Saturday, June 25, 2022

Pepperoni Pie

This is the weekly communiqué from Bizarro Studios North, where I 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.


Take your time, dig it, man.
Lee "Scratch" Perry (1936 - 2021)


Summer officially began on Tuesday, the summer solstice. Each day will now be a little shorter than the one before it, until winter solstice arrives in December. In my adult years, I've come to prefer these naturally occurring events (solstices and equinoxes) to many human-made holidays. They're not commercially celebrated, but offer a reminder of time's passage, and a reason to pause and appreciate the presence of those we choose to be with, rather than those we're obligated to be with.

Photo © Peter Simon
This week's pipe pic is a portrait of reggae great Peter Tosh, by the late photographer Peter Simon. I've been listening to reggae while working over recent days, in part because it helps hot summer days feel less oppressive, but also because I just reread Reggae Bloodlines, by Stephen Davis and Peter Simon.

I owned this book in the late 1970s, when I was first becoming familiar with reggae. My copy is long gone, but I was happily surprised to find it at the library. I'd forgotten everything about the book other than the fact that it contained dozens of wonderful photos of Jamaican musicians, ordinary citizens, cities and countryside. I must confess to presupposing the text would have become dated, but it holds up well. Davis and Simon traveled to Jamaica to educate themselves on the music and the culture, and the book serves as a snapshot of a country and its people at a specific time in history.

As mentioned above, it prompted me to reach for the reggae in my collection. My favorite styles are echo-laden dub mixes (particularly anything by Lee Perry and Augustus Pablo), and early ska, with its raucous horns and insistent dance rhythms.

Lee Perry's Ape-Ology compilation was in heavy rotation here, and it's close at hand as I write this post.


Lest I forget the reason for the blog, let's check out the Bizarro gags that ran during this solstice week.

I rarely have the urge to see a film in a commercial theater, having been spoiled by streaming at home. A (streamed) documentary about the mating rituals of the manakin bird inspired this gag.

With rare foresight, I considered how this panel could be reconfigured as a strip when I first sketched it.

That pre-planning helped when it was time to do the conversion. In fact, this one might even work better in its horizontal layout.

The Slow Food movement can take unexpected forms.

Paradoxically, it was a stirring eulogy.
Last year, while searching for a reference image to draw one of these odd devices, I learned that they're called air dancers (or tube men), proving that cartooning can be educational.

As is our practice here at Bizarro Studios, I placed my favorite gag in the Friday slot. This one made both Dan and me laugh, and provided yet another opportunity to employ inanimate objects as protagonists.

I almost violated my rule against anthropomorphizing objects by sketching them with legs, but I came to my senses when drawing the finished art.

Is it still valid to set a comic in a physical office with employees working together in person? Is this nostalgia or fantasy? Who can say? All we know for certain is that there was no pie in the office.

That's the latest from our Little Shop of Humor. Thanks for stopping by and indulging my rambling digressions. Don't forget to visit Dan Piraro's blog, where you can read more about these gags, discover what's on his mind of late, and admire his latest stunning Sunday Bizarro page.

Please feel free to subscribe to my newsletter, too. It always includes a sneak peek at an upcoming Bizarro cartoon, and a look back at an old illustration or design from my archives. It's easy to subscribe, and to unsubscribe, so you have nothing to lose.

Bonus Track

The Skatalites: "Independent Anniversary Ska"


Island Records released two volumes of Intensified! in 1979. These compilations were my first exposure to this raw and joyful precursor to reggae music. This Beatles cover by Roland Alphonso & the Skatalites never fails to make me smile.



  1. Here in Lancaster Co. PA, some of us have taken to calling it the Summer Stoltzfus. This plays on the
    large number of people with this family name in the PA Dutch community.

  2. Anonymous11:03 AM

    Did the book mention the connection between early ska/rock steady and New Orleans R&B? -- Black Mold, WWOZ radio, New Orleans

  3. Anonymous11:09 AM

    Did the book mention the connection between early ska/rock steady and New Orleans R&B? -- Black Mold, WWOZ radio, New Orleans

    1. It sure does. Both by airwaves (transistor radios able to pick up broadcasts from New Orleans on clear nights) and via R&B records "literally off the boat," as New Orleans was the major export source from America to Kingston.

  4. W.J.R. Halyn5:11 PM

    "...almost violated my rule against anthropomorphizing objects..." ???
    Dude... they're TALKING! How much more anthropomorphic can you get without introducing bodily appurtenances? <> . . . . .