Saturday, May 27, 2023

Practical Dread

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.


I got a head full of ideas that are drivin' me insane.
Bob Dylan (lyric from "Maggie's Farm")

Bob Dylan, the Bard of Duluth, turned 82 this week. Rough and Rowdy Ways, his most recent album of new material, was released in 2020, when he was a kid of 79. It's a strong addition to his lengthy discography, and his career of more than six decades is inspiring.

Recently, I ran into a friend and fellow artist at the opening of East End Brewing's new taproom in my neighborhood. We were talking about work, and the concerns of working artists. We've both been doing what we do for a long time and noted that we have fewer bouts of impostor syndrome than we did in our younger years, but are not immune from anxiety over deadlines, bookkeeping, taxes, and the uncertain future of outlets for our work. I noted that we now experience a more practical dread. We also agreed that Practical Dread is a great name for a band.

Although I've (mostly) overcome self-doubt regarding visual art, as a musician, I always fear that I'll be found out as a charlatan. I like to think that's preferable to unfounded overconfidence, which is widespread.

Whatever form of creative expression you practice, I hope it brings you satisfaction.

Today's pipe pic is newly-minted octogenarian Michael Palin of the Monty Python troupe.

Palin's birthday was on May fifth, so we're a little late in celebrating his milestone, but I loved this photo so much, I had to share it today.

For obsessive Monty Python nerds, I recommend Michael Palin's book, Diaries 1969–1979: The Python Years. It's a fascinating day-to-day account of the history of the Pythons, and Palin's life during those years.

Since we're all friends here, I feel comfortable enough to share the latest Bizarro gags.

If the Hell of religious mythology were an actual physical place, getting into the energy business would probably be more profitable than buying souls.

Tuesday's panel includes a rare Franglais pun as its caption. Researching this gag taught me that the diacritical mark over the letter "e" is called a circumflex.
Every Bizarro panel starts as a hastily scribbled digital sketch. I print them out and use them as a guide for drawing the finished art. The number below the signature is a sequential identifier attached to each cartoon, which is used in an unwieldy spreadsheet where I document all of my work.

At this stage, I often edit the text, as seen above. I usually try to remove as many words as possible, although sometimes wordy dialog can improve a gag.
Speaking of imposter syndrome, this software is almost human.

Here's a fine example of the high-quality prose AI can produce.

I do hope that my cartoons giggles you regularly.

Following last week's pair of Darth Vader puns, I finally got the character out of my system with one more gag.

My colleague George Broderick, Jr. noted that this gag ran on the 46th anniversary of the release of the first Star Wars film, and asked if it was intentional on my part. It was a complete coincidence.

Complementing Tuesday's circumflex, Friday's caption included a tilde. Before you consider joining this particular religion, you should be warned that the rite of baptism involves Wiffle Ball bats.

We also considered the line, "You never invite me to your place."

Beer Here!

A little over a year after releasing Old Nebby Stock Ale (featured in last week's blog), our friends at East End Brewing Company bottled a brew they named Old Knobby.

I still have a couple more labels to share in the coming weeks.

Bonus Track

Bob Dylan, "Tangled Up in Blue"
From Blood on the Tracks
Columbia Records LP, 1975

One of my favorite Dylan numbers, and an example of what I had in mind last week when I said, "If [an] artist hadn't made x, they may never have created y."

For this listener, "Tangled Up in Blue" is the y that stops me from dismissing x ("Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.")

More Bizarro Material 

 Wayno's Weekly Bizarro Newsletter

  Dan Piraro's Weekly Bizarro Blog

Dan "Diego" Piraro's Peyote Cowboy Graphic Novel

That's the latest from scenic Hollywood Gardens, PA. Catch you next week?

Copyright© 2023 by Wayno®



Saturday, May 20, 2023

Requiem for a Rhapsodist

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.


Seems to me it ain't the world that's so bad but what we're doing to it, and all I'm saying is: see what a wonderful world it would be if only we'd give it a chance. Love, baby - love. That's the secret. 
Louis Armstrong

I've been listening to Louis Armstrong's early music this week and noted that the first band he led, the Hot Five, began making records in November of 1925, nearly a hundred years ago.

I suspect that the quote above was from around 1967, when "What a Wonderful World"  was released. I adore Armstrong and agree with those who think of him as America's all-time greatest musician. However, I can barely stand "Wonderful World." The song was impossible to avoid in 1967 and still is today. If you attend a wedding, chances are you'll hear the tune at some point. I'm not against sentimentality and a positive message, but "Wonderful World" has always felt cloying to me. Likewise, I wouldn't be upset if I never heard Armstrong's hit recordings of "Hello, Dolly" (1964) or "Mack the Knife" (1955).

But I'm here to praise Satch, not to bury him. My take on those particular records reflects on me, not Armstrong. There's nothing "wrong" or "bad" about them, they simply aren't my cup of espresso. 

A true artist's career of any significant length is the result of experimentation and evolution rather than endless repetition. Louis performed for six decades. It would be a shock to find someone who loved everything he did. 

Let's say that x equals something a particular fan of a particular artist doesn't care for. If the artist hadn't made x, they may never have created y, which that same fan thinks is a masterpiece.

Before I became a full-time cartoonist, I had several noncreative corporate and academic jobs, although I had known I wanted to be an artist since I was quite young. For years I pursued illustration and cartooning at nights and weekends while doing other full-time jobs, making slow progress while missing a lot of sleep.

I  was often angry at myself for allowing people to push me into things I didn't like and for not being serious about art earlier in my life. Eventually, I realized that the work I happily do today was informed by everything that came before it. Without the experience of functioning within a corporate setting, I might have been less equipped to manage the business of being a freelancer dealing with editors and art directors who work within corporate systems. The people of varied backgrounds encountered in my previous careers provided some understanding and awareness of differing viewpoints, personalities, and motivations, and shaped the way I see the world and interpret it through humor.

I like to think I'm not the art snob I was in my teens. If someone enjoys music that I don't care for, I don't disparage it. The beauty of all art is that it speaks differently to everyone.

I'm a fan of Bob Dylan, but when I listen to his Blonde on Blonde album, I usually skip past "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35," commonly referred to as "Everybody Must Get Stoned,” but I'd never suggest that he shouldn't have recorded it. Nearly everything else he did profoundly appeals to me, and who am I to question his artistic choices?

Miles Davis is a favorite here too, but when I revisit his Sketches of Spain record, I fail to connect with it. But I'll continue to listen to it every once in a while. Ordinary mortals will never fully understand everything a genius produces.

I don't have a neat wrap-up for this intro. It incorporates thoughts I've had in the past, which came to mind when I found the quote at the top. I can't argue with a word of that. 

Love, baby - love. That's the secret.

Today's pipe pic is a photo I snapped in the wild.

While walking around the business district near our home, we stopped to say hello at a friend's floral shop. I looked up and saw this bespectacled pipe-smoking deer(?) and felt compelled to take a photo.

Now, let's check out this week's Bizarro panels. If you dislike any of them, please go easy on the cartoonist. 

When I sent my initial sketch to Dan Piraro, he did some research and found that "choke on your aspirations" to which I added the asparagus comment. We both liked the pun, and that seemed to be a workable setup for it.
In fact, I sketched two puns on "Darth Vader," and we couldn't choose between them. Dan suggested I run them on consecutive days, which we did. It's a shame I couldn't come up with enough for a full week.

It wouldn't surprise me at all if something like this happened in real life.

It's never a bad idea to consider diversifying one's business.

Friday's gag made me wonder which superhero I've parodied most since I started doing the daily Bizarro. I suspect that Batman is number one, followed by Spider-Man, Hulk, and Iron Man, but I wasn't curious enough to check.

I've written several gags based on fairy tales lately, and this one remedied a recent dearth of therapist cartoons.

Beer Here!

Stock ale is a traditional British brew. "Nebby" is an old Pittsburghese word meaning meddlesome or intrusive.

For this label, I scanned an ancient wooden cigar box and overlaid it with distressed letters from a silkscreen concert poster.
I still have a few more labels I designed for East End Brewing Company and will share them until I run out of images.

Bonus Track

Louis Armstrong, "We Have All the Time in the World"
From the James Bond Film On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Warner Brother Records single, 1969

To demonstrate that I'm not a total curmudgeon, here's a sentimental Louis Armstrong number that I love. John Barry composed the music, and Hal David wrote the lyrics.

More Bizarro Material 

 Wayno's Weekly Bizarro Newsletter

  Dan Piraro's Weekly Bizarro Blog

Dan "Diego" Piraro's Peyote Cowboy Graphic Novel

Thanks for dropping by. See you next week.

Copyright© 2023 by Wayno®



Saturday, May 13, 2023

The Universal Language

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.


Once I was invited to pose naked for a men's magazine and I replied that I would, but with three conditions: dressed as a nun, without glasses and without bangs. That was my idea of nudity. 
Rita Lee (1947-2023)

The entertaining, witty, revolutionary Brazilian musician Rita Lee died this week at age 75. It was a bit of a surprise to read a lengthy obituary in the New York Times since she wasn't widely known here in the US.

With her two brothers, she founded the band Os Mutantes in 1966, and after five albums, launched a solo career in 1972. I first heard Os Mutantes sometime in the late 80s or early 90s, as part of a music nerd network who swapped homemade cassette compilations through the mail. They sounded sort of psychedelic, a bit electronic, heavy, weird and otherworldly. They sang in Portuguese, which I don't speak, so I heard the voices as purely musical instruments. I had to hear more of this stuff, and was never disappointed.

In 1998, David Byrne compiled a selection of the band's music, released as Everything is Possible!—The Best of Os Mutantes. The collection is a fine entry point, but nearly everything Lee recorded, with Os Mutantes and as a solo artist is worth exploring.

The album Tecnicolor (recorded in 1970, but not released until 2000) is also an excellent place to start. It included new material, and rerecorded versions of songs from their first two LPs, with vocals in English, French, and Portuguese. The English language version of their 1968 song, "Baby" is a favorite. Bebel Gilberto released a cover version of "Baby" in 2012, with a nearly identical arrangement.

One of the joys of music is the fact that there's always more to discover. Rita Lee's obituary reminded me to revisit these unique recordings. If you've been turned on to music you never heard before, drop your recommendations in the comments section. We'd love to hear about the music that surprised and delighted you.

Our pipe pic this time is a bit of a mystery to me. I found it online but failed to record where it came from.
A Google image search yielded no matches, only a selection of black and white silhouettes of people in profile, all without a pipe.
I have a vague, possibly false memory that it might be associated with surrealist Marcel Duchamp. He was often photographed with a pipe, and created some art featuring pipes.

If you recognize this photo and know anything about it, please post in the comments.

A pipe or two may have turned up among this week's Bizarro panels. Let's have a look.
We opened with a retelling of Hansel and Gretel in Franglais.
As a member of the United Cartoon Workers of America, I'm required to do at least one desert island gag per year.

When I share Bizarro gags on social media, I usually include a short phrase related to the image. When I drew the May 1 panel, I thought of the phrase "cosmetic carpentry" to accompany the cartoon but decided that it could be used in a separate gag. After doing photo research for the drawing, I applied for hazardous duty pay.
The executioner can also light the prisoner's last cigarette.

Sometimes a writing session yields more than one usable idea from a single premise or character. I wrote this one at the same time as last month's Humpty Dumpty gag. Since the drawings of HD were so similar, I let a few weeks pass between them. 

The next time that happens, I might consider running related jokes two days in a row.

We're not above using puns here at Bizarro Studios, if we find them to be surprising and funny.

I used mirror images of the panel's elements for the strip layout, for those interested in the nuts and bolts of Bizarro.

Beer Here!

This label is a fine example of a punning beer name.
In addition to making many delicious beers, my friends at East End Brewing Company inspired a recent gag.

Bonus Track

Os Mutantes: "A Minha Menina"
From the LP Os Mutantes
Polydor Records (Brazil), 1968

More Bizarro Stuff Around the WWW

 Wayno's Weekly Bizarro Newsletter

  Dan Piraro's Weekly Bizarro Blog

Dan "Diego" Piraro's Peyote Cowboy Graphic Novel

Thanks for visiting us, and Happy Mother's Day to all moms and mother figures out there. See you next week.

Copyright© 2023 by Wayno®






Saturday, May 06, 2023

Cool for Cats

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.


Until one has loved an animal a part of one's soul remains unawakened.
Anatole France

Almost every artist and cartoonist I know shares their home with a pet. Animal family members contribute greatly to our well-being, and it's clear that they love us, openly and completely. 

I grew up with a canine companion, and in my adult life, my spouse and I have had several feline members. All of them delighted us and touched our hearts, but one made an especially profound impression. Following the loss of one of our first cats, we visited a shelter to adopt a new family member. We met a cat who had been rescued from a hoarder's house. He had been kept in a carrier for most of his life and was afraid to be out in the open. He received no health care, and an untreated respiratory issue left him with a less-than-melodious meow. He needed help and we took him home.

Because of his distinctive voice, we named him Hoagy, after the great American composer and performer Hoagy Carmichael. After a few months of veterinary care, daily food, shelter, and grooming, Hoagy began to thrive.

Despite the cruelty he endured early in life, he became an affectionate and outgoing cat. He greeted everyone who visited our home and would sit beside new friends, responding to their touch with a slightly gravelly purr. He loved to sit with me as I worked at my desk.

Hoagy was only with us for eight years. His shelter tags are on a chain I wear daily, reminding myself of his example of optimism, forgiveness, and love.

Our current feline is also outgoing and affectionate and often helps me while working.

A May Day tradition at our house is watching the 1973 folk horror film The Wicker Man, which I've mentioned in the blog before. In one scene, Christopher Lee's character, Lord Summerisle, observes the animal life around him, and quotes a section of Walt Whitman's long-form poem, Song of Myself:

I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain’d,
I stand and look at them long and long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.

I must admit, until I researched the words, I was unaware that they were Whitman's. 

If you share your life with a pet, please give them a pat on the head or a treat for me.

Today's pipe pic is a self-portrait of German painter and graphic artist Max Dungert (1896-1945).
Wikipedia provides this biographical info:

[Max] was born to Ferdinand Dungert, a police courier, and his wife Betty Elise née Koehler. From 1910, he attended the Kunstgewerbeschule Magdeburg , where he studied with Rudolf Bosselt and Adolf Rettelbusch, among others. In 1919, he was one of the co-founders of a short-lived artists' association known as "Die Kugel" (The Sphere); devoted to Expressionist art. After 1920, his works would briefly display a trend toward Realism.

In 1921, he went to Berlin and joined the Novembergruppe, another association of Expressionist artists and architects. Later, he would also create works in the Cubist style. During the next few years, he occasionally shared a studio with Beye. From 1925 to 1928, he made several study trips to Italy, France, and Switzerland. He established his own private drawing school in 1930, and joined "Porza", an international association for intellectual and artistic exchanges.

During the Nazi regime, in 1937, several of his works were confiscated as part of the campaign to identify and eliminate "Degenerate Art". He was drafted into military service in 1944. His studio and many of his works were destroyed not long after. He was killed sometime during, or immediately following, the Battle of Berlin.
Many of his works survived and are displayed in museums in Germany.

I was not familiar with Max Dungert's art, and I thank readers Paul and Ellen for thinking of Bizarro when they saw Max's self-portrait. A true artist, the painting shows that he had a studio cat.

Now, let's review the latest output from my studio, where I was ably assisted by my boy Foster.

We kicked off the week with another of my inanimate object gags. It was at least partly inspired by a woodworker in Maine named David Adamsen. His YouTube channel features videos of his elaborate and unique wood turning projects. They feature no dialog and are hypnotic and relaxing. I've found them to be a great way to wind down before going to sleep.
This scenario isn't far from actual history.

Wednesday's punning caption was called into question by a reader who wrote:
Whales are called a pod in a group. According to google, a group of walruses is called a "Huddle."
"Huddle" is indeed among the names turned up by a web search, but it's not the only one, nor is it the most common.
Pods are herds of marine mammals including whales, dolphins, walruses and seals.

Dr. Helen Scales (marine biologist, broadcaster, science writer)
BBC ScienceFocus

The strip layout involved a fair amount of shuffling but worked out all right.

Enjoy it while it lasts. The next bowl will be pulp.

Our second inanimate object comic of the week turned up on Friday, with a quiet theme of harmony, tolerance, and acceptance.

Sorry, but we can't reveal the number.

I might prefer the strip version of this one and think the reader's eye tracking from upper left to lower right delivers the joke better than the "Z" path the eye generally takes in a vertical panel.


Beer Here!

In contrast to the Illustration Ale label I shared last week, here's one that is pure design (although I'm not really a designer). The graphic elements were meant to resemble barrels stacked on palettes. The racks were "drawn" in Photoshop, and the barrels were letters in the Futura typeface.

Speaking of Illustration Ale, here's a photo taken at East End Brewing Company the day we labeled the bottles in 2017.

Bonus Track

The Coasters: "Three Cool Cats"
Atlantic Records single, 1959

"Three Cool Cats" is one of many great songs Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller wrote for the Coasters. It was the B-side of their hit "Charlie Brown."

Other Bizarro Locations

Dan Piraro's Weekly Bizarro Blog

 Wayno's Weekly Bizarro Newsletter

Dan "Diego" Piraro's Peyote Cowboy Graphic Novel

Stop by next week for more stuff from your cartoonist.

Copyright© 2023 by Wayno®