Saturday, March 11, 2023

Poe Boy

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.


Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity.
Charles Mingus


A Jazz Pickle thanked me last week for posting a comic on social media, because he wasn't able to read the version printed in his local newspaper. Newsprint is already a low-quality medium, and in this paper, the black & white panel was severely reduced, and squashed from a portrait-oriented rectangle into a 1 7/8" square. That's the size of a Triscuit cracker.

To see what that might look like, I resized a comic, and my heart sank when it came off the printer. 

I couldn't help thinking about it as I worked on the comics this week. My approach has always been to remove nonessential elements in illustrations and cartoons. Since coming on board with Bizarro, I still try to work that way, but it's counterbalanced by a sprinkling of Secret Symbols along with my preference for drawing objects and animals in a (relatively) realistic style.

When comic panels are printed at less than two inches per side, with the aspect ratio significantly altered, some will be impossible to read on newsprint, no matter how simple the drawing may be.

I won't alter my work to adjust for tiny reproduction, and will hope for the best, while encouraging readers to find the comics online if they have trouble reading them in print.

King Features has a reasonably priced subscription plan for their Comics Kingdom site, which includes access to all of their comics, including archives going back for decades.

Cartoonists can't control how newspapers print the comics, so it's best for each of us to continue to make art the way we see fit.


Our pipe pic for today is a Zippy the Pinhead comic, originally published on this date in 2015.

Copyright © 2015 Bill Griffith

Zippy's creator, Bill Griffith has been one of my heroes since the 1970s. In my youth, I spent a lot of time (and money) in record stores, many of which also carried underground comix, where I discovered Bill's work. His art and writing flipped my wig and rewired my brain from the get-go.

In the years that followed, Bill and I became pen pals and eventually friends and colleagues, but he remains above all an inspiration and role model. I'm eagerly awaiting publication of Three Rocks, Bill's upcoming graphic biography of Ernie Bushmiller.

Your cartoonist, in the presence of greatness back in 2018.

Although he's been a huge influence, Bill Griffith bears no responsibility or blame for my comics, which we'll now review.

We at Bizarro Studios are well aware that  "never mind" is properly spelled as two separate words. We chose to spell it as a single word in this panel to echo the raven's repeated "nevermore" in Poe's famous verse.

The employee's not wrong. His annual performance reviews do acknowledge incremental improvement.

As a child, I tried to clear an Etch-a-Sketch screen many times. Who knew I was actually working toward enlightenment?

For the strip, I reversed the characters and background. The word balloon and caption box had to be on the same side of the layout, to leave room for the art. It at least gives newspaper readers a fighting chance at getting the joke.

Surprisingly, I received only one online complaint from someone who didn't know how to find the meaning of an unfamiliar word.

This panel might seem applicable to a recent high profile trial in South Carolina, but that's pure coincidence. It was inspired by the aphorism "A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client." 

A loyal Bizarro reader once referred to the miscellaneous topics I cover in my blog and newsletter as "triviata," and that invented word stuck with me. I imagined it as the title of an opera staged in Bizarroville, and came up with this gag. I tip my favorite fedora to Ralph H. for the seed of this gag.

Just for cynical laughs, here's a comparison of the squashed version of this panel and the full-sized file:

It's possible that the text suffers even more than the art.

One should pursue a career that incorporates their passion.

That's the latest output from the Little Shop of Humor here in Hollywood Gardens, PA. Be sure to visit us again next week for more comics, commentary and maybe a bit of triviata.

Bonus Track

The Kirby Stone Four: "Raven"
Cadence Records single (1957)

The Kirby Stone Four recorded just one album for the Cadence label (Man, I Flipped... When I Heard the Kirby Stone Four), but it's their best. 
Their brilliant, Poe-inspired faux beatnik number did not appear on the LP. 
This video was digitized from the original vinyl here at Bizarro Studios North.

Other Bizarro Locations

Dan Piraro's Bizarro Blog
Dan's latest Sunday Bizarro page, and an embarrassing episode from the past

 Wayno's Bizarro Newsletter
A weekly email linking you to the latest blog post, plus a peek at an upcoming gag and an illustration or design from my previous life

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

Copyright© 2023 by Wayno®




  1. mengelji10:24 AM

    Quoth the adolescent raven, "What-evarrr"

    1. To be pronounced with a dollop of vocal fry.

  2. So someone who can read your blog doesn't know how to look up a word? That really is bizarre.

    1. It was a Facebook comment, but still...

  3. Anonymous2:49 PM

    I've loved Zippy the Pinhead from the very first comic I purchased 50 years ago. Yow!

  4. Anonymous12:47 AM

    Hahahahaha, hahahahaha now when I hear opera on classical radio I’ll just imagine they are singing triviata not La TrAviata an opera by a different spelling...... and in Italiano sopranos. By the way that word really exists: in Wiktionary and in the title of this book: Triviata: a compendium of useless information by T T. Fullerton.
    Nice gag Wayno to use a word “others” say doesn’t exist at all in this universe. BET YOU NEVER KNEW THAT TILL now.... This is the way.