Saturday, February 24, 2024

Keep on Shovelin'

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.


When I’m writing the first draft I’m constantly reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.
Jordan Peele

As with nearly all quotes found on the internet, I share the above with the caveat that it's attributed to Jordan Peele. I hope it's something he actually said. In any case, it's a valid characterization of the creative process, applicable to art of any kind. 

Most of my cartoons begin as scrawled text or a scribbled thumbnail in a sketchbook. I might use a word other than "sand" to describe what I'm shoveling into a box, but the point is that it's important to get something down on paper as a starting point.

Moving beyond that blank expanse is the key.

I chose this quotation and intro because a Substack subscriber recently asked about my process for creating six new cartoons every week. Later today, I'll respond with details and examples in my newsletter.

Thanks to Jordan Peele for the quote, and while we're at it, for his inventive, sharp, and super creepy horror films.

Today's pipe pic is a 1957 print ad from a Carmel, California newspaper.

Thanks to my pal Candi S for this amusing piece of cartoon pipe ephemera.

Zooming forward from 1957, here are the most recent Bizarro cartoons.

Since we had a canine pipe pic, it seems appropriate to kick off the week with a feline gag.

Some people pursue their art despite having a noncreative upbringing. Hats off to those who rebelled. 

We predict the next advancement in machine learning will be Artificial Indolence.

I was reminded of a childhood toy when drawing the unhappy customer.

I subsequently learned that long after my days of Play-Doh use. Hasbro introduced a variation called the Fuzzy Pumper Barber Shop:

The name is off-putting, and the GIF is even worse. Plus, I am now unable to get that weird smell out of my mind's nose.

That'll teach Management to force workers back into the office.

I recently re-established contact with a friend whom I had not seen in many years. I closed an email with, "Hope we have a chance to get together and tell each other we haven't aged a bit." 

I thought that might work as a panel, so I appropriated it from myself. Sometimes a gag arises from everyday conversation or correspondence.

That's the latest output from Bizarro Studios North. I hope you enjoyed at least some of the gags.

Drop by next week for yet another batch of cartoon fun.

Bonus Track

The Impressions: "Keep on Pushing"
From the album Keep on Pushing
ABC-Paramount Records, 1964

Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions offer beautiful words of encouragement.

Bonus Clip

A tip of the old porkpie to Steve D for this amusing excerpt from Leave It to Beaver. I was hoping that Ward might have done a sketch of Gus the Fireman, portrayed by character actor and native Pittsburgher Burt Mustin (1884-1977)

Buckets of Bizarro



  1. Anonymous3:47 PM

    Wayno, as always, thanks for another great week of great comics!

    I also loved the explanation of your creative process. Certainly gives us insight to how the ‘hot dog’ is made.

    And finally, I wanted to comment about Resident Alien. I love that show as well and it is all because of the Alan Tudyk. Been a fan of his since I first saw him many years ago in Tucker & Dale v. Evil. If you haven’t seen it, you MUST find it somewhere and stream it—it is hysterical! Very funny, albeit bloody, dark comedy that he and Tyler Levine absolutely excel in. It is one of my favorite movies. I encourage you and all your readers to see it!

    1. Oh yes, we've watched Tucker & Dale. I think I first became aware of Alan Tudyk in his role as Wash on Firefly. Both excellent performances, but he's really on fire in Resident Alien.

  2. Anonymous4:17 PM

    Awesome gags, as always! Thanks for the insight into your creative process. I find the "how" of creative expression very intriguing! -Jennifer B, in Yakima WA

  3. I enjoyed your answer to Jeff's question about your creative process. It's always good to be reminded of the various ways of getting to the good stuff. I tend to go into a slump after I've had a good run in the caption contest and it seems like the harder I try to be funny, the less funny I am. My past experience has it that I just need to ride it out for a while and then try going at them using a different approach. Your process made me think of a method I might try. Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Paul. I think the improvisational riffing from one idea to another frees you up to discover unexpected connections as opposed to a more structured approach, which can be limiting.

      I highly recommend Mischa Richter's book "The Cartoonist's Muse: A Guide to Generating and Developing Creative Ideas." He does a much better job of describing the free-association approach.

      One other thing you might consider: Even if you don't think of yourself as an artist, when you're trying to caption a cartoon, try copying it. It doesn't have to be an accurate drawing, but the act of moving your hand on paper might help you notice something in the art that sparks an idea. It may also help to distract your brain from seeking a solution and allow you to go off in an unexpected direction. Thanks for the comment and for your readership!

  4. Anonymous3:57 PM

    I've got the *impression* that those guys are *pushing* a Jag E-Type. :D

  5. Anonymous1:53 PM

    The Tobacco Store is still there in Monterey