Saturday, December 31, 2022

E Pluribus Nasum

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 created Bizarro in the late twentieth century, and continues to do the Sunday comic from Rancho Bizarro in Mexico.


Humor is a cognitive process. And it's a creative process, not only on the part of the cartoonist, but on the part of the viewer.
Robert Mankoff

Today marks the end 2022, and is also the close of my fifth year as the daily cartoonist for Bizarro. In that time, I've published 1,579 panels, and have signed up for another five-year hitch, taking us through 2027. 

I started writing gags for Bizarro in 2009, not long after I met Dan Piraro. I worked as Bizarro's colorist from 2011 through 2014, and filled in as guest cartoonist for weeklong stints in 2011 and 2012. I guess that added up to a nine-year apprenticeship, interview, and trial run. Somewhere along the way, there was also a long talk in Ohio over cigars and Scotch whiskey. That was the fourth or fifth time I smoked a cigar of my life; definitely the last. Dan's since given up the stogies, too.

Bob Mankoff (quoted above) is a cartoonist, editor, author, and ridiculously smart person. He was cartoon editor at The New Yorker for twenty years, and his statement about humor being a two-way creative process is right on the money.

Cartooning is a solitary profession, and it's reassuring to know you're out there seeing our work. We're fortunate to have so many smart, creative readers in the Bizarro community, who add to the enjoyment of our job. 

Thanks to all of you for reading, commenting on, and supporting the comic. I hope we keep bringing you laughs over our next five-year run.

Without further babbling, here's your final pipe pic for 2022.

I've no doubt shared this one before. It's one of my favorites of the many "record heads" photos I made around 2015. The caricature of Bing Crosby was drawn by Sam Norkin (1917-2011). He was a contemporary of Al Hirschfeld and, like Hirschfeld, specialized in stage and film illustrations. There are some similarities in their work, with Norkin often leaning to a slightly more Cubist approach.

Now, let's see how Bizarro wrapped up 2022.

Several readers astutely pointed out that this patient's condition might also be named Shatner's Syndrome.

As always, we advise you to trust any medical professional whose lab coat has a pipe in its pocket.

Tuesday's gag reminded me of my colleague David Coulson, another Pittsburgher. David is a great cartoonist and an absolutely amazing hand-letterer who owns an impressive collection of carrot bags.

It's not always easy to find a store's smashwear department.

Clarity is important when putting together your dating profile.

Here at Bizarro Studios, we love gags based on adjacent metathesis (the interchange of two phonemes within a word).

Saturday's panel most likely depicts a scene that has actually taken place many times over in recent years. The drawing includes the first known appearance of an Inverted Cuckoo Bird Secret Symbol variant. Should we consider offering an actual t-shirt with this design?

And that, dear friends, brings us to the end of another year of Bizarro shenanigans. I wish you health, happiness, peace and prosperity in the coming year.

If you're hungry for more words and pictures from your cartoonists, cruise on over to our other electronic outposts:

Dan Piraro's Bizarro Blog
Dan's latest Sunday Bizarro page, accompanied by whatever else is on his mind this week

Wayno's Bizarro Newsletter
Additional ramblings, a sneak preview of a future gag, and something old from my illustration and design files

Dan Piraro's surreal western graphic novel

Bonus Track

The Specials: "Gangsters"
Two-Tone Records (UK), 1979


Terry Hall, vocalist with the Specials, died on December 18 at age 63. The original release of the song "Gangsters" was a split single, with another great band, The Selecter, on the flipside. The Specials, and other bands on the Two-Tone label advocated for racial harmony and against racism and fascism, using catchy danceable music.


Copyright© 2022 by Wayno®


Saturday, December 24, 2022

Brimstone Latte

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.


It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.

Charles Dickens, from A Christmas Carol


Despite being decidedly non-religious, I admit to a paradoxical love of old-school gospel music (which gave birth to rock & roll, after all), and Charles Dickens's perennial holiday tale. The quote above, describing a festive gathering at the home of Scrooge's nephew, articulates one of the reasons we cartoonists do what we do. The hope is that our words and pictures provide moments of amusement as respite from the unpleasantness we're all aware of and deal with daily.

Washington Post columnist Kate Cohen published a thoughtful opinion piece this week about the subtext of different holiday greetings, which made perfect sense to this reader. (The link should work for anyone, even those who don't subscribe to WaPo.)

For those who celebrate it, today we wish you a Merry Christmas Eve. For all of us, I'm borrowing a wonderfully inclusive phrase from a good friend and saying, Happy Everything.

This week's pipe pic is a sinister depiction of Frosty the Snowman from the cover of a 1951 Little Golden Book.

That image would've given me nightmares as a kid, and I'm not ruling them out now.

I'm fairly sure this week's comics won't creep you out.

There have been tons of gags about coffee shops mangling people's names on their orders, and many readers latched onto the fact that Satan and Santa are anagrams, but the intended payoff here was the drinks the characters are holding. I like the contrast between a foamy gingerbread peppermint concoction and a cupful of eternal damnation.

However, comics can be read and enjoyed in different ways, so if you dug the alphabetic shuffling, good on you! 

I tried to make the pointed ears almost unnoticeable until after the reader sees the caption.
Speaking of Dickens, here's a Scrooge gag with a French accent.

In the strip version, Bob holds a shorter scarf, and the staging is reversed to allow the balloon and caption to be placed on the same end of the layout.
Here's an alternate narrative from the Little Tarnished Book collection.

Sometimes a gag is simply fun to draw. That was certainly true of these spiny critters and their construction project.

I think I prefer this one as a strip form.

Pie is nice, too, isn't it?

As with the Scrooge gag, this one had to be flipped horizontally to accommodate the word balloon and caption box, while leaving room for the drawing.

That's the latest from Bizarro Studios North, friends. Drop by again next week as we close out another year. In the meantime, I invite you to visit our related locations:

Dan Piraro's Bizarro Blog
Another spectacular Sunday Bizarro by mi amigo, plus his thoughts on matters large and small

Wayno's Bizarro Newsletter
News from the studio, a clip from an upcoming gag, and an image from my archives

Dan Piraro's award-winning graphic novel

Now, I'm off to watch a favorite interpretation of Dickens, starring Jim Backus, Jack Cassidy, Morey Amsterdam, Paul Frees and Royal Dano.

Holiday Bonus Track

Louis Armstrong
"Christmas Night in Harlem"
Decca Records, 1955

Pops is still tops.

Copyright© 2022 by Wayno®


Saturday, December 17, 2022

What the Dickens

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.


Art is rearranging and grouping mistakes.
Don Van Vliet

The end of the year is approaching, and we're scrambling to stay ahead of our publishing deadlines while juggling seasonal activities. I'm currently writing and drawing Bizarro comics for the first few days of February 2023, so in my studio the holidays are already over.

Nonetheless, I'm feeling rather festive after my band played our annual holiday show last weekend. We'd missed it for a couple of years due to the pandemic. This year, we tried out a new location, a local art gallery that also hosts live performances, and it was exhilarating to be among people sharing music, conversation, food and drink.

The quote from Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart) is a fairly accurate description of a significant portion of my working process. If art is made from mistakes, I produce plenty of raw material with ink and paper, followed by rearranging, grouping, deleting and redrawing it in the digital realm.

Before I share the results of this week's rearranged mistakes, here's a pipe pic of the prolific humorist P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975).

Dewey Saunders/Gawker; Getty Images

Thanks to Ian, a blog reader who directed us to this delightful image.

Now, let's take a look at the week in Bizarro.

This one simply had to run on Monday, Bloody Punday. 

Counseling can help a person articulate what they really want in a relationship.


The signage was designed by the mall architect's annoying younger sibling.

I had to move some of the Secret Symbols around for the strip layout, and was able to show the window of the most popular store in the galleria.


We held off as long as we could, and decided it was time for a Christmas gag.

Of course, that might just be a cover story to explain his out of control nose hairs.


We end with an reminder of the limits of cosmetic dentistry.

Well, that wraps up another week of graphic shenanigans from Bizarro Studios North. As always, I thank you for stopping by, and for your readership and support of Bizarro.

Perhaps you'd care to explore our other internet outposts:

Dan Piraro's Bizarro Blog
Check out Dan's latest Sunday Bizarro page, and discover what's occupying his mind of late

Wayno's Bizarro Newsletter
Additional musings, a peek at an upcoming gag, and a graphic item from my historical archives

Dan Piraro's award-winning graphic novel

Holiday Bonus Track

The Red Beans & Rice Combo
"Christmas Island"
Dave Klug: Drums and percussion
Tom Roberts: Piano, whistling and kazoo
Wayno: Vocals and ukulele
Produced by Xayne Berlinski, November 2022

Copyright© 2022 by Wayno®



Saturday, December 10, 2022

Subterranean Modern

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.


When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you – pull your beard, flick your face – to make you fight. Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humor.
John Lennon

Thursday, December 8 is the day John Lennon was murdered outside his New York City home in 1980. He was forty years old, which is stunning considering how much he achieved while he was alive. Lennon was a far from perfect human, and he'd be the first to acknowledge that. I recall hearing the news, and experiencing the empty feeling when someone whose work you knew since childhood is suddenly gone.

For many years, I wouldn't actively listen to the music of the Beatles, after a lifetime of hearing it all the time, in every possible context. I came back to it with renewed appreciation in 2009, when I bought a CD box set of their British albums in mono. Again, I was struck by the amount of music they released in just seven or so years.

Seeing the photos of Lennon, and the memories people have been posting on social media this week made me start over with their discography, and I'm enjoying that journey once again.

I don't have any profound thoughts to offer about this, it's just what I've been thinking about these past couple of days, and marveling at how works of art can affect us many different ways at various stages of our lives. I suppose I'm recommending that you consider revisiting some music, literature, or other art that you once liked but felt that you outgrew, and check it out again. If you have any interesting or surprising reactions, send me a comment about it.

Before we get to the cartoons, let's lighten the mood with a fun pipe pic sent to us by Bizarro reader David R, who snapped it at his local farm market.

Thanks, David! I love the market's highly specific instructions.

Now, here's the latest output from Bizarro Studios North.

The pool player on the right is meant to be a slimmed-down Jackie Gleason, who starred as Minnesota Fats in the 1961 film, The Hustler.

A real-life pool player named Rudolf Wanderone adopted the name Minnesota Fats after the film was released, claiming that the character was based on him.

My pre-Bizarro comic, WaynoVision also referenced the character, almost exactly seven years earlier.

When drawing Tuesday's panel, I had cartoonists James Thurber and Jules Feiffer in mind, and wished that my work could have a bit of the expressive looseness theirs exhibited. No luck there, but I do like the way it turned out.

Every time I write a gag involving ghosts, I think it'll be quick and easy to draw, and every time I spend almost as much time fussing over it and tweaking it as I do with any other comic.

This is most likely a common topic of discussion at movie studios, who in large part have themselves to blame for the situation.

For brevity's sake, the word balloon omits all of the vocal disfluencies. 

For some reason, several of my recent comics were set around an open utility hatch, like this one or this one.

That wraps up another week of cartoonery from the Little Shop of Humor in Hollywood Gardens, PA. If you enjoy this blog, you might like to scope out our other web-based thingies:

Dan Piraro's Bizarro Blog
His latest Sunday Bizarro page, along with nuggets of wisdom and observation

Wayno's Bizarro Newsletter
More talk from me, a preview of an upcoming gag, and art, design, or photos from my past

Dan Piraro's award-winning graphic novel 

Bonus Track

James Booker
"On the Sunny Side of the Street"
from New Orleans Piano Wizard: Live!
Rounder Records, 1983

As my dear friend, pianist, composer, and bandmate Tom Roberts likes to remind us, Dr. John described Booker as "the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced."

I can't argue with that.

The pirate ghost comic prompted Tom to suggest a Booker bonus track this week.

Copyright© 2022 by Wayno®