Saturday, March 04, 2023

Mobster Mash

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.


You really don’t need musical notation for rock and roll. I always said it was all hand signals and threats.
Elvis Costello
Today's post opens with a wise observation from Elvis Costello's book, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink. The quote comes to mind when my musical group practices or performs. 
Our pianist, who also sings, whistles, and plays a mean kazoo, is a bona fide musical genius. Tom has written film scores and original music for silent movies (including F.W. Murnau's classic Nosferatu), and he's transcribed music by Dr. John, James Booker, and many other great piano players of the past. He recently shared a video of an amazing piece by Luckey Roberts that was generally thought to be impossible to notate. He knows his stuff. 
In our group, Tom works with two aging punks who can't read music and whose eyes glaze over when he explains compositional and rhythmic concepts, not unlike an alien from an advanced civilization discussing quantum physics with a pair of Neanderthals.

Dave, our drummer, and I scribble made-up terms in the margins of the lyric sheets we during rehearsals. Things like "quiet up-and-down part," "tinkly piano noodling," and for some forgotten reason, "the growth." Yet, our collaboration works. When we play live, we all keep our eyes on each other, and communicate with nods and hand signals, although most of the gestures I make serve to direct myself rather than my bandmates.

Fortunately, no threats are involved, but the potential always exists.

Our pipe pic for today is a self-portrait of illustrator and cartoonist Harry Haenigsen (1900-1990).
Haenigsen was best known for Penny, his comic strip about a teenage girl, which ran from 1943 to 1970.
His comic art was bold and stylized, and he was skilled at placing areas of solid black within the panels. The title character's father was usually shown smoking a pipe.

Thanks to Bizarro reader J.P. van G, who sent us several fun pipe images, including the Haenigsen drawing. It sent me off on a search for examples of the cartoonist's work. The Hogan's Alley magazine site has a nice overview of Haenigsen's life and career, written by cartoonist and comics historian Ed Black.
Speaking of comics, this is a good time to look at the week's Bizarro gags.
These spudfellas might well be the source of the expression "I'm going to rearrange your face."
Only the most sophisticated imaging equipment was able to locate the source of the patient's sharp abdominal pains.
I believe this configuration is actually possible using a standard Scrabble game. Writing the caption was the easiest part of producing this panel. I made a list of possible words to include, and then experimented with how they could be played during a game. 
While studying a Scrabble board, I realized for the first time in my life that the double/triple word and letter squares are color-coded with shades of red applying to words, and blue tones for letters. In addition, each square has two or three arrows on each edge corresponding to double or triple scores, so they can be identified when they're covered by a tile.
The strip layout deleted the word "spawn," but it contains the same three Bizarro Secret Symbols at the panel.
This gag also prompted the Ridiculous Comment of the Week:

So we're allowing plurals in Scrabble now?

I typed several replies, but deleted every one without posting it. The experience did make me wonder how many points the word "knucklehead" might score.

As an esteemed friend and colleague said, "It's all downhill once you start walking."

We present a rare example of mammal-marionette symbiosis.
Saturday's gag affectionately tweaks furry fandom. As a Pittsburgher, I have fond respect for the community. Every summer, my hometown hosts Anthrocon, an annual convention for furries. The gathering provides a boost to the local economy, and downtown businesses welcome its attendees, who are known to be gracious guests. The convention adds color and fun to our city, and each year its members raise money for a Pennsylvania animal charity. For the 2023 convention, Anthrocon is providing support to Rabbit Wranglers.

Thanks for browsing this week's blog. Drop by next Saturday for another jumble of vowels and consonants.

Bonus Track

The Velvelettes
"Needle in a Haystack"
VIP/Motown Records single (1964)

Even More Bizarro Stuff

Dan Piraro's Bizarro Blog
Dan's widescreen Sunday Bizarro, and musings about our connection to, and disconnection from nature

 Wayno's Bizarro Newsletter
Up for more shoptalk? Check out the newsletter, where you'll also get a Bizarro sneak preview, and some of my old art and design work

Dan Piraro's epic, award-winning surreal western graphic novel

Copyright© 2023 by Wayno®


  1. I've known since I was a kid that light and dark blue were for double- and triple-letter and light- and dark-red were for double and triple-word, but I never noticed the two vs three points. I'll have to ask my mother if she knows that.

    1. Once I saw it, it seemed so obvious, but I honestly never noticed it before.

  2. Judi H12:19 PM

    I enjoyed that older video of Red Beans & Rice. Quite the swinging trio!

  3. Anonymous6:16 PM

    how many points for “knucklehead?” not as many as for “knuckleheads,” methinks!

    1. Yes! And, as you know, plurals have never been prohibited.

  4. I thought it seemed like a missed opportunity to slip in a bunch of O2 secret symbols by changing the point value for those O tiles

    1. I'd considered it, but they distracted from the gag.

    2. Anonymous6:12 PM

      I think using just one of the Os would have been fine.