Friday, February 27, 2009

Take Me Back

Bizarro is brought to you today by Giant Drag Queens and the Men Who Love Them.

I've touched on this subject of young men dressing like rodeo clowns before, but this is perhaps my favorite one. I did a cartoon back in the 90s about cops having covertly started the baggy pants fad to make gang members easier to catch on foot. Might be true.

This week, a real life cop wrote to me and said he could not count how many times this had actually happened to him. He cuffs a suspect, their pants keep falling down, and they blame him.

When the baggy-pants-underwear-showing look first became popular, I laughed out loud and thought it could not possibly last. Here we are like, what, 20 years later and it's still hip? I mean phat? WTF?

I'm heading to Tulsa in a couple of hours to visit my family and to perform at a fundraiser for my old high school, Booker T. Washington. If you have some extra bucks to donate to educating ne'er-do-wells and miscreants (some in baggy pants, no doubt), and nothing to do on Saturday morning, come join us.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Confusing Rainbow of Mystery

Bizarro is brought to you today by Presidential Dishtowels.

CHNW and I became friends with a transgender person in Hawaii recently, which later gave rise to this cartoon. Our new friend informed me of the difference between "transgender" and "transsexual" and although her definitions were a bit fuzzy, as I understand it, the gist is that transgenders psychologically relate to both sexes, crossing or erasing traditional sexual assignments, while transsexuals wish to be the opposite sex from which they were born.

Our friend in Hawaii is male by birth, but his personality, mode of dress, and demeanor are entirely female. He has changed his name to a woman's and comports himself as a woman, yet he is sexually attracted to women, always has been, is not gay or even bisexual, and hopes to find a wife. You are right, that might be a difficult task.

You might say he's a lesbian with the wrong plumbing. But he likes his plumbing and has no desire to change it. He's a lesbian with a strap-on without a strap.

How this differs from transvestism is subtle, and not something I pretend to understand fully. Apparently the term transvestite has undergone many changes through history and currently floats somewhere between transgender (described above) and cross-dresser (who wears clothing of the opposite sex but does not go as far as psychological identity.) (I think.)

Confused? That is appropriate, because sexual identity and preference is not a black and white issue, as was taught by our forefathers and mothers. (Is there a name for someone with four fathers?) It is an immense, sweaty, throbbing, sliding scale of tendencies, preferences, fetishes and nuance.

Just one more way in which the human ape is hopelessly complex, but such is our fate as mutant primates.

So for those who feel the urge to criticize, clobber, or deny legal rights to someone whose sexual orientation and/or display offends them, I ask that they remember that other people have no more control over their desire to dress like Elvis and hit on lumberjacks than you do over your attraction to drunken coeds with big boobies. Time to grow up and accept that the world doesn't always conform to our fairy tales.

SPECIAL THANKS to all you who posted an alternate caption to the Grim Reaper cartoon from yesterday's post. Most of them were great, several were WAY better than mine. I should ask you guys ahead of time on every gag. (he said, inviting the snarky remarks of various curmudgeonly commentators.)


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dead Death

Bizarro is brought to you today by Exciting Discoveries!

I spent all of my blogging time today on the previous post about Ash Wednesday, so this one is short.

I don't know how good this cartoon is (I'm sure the commentators will tell me in no uncertain terms) but I was thinking one day what conclusion you could draw after finding the Grim Reaper's dead body. If you can think of a better line for the cop to use, I'm all ears.

Ash Wednesday


Since today is Ash Wednesday, I thought I'd post a short, special tribute to my ex-girlfriend and wife, Ashley, a.k.a. CHNW, whom I commonly call, "Ash."

Here she is wearing a coat that has bunny ears on the hood. She has related to non-human animals in a special way since early childhood and cannot seem to break the habit. (Anyone who makes a bestiality comment gets voted off the island.)

Here she is with a rescued fawn at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. The momma doe was killed by a car so we took in the fawn for a few days until we could find a wildlife rehabilitator. The fawn was fond of sucking on Ash's earlobe for comfort, which Ashley enjoyed, too. What a nice lady.

Here, she is very excited about a rescued calf at Woodstock, whom we named Dylan. He was found tied up inside a dark barn and was destined to be veal. That was a few years ago, now he is all grown up and the size of a Cadillac Escalade. He still comes to the fence when Ash calls him, and clearly has affection for her. She can no longer get inside the pasture with him, however, for he could accidentally crush her skull with a twitch of his upper lip. Did I mention he is large?

Here is the obligatory Ashley with chicken and donkey shot. This kind of thing tends to happen to her a lot, this time it was at Leilani Farm Sanctuary in Maui. Keen observers will notice there are two donkeys in this picture, one is pushing his nose into Ashley's butt. Who can blame him?

Here she is sharing a guava with said butt-muncher.

Speaking of butts, in this photo, Ash cleverly displays the world's largest nut, which comes from a palm tree of some sort. Since it is somewhat difficult to discern the nut from Ashley's own booty, I have included a picture of myself with said nut for proportion.















To conclude this special Ash Wednesday edition I offer this picture of Ash in a medieval helmet. This took place a couple of years ago in an Italian museum which does not employ enough guards to prevent this sort of thing.






(Special thanks to my buddy, Richard Cabeza, who's also married to an "Ash" and who reminded me of this special day.)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sad Stereotypes

Bizarro is brought to you today by Real Live Indians.

Me: "My name is Dan Piraro and I suffer from depression."
All: "Hello, Dan."
Group member: "You're not supposed to use your last name, this is Depression Anonymous."
Me: "You're not supposed to use quotation marks in a script format, either, so sue me."

Yes, I'm a long time taker of "crazy pills," thus called because they keep me from being crazy. As such, I know full well that anti-depressants do not make a person feel the way Melancholy Wolf appears to feel in this cartoon. In truth, they just make you feel normal. Normally happy, sad, or somewhere in between, depending on the circumstance.

I was quite the melancholy wolf for many years, with unpredictable bouts of utter hopelessness and despair, as well as unbridled anger, that would last from a few days to a few weeks. I went to shrinks, I read books, I exercised, I changed my diet, I changed my life – nothing worked. It was inexplicable.

Until one of my therapists bothered to "explic" it to me and asked me to try anti-depressants. I was very hesitant, being one of those tough guys who doesn't want a chemical solution to my problems. But I was so desperate I finally agreed and within a couple of weeks, I felt normal for the first time in my adult life. Melancholy Wolf's exuberance is representative of how I felt when the cloud first lifted. I just wish I hadn't waited until my late thirties to take the plunge.

Speaking of the Injuns in the cartoon above, I was in Indianapolis recently with some Native American comic artist colleagues and learned a lot about what sort of pop culture stereotypes bother them. I suspect this cartoon might fit into a few of those categories because I didn't bother to research it.

Not all American Indians wore braids, bone breastplates, feathers in their hair, fringe on their shirts and lived in teepees, yet that is commonly how they are depicted. Sorry, guys, didn't have time to look it up, deadlines loomed. I just went straight for the easy cliche, I hope I didn't get it completely wrong.

On a slightly different note, I'm a fan of Native American names. Not all of them are bucolic monikers about nature – like Soaring Eagle and Whispering Beaver – some are more expository. My favorite name, which was in a book of photos of Native Americans from around the turn of the 19th century, is Stabs By Mistake.

Following this method of naming, when CHNW and I were first married, I dubbed her grandmother, Stares At New Guy Like She Hates Him.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Impossible World

Bizarro is brought to you today by Eat My Friends!

Here's a simple visual gag that has no deeper meaning and nothing to do with anything. Sometimes a bit of simple surrealism is good for you. It's not brilliant, but it's a smile.

What's fun about cartoons like this is that as often as not, someone will write to me in all seriousness and say something like, "I love Bizarro but I don't get today's cartoon. Is there something I'm missing? How could the prisoners dig their way to another planet?"

I never mind people asking for clarification on a cartoon and their confusion is often warranted because my cartoon was nebulous. So I'm nice to anyone who writes (unless they are being an a**hole). When someone asks a question like my hypothetical one above, I still respond politely but I admit that I laugh before I type.
And sometimes I call CHNW in from the other room to laugh with me.
And sometimes a few friends from the neighborhood.
Only on rare occasions have I posted the letter on YouTube in a video in which I appear with phony buck teeth and a fright wig, pretending to be the person who wrote the letter.

Usually I just politely explain that it's supposed to be impossible, and therein lies the humor. Or what I mistook for humor when I wrote it.

Other sorts of letters I sometimes get will be from somebody like a meteorologist who feels it his duty to point out that the earth I have drawn in the background has no clouds on the entire hemisphere shown, which is statistically impossible. For readers like this, I send my special Bizarro Anthrax Gift Basket.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Greek Freaks











(Jonesin' for a bigger picture? Click it like a red-headed stepchild.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by
Zeus, King of the Gods.

What man wouldn't want to be a centaur? You'd have all of the benefits of a human upper body – dexterity, human intelligence, a good place to hang a nice shirt – plus all the benefits of a horse's entire body: speed, strength, majesty, great kicking, hung like a...

You'd have an advantage in almost any sport (exceptions: skiing, snowboarding, cycling, auto racing [not really a 'sport', per se, in my opinion] skydiving [not a 'sport' either], hockey, soccer, pole vault, diving, swimming, bowling [not a sport], tennis, racquetball.) Okay, you'd have an advantage in a few sports like football, basketball, kickboxing, baseball [maybe], and all running events. But even without sports, it would still be so cool to be able to gallop like a horse, tower above crowds, and kick the crap out of anyone who made "horse's ass comments."

Being a satyr would not be as much fun, maybe no fun at all. I can't think of many advantages of being part goat. I like goats, I just don't want to be one. Yes, satyrs have a tremendous sexual appetite and sex is often considered fun, but how many women are willing to throw down with a goat?

And pretty much nobody would want to be the third brother. No advantages there whatsoever, unless you're just really into pecking. I think that guy would need a centaur brother just to keep him from getting the stuffings beaten out of him.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Last Words

Today's Bizarro is brought to you by Two Too Hairy.

I've seen a lot of self-referential cartoons over the years with various gimmicks that use cartoon balloons as props within the scene or characters that make reference to the borders, etc., and I've done a handful myself. In general, cartoons like that can be too "easy," so I only do them when I think I have a concept that is interesting enough to make it worthwhile. I think this one passes that test; some will disagree with me, of course. (See comments section under "Anonymous.")

I like the fact that this has multiple layers: the victim's last words, the caption balloon stabbed into his back, the reference to the 911 call which would have been the same as the victim's last words. For super-genius readers, like those who frequent this blog, the whole thing falls into place instantly, you smile and snort, count the secret symbols and move on to "Cathy." But for some readers, this cartoon was confusing enough to write to me and ask what it meant. Here is an excerpt from one such email:

"Huh?"

So here is the full explanation of this cartoon:
A guy in a cartoon calls 911 and says, "Help! Someone is using my own words against me!" Because he is in a cartoon, his words appear in a balloon above him with a pointer that designates the speaker of the words contained within. Apparently, as guy #1 utters these words, guy #2 (not pictured) is, in fact, grabbing that same caption balloon and stabbing the caller with the point of it, thus using his own words against him. All of this happens before the scene pictured. As we join the unfortunate cartoon character, now presumably dead, the police cartoon characters have already arrived, one of whom exclaims with his own cartoon balloon that he now understands the peculiar 911 call, "Help! Someone is using my own words against me!"*

Simple.

*This cartoon is fictional and is not meant to represent any actual events or persons. No actual characters were harmed in the making of this cartoon. All characters, both explicit and insinuated, are entirely constructed of lines and color and do not exist in biological form. Your computer screen is an electronic device for personal use and is not a window into another world or alternate reality.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Three Amigos

Bizarro is brought to you today by Lethal Lingerie.

I'm not one to poke fun at people who are different, deformed, or disabled, but three-headed people always make me giggle.

I often wonder which position I would want if I was part of a tri-noggin organism. The outside positions would have slightly more privacy and better access to the nearest arm, but the middle position would feel a natural authority, balance and inclusion in any conversation.

In the negative category, the middle would have no privacy whatsoever and might be prone to feelings of claustrophobia, as well as being caught literally in the middle of any arguments between the outer two. The outer positions could feel excluded if the middle and opposing head spent too much time conversing, or should decide to keep secrets. An additional drawback of the middle head would be having to wait your turn for certain tasks like brushing your teeth or shaving, as the outer heads would presumably have the option to service themselves first.

But another positive for the center melon would be protection from objects approaching from the side, a definite advantage in a bar fight.

One also wonders who controls singular tasks like bending at the waist, sitting, breaking into a run, etc. If an outside head tries to sit without telling the other two, one imagines the body falls to that side as the leg bends. If he should decide to run without alerting the others, he might well run in a circle. But what if the middle head attempts to bend over quickly, as when dodging a flying shoe at a press conference, for instance, and the other two are unaware of the attempt? Does the middle head give itself whiplash?

So many questions, all answered in the upcoming autotriography. Pre-order yours now.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Me and Sheila

Bizarro is brought to you today by Aesthetic Assassinations.

Here's another one of those editing screw ups on my part. The cartoon shown here is as it was when I sent it in to King Features. Shortly thereafter, I received a call from my editor explaining that they'd had a lot of complaints about the word "freakin" in other comic strips lately and that it would be wise to change it. Apparently, there are numerous newspaper readers across the country who are offended by even a euphemism of a "bad" word and are willing to make their local editor's life miserable if they see one in their paper.

So the fine folks at King changed the word to "stupid" or something and I was to change it on the color version I sent in later. Both this editing discussion and the one I mentioned a couple of posts ago happened while I was out of town and by the time I got back to the Command Center at Bizarro Global Headquarters, I'd forgotten about them and didn't make the changes.

So x number of newspapers and web sites published the cartoon above one week ago yesterday, with it's magical, taboo, "evil" letter order in tact, but I've not heard of any complaints. Which is good.

On the subject of the GPS, I think this is the coolest invention since Scotch. But I can't say I'm fond of the voice that tells you what to do. I've gotten into shouting matches with that person before, whom I call "Sheila," and even though I always win, she remains smug and unflappable, which annoys me even more. Nowadays, I use the one on my iPhone, which is silent. I miss more turns, but at least Sheila isn't there to point it out.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Here in the Future

Today's Bizarro is sponsored by My New TV Series.

It is difficult for me to completely grasp, but Americans under 30-or-so cannot remember a time before computers were ubiquitous. I'm not all that old, as you can see from this dashing recent photo of me, but I never even saw a desktop computer in person until I was an adult and didn't learn to use one until I was in my thirties. Even hand-held calculators were rare and expensive when I was in high school. I learned to type on a typewriter like the one in this cartoon and the closest thing to spell-check that existed was my mom and a pocket dictionary.

I may sound like an old geezer but the speed at which technology has moved in the past 30 years makes a person's head spin. There is nothing to indicate that it will slow down in the near future, but at the current exponential rate that it is moving, sometime next month we'll have personal robots that respond to voice commands, be teleporting from coast to coast using only our thoughts, and the Internet will appear as a 3-D hologram hovering in front of us.

More to the point of this cartoon, computers actually did get too small to use. The most advanced cell phones of a only a couple years ago did everything the early desktop computers did but the keypads were so small and inefficient you might as well have been using Morse code and an abacus. Thank god for the ingenious new designs by Apple (again) and the new generation of phone screens and keyboards. How did we get by without them?

I know that when I describe the way my family and I lived when I was a kid, I sound like Abraham Lincoln reading by candlelight in a log cabin. But seriously, compared to now, we were practically barbarians squatting in tents in the wilderness. If you're currently a high school kid, chances are that by the time you're my age your description of today's Internet, email, texting, digital TV, etcetera, will seem like cavemen banging on logs with sticks. Get used to it.

That's if modern human civilization still exists by then, which is very unlikely, so never mind.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sofa Self-Censure

Bizarro is brought to you today by Godzilla Goes Swimming.

Here we have a simple turn of a phrase, the sort I've always found fun. To me, any sofa long enough to accommodate me is a sofa bed. In fact, I'd much rather sleep on a sofa than a fold-out bed inside a sofa. The sofa cushion is invariably more comfortable than the thin mattress covering the wirey armature of the bed.

I know there are exceptions to this. Like futon sofa/beds, which are often more comfortable to sleep on as a futon opened up on the floor than they are as a thing to sit on, and modern sofas with platforms and big cushions or something. There are probably more wacky sofa bed inventions but I'm bored even thinking about it and I'm guessing you're nodding off reading about it, so let's move on to the next subject. It's just as boring, but at least it is a change of pace.

When I sent this cartoon in, it had a grievous typo. The woman was saying "Does is fold out?" Me editor caught it, corrected it on the black and white version, sent me an email reminding me to correct it on my version before I colored it, and sent it out to papers. That's our routine.

A handful of papers and all websites run Bizarro in color every day. The color files are sent electronically (as opposed to the b/w cartoons being mailed in hard copy, the old-fashioned way) so I have a little more time to finish them. I color the cartoons the week after they have been sent in and edited for b/w clients and that's when I usually correct mistakes or typos that my editor has found.

In this case, I was out of town when I got the email and forgot to refer to it when I got back and colored the cartoons. So the moronic version ran in papers and web sites all over America, making me look foolish. I hate it when that happens.

In a cartoon later that same week, a word was changed because of previous problems with it but again, I forgot to change it on the color version. That mistake could have gotten me into trouble with client editors all over North America. Everybody loves a cliffhanger so I'll post that cartoon later this week and 'splain.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Land That Fashion Forgot

(To see a more huge version of this cartoon, click the right bug's left antenna.)

Bizarro today is brought to you in part by a grant from the Alliance of Unpopular Choir Members.

Here is a little drawing for the combover wearers among us, especially those with bugs in their hair. I wondered when I drew this if enough people would get that the scene was taking place on someone's head. Bizarro appears in other countries, and also I wonder if the term will translate sufficiently there. But I did it anyway, because that's the kind of crazy devil-may-care action-adventure type guy I am. It's also just another of the many reasons I'm not a millionaire. Not mainstream enough.

To help the image along, I added this title panel to the cartoon, but many newspapers don't use this header panel when they print my Sunday cartoon (because of space constraints), so it probably wasn't much help.

I've never understood the combover's appeal. How many people honestly think it fools others into thinking they still have hair there? How many think it is not fooling anyone, but looks better than bald skin? How many are actually fooling themselves into thinking there is still hair there?

I'm not a guy with a skull full of fur myself, so I am not without sympathy for the naked pated. Personally, I loathe both combovers and the look of very thin hair, so I've committed to shaving my head if my remaining hair gets thin enough that it looks unappealing to me. I have no idea how I'll look bald, my head may be the shape of a Silly Putty egg, but I think it is better than the alternatives. A Toupee, of course, is utterly out of the question, except in the context of Halloween. As are those places that sew a rug to your head.

On another note, thanks for all the responses yesterday concerning the super hero book vs. the cowboy book. So far, super heroes are winning. All of this, of course, hinges on whether a publisher is interested in either idea. Sometimes they just steer you in some other random direction and you're out of luck.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lynching, Polling


Bizarro is brought to you today by Cowboys of the Future.

I like this cartoon, but it isn't the way I originally wrote it. My first version, which appears below, was considered too violent, especially at a time when talk of "lynching" has been used in very offensive ways against our president. So I changed the image in a way that removed the potentially offending imagery but kept the joke.

I'm glad I changed it. It's one thing to do a joke about a controversial subject like gay marriage and risk angering homophobics and bigots. That's a calculated risk I'm often willing to take. But to do a joke about one thing and risk upsetting people for reasons that have nothing to do with the message of the cartoon is quite another. In this economic climate, as newspapers are looking for ways to save money, we cartoonists cannot afford to cause unnecessary trouble for editors.

Here's a question to you, the blog reader. Or, the "bloader," as I like to call you. Since my book of Bizarro pirate cartoons sold moderately well (and given the New Depression, that's great!) I've been thinking of doing a book of either Bizarro western cartoons, or super hero cartoons. Which do you think would sell better? Would you be more likely to buy a small book of Bizarro cartoons about cowboys, indians, Old West stuff, or one about super heroes?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Heroes and Villains


Bizarro is brought to you today by Tiny Pediatricians.

This idea came while watching a football game and inking cartoons one afternoon. The female sideline reporter (almost all sideline reporters are female these days, someone must have passed a law) was interviewing a player and he was much taller than she, of course. But it suddenly occurred to me that she was holding the microphone up over her head to reach his face. Try it yourself right now. Imagine interviewing someone so much bigger than you that you have to hold the mic up over your head, as though pointing it at a light fixture on the ceiling.

And keep in mind these are not skinny, tall guys. These guys are HUGE. Their hands are bigger than your head. When you see someone that big in person, it almost seems as though they are a different species.

If only American football had been popular in Frankenstein's time, the monster could have worn a uniform and he would have been adored, instead of chased down by a mob and killed.

I think we've all learned an important lesson today.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Head of the Pack

Bizarro is brought to you this week by Tasty Walkways.

This idea is a collaboration between my cartoonist/stand-up comic friend, Michael. I think he came up with the top two, I came up with the bottom two. Can't remember now.

He does a weekly cartoon for SF Gate, the Thursday entertainment guide in the San Francisco Chronicle. It used to be called "Cheap City" and was about bizarre ways to save money. Now he's changed it to "Surveillance Charicatures" and it's all over the map. Here's one of my recent faves.

I've done a few cartoons over the years about how those hands-free headset things have become fashion accessories among certain members of our society. If what they say about excessive use leading to brain tumors, eventually head bandages will become a status symbol, too.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Club Monkeyshines

Bizarro is brought to you today by Eddy the Drillhead.

Here's a cartoon I have not much to say about. It isn't great, it isn't awful, it's just a cartoon.

Instead, let's talk about a party I was dragged to by CHNW the other night. We have some friends that run with the fabulous people and every now and then we accompany them to a fabulous affair, the sort I don't feel any more comfortable at than a monster truck rally in the swamps of Louisiana.

Apparently it was a supermodel's birthday (who shall remain nameless for legal reasons), and it was being held in the VIP section of an exclusive club I've never heard of. When we approached the address, there was a healthy-sized crowd outside begging to get past the velvet ropes like orphans at Scrooge's door. We got to pass through the crowd, Moses-parting-the-Red-Sea style because we were on the supermodel's list. What a great feeling it is to have your superior desirability publicly acknowledged in the presence of the less desirable.

Once inside, our skeletons, organs, tissues, entire bodies were treated to a thorough shaking. The "DJ" (a person with a laptop and an apptitude for lipreading), was playing music much louder than the American Medical Association recommends, but fully conforming to the National Confederacy of Clubs' required 85% bass–15% treble mix. While this is not good for one's prospects of hearing without an electronic aid beyond the age of 40, it is very good at curing constipation, as the long bathroom lines attested. And if the vibrations in the air were not enough to shake that chicken-fried steak and chili cheese fries loose, leaning against a railing or wall most certainly would. Some people even seemed to be spitting out fillings and crowns.

Following are some of my favorite cellphone pics from the joyous occasion.

Pic number one is of the unnamed former supermodel herself, raising a hand and a glass. The vantage point may appear as though I was seated when shooting this, but in fact, I was standing on my tiptoes. She and all her model friends in attendance, were well above average height. It was not unlike being in a room full of telephone poles with wigs. Georgeous telephone poles, granted, from what I could see from the ground.

The lighting was not conducive to photography, but every now and then a flash from the strobes would hit at the right time and I'd get something. Here is a pic of a bunch of her model friends, many of whom you've seen in magazines, sitting behind $35 bottles of vodka for which they likely paid around a grand each. Near as I could tell, they sat most of the time for fear of their arms or legs snapping off.

Here, the unnamed model fends off the advances of a male specimen of mating age. Damn, she's good. Her model pal behind her is leaning against a railing, preparing for her next visit to the restroom.







The VIP section is in a raised area overlooking the commoners, as well it should be. There were thousands of crystal balls hanging from the ceiling that catch the strobes in a most mind-bending way. Or perhaps it was just the effects of the $1000 vodka.

Overall, we were there for around 30 minutes before fighting our way toward the door and being squirted out onto the street like watermelon seeds. As we left, I cautioned the peasants still eagerly waiting in line that it might not be all it's cracked up to be, but they did not seem to heed my warning.

After so much fabulousness, I was happy to hop into a cab and head back to my bat cave. It may be months before I leave the house again.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Chicken Mythology

Bizarro is brought to you today by Big-Headed Babes in Boots.

I think this is a fun alternative to the "why did the chicken cross the road" gag, a theme that has been hit upon tens of thousands of times by cartoonists.

I'm a big fan of chickens, both hens and roosters. I've gotten to know many of them in the privacy of my own home, as CHNW and I have fostered ones rescued from NYC streets, parks, dumpsters, basements, etc.

Most people assume, as I used to, that chickens are stupid. When they are around other chickens they act like chickens and ignore humans for the most part, except to run away clucking and stumbling. Not a very intellectual demeanor. But when they are solo in your apartment, they relate to you, just as cats and dogs do, learn where their food is, cuddle with you while you watch TV, cry when you leave the room, chirp in glee when you return. They'd be terrific pets if they didn't poop indiscriminately. That's just the way the species is designed, no sense trying to house train them. Of course, they're happier outside with other chickens, anyway.

It's always occurred to me that our definition of intelligence is very anthropocentric. In other words, we judge another specie's intelligence by how similar it is to ours. Some are naturally that way – dogs, rats, apes – others are not at all – turkeys, chickens, cattle, sheep. I now try to appreciate other species' intelligence for what it is instead of in comparison to mine. A chicken can't fix a bicycle, but then it hasn't much need for a working bicycle so why would it? When threatened, some birds will pretend to have a broken wing while their offspring escape. I'm not sure I'd think of that if a bear were charging me and my kids in the woods.

This is just one of the many reasons I stay out of the woods with small children.

A prime example of this anthropocentric thinking is that when a human builds a shelter, we call it "intelligence." When a bird builds one it's "instinct."

Because no other species impacts its environment with it's intellect the way we do, we think the world is here for us and that we are the most important species on Earth. (One could easily argue that because of the way we impact our environment, we are the least intelligent species.) We've even written tens of thousands of stories about how we are the reason the earth was created.

Spiders are the only animal that can shoot webs out of their butt and build the equivalent of a skyscraper that both serves as shelter and provides food, all in a matter of minutes. I wonder if they think the world was built for them and the rest of us are just props in the movie of their life?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Kryptonite Kid

(Hint: For a bigger, less blurry glimpse at the intricate glories of the above cartoon, point your cursor [little black arrow on your screen] to any part of the image, then push the button on your mouse [the plastic device that controls the arrow.])

Bizarro is made possible today by Ugly Wedding Dresses.

I've always liked to think about heroes and the unpublished details of their lives before they were famous. What was Clark Kent like as a child? How do you control a kid with superhuman strength in the throes of the Terrible Twos? It is common for children of this age to throw a spoon across the room. How did Ma and Pa Kent avoid getting impaled?

As a Catholic kid, I wondered about Jesus's childhood. Did he have friends his age, or was he the nerdy, overly philosophical kid that nobody wanted to play with? Did he ever get mad at another kid for taking his toy, strike him dead, then bring him back to life before anyone found out?

At what age did Mickey Mouse start wearing those big, dumb shoes? Once he was rich and famous he could afford to be isolated from the riffraff, but before that, was he never chased by a cat? You certainly would want better shoes if you were.

I think a Showtime or HBO series about Superman as a small child would be great. The Kents try to deal with a toddler with superhuman strength, the ability to fly, x-ray vision (there goes their sex life), all without letting any of their friends, family or local townfolk find out about his powers. Year by year, as the actor who plays the toddler grows up, we follow his various struggles with typical childhood trauma through the filter of his tremendous powers. The show isn't about him weilding justice or solving crimes, just coping without flipping out and throwing his schoolmates into the next county when they make fun of his new shoes. Or getting caught looking through the walls of the girl's locker room.

If someone does come up with that series, they'd better be ready to prove they documented it before the date of this blog, because I will come after them with a team of Kryptonite-weilding lawyers.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Boats, Bottles, and Taters

Bizarro is brought to you today by LowRider Boats.

When I was a kid, I was fascinated by ships in a bottle. When I finally found out how this is achieved, I was even more fascinated. I know the "canoe in a bottle" is a dry joke, to say the least, but it's the sort of thing I'd actually like to have in my home. I wouldn't have an actual ship in a bottle, but a canoe in a bottle would be just about right.

Someone once gave me a bottle of pear brandy with a full-size pear in the bottle. The way they create them is simple, but I still find it a strange idea. I'd love to see one of the trees they come from. Who first thought of this? Someone should do this with a watermelon, allowing the melon to fill the bottle entirely, then add vodka to preserve it. I would laugh at that.


As an added bonus today, here is the header panel for a Sunday Bizarro that will run in late March. I just created it yesterday, it will go with a Mr. Potato Head joke. The kid in the photo is me at about age 2.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Useful Children

Bizarro is brought to you today by This Century's Village People.

Kids. What're you gonna do with 'em?

I have to modestly admit I really like this gag. The picture alone makes me smile as the house frau attempts to change channels by squeezing the baby. I also really like the dad's T-shirt, which is one of my Bizarro aliens. Did you know you can purchase this very shirt, or any of my other "secret symbols" on a shirt here? Now you do.

A while back, I published a Sunday cartoon a small part of which was the design below. A couple of people asked me if I'd be releasing that design on T-shirts. (Side note: I hate that term "releasing" used in that way. It comes from the record industry, I think, as they try to drum up excitement about a new album. It makes it sound as though they have a product in a cage somewhere and are going to unleash it on the public. Whoa, Katy bar the door.) So yes, I will be offering this design on shirts soon. Keep an eye (or both, so it doesn't give you a headache) on this blog for info on how/when to order. I have high hopes of selling more than a dozen! I shoot for the moon, that's how I roll.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Comedy and Cake

Bizarro is brought to you today by Oprah.

My mysterious e-friend, Derek, has been sending me some fun ideas lately, and here's another one. Though I get pun suggestions from readers daily and turn down the overwhelming majority of them, sometimes there is one that when combined with a fun pic is worthwhile. (In my opinion. Some commentators on this blog will doubtless disagree.)

I also do cartoons for Parade Magazine and I had originally submitted this one to them. They wanted to use it but didn't get back to me quickly enough and I used it for Bizarro instead because of an looming deadline.

It's been a while since I've posted any of my Parade cartoons, so here are a few to point your eyeballs at.

This is as close to an animal rights message as I'll likely ever get into Parade Magazine. And, of course, only a person who is already familiar with the movement would see it as such.

Even when I was still consuming dairy products, I wondered why I found bovine milk acceptable when I knew full well that a glass of dog milk, or even an anonymous human's milk would turn my stomach. Human milk would certainly be better suited to our bodies – designed specifically for it, in fact – but I suspect a rack (pun intended) of commercially packaged human milk from anonymous donors would not sell well in the local grocery store.

I thought this was a fun gag. Unlike most of my work, it is a simple concept without a paragraph or more of dialogue and a tag line at the bottom. Most of the other cartoonists in Parade opt for the borderless image with the spoken line printed in quotes beneath the picture. I still prefer to box it in and letter the captions myself. Maybe I'm just a control freak.






And here is what my Parade cartoons look like in the paper, wedged between "Howard Huge" and an ad about foot fungus or something. As you can see, Parade is one of those magazines that takes the artist's signature off and prints it in the margin instead. I've never cared for that style, but what are you going to do? A person making a living as a cartoonist is luckier than the average lottery winner, so you don't complain about where or how you're being published.

The other half of that equation is that I wouldn't have a career without you, the reader. That may sound corny, but that's only because it is corny. But it's still true. Thanks for reading.

P.S. The links to cake pics that are featured today came from this amazingly amusing blog:
http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com/