Saturday, May 07, 2022

Talking Comics

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.

On Sunday, we marked the May Day holiday as we always do, with a quiet meal prepared at home and a viewing of The Wicker Man, one of our a favorite films. I of course refer to the 1973 British movie, directed by Robin Hardy, not the 2006 American remake. We're snobbish about our folk horror around here.

Our opening photo for this entry is a handsome Meerschaum tobacco pipe, with a bowl carved in the form of a human skull being held in a slightly oversized hand. It's housed at London's Science Museum.

Bizarro reader Joe S recently suggested it as a pipe pic for the blog, but I also had the exact same image in a folder of pipe pictures on my computer dated March 2021. I can't remember if I found it on my own, or if someone alerted me to it. If you brought this to my attention a year ago, please drop me a note so I can acknowledge you on the blog. 

A tip of the Wayno porkpie to Joe S, and possibly someone else.

On Thursday, my interview on The New Yorker Caption Contest Podcast was appeared on the info superhighway. I took a deep breath and a strong drink before listening to it. I thought it turned out all right, so I'm comfortable sharing it. If you're not a Spotify fan, it's also on Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, and probably other platforms I'm not aware of.

Clockwise from top right:
Beth Lawler, Vin Coca, Paul Nesja, your cartoonist

During the discussion, Paul Nesja mentioned one of his favorite Bizarro cartoons, which turned out to be one that somebody had copied and altered. He later told me that that embarrassed him, but it made me consider the possibility that even someone who knows cartoons well might unknowingly share one that's been tampered with. I took it as a lesson to give people the benefit of the doubt when I see something like that in the future. I'll still report the image to have it removed, but I won't (necessarily) assume the person who posted it had malicious intent.

Here's our latest batch of official, unaltered Bizarro comics for your review and entertainment.

We began the week with our spin on a popular legend about a historical figure.

My first stab at the idea showed Ponce de León in the hallway of an elementary school.

The dialog was going to be: Behold, the less-impressive-than-anticipated Fountain of Youth

I decided it might be funnier to have a tiny explorer searching for a fountain scaled to his height, and worked up a few more sketches, eventually arriving at the final staging and text.

Revision 1

Revision 2

Final Sketch

Tuesday's panel indulged my fondness for using inanimate objects as comic protagonists without anthropomorphizing them. The caption is the latest example of adjacent metathesis as the basis of a joke.

The strip format required readers to rotate their newspapers ninety degrees clockwise, but here on the blog, we do the work for you.

Many people occasionally experience impostor syndrome, an extreme form of self-doubt. I repurposed the term for a gag, but here it might more accurately be called "willful impostor syndrome." The patient was clearly dedicated to the role, even shaving the top of his head.

Every organization has its own culture.
On the planet Krypton, the -El family were sophisticated designers, but had to dumb it down for Earthlings.

The beta test version of the barrow called for additional work, not unlike the gag itself. I originally drew this as a more static image.

Dan Piraro and I had several deep discussions as we tried to decide which version of the comic worked better. I like them both, but think that the published cartoon with furrows in the ground conveys the impracticality of the barrow without a wheel. Seeing them together again, I could probably be swayed either way.

That's our week in comics. Drop by again next Saturday for more of this kind of stuff. Don't forget to check out Dan's blog for his commentary, along with another glorious Bizarro Sunday page.

I also publish a weekly email newsletter to announce blog updates. Each newsletter includes a sneak preview of an upcoming comic, and something excavated from my illustration archives. It's free, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Bonus Track

Lesley Gore delivering a message to 2022 from 1964.



  1. If the guy would turn around and pull the 'barrow' he'd have a type of travois. The point would be dragging along the ground, not digging in, so it would be less work.

    But the joke wouldn't be as good that way.

  2. I like your idea, Nebulous! I think the joke would be funny as a travios because obviously the reader is thinking the word "wheelbarrow," but having the man on the right, obviously an uneducated/unsophisticated caveman, using the wheelbarrow backwards is pretty funny to look at. It could even have the dragged point leaving a rut in the ground. So an additional way to get humor out of one picture.

  3. As a folk horror snob, what do you think of Midsommar?

  4. Anonymous3:52 AM

    Love Alfred E. Newman peeping out from behind the comment bubble at the imposters. Adds to the intrigue!

  5. Pastor Alan,

    Ha! I may have exaggerated my snobbishness a little, but I am standing by the decision not to watch the Nicolas Cage remake of The Wicker Man.

    Midsommar seems to be one people either love or hate. On first viewing, I thought it was pretty good, and admired the director's choice to give it such a languid, hypnotic pace. Our second viewing, a year or so later, made a stronger impression. I paid more attention to the commentary on America as a patriarchy, and I'd say it's no coincidence that Dani's self-centered, loutish boyfriend is named Christian. It's deep and complex, and I expect that next time, it'll reveal other meanings and themes. It's not an "easy" film to watch, but it rewards the viewer for sticking with it.

    We finally saw The Wicker Tree, a (sort-of) sequel to The Wicker Man. It lacked the style and subtlety of the first film, and bordered on the silly. The storyline touches on similar themes of Christianity vs. Paganism, but the script reminded me of an amateurish attempt to write a contemporary Twilight Zone. It also demonstrated that a British actor portraying a stereotyped American can be as laughable as a Yank trying to sound British. Plus, that character wore the dopiest cowboy hat I've seen in a while.

    We also watched and enjoyed the five-episode British series May Day for the second time. It's structured like a fairly typical police procedural, but with magical/pagan touches.

  6. re: the -El family


    The lineage of the -El family is well-known:

    Lesser known relatives of Jor-EL are:

    • Bag-El, the sourdough-obsessed shut-in;
    • Dyn-El, his duplicitous cousin;
    • Hot-El, his thrice-married niece;
    • Mot-El, his wandering second cousin on his mother's side;
    • Tow-El, his swarthy step-brother;
    • Vow-El, his run-away fiancé;
    • ad infitum;
    • ad nauseum...