Saturday, June 24, 2023

Words at Play

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.


A pun is the lowest form of humor—when you don't think of it first.
Oscar Levant

Our opening quotation is a rerun, but it's apropos, as will become evident a bit later in the post.

In the coming weeks, my workspace will be in the middle of a construction site, when our 75-year-old house gets a long overdue bathroom update. The first few days will be loud and dusty, and we'll have plastic barriers up to contain the demolition debris. I'll also assess the effectiveness of a pair of noise-canceling headphones.

I'll do my best to keep up with weekly posts and the newsletter, but given the anticipated disruptions, the next few offerings may be briefer than usual. Wish me luck. 

I was pleased to find a photo of the dashing young Eric Idle with a pipe (and an ascot!)

A shot from the same session appeared in a 1965 edition of Footlights Review.

In the past, I've shared pipe pics of Monty Python's Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. I have a John Cleese example in my files but haven't yet located a photo of Terry Gilliam with a pipe. If you find one, please send it my way. 

Recently, in an unusually productive writing session, I created enough gags for two weeks. When deciding on how to sequence them, I realized that half used punning captions, or pun-adjacent wordplay. Normally, if I have multiple puns within a week, I separate them by a couple of days, but with six on my hands, I decided to embrace the pun and place them all in a single week. Let's call it an homage to Dan Piraro's old Sunday Punnies pages.

I'm fond of sneaky captions like this one. My hope was that the reader's default mode network would initially interpret it as the familiar phrase annual percentage rate and that a second look would reveal the alteration.

When a gag has a word balloon and a caption box, I usually have to place them both on the right-hand side of the image to allow room for the art. Sometimes that means that the staging has to be flipped horizontally.

Tuesday's panel featured characters from children's literature. Pippi is flanked by Ludwig Bemelmans' Madeline & Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight's Eloise.

The widescreen version also included Neil Gaiman's Coraline.

Sharp-eyed readers noticed that the cartoonist undercounted Secret Symbols in this Egyptian-themed gag. The hieroglyphs in the background actually include ten Bizarro symbols.

Poe isn't just a literary giant; he's also fun to draw.

The important elements of the Poe gag formed an elongated "L" shape, which allowed the word balloon to be placed near the center of the strip. To avoid crowding the text, I'll occasionally make the balloon larger and tuck it behind part of the art.

My favorite gag of the batch appeared on Friday.

Our seafaring existentialist is tormented by two more shipmates in the strip configuration.

He's chilling but not shilling.

That's it from Bizarro Studios North for another week. Drop by again any time. And look for a photo of Terry Gilliam smoking a pipe.

Bonus Track

Bobby Charles: "Save Me Jesus"
From the LP Bobby Charles
(Bearsville Records, 1972)

Earlier this week, our favorite local music venue had a pre-opening party after a multi-year expansion and upgrade. Many local musicians took turns performing to celebrate the long-awaited reopening.

The evening opened with a couple of tunes from Shane McLaughlin and Bryce Rabideau of the band Buffalo Rose. One of the songs they did was "I Must Be In a Good Place Now," written and originally recorded by Bobby Charles.

Charles is an important figure in the history of Louisiana music. He was active from the 195gh to the 1990s, with his self-titled 1972 album being a high point.

Light in the Attic Records reissued the LP in 2014. Their website includes this informative discussion of Bobby Charles and Bobby Charles:

Bobby Charles pioneered the musical genre known as swamp rock – he wrote the early rock n roll classic "See You Later, Alligator" (best known via the version by Bill Haley & the Comets). Another early gem penned by Bobby Charles was "Walking to New Orleans" as recorded by Fats Domino. He also appeared at the legendary "Last Waltz" concert in 1976 – in which he performed "Down South in New Orleans" accompanied by The Band and Dr. John.


But the main reason that musicians like Andy Cabic of Vetiver sing his praises (and cover his songs) is for Bobby’s 1972 self-titled album released on Bearsville. Despite numerous CD reissues through the years, this is the first time in decades that the seminal album has appeared in its original vinyl LP format.


A virtual who's who of classic roots rock, the album features ten Bobby Charles classics supported by the likes of Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, and Richard Manuel of The Band, long-time Neil Young sidekick Ben Keith, Bob Dylan’s former running mate Bob Neuwirth, session maverick Amos Garrett, the esteemed Dr. John, Geoff Muldaur, and several others.


But this is far from an all-star jam session – this is an ensemble record in the truest sense of the word – with each musician simply supporting the Louisiana vibe that flows thru the 10-song collection of country, blues, R&B, and folk that all have that distinctive Bobby Charles signature sound. The album also includes the slow burner "Street People" as featured on Country Funk 1969-1975, Volume 1.

Perhaps Dr. John said it best: "I think all of Bobby’s songs have something to offer at all times, for all people."

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Humpty Dunk Me

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.


The search for truth and knowledge is one of the finest attributes of man—though often it is most loudly voiced by those who strive for it the least.
Albert Einstein

Einstein knew what he was talking about, as evidenced by current events. The world's most prolific liar continues to accuse everyone else of dishonesty; the brazen insurrectionist claims that his detractors are traitors; the thief says those who expose his crimes should be jailed. Cultists dismiss every horror perpetrated by their dear leader, and a confederacy of apologists and enablers twist themselves into pretzels to appease a willfully-deluded base. 

Fingers are crossed for long-overdue justice to be served.

By the way, I confidently share Einstein's quote, as it was confirmed by the New York Times.

Our pipe pic this time around is a graphic of unknown vintage. 

It appears to be a German ad for "fishy" herring filets, which were only available from Edeka Kaufmann (if Google Translate can be trusted.)

Before we review the week's comics, sincere thanks to everyone who offered congratulations on my nomination for the National Cartoonists Society's Silver Reuben Award for newspaper panels, and especially to my partner in cartoons, Dan Piraro, who said some very nice things on his blog last week. It's an honor to show my work in the gallery Dan established nearly 40 years ago, and a pleasure to be connected to the community of Bizarro readers.

Since Bizarro HQ's side door is still unlocked, I snuck in with six new gags again this week.

I've recently written several Humpty Dumpty gags including this rather dark one. Come to think of it, they've all been on the gruesome side.
The strip layout called for more creative reconfiguration than usual.

Tuesday's panel was based on firsthand experience.

In the strip version, the second character speaks, allowing the balloon and caption box to be placed on the same side of the layout.

This one counts as a curmudgeonly rant from your cartoonist, who feels out of place in a society where many adults dress as if they're auditioning for a reboot of The Little Rascals.

That faux-embroidered lettering is totally OG (Original Grandma).

This panel was my first time drawing a hand holding a hammer concealed by a sweatshirt. My job is a neverending learning experience.

Alternatively, wear a sideways ball cap and saggy shorts.

Beer Here!

I thought this would be the last East End Brewing label to be shared on the blog, but there's one more to come. EEBC recently released a new batch of wheat wine beer called Also, Thanks!, which reuses part of the old Monkey's Uncle art. As soon as I have a label in hand, I'll scan it for an upcoming post.

Now Playing (Podcast Edition)

I've become hooked on Andrew Hickey's podcast, A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs. Hickey is a writer and historian who's produced 165 episodes so far of this fascinating and deeply researched series. He puts a lot of work into every episode and also posts bonus material on his Patreon page. A recent bonus episode highlighted the Bonzo Dog Band, one of my all-time favorites.

At the end of each podcast, Hickey asks the listener to tell just one other person about the project, since word of mouth is still the best way to promote creative projects. I heard about 500 Songs from Bizarro readers Paul and Ellen R, and am happy to let all of you know about it. 

Check it out if you have a chance, and maybe throw some support to Andrew Hickey as he works his way through a history of rock music.

Bonus Track

Beastie Boys: "Boomin' Granny"
Capitol/Grand Royal single, 1992
(B-side of "Jimmy James")

Additional Bizarro Sources

 Wayno's Weekly Bizarro Newsletter

  Dan Piraro's Weekly Bizarro Blog

Dan "Diego" Piraro's Peyote Cowboy Graphic Novel

Thanks for dropping by the old bloggin' corral. Come back next Saturday for more words, pictures and stuff.

Copyright© 2023 by Wayno®

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Self-Aware Neckwear

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.


Things are hopping in the studio, so we're forgoing a wordy intro and jumping right to our Pipe Pic of the Week, a 1952 issue of Terry-Toons Comics.

A few days ago, The National Cartoonists Society announced the finalists for their Silver Reuben Awards

I'm pleased to share the news that I'm a nominee in the Newspaper Panels division, along with Dave Blazek (Loose Parts) and John Reiner (The Lockhorns).

The awards will be presented at the 77th NCS Reuben Awards ceremonies in September. It's gratifying to be recognized by fellow cartoonists, whether we take home a prize or not.

Let's see if any of this week's gags are worthy of submitting for consideration next year.

Note that these students are doing math in binary code.

As the Bard warned: Beware the Grubs of March.

The canine officer is a seasoned veteran and looks like that during every car ride. They're secure in the knowledge that Dashboard Bunny watches over them.

Just wait until he breaks out the monocle.

When I sent a sketch of this panel to Dan Piraro, it was the first time he used the word "adorable" to describe a gag.

We ended the week with an example of twenty-first-century torture.

Bonus Track

Astrud Gilberto: "Agua de Beber"
From The Astrud Gilberto Album
Verve Records, 1965

Astrud Gilberto, best known for her vocal on "The Girl from Ipanema," died this week at the age of 83. She was largely responsible for the huge success of the album Getz/Gilberto album, a collaboration between Stan Getz and her then-husband João Gilberto. Both men exploited her and she was never fairly paid for her breakout recording.

"Agua de Beber," written by Antonio Carlos Jobim, is another popular Brazilian song, and Ms. Gilberto delivered a lovely version on her own 1965 album.

Even More Bizarro Stuff

 Wayno's Weekly Bizarro Newsletter

  Dan Piraro's Weekly Bizarro Blog

Dan "Diego" Piraro's Peyote Cowboy Graphic Novel

That's the latest from Bizarro Studios North. Take care, and thanks for visiting. 

Copyright© 2023 by Wayno®



Saturday, June 03, 2023

Breaking and Entering

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.


Happy Pride Month

Before we get to our regular content, we want to pause to acknowledge the years of struggle for civil rights and equal justice under the law for everyone in the LGBTQ community and to celebrate their achievements throughout the year.

There's still a long way to go, and certain forces are working to reverse progress in this important area. We at Bizarro support the goal of becoming a society that's tolerant of and welcoming to everyone.

 Humor is how you change people’s opinions, and if you can make someone laugh, they’ll listen, even if they hate you. 
John Waters

Sharing quotations is tricky. Much of what we find on the web is questionable, but this sounds like something John Waters would say. I found it while searching for something else I thought he said. The quote I was seeking, whether real or imagined, was about pursuing what you want to do despite those who'd discourage you. It was something along the lines of, "After ten years, they'll realize they can't get rid of you."

I was thinking about that milestone since I'm now in my sixth year as Bizarro's daily cartoonist, fourteen years after my first published contribution. And I've spent almost four decades as a professional artist/illustrator/cartoonist.

I have a birthday coming up this weekend, so that may account in part for my backward glance. 

Looking into the more recent past, I retract last week's claim about overcoming artistic self-doubt. That was optimism or hubris talking, because a day after the post, I looked at a panel I'd drawn and decided that it was so terrible, it wasn't worth trying to fix in Photoshop. I filed it away and did a completely different drawing for the gag. That'll learn me.

The quote attributed to John Waters is mostly true but has its limitations, in that it assumes a sense of humor in the person who disagrees with you. There are an awful lot of people (or a lot of awful people) who refuse to recognize anything contrary to their particular beliefs/obsessions and also lack any sense of humor.

If there's a point to this intro, I suppose it's that self-questioning is probably healthy and that a true sense of humor is rooted in the ability to laugh at oneself rather than at others.

Okay, that's enough of a cartoonist's two-bit philosophy. Let's get back to something fun, like this week's pipe pic, a delightful panel by Ernie Bushmiller.

Nancy's creator is the subject of an upcoming graphic biography by the great Bill Griffith.

The book is to be released in late August and is now available for pre-order. I hope to see the author in the fall, so I can get my copy autographed.

While contemplating the sublime perfection of Bushmiller's art, let's look at the work of a lesser mortal, in the form of this week's Bizarro panels.

The character in the suit is a Lagotto Romagnolo, Italy's truffle-seeking dog breed.

As an observer of human behavior, I'm often amused by online comments about comics, particularly those engaging in speculative fact-checking. The truffle dog comic prompted this exchange:

Reader A: But that's a pig's job. Not a dog's.

Reader B: Supposedly there are truffle dogs also.

Reader C: You could be right about that.

If only there were some way to find the answer...

The weapons in Tuesday's gag may look smaller than they should, but they're actually dueling swatters, also known among flies as derringers.

Perhaps one day we'll do a book collecting all of our comics that employ inanimate objects as characters.

I knew in advance that I'd do this one as a vertical strip, but didn't realize that the thought balloon would have to be placed at the bottom until I started working on the layout.

A wooden fence is just a rustic version of a velvet rope.

Friday's panel shows Victor Frankenstein as a pioneer of forensic monsterology.

We closed out the week with a bit of visual misdirection.

My good pal and colleague Dave Blazek surprised me on Thursday, in his award-winning comic, Loose Parts.

Loose Parts is one of the many comics I read every morning, and I nearly spit my coffee when I saw my name in the window of this tavern. We welcome all sorts of barthropods at Wayno's. Thanks to Dave for the extra, personal laugh.

Beer Here!

This label was done for a brew celebrating East End Brewing Company's fifth anniversary, back in 2009. I remember spending considerable time distorting the wooden nickel image, so it would look circular when the label was wrapped around the bottle.

Bonus Track

The Bostweeds: "Faster Pussycat!"
Eve Productions, 45 RPM single, 1966

In the early 1980s, I lived less than a hundred yards from the city's coolest record store, which was owned by my good friend Jim. I spent way too much time and money there and loved every minute of it. It was the home base of our self-published music zine and tiny independent record label, rehearsal space for our bands, and the spot where I met and hung out with a ton of musicians, including the Replacements, the Ramones, Snakefinger, and many others.

One day we were sorting a huge lot of old 45s that Jim had acquired and found a copy of "Faster Pussycat!" by the Bostweeds. It was used as the theme for Russ Meyer's notorious film, Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

Unfortunately, the version in the film included sound effects of revving motorcycles and fight scenes, and the recording of the song alone, was hard to find. Jim and I recalled reading an interview with John Waters where he mentioned how much he wanted a copy of the record. We called Baltimore's directory assistance and got the director's phone number, dialed it, and Waters himself answered the phone. We told him we were fans and asked if he'd ever found a copy "Faster Pussycat!" We were thrilled to speak with him and happy to send him the record. I think he offered to buy it, but we insisted on sending it to him as a gift, which he graciously accepted. 

No copies of the record are currently for sale on Discogs. In the past, they've sold $735 to $1,000.

Alternate Sources of Bizarro Goodness

 Wayno's Weekly Bizarro Newsletter

  Dan Piraro's Weekly Bizarro Blog

Dan "Diego" Piraro's Peyote Cowboy Graphic Novel

That's the latest from the Little Shop of Humor at Bizarro Studios North. Stop by for a visit any time.

Copyright© 2023 by Wayno®