloway series] has a group of them discovering not only old [of course, in England, old means REALLY OLD] artefacts, as well as a more recent body. My introduction to the word, if not the activity.

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    1. Anonymous4:58 PM

      Thanks for the Ruth Galloway tip!

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    2. Sounds like a good premise for a novel! If you get to watch Detectorists, please let me know how you like it.

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  2. "Shoeshine" took me a while, maybe showing a foot at the bottom would help. "Monsters" totally defeated me. Maybe I need more coffee?

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    1. Anonymous12:12 PM

      Hint: check out the items in their hand/paw.

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    2. Adrian, the monsters are exploiting each other's fears.

      I think that showing one of the clown's shoes in the frame would flatten the joke. If it takes an extra beat or two for the gag to hit, I consider that a success!

      Thanks for your comments, and I hope I'm not so mystifying on most days!

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  3. If ever there was a week to be heavy, this is one. It's frustrating to be held hostage by the tiny minority who worships at the altar of firearms uber alles. It seems like the only thing the rest of us can do is futilely voice our opposition.

    Thanks for the link to English Settlement. I love that album but haven't listened to it in a long time. I'm queueing it up to play when the new Elvis Costello & The Imposters album (which is fabulous) finishes.

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    1. Thank you SSteve. I appreciate the comment.

      XTC and Elvis Costello -- you can't go wrong there!

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  4. Tom in Dallas10:55 AM

    Still don't know what the monsters panel was trying to say.

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    1. They both brought weapons to the rumble aimed at their opponent's weakness. Wolfie brought fire and Frankie brought a rolled-up newspaper to hit the bad dog with.

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  5. Anonymous8:18 PM

    Your description of the Detectorists series reminded me of an old favorite, the similarly slow-paced Last of the Summer Wine which PBS showed here in the U.S. about 10-15 years ago. I was pleased to see Rachael Stirling is in the cast since I am a fan after seeing her impressive performance in an episode of Inspector Morse("Life Born of Fire"). I hope I can find Detectorists for viewing on my network. And, thanks for your always enjoyable weekly posts of commentary, music, etc.

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    1. Currently, it looks like the first two seasons of Detectorists are on Crackle and Freevee (the horrible new name for IMDB-TV). I believe they're free to watch, but have commercials. The third season is on Amazon Prime.

      Thanks for your kind comments, which brightened my Sunday.

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    2. Anonymous2:06 PM

      I finished streaming Detectorists this past week and am so grateful for your recommendation of this great program! What a talented award-winning ensemble, especially creator/co-star MacKenzie Crook. Wikipedia’s entry teases that a post-series special is in the works. Pat G.

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    3. So glad you enjoyed, it Pat. It's really got its own pace and vibe.

      At the risk of breaking a winning streak, I also recommend a quirky American series, Lodge 49, which is oh Hulu.

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  6. Radiowave91110:45 PM

    Loved the metal detector comic. I agree - Lemmy is the face of heavy metal. Not sure if it is unconscious bias on my part or your rendition (probably both), but I thought 'That's Lemmy' before I even read your description.

    Monster v Monster, got the 'weapon' against Frank right away, took me a few to realize the significance of what he was holding (vague on purpose, of course. To quote Professor Song, "Spoilers").

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    1. Lemmy's picture should be in the dictionary under "Heavy Metal!"

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  7. I did not come up with the phrase "big fish eat the little ones," despite the fact that the phrase is a lyric of a song that I frequently find running circles in my head. However, I interpreted this comic as a cleaner fish encouraging their brethren to join in this symbiotic pursuit. Perhaps my interpretation isn't so humorous, but I'm going to stick with it.

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    1. That works, too. I may have thought of this after seeing cleaner fish in some underwater documentary. We usually watch several minutes of soft-spoken nature documentaries to wind down before sleepytime.

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    2. Wayno, I thought you were referencing the the tongue-eating louse, Cymothoa exigua. Mother Nature is pretty weird.

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    3. Mother Nature is totally weird!

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  8. Anonymous5:35 PM

    Thank your for making my Sunday a little brighter. You challenge my thinking.

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  9. JasonBall346:17 PM

    I really like the visual depiction of the big fish with the little one in its mouth. It's almost absurdist (I don't know if that's the right word?), especially the big fish's goofy expression, and I love it.

    As for the coloring error in the clown comic strip layout, the only thing I'm seeing is that the baseboard that starts in the bottom left corner doesn't line up with the baseboard that's on the other side of the clowns. Is that what you're referring to?

    The monster showdown is brilliant! And on the witch comic, I love the detail that the proposal is on a yellowed and cracked scroll instead of a normal piece of paper. The speech balloon being tucked behind the desk is something I never would've noticed without it being pointed out, yet it's very clever and effective at accomplishing its purpose.

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    1. Anonymous9:42 PM

      the clown in the foreground has a differently colored hat.

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    2. I strayed on one of the pink stripes during the strip conversion.

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  10. Anonymous1:39 AM

    Wouldn't the gold fish's tail count for another secret symbol?

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    1. Only a separate tail without a fish counts.

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  11. Magnolia ThunderThighs9:06 AM

    This week's batch came with some great altered secret symbols like the Iron Bunny of Doom T-shirt on Monday's strip and the upside-down crow (plague doc?) on Saturdays.

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    1. Thanks! I like to tweak the symbols a little now and then.

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  12. Anonymous2:12 PM

    In the “Movie Monsters”, I like the way the eyes in the two secret symbols appear to be watching the fight 🤨

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  13. Pipe picture to consider

    https://www.npr.org/2022/05/31/1101440888/david-sedaris-happy-go-lucky?utm_campaign=npr&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_term=nprnews&fbclid=IwAR0cUo-SdLyaSsFfEY5JS4RrXbkgvGdeqoWh51SbitkVn0pZPwLXfzrF1O4

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    1. That's a great one. Apparently, Sedaris posted for several photos with that pipe. Another reader suggested one with the author bent over a typewriter. I'll use one of them for sure. Thanks!

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