Saturday, August 06, 2022

Life of Riley

This is the weekly dispatch 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.


We all have idols. Play like anyone you care about but try to be yourself while you're doing so.
Riley "B.B." King (1925-2015)

B.B. King, who appeared in a Bizarro cartoon on Friday, is quoted above on inspiration and originality, themes we touched on in last week's blog entry, and will no doubt revisit in the future. Although blues music might appear to be rigidly constrained, it can also be a space for an artist to shine.

Our pipe pic is a dignified portrait of another American original, broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite (1916-2009). The photo was taken in 1970.

From 1950 until 1980, he delivered the news on CBS Television. During his career and after retiring, Cronkite was one of the most trusted figures in the country. When he anchored the CBS Evening News, he signed off with the line, "...And that's the way it is," followed by the date.

For a brief period beginning in 2003, he wrote a weekly opinion column, which was syndicated by King Features. Bizarro also joined King in 2003, balancing the gravitas added by Cronkite.

Nineteen years later, we're still producing cartoons every day. Let's take a look at the most recent bunch.

The hobbyhorse would be more fun at a party.

This is what I imagine it feels like to draw in-person caricatures. I have several friends who regularly do caricature gigs, and I admire the bravery required for that sort of job. I'd be nervous drawing someone while they're sitting in front of me, and terrified of how they might react.

The most difficult part of making this cartoon was selecting the terms in the text. I'd also considered "raveled," "tethered," and at least a couple others I've now forgotten.
This gag references the lyrics of "Oh, Susanna," composed by Stephen Foster, who was born in Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville neighborhood, and is now buried there.

The panel includes fourteen Bizarro Secret Symbols, which is probably the most I've placed in a cartoon, despite claims made in April Fools' Day gags.

The strip layout also has fourteen symbols, with the Lost Loafer replacing a K2.

The strip's word balloon partially obscures a shout-out to a great coffee shop in Stephen Foster's old neighborhood.

In 2010, not long after EAM opened for business, I designed a mascot, who has appeared on t-shirts, gift certificates, signage, and espresso cups. 

Friday's caption employs some weird wordplay, and a bonus pun on one of King's best-known recordings, "The Thrill is Gone."

The iconic musician opened B.B. King's Blues Club in Memphis in 1991, and it eventually expanded to several other cities. Its menu includes a variety of barbecue dishes.

There's also an official barbecue sauce available throughout the country, and now, a Bizarro cartoon about B.B.

The final gag of the week illustrates a not so great moment in animation history. I'm a fan of the classic Warner Brothers animated cartoons, but always thought that Porky Pig, the studio's first breakout star, has one  of cartoondom's least creative names, second only to Harvey Comics' Richie Rich.
My drawing of the studio boss was based on a photo of Jack Warner, who was the president of Warner Brothers.

We'll be back next week with another avalanche of words and pictures. Don't forget to visit Dan Piraro's blog to view his always-magnificent Sunday Bizarro page.

And that's the way it is... from Bizarro Studios North, on Saturday, August 6, 2022. 

Bonus Track

B.B. King, appearing in the March 18, 1977 episode of Sanford & Son, "Fred Sings the Blues."