Saturday, February 10, 2024

Enlarged to Show Texture

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 robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
The First Law of Robotics
Isaac Asimov, from I, Robot

If you push something hard enough, it will fall over.
Fudd's First Law of Opposition
The Firesign Theatre, from I Think We're All Bozos on This Bus

We hear more about artificial intelligence every day and see grotesque examples filling our social media feeds. I don't know enough to have a deeply informed take on this thing, but I know I don't like it. Some say that only Luddites oppose AI, like those who thought that radio and records would destroy the livelihood of musicians, but that feels disingenuous and reductive.

Artists routinely absorb and reflect the influence of their predecessors and contemporaries, and there are plenty of glib quotes like, "Bad artists copy, great artists steal." The infinite reach and limitless capacity of thieving bots change the equation, particularly since most social media users refuse to acknowledge intellectual property rights. It's already too easy to steal the work of creative artists, automating the theft makes things much worse.

Asimov's First Law ought to apply to virtual robots, and should prohibit causing humans financial harm. The online magazine Contemporary Art Issue estimates that 85% of visual artists make less than $25,000 a year, and it's unlikely that generative AI will improve that figure. It will never benefit creators whose work is digitally scraped for impersonation. 

Ideally, an individual's conscience ought to preclude them from directing this software to steal from an artist whose work they admire.

If you play with AI for amusement, please don’t prompt it using the names of any artists, especially living artists.

Fudd's First Law of Opposition applies to people as well as objects.

Today's pipe pic was provided by faithful Bizarro reader and musical connoisseur David R.

Our model is British personality James May on the set of the Top Gear TV series. He's showing off a pipe that was made by Porsche.

A tip of the porkpie to David R. for alerting us to this photo.

Without further ado, here are the week's Bizarro gags. No artificial intelligence was employed in the making of these cartoons.

In response to some contentious online discussion, here are helpful notes on Monday's gag:

Note 1: Cats are obligate carnivores, and require a meat-based diet to survive. Cats should not be fed a vegetarian or vegan diet, and we do not advocate a meatless diet for them.

Note 2: One shouldn't look to gag cartoons for veterinary advice.

Note 3: Don't put boxer shorts or eyeglasses on your pets, either. 

In fairness, the dialog could have read, "I know canned food is nutritious, but I miss the taste of fear." It has fewer words, so maybe that would have been a better choice.

The original art for Tuesday's comic was drawn at 0.01 percent of the printed size. 

Our current average is 1.83 gags per year poking fun at Batman and/or Robin. I love having everything documented in a spreadsheet.

In the late 1980s, Bird Police could have been a short-lived black & white comic book series.

Believe it or not, Naugahyde upholstery vinyl is still available, and Uniroyal Global still sells Nauga dolls.

Vintage Naugahyde print advertisement

In the 1970s, the manufacturer assured consumers that they weren't slaughtering Naugas and that the fictional creature could shed its skin in large rectangular sheets.

We wrapped up the week with a spin on a common complaint about restaurants. My favorite detail is the customer about to use a spoon to cover his eye.

I adjusted the body position of the doctor/server to fit into the strip layout, and I think this arrangement conveys the feeling of a darkened restaurant better than the panel.

That's the latest from my Little Shop of Humor. I hope you enjoyed this batch of pictorial drollery. More of the same will await you a week from now.

Bonus Track

Mose Allison: "Your Molecular Structure"
From the album I've Been Doin' Some Thinkin'
Atlantic Records, 1968

One of many examples supporting the contention that Mose John Allison, Junior was one of our greatest composers and performers.

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  1. Anonymous1:10 PM

    Wonderful three-fer this week, Wayno -- Asimov, Firesign, and Mose Allison! Oooh-weeee!

    1. Glad you enjoyed. Thanks so much!

  2. Anonymous1:17 PM

    My wife worked in biotech in the last half of the '80s before leaving to go to vet school and become a veterinarian (and probably make a whole lot less money). She got a big laugh out of the Genetic Makeup gag. It was fun watching her face as she read it. I could see her appreciating and laughing at the dialog and then she let out a big guffaw when she read the caption. Well done!

    1. This comment made my day! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Anonymous2:56 PM

    I have a macaw parrot. He is definitely beaked and dangerous!

  4. Anonymous3:38 PM

    I laughed at the Bird Police comic earlier this week but today, after re-reading it, I wonder if the suspect could have been winged instead of beaked?

    1. I originally wrote "winged" but eventually thought that "beaked" had a funnier sound to it.

  5. Are you sure it's only 1.83 Batman/Robin jokes a year? It seems to me it's higher.
    Love all your cartoons! 💗

    1. Math isn't my strongest suit, so you could be right. Thank you for the kind words.

  6. ANDREA4:37 PM

    My Mom had one of those Nauga Dolls; I've no idea why, as I don't remember any Naugahyde furniture in our house.

    1. I think the dolls became popular on their own, so maybe that's not unheard of.

  7. 2001 a Space Odyssey is what comes to mind when we talk AI. It's going to be a bumpy ride, so one may want to put on a helmet.

  8. Anonymous11:23 AM

    Man, these are great! Mr. Naugahyde, the taste of fear, and genetic makeup. And being of a certain age I won't make a comment about reading the menu. I try to always remember to take reading glasses with me. I was surprised to see that Nauga dolls are still sold, but shouldn't be, I guess. Bovines are happy for that I imagine. Thanks for adding some irreverence to my Sunday. :)

  9. My pleasure, and thank you for the kind commentary!

  10. Nekoninda8:02 PM

    I hope you are able to double your production of funny riffs on Batman and Robin in the coming year. One winner already in the books! And for those critics who think that cartoonists control the minds of cat owners – Please, people! Think!! It should be obvious to everyone that cats control the minds of cat owners.

    1. No question who's in charge...

  11. Anonymous1:07 PM

    Being a musician, you may have encountered some Kustom "Rolled & Pleated" Naugahyde amplifiers at some point. I had this exact bass amp in 1968.

    1. I know someone who has those in every color!

  12. Anonymous4:10 PM

    The guy with the pipe… “This is not an ice cream cone.”

  13. Anonymous2:23 PM

    Thanks for the well written comment on AI. There's software called Glaze from the Univ of Chicago which prevents bots from stealing images. Check it out and pass the word (he wrote better software he said, so maybe promote that ) Either way hope it's helpful.