Thursday, April 30, 2009
To my surprise, this cartoon attracted some of the most vehement hate mail I've received in a long time. I suppose I should have seen it coming, but to me the joke is an innocuous take on the feeling so many Americans have had in the past eight years of being anywhere from embarrassed about our government, to afraid of retribution from others while traveling abroad. We progressives joked regularly about disguising our citizenship while out of the country and some actually did so with Canadian patches on their backpacks, etc.
To be brutally honest, I think that people who find this cartoon to be offensive have a very childish view of patriotism. I can't find the exact quote, but Al Franken said in one of his books that conservatives love their country the way a toddler loves his mother: she is always right, she can do no wrong, and god help anyone who speaks against her. A liberal loves his country the way adults love each other: you support them and want the best for them so you are not averse to offering constructive criticism, putting your foot down when they misbehave, and refusing to be abused by them. (Al said it much better but you get the idea.)
Some of my favorite quotes on the subject:
We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it. – Edward R. Murrow
Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it. –George Bernard Shaw
Patriotism is arbitrary veneration of real estate above principles. –George Jean Nathan
I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually. –James Baldwin
When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross. – Sinclair Lewis
As for me, when America is contributing to the welfare of its citizens and the world, and upholding the principles on which it was founded, I am patriotic. When it is invading sovereign nations on false premises, torturing its captives, and robbing its poor to feed the rich, I'm ashamed of it. Your results may vary.
I promise tomorrow's post will be funny instead of serious.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I don't want to turn this blog into a never ending lecture about the limitless evils of the human species, so I'll just let this cartoon speak for itself.
On a more lighthearted note, my cat is throwing up as I type this. This is her morning puke, another one is scheduled for around 7pm. She eats a small amount of cat food twice a day (her choice, not mine) and moments later throws up everything she has eaten, often right back into the bowl from whence it came. She has been like this for years, yet continues to maintain an average weight.
Were a human to do this she would at first be termed bulimic, but after years of this behavior without losing a pound, would become a source of great medical curiosity.
My other cat, the first cat's daughter, never eats at all. Neither CHNW nor I have ever seen her put a morsel of food in her mouth. Like her mum, she neither loses nor gains weight. The strangest part of this mystery, however, is that the litter box fills up daily. I've lain awake nights trying to figure it out and have come up with the following theories:
1. The cats have found another food source of which my wife and I are not aware. Like a loose floorboard behind the sofa stuffed with tuna jerky.
2. The cats are letting their friends in at night to poop in our box, in an attempt to cover the fact that they are vampires.
3. The cats don't really exist, I am experiencing early-onset dementia.
If any of you have any more reasonable theories, please let me know. I could use the sleep.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
I think this cartoon is funny. I don't shop at places like Costco because I have no need for enormous quantities of products at low prices. If I were responsible for feeding a penitentiary full of inmates or a didn't know where babies came from and just kept reproducing, I suppose I would. I won't say I've never been to one of these monstrous markets, but I will say it wouldn't bother me if I never was again.
I'm uncomfortable with this kind of consumerism and what it is doing to our planet, but that's just me. As a reader of this blog told me recently, "you can always tell a liberal, but you can't tell him much." I could describe her the same way, of course, but whatever.
Even without the political sermon, I like this cartoon. Big chaw and a 4000-foot lariat make me smile.
Monday, April 27, 2009
(Click image for a larger, clearer, more satisfying view.)
Bizarro is brought to you today by Cool Cops.
I used to go hunting with my dad when I was a kid and I admit that I really loved it. It wasn't the killing of animals that I enjoyed, it was the "man time" with my father that made it great. And, of course, the challenge of hitting a target appeals to a kid the same way a video game does.
As an adult, I have no tolerance for hunting for reasons other than immediate survival. Hunting in modern society is simply killing for fun. I can think of few things more reprehensible, with the possible exception of being a reality show producer.
From my current perspective, however, buying dead animals at the market is no better and arguably even worse. At least wild animals have a decent life before they get snuffed. The corpses in the deli case at the market were miserable from birth to slaughter. Since we don't need to eat flesh for health or survival, our only excuse is that it tastes good. It is difficult to argue that killing for flavor is any better than hunting for fun. We're just paying someone else to do the dirty work.
Sermons aside, I wrote this gag because I am a fan of cartoons that look like one thing but are revealed to be something different upon reading. I write those kinds of jokes every chance I get. The art on this one was fun to produce, too. Achieving the colors of twilight in the woods and the beam of the car's headlights was a kick. I like the way it looks on computer, but newspaper printing processes are not nearly as bright so this cartoon looked darker and murky in print. With something like this, it's impossible to get both to look good.
I hope you have enjoyed the few seconds you have spent reading my little blog. If you would like to read other entries, please do so now.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
At the risk of offending some of my readers, I will confess that I do not believe in "Bigfoot," "Sasquatch," "The Abominable Snowman," etc. There is simply not enough (or any) evidence beyond the personal accounts of woodsy folk tanked up on Bud.
I do not mean to say that I think it is alcohol that makes people see things in the woods, far from it. We all possess this very natural and useful tendency, no inebriation required. All mammals have evolved brains that see something where there is nothing, rather than nothing where there is something. It helps keep us alive. If you mistake a shadow for an intruder, no harm done, better safe than sorry. If you mistake an intruder for a shadow, you less likely to live long enough to reproduce this propensity for poor judgment.
So when we see something move in the wilderness, we have to make it into something. Our brain processes patterns and comes to conclusions, without our even trying. This alone explains the timeless, worldwide phenomenon of people seeing monsters in the woods, lakes, ocean, sky, snow. (It also explains our lust for conspiracy theories and our compulsion to invent gods. If we don't know the answer, we make one up to satisfy our minds. Without these answers, we go nuts. With an explanation, no matter how ridiculous, we are satisfied.)
If you're still not convinced there are no "Bigfoots" (Bigfeet?) ask yourself this: where are the bodies? How does this monkey-bear-human with size 29 shoes manage to hide not only itself and all of its kind from being adequately photographed, but its corpses, skeletons and fossils as well? We've found skeletons from mammoths and dinosaurs, for crying out loud, where are the giant skeleton feet of Bigfoot? And considering how many blood-thirsty apes of the human kind there are running around the wilderness wearing camo and waving guns, how is it none of these large, hirsuit, slow-moving targets have been shot? Hell, our species is infamous for shooting anything that moves and fairly regularly even shoots one another, which is why they wear those lovely orange vestments. So why are there no Bigheads proudly displayed on the walls of the dens of Alabama sportsmen?
Wait...now I'm beginning to see a pattern. Perhaps Bigfoots are smarter than we realize. Perhaps they dress in florescent orange camo, carry guns, drive off-road vehicles with gigantic tires and listen to Kenny Chesney. No wonder we've never photographed or captured one in the wild, they are living among us!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I'll be the first to admit that I don't know Jack Crap about the Jonas Brothers. I assume they are musicians because they are holding guitars in the pictures I've seen, but I've never heard a single song. I don't know if their specialty is gangsta rap or Latvian folk dirges. But I do have three brothers-in-law, so this pun appealed to me.
For the record, none of the characters in this drawing resemble any of my real life brothers-in-law. All three are all forthright citizens with nothing but the world's best interests at heart and do not fit this narrow-minded stereotype in any way. The majority of them do not have criminal records of any sort and one of them even holds the honorable distinction of having eradicated all nude pictures of himself from the Internet.
Contrary to my own strong suspicions about my sisters' taste in men, all three of them actually did pretty well, to which the virtual non-existence of restraining orders among them is a public testament.
I'm hoping they forget all about this cartoon before our family reunion in Oklahoma this summer.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Bizarro is made possible today by Modern Chiropractic.
Here is a delightfully strange idea given to me by the elusive "Malo." Don't try to attach too much meaning to it, as a couple of readers who emailed me about it did.
Just enjoy the surreal quality of its oddness.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
As I predicted, I got some mail about this cartoon from readers who are against embryonic stem cell research. I also got a couple from people who informed me that stem cell research was not illegal, only the use of embryonic stem cells, and something else about government funding, but I zoned out.
I know every detail of every cartoon does not stand up to academic scrutiny, it isn't meant to. It's a cartoon.
Folks that wrote were of the opinion that embryonic stem cells are humans and should be afforded legal protection. I don't happen to share that view, but that's not really what this cartoon is about. It's actually just a flimsy, current-events excuse to use the phrase "boltless neck." I thought that was funny.
Of course, we may disagree on that point, too.
Monday, April 20, 2009
I submitted this cartoon many weeks ago, long before the Somali pirate story hit the news, but the cartoon appeared in papers a day or so after the story was making headlines. Some readers wondered why I was tying the banking crisis and the hostage situation together.
A reader wrote to me recently and suggested a good caption for this cartoon would have been "pirates are giving pirates a bad name." I chuckled and told him I would have used it if I were an editorial cartoonist and could get a cartoon into the paper the day after I drew it. As it is, there is a six week delay between my turning in a cartoon and its appearance in papers, so I can't be that current.
That delay makes it a little nerve wracking if I do a cartoon about an earthquake or a plane crash. More than one syndicated cartoonist has erroneously been accused of making fun of a tragedy the day after it happened. I've been the victim of this kind of coincidence a couple of times in my career, the most ludicrous of which was once when I drew a cartoon about a bicycle pizza delivery guy standing at the Pearly Gates with a pair of twisted handlebars in his hand. St. Pete says something like, "Sorry about that bus, but I was really craving a pizza."
The day after it appeared in papers, I got some angry letters from people in a certain city who thought I was making fun of a prominent cyclist in their community who had been killed by a car the day before my cartoon printed.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Today's Bizarro is sponsored by Immature Fathers.
I'm a sports fan but I don't follow golf. First, it isn't a sport it's a game, not that that matters, and second, I find it unacceptably dull. Like watching people play chess or Scrabble. Sure, lots of people enjoy golf on TV and that's fine. I suspect most of them probably play it, though, which makes any sport more fun to watch because you have firsthand knowledge of how difficult what the participants are doing really is. Which is why I enjoy watching those films about Jason Bourne.
A recent exception to this rule is that I've come to enjoy watching some basketball on TV, even though I've not played it since I was twelve. It's not that I don't like it, but with the exception of countries like Guatemala and Japan, I'm not what most people would call "tall," so I am at a natural disadvantage in a game about height. In fact, it isn't even the same game. To have firsthand knowledge of the skill level necessary to play basketball as those in the NBA do, I would have to use a ball the size of a grapefruit and play on a court half the size of standard ones with the hoop mounted at the top of the average door frame. Just doesn't seem as hard.
Conversely, if the NBA dudes were playing with a beach ball on a court the size of a hockey rink and the hoop were mounted at the top of the average highway light pole, they'd have some idea of what basketball is for me.
So here is Tiger Woods playing putt putt. His mighty swing is taking out other patrons right and left. Stop, Tiger, stop! It's all about putting! No driving allowed!
Silly, silly, Tiger.
Friday, April 17, 2009
I got an email about this cartoon from a reader who wanted to inform me that "just because something is a conspiracy theory does not mean their aren't real conspiracies." Even though this person went on to identify himself as one of those meatheads who believes Obama was not born in the U.S. and is turning the country socialist, you can't argue with logic like that.
Along the same line of thinking, just because a TV network tells you it is a "news" channel, does not mean it is reporting facts. And just because that network claims to be "fair and balanced," does not mean it isn't demonstrably controlled by a political party attempting to control your behavior, take your money, and poison your environment. And just because that network's comical tag line is "we report, you decide," does not mean that you have much choice in what you decide based on their reporting. Sort of like the magician who says "pick any card," but always manages to get you to pick the card he wants you to have.
So thanks to the reader for alerting me to the existence of "real" conspiracies and for reminding me that there are always a handful of angry, uneducated, bigoted nitwits you can convince to waves signs and throw teabags while complaining about rising taxes when their own rates have been untouched for 16 years and are about to go down.
Fortunately for the rest of us, their numbers are lower at the moment and relatively few people showed up for the comical Fox-Network-GOP-instigated-and-promoted "grass roots" tax revolt last Wednesday. I have little faith that their numbers will continue to dwindle, but for the time being, the desperation of the GOP and its "news" network is humorous to watch, anyway.
DISCLAIMER: This blog is not intended to insult educated conservatives who mourn the loss of their party to the neo-cons.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
When I was a child in the 1960s, my imaginary friend was a long-haired, pot-smoking, peace-loving hippie dude who played bass for Janis Joplin and whom I called, "Yip."
Yip would hang out in my room, smoking, playing his guitar and recounting stories from various bars and hotels from his latest tour. My parents were cool about it, though they would occasionally complain about the noise and the "oddly sweet smelling smoke" that always filled my room. They couldn't see Yip, of course, but they humored me and pretended they could. When I told them about the time he got so drunk that he fell out of the tour bus window outside of Indianapolis and the whole crew, driver included, were so wasted that nobody noticed until they had gotten to Cleveland, they laughed appropriately. In later years, they confessed to pressing their ears against my bedroom door and marveling at how good I was at switching voices during our conversations.
Then one day it all came to an end when they entered my room without knocking and Yip didn't have time to hide. Mom fainted, Dad called the police and I never saw Yip again.
I guess we all have to say goodbye to childhood sometime.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
As I've mentioned on this here ding dang blog thang before, I'm putting together a book of super hero cartoons. This is the latest addition to the project, hope you get a smile out of it.
I did another "standing erect" cartoon about cavemen some years ago that, although it is not obscene by any means, is too "adult" to run in the nation's funny papers. It's not a hysterical classic by any means, but I like it and offer it here for your discerning eyes.
Until tomorrow: Stand tall, friends.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
One of my business partners and closest friends habitually texts while he drives. He sends long paragraphs of information – some of it business related, some of it random musings – disjointed, short, sentences full of misspellings, all sorts of things. I have admonished him on numerous occasions and even refused to answer his texts when I know he is driving, but the habit is one he cannot seem to break.
I have tried to mentally prepare myself for the call I know will eventually come… "I'm sorry to have to tell you this, Dan, but Buzz has had an accident." (No, his name isn't really "Buzz," but I call him that to tease him about his other strange [but less dangerous] habit of shaving his entire body daily. At least he doesn't do it while he drives. That I know of.)
Buzz is also hooked on iPhone apps, so this joke is entirely aimed at him. The only thing I didn't do was make the character resemble him. Buzz is so disturbing looking that it would have distracted from the joke and confused readers. Meet Buzz (unshaven).
So please – if you're a good person who contributes positively to the world, don't text and drive. The rest of you can do what you want, but please keep your car off my balcony.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Here's a fun little scribble that makes light of the multi-billion-dollar crime syndicate commonly called the "insurance industry".
I hate the insurance industry, especially in the field of health. Don't tell my parents, but I haven't had health insurance for almost 10 years. I know it's a risk, but every month that goes by that I don't need it makes me feel like I've robbed those bastards of a little more unearned profit. In the past 10 years, I've spent maybe five thousand dollars on health care. If I'd had insurance, I'd have racked up that total every few months and gotten nothing for it since none of those charges would have eclipsed the deductible. It's the curse of the self employed.
I'm hoping O actually gets his universal health care off the ground this year so I can get covered at a reasonable rate. Nothing fancy, just basic coverage in case my parachute doesn't open and I live to tell the tale.
NOTE: Please don't bother telling me how dangerous it is not to have health insurance, I know, I know. And don't bother telling me how inefficient government health care can be. I know that, too. Fact is, we have the most expensive health care system in the world by far and it is nowhere near the best. Don't believe the horror stories the meat puppets on FoxNews tell you about government health care. As usual, they are duping you and protecting the billionaire fatcats.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
(For a more Big-n-Clear™ view, click that 'toon!)
This episode of Bizarro is brought to you by Corpse-Eating Zombies.
I got a couple of emails from readers who didn't understand this cartoon when it appeared in the papers last week. The rule of thumb is that for every letter you get, there are thousands more who agree but didn't bother to write.
Before you read further, I'd be interested to know how many blog readers were or are puzzled by this gag. I'm going to explain it in the following paragraphs, but I'm just curious how many needed this explanation. Your answer will help me to better serve the public.
One of the problems of writing humor for public consumption is that you don't always know how many will understand your joke. I arrived at this idea through a series of thoughts that eventually led here, so it seems obvious to me, but I can't objectively be certain how a person might perceive it at first glance who has not gone through the same steps as I did.
A velvet rope is a barrier. (Albeit an incredibly impotent one)
A barrier is like a wall.
People attacking walls sometimes use a catapult.
What kind of catapult would be appropriate for a velvet wall?
I know it's a stretch, but I found it amusing when I got there and hope others did too.
Thanks for your help and thanks for visiting my blog. You are the twinkle in the eye of the leprechaun of my heart.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
It seems that on the day the cartoon below appeared in the paper, Charles saw the face of Jesus in it. He described this to me by email and asked if I'd done it intentionally. I politely told him no and that I couldn't figure out what he was talking about.
He sent me this explanation but I still could not see it and was content to write him off as one of the legions of mentally unbalanced people who follow Bizarro.
Finally, just out of curiosity, I backed way off from the computer and took my glasses off. With the proper distance and blur it came into focus, so to speak.
Below is a version I've doctored with an orange outline which describes the shape I believe he saw. It's a fairly unconventional version of Jesus, but perhaps this is how our Minnesota friend sees him. Or, perhaps "He" just has a wacky side.
Charles later told me that the morning he witnessed the divine vision he had a bad case of flu and was not wearing his glasses. I couldn't help but wonder how many times this has happened people reading Garfield or Apartment 3G.
Let this be a warning to us all about viewing the funny pages in poor health and without the proper optical aids.
For more images of the almighty, click on the words "God's wrath" in the previous post.
Many thanks to Chuck Strinz for bringing this to my attention. Check out his video production company, Back On The Mississippi and his current PBS project, Museums of Minnesota.
This is not so much a cartoon as a historical illustration. Few people realize that today's doppler radar is named after Edgar J. Doppler, a Utah frontiersman who took it upon himself to warn locals of impending storms in just this fashion. He was observed doing this in 1842 by Austrian journalist, Christian Andreas Delppor, who described it in his widely read chronicles of his experiences on the American frontier, Austrian Among the Savages.
Edgar was killed in 1851 by a lightening strike from a storm he did not see coming as he napped beneath a tree in the center of what is now Salt Lake City. Taken as a sign that this is where God wanted them to build their temple, the local faithful erected the famous Morman Tabernacle.
To this day, some Mormon sects will not gaze upon radar images or listen to forecasts, believing that man is not meant to be warned of God's wrath. For more on Edgar Doppler, read here.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Today's cartoon was written by a Pittsburgh colleague of mine who signs his cartoons "Wayno." He sent me a bunch of cartoons of his recently and I offered to showcase a few and give him some plugs. I like his work a lot and it's been fun collaborating with him. He asked me to direct you to this page to see more of his work. There are a few more of our collaborations coming up in the next few weeks.
Truth be told, I like his illustration style better than mine, but I'm more-or-less locked into this look for Bizarro and it has served me well, so there you go. I use other styles for other kinds of projects. Here is one I like a lot which appears as a full page in Bizarro and Other Strange Manifestations of the Art of Dan Piraro.
Buy 100 copies today!
Thursday, April 9, 2009
I always liked Superman's ability to turn back time by zipping around the earth real fast and reversing its rotation. It doesn't have the least bit of science behind it, but it's a cool trick.
The problem is, once that possibility has been introduced, it begs the question why he just doesn't do it all time and stop tragedies from happening in the first place? School bus heading over a cliff? Why catch it and put all those kids' families through unnecessary anxiety and lawsuits? Just turn time back a couple hours and report that drunken driver to the principal before the bus leaves campus.
And crime wouldn't be the only time this skill was useful. You could use it after your girlfriend breaks up with you or you get fired from your job. Turn the clock back one day, leave town, find a new job and a new girlfriend. Then return to town, break up with your girlfriend because you've found someone new and quit your job. Who's crying now, sucker?
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
This cartoon is not funny per se, it is more poignant than anything. I think the average reader gets the meaning in a glance and says, "True. Who needs the library now that we have the Internet?" Or, if you're W, you might say, "Hah. They left the 'S' off of 'Internets and added an extra 'R' to 'libary.'"
Thinking further, you might realize that the cartoon doesn't actually make any sense. If a library were put out of business by the Internet, it would be a library museum, not an Internet museum. But that sign would confuse readers and not get the idea across. I think this may be the only time in my 25 year career that I've come across this kind of phenomenon.
In spite of this flaw in logic, a number of people who deal with libraries in various capacities have contacted me wanting to use this image for everything from fund raising to entertaining their local library's troops.
This drawing was a pain to execute, the strip version was even worse. Since I worked so hard on it, I've posted it here to get a little more mileage. Thank goodness for the Internet, I was able to find a wide variety of reference photos of the New York Public Library in a matter of seconds.
Click the image for a clearer view.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Psychiatry is likely one of the top 10 most common gag cartoon topics. I've always liked them and have done who-knows-how-many dozens, maybe hundreds. I have always liked them, even before I ever visited a therapist.
I've never gone to a psychiatrist, but I've seen a few psychologists and other kinds of counselors and I really enjoy it. I only go when I'm in crisis mode or trying to figure out the solution to a specific problem like a romantic relationship issue, whether I should quit my day job and go for a movie career, what the furniture in my studio is trying to tell me when it screams incomprehensibly, etc.
I have an appointment later today, in fact, and am really looking forward to it. We (my therapist and I) are on the verge of a major breakthrough in the area of irrational outbursts of anger. Once we get past that, we may be able to get to my problems. (rim shot) Wish me luck!
I like my current therapist because he offers a lot of feedback and suggestions. I've had the kind that don't say anything, just lead me through my thoughts with questions that are meant to enable me to solve my own problems. That sort is little more than a really expensive bartender without liquor.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Bizarro is today you brought by to Word Order.
Since so many people ask me questions about the details in my drawings, I thought it might be fun to have a quiz about today's cartoon. Answers are at the bottom of this post. Good luck!!
1. What type of dog is featured in the cartoon?
2. In what city does the cartoon take place? (hint)
3. How do you draw an alien?
4. Is the human in the cartoon meant to be actor Tony Roberts?
5. What vintage is the wine the aliens are drinking?
6. If a train leaves Chicago at noon traveling east at 200 mph, leaves the track in Cincinnatti and plows through this park, hitting the man, his dog, the two aliens and their spaceship, what time does it arrive in Seattle?
7. Why are women so damned complicated?
1. A cartoon dog 2. Indianapolis 3.Make light pencil lines on paper in the shape of an alien, then trace over them in ink. 4. No. Sadly, most people don't remember Tony Roberts. 5. The aliens' ability to transcend space and time make it impossible to say. 6. Never, Seattle is west of Chicago. 7. You tell me, I give up.
7 correct answers – Congratulations! You could be a professional cartoonist!
5-6 correct – Not a genius, but you play one on TV.
3–4 correct – Your medication needs adjusting.
1–2 correct – Sorry, you won't be on my "phone a friend" list.
0 correct – Turn off your computer, leave the room quietly, and never speak of this.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Saturday, April 4, 2009
(You: Is there a way to make this image larger? It is kind of blurry.
Me: Click on it.)
Bizarro is made possible by a grant from The Flying Fat Man Foundation.
The common perception of Atlas holding up the earth is inaccurate–according to Greek myth, Atlas was made to bear the weight of the heavens, not Earth as punishment for wrecking Zeus's car. The heavens were commonly illustrated as a celestial sphere, which is commonly misconstrued as the earth. Yes, this will be on the test.
Still, cartoons are based on common knowledge and cliches, so in drawing a cartoon about Atlas holding up the earth, you're faced with how to draw what Atlas is standing on. Here, I chose to make it a nebulous region of space. The whole concept of the Earth needing to be held up so it doesn't fall is flawed, of course. This first occurred to me when I was a child–where would the Earth fall to? And what would Atlas be standing on?
From an early age I was always trying to make sense of myths and religion (one man's myth is another man's religion and vice versa). As a kid in Catholic school I often asked questions like George Carlin's famous example: If God can do anything, can he make a rock so big that even He can't lift it?
Associating two costumed characters of legendary strength, here I have a luchador holding up the earth for Atlas while he runs and errand. In Greek myth, it was Heracles (Hercules) who took a shift. I like the absurdity of lucha libre costumes and use luchadores in my fine art fairly frequently, too.
Below is a cartoon I did back in the day that addresses the issue of Atlas's position under the Earth. It's one of my favorites from my early career. You may notice that the coloring is much different and a bit primitive. It was done before cartoonists were doing their own coloring on computer, so we had to designate on tracing paper where what colors went, then send them to a company to create film for the color separations. I always just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. This one didn't turn out too badly, but it looks much different than it would today.
All these years later, I still think this is a pretty good gag. As usual, click the image for a clearer view. Of course, this image presents its own logic difficulties: What keeps Atlas's skirt from falling down? (up)
Friday, April 3, 2009
As a teen, I worked as a busboy in a restaurant with a piano bar. I was fascinated by the old drunks that sat around the piano every night "singing" to the show tunes coughed up by Morey, who wore a tux and had a phony smile cemented to his face. At the time I was in a band, a typical teenage rock star wannabe, and felt sorry for Morey. I imagined that when he was my age, he dreamed of throngs of appreciative music lovers at Carnegie Hall, or a theater on Broadway. He likely taught music lessons to dopey kids during the day to make ends meet.
Making a living as a musician is a nearly impossible task and most people give it up eventually and get a "real" job, maybe play in a hobby band at night. There is nothing wrong with that, of course, music is one of those things you do because you love it.
After a few years of playing weekend nights around the Southwest, I gave up my band to concentrate on becoming a cartoonist. It worked out well for me, I beat the odds with a lot of luck and a bit of hard work and have thanked my lucky stars ever since. I still love music, however, and though I was the singer and never learned to play anything, I still long to be in a hobby band. I recently started to learn to play guitar for reals, as the kids say. It's monstrously fun and I wonder why I didn't do this years ago.
The guitar in the cartoon is fashioned after my own Gibson ES-137. It is tied for my favorite inanimate object that I own, the other being my '82 Vespa. The thought of drunks resting their cocktails on it (my guitar, not my scooter) as they blather out the words to "That's Entertainment" (the one by Schwartz and Dietz, not by The Jam) makes me cringe.
You're welcome to rest your drinks on my Vespa, however. It's waterproof.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
This is one of the strangest and darkest comics I've ever published in Bizarro. The idea came from the strange and dark Malo, a virtual hermit who lives in Greenland somewhere and only communicates with people via emails and piano sonatas.
He sends me twisted ideas all the time, the vast majority of which are too dark and twisted to be allowed in the funny pages. But this one was very close to the line and I liked it a lot so I asked my editor his opinion, and he said "go for it." Or some more educated equivalent.
I wondered if I might get some negative mail, but so far nothing. I did get one note from an OB/GYN clinic that wanted to use it in some literature they pass out to their preggernauts about not smoking or drinking during their pregnancy. A fairly hip clinic, I'd say.
As happens frequently this time of year we received a call from a school teacher looking for a home for 5 just-hatched chicks -- the living, breathing result of a classroom project. As cute as these fuzzballs are, they will grow into larger hens and roosters who have a lot of space and care requirements, and can live for over a decade.
If you're a parent or student who hears of an upcoming hatching project, please encourage that teacher to consider more humane alternatives to hatching.
In the meantime, they're ridiculously cute, so during daytime hours EST you can see them live:
Financial times are tough for us all and even worse for charities. But for only a few bucks a month you can help these homeys get by. Anyone who donates to their care automatically becomes my BFF. For reals. Awesome. Dude.
BTW: that's a child's teddy bear in the cage, not roadkill.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
When I do jokes about cosmetic surgery, people sometimes assume I am against it. Far from it. I am not only totally in favor of cosmetic surgery, it saved my life.
If you're not familiar with my breathtaking looks, have a glance at the photos at the top of this page. Most people think that nature blessed me with an incredibly fortunate combination of genes, but it is not true. In fact, not unlike Frankenstein's monster, I came into this world as a hideous beast that sent children and adults alike running in terror. As I got older, the problem only got worse. My parents feared I would be doomed to a life of solitude and failure.
Then everything changed one day when I was 17 years old. My mom and I were on our way to the grocery store (I was banned from the store because I made the other customers too sick to buy food, but I enjoyed the ride) when she ran over something that she thought was a dog. Mother screeched to a halt and jumped out of the car, as no one in my family could turn down free meat. But alas, it was not a dog we had hit but a man. A man who was under the car and still alive. A man who was the most gifted plastic surgeon in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
When I leaned down to look under the car all I could see was a dark lumpy shadow pinned beneath the transmission. From the darkness of that twisted shape came the words I will remember for as long as I live, "I can fix that."
One year later, the good doctor was walking with only the aid of a cane and I was a new man. Doors of opportunity that I never dreamed possible with my hideous former face were thrown open like sphincters at a colonoscopy convention. By the time I was 26, I was given a syndication contract for Bizarro based on my looks alone.
The rest is history.