Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hair, Dating, Death

Bizarro is brought to you today by the 11th Commandment.

I'm back from my vacation and gosh darn it's good to see you. If I discover any cool pics from my trip, I'll be sure to post them. Just went to Florida to hang out with CHNW's dad, though, so it was pretty chill. It's really rare that I can sit around for a few days and do nothing.

I have a business trip out west next week, so I'm really slammed with deadlines. In addition to my regular unrelenting 7-cartoons-a-week schedule, I've got to do a book cover for my upcoming "Bizarro Heroes" book, which will be full of cartoons about super heroes and caped crime fighters of all kinds. I'm also supposed to do a promotional cartoon for a charity thing that King Features is doing and a couple of other things I can't recall right now. Guess I should have been writing these things down.

To some people, the life of a syndicated cartoonist may seem glamorous and fun, and it certainly can be, but I regularly work 7 days a week, at least 8 hours a day. It wears on me, just like any other job would. And no matter how stressed or tired I am, I have to come up with enough funny ideas to fill every day of my life until I retire. Just typing that sentence made my stomach hurt.

This cartoon about the couple arose recently when I found out about "speed dating." It's a real deal that people do, look it up. It makes sense in an odd, unnatural way, because all relationships play out to an end at some point, some sooner than later. Might as well get it over with, I suppose. What I've done here is to compress what usually takes a year or more into four sentences. If you can get a relationship past numbers one and two and still find some joy in it, you can avoid number four. Sometimes.

This old cartoon from my archives is one that has seriously dated itself. When I drew it, in 1996, people still carried "beepers." (More accurately called "pagers.") People under a certain age won't even know what those were. I thought I'd be happy to see them go because the beeping was an annoyance, but the electronic-super-fly-disco ringtones of today are even worse in my opinion.

Sorry to be a bit of a downer today. I'm overwhelmed with re-entry. Ugh.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Men, Women, Honey, Apes

Bizarro is brought to you today by Extra Protection.

I'm taking some time off from the real world so I'll not be posting again until next Tuesday. I'll miss you and will think of you daily.

In the meantime, here's a passel to remember me by. I like the distinguished older gentlemen chatting up the young chippy on the subway. Not drawn from life, but I'm sure this has happened. Just about anything anyone can dream up happens daily somewhere in NYC.

"My eyes are up here" seems to be a popular phrase lately, with lots of shirts sporting this slogan popping up on the Interwebs. Or maybe they've been around for a while and I've not been aware of it. I'm not a boob man, myself, so maybe I'm just out of the loop.

When I was a small kid in the 60s, beehive hairdos were all the rage. Now, they still remain the rage among certain retro hipsters like Pentecostals and the wives of elderly astronauts. My early work featured almost exclusively beehive hairdos. They're funny to draw and, let's face it, funny to see on real people. Sorry if I've offended any beehive-wearing readers, it's just my opinion. You probably think pink-streaked hair and multiple lip and nose rings are funny. And you'd be right.

And today's elderly cartoon from the last millennium is about King Kong's kid. Poor Prince Kong. When I drew this, I remember being careful to judge the scale between the ape and the trees so he'd look huge, but smaller than his dad.

Hope you all have a week of rainbows and butterflies. Please visit next Tuesday for another episode of "The Adventures of Whatever it is This Blog is Supposed to be About."


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Monday, August 23, 2010

God & Family

Bizarro is brought to you today by Important Information.

One day I was tweeting something and I thought it might be fun to open up a new Twitter account under the name "God" and tweet stuff like this. The name had already been taken, of course, probably about 18 seconds after Twitter was invented. I don't follow God on Twitter so I can't say what he/she is using it for. Other examples of what I might have tweeted as God:

Just cured a guy of leprosy, gave about 7 million other people cancer.

I could stop wars anytime I want but without cable, what would I watch?

Dave, if you're going to cheat on your wife, I'm going to introduce her to a hot trainer at the gym.

Hurricane Katrina wasn't about the iniquities of New Orleans. I was trying to teach you how to build a decent levee.

No prayers this weekend, please, I'm taking some time off.

My ancient cartoon for the day is from February of 1996. I've done a number of satires of Family Circus over the years, as have lots of other cartoonists, and I should mention that Bil Keane is a great sport about it. The first time I did it, he called me the next day (scaring me to death) and asked for the original art for his collection. I traded it to him for a Sunday panel of FC, one in which the dead grandpa ghost appears. Bil even used my name in his cartoon one time. If my archives were arranged in a way that I could find anything specific, I'd post it here. It was a picture of Billy and Jeffy talking to each other with their dad in the background listening. Billy says, "The Piraro's dad wears gold chains and an earring, all our dad wears is glasses and deodorant."

I have never worn a gold chain in my life, but I do have earrings. Still, it was fun to be a part of Family Circus.

Music, Animals, Lawn

This past Saturday evening was our Sean Lennon concert at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. It was "far out," as the kids say.

Sean's band is called The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger and consists of him and his lady friend, Charlotte Kemp Muhl. Sean plays guitar and sings, Charlotte plays just about everything else in the world and sings, too. The surprising thing is that in spite of being a gorgeous model, she's actually really good. Guitar, bass, accordion, dingy dongy bell thing, and banjo, she adds to each song like a pro. And her voice is nice, too. Even more surprising is that Sean started teaching her to play music just two years ago.

The two of them were delightful people, not stuck up or diva-ish or snotty or privileged or arrogant or hairy like warthogs or gooey like those toys you used to get out of gumball machines that stick to the wall when you throw them, then slowly crawl downward. They were friendly and smart and cool. Such a pleasure.

The music was great, too. Sean's voice is lovely, occasionally reminiscent of his father's – which has a heartbreaking quality that is unavoidable to those of us who enjoyed his music during his lifetime – but is overall his own, and his songs are melodic with the kind of clever turn-of-phrase lyrics I've always associated with the name "Lennon." TGSTT has an acoustic album coming out in the fall, I'll be pimping it on this blog. If it's as nice as what I heard on the lawn at the sanctuary this weekend, it'll be worth pointing at your ears.

Afterward, in the farmhouse, I found out that Sean is a big fan of cartoons and a very talented artist himself. He and Charlotte do all the graphics for the band themselves and Sean does a fair amount of freehand drawing that is pretty impressive. He dreamed of being a cartoonist but became a musician, I dreamed of being a musician but became a cartoonist; the perfect basis for party chat.

Next month we're having a Moby concert at the farm, hope some of you local folks can make it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Shoes,Cake,Shoes

Bizarro is brought to you today by Midnight Snacks.

If you've noticed my face beaming this morning it is because I'm really proud of this ant joke. Ants aren't particularly afraid of guns but threaten them with a shoe and they'll do almost anything you ask. The only fictional part of this cartoon is that ants don't have money. I wish they did, because with all the shoes I have I could get rich.

I've written a couple of ant jokes lately, the next one appears in few weeks, and I feel as though there may be more to come. It is because ants have been on my mind. I wish there were some clever or humorous reason for this – if there were I would share it with you now and you might smile or chuckle – but no such reason exists. I've just been thinking about ants. And easy ways to get money in a make-believe world.

Quite a few readers wrote to me asking what this cat joke was about, and it is always safe to assume that for every person who takes the time to ask a question, there are 147,326 more with the same question who couldn't be bothered to write. If you're one of these people, call my What Did That Cat Gag In Bizarro Mean? Hotline at 1-800-WTF? Or, just count the number of times the cat says, "die" and then remember the myth about cats having nine lives.

As is my custom, here now is an ancient cartoon from the same canister in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. This one is about the god-awful shape of Birkenstock sandals, which hippie types used to wear with socks. Maybe some still do. Regardless, I published this insensitive satire of the famous footwear in 1996 and soon after received a correspondence from the office of the inventor of Birkenstocks. It seems he liked the gag and wanted the original art. I love it when that happens. I wrapped it in a sock and mailed it forthwith.

Here's a little behind-the-scenes trivia about this cartoon: check out the email address I posted at the bottom of it. I was among the first few cartoonists putting email addresses in my cartoons and I was so new at it that I wasn't sure people would even recognize it as an email address so I put "email:" above it. What a dork. Also, I was one of the very first people to have a non-number email address with Compuserve. In those days, all the Compuserve addresses were long, impossible-to-remember numbers and as AOL became popular with clever letter-based email addresses, Compuserve customers began to complain. So they decided to try out a few new word-based addresses and were nice enough to give me one of them. At the time, it passed for cool.

Have a lovely weekend or least a Birkenstock weekend. That is to say, comfy but not lovely.


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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Asses, Death, Tornadoes

Bizarro is brought to you today by Fun Summer Activities for Kids.
When I was a kid, after living in Oklahoma for a few years, we moved to Spokane, Washington. My family and I were all shocked by how many people thought that Oklahoma was still just cowboys and Indians. (It's not)

The two angry letters I received last week told me that this cartoon struck a couple of Argentinians the same way. They assumed that I was implying that everyone in Argentina dresses like the Frito Bandito and drags a donkey around. The deeper issue was, in fact, that they were unfamiliar with the relatively common English phrase, "pompous ass," so they didn't get the joke. I could have had a businessman standing next to the donkey, but that would have been ridiculous. By the way, "Pampas" is a grassy plains region of Argentina.

My next offering today is one that was sent to me by a reader named Rick. His idea was a guy in heaven not fully enjoying the experience because of his "not so awful life," so I chose to show him with the outfit you see here. Personally, I prefer accordion music over harp music, but it seemed a good sight gag. I could have used bagpipes, but I like those, too. Don't miss the tiny wings, that's another part of the gag.

Let's move on now to the old cartoon from the archives, which I've made a habit of posting of late. This gag is from 1995 and also harkens back to my childhood in Oklahoma, when we had to circle the wagons to protect ourselves not just from Indians but from tornadoes every spring. In some cartoons, I depart from my more realistic-looking characters and draw more exaggerated cartoony types. This is one of those efforts and I can't say I like these two very much. Their bodies are okay, but their faces are unappealing to me. I like the trailer, though.

I had an aunt whose house was wiped out by a tornado and whose family moved into a trailer on the property while their house was being rebuilt. You guessed it, a few weeks later the trailer was hit by a tornado. They survived, but ended up in the hospital for quite a while. They then moved to a lake house and were flooded out the following year. After that, the Pentagon got them to move to Tehran in hopes of getting lucky.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Birds and Grief

Bizarro is brought to you today by Forgotten Fashion.

Today's offerings are a couple of cartoon ideas from friends. The first, the fat pigeon in the parking lot of some random fast food place, was from Rey, my good friend and life coach. Any time I have a question about something important in my life, I ask Rey what he thinks I should do. Then I do the opposite. Works every time, couldn't ask for a better life coach.

The second is from the infamous Richard Cabeza, who has the funniest name in the world. Adding the suit to the ostrich really makes this gag sing and dance. The dangling arms tickle me.

Our ancient cartoon from the dusty archival crypts of Bizarro International Headquarters is from January 1st, 1996. This was the first day that Bill Watterson's beloved "Calvin and Hobbes" did not appear in the papers. I made a joke about it and unwittingly raised the ire of many C&H faithful. I got a small wave of hate mail from people who thought it sacrilegious to make fun of the cartoon messiah, especially on a day when his fans were in such deep despair, grief and withdrawal. I waited 15 years to talk about it publicly to give them plenty of time to heal, but I'm sure many will need longer. I'll let you know how many letters I receive from this blog post.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

SUNDAY PUNNIES












(To see this picture get big, click on Vincent's Nose)

I usually post cartoons on this blog a week after they've appeared in the paper, but today's cartoon is LIVE. Yes, unbelievable as it may be, the cartoon you see here is the exact one that appears in papers all over the world right this second! Thank you, Thomas Edison!

This Sunday Punny is #8 in the series (click here to see earlier ones!) If YOU have a pun that is original and interesting, leave it in the comments section of this blog and you may see it in the next edition of Bizarro's Sunday Punnies! You may notice that in the bottom right corner of each of these frames is the name of the reader who sent in the pun. At this very moment, George, Devine and Barry are being carried through their neighborhoods on the shoulders of worshiping crowds to be crowned as supreme ruler of all they survey for life. This could be your future if you've got an interesting pun!

And thanks to George, Barry and Devine for making this particular Sunday so golldarn special!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Super Candy Heat

Bizarro is brought to you today by Heroes of My Youth.

I'm hoping to publish a book of my super hero cartoons in the next year so this topic has been on my mind. I like this gag a lot; parodies of blues songs are always fun.

The Sunday cartoon posted below is about another favorite subject of mine: pinatas. (I wish I knew where the squiggly thing is on my keyboard so I could write this correctly.) I love dogs, but dogs full of candy might be even better. The stuff that comes out of real dogs is pretty much the opposite of candy.










(click the images to make them big-like)

Since I've been posting old cartoons from my archival dungeon, here is one that isn't that old but I love the gag and it seems refreshing during a heatwave. Hope you enjoy it and for all you meth-heads out there who are losing your teeth, try switching to hot chocolate.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Prison

Bizarro is brought to you today by Large Modern Window Company

Who doesn't enjoy a nice cut of meat? Well, I don't since I became vegan eight years ago, but it's still fun to make jokes about the names of the various corpse chunks. I figured film buffs and people in "the industry" might enjoy this cartoon the most.

Our dusty archive comic for today is from 11 days before the turn of the century. A couple of people mentioned that they liked my older, more surreal comics, so I intentionally found bit of surrealism for today's post. Now that I've released these desperate criminals, don't worry about running into them on the street. They're only about an inch and a half tall; just give them a good stomp and toss them into a recycling bin.

If you haven't yet read my previous post about the dandy goings-on at Woodstock Sanctuary, please do. It's dandy.

Fun For You and Me


Here are some things I wanted to tell you about my side project: Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.

We have another dandy concert coming up at the farm. A few weeks back, Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders was there, this time it's Sean Lennon (spawn of John and Yoko) and Charlotte Kemp Muhl, who call themselves Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger. The farm is about 2 hours north of NYC, just outside of Woodstock, NY, easy to get to by bus from Port Authority, easy to find by car or helicopter.

These concerts are extremely intimate, only a couple of hundred tickets are allowed to be sold, so it's a great way to see an artist up-close while relaxing on the lawn. Other notable artists are opening the show, check out info and tickets here. CHNW and I hope to see you there!

Next, each year various reader-voted awards are given out by VegNews magazine, for whom I used to write a monthly column. I'd like to encourage you to go online and vote for Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary as "best animal sanctuary" or whatever the category is called. You have to vote for at least 50% of the categories for your vote to count, so here are a few more nominees that are supporters of our efforts at WFAS if you'd like to help out with them, too. Vote here.

Look for Girlie Girl Army, The Discerning Brute, Crazy Sexy Life, MooShoes, Vegan Treats, Blossom Restaurant, Arbonne Cosmetics, Organic Nectars, Isa Chandra Moskowitz (Post Punk Kitchen), Sunflour Baking Company (cookies) and Mercy For Animals in other categories. Hope I didn't forget anyone but I bet I did.

Thanks, blogolians!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Beauty Through Boredom

Bizarro is brought to you today by Dubious Travel.

Day two of my Journey into the Bizarro Archives.

The first cartoon shown here is from a few days ago and I like it. So did a woman who wrote to me to say her husband is very funny and she looks like hell as a result. Sorry to hear that and congratulations. I once read that most women rank humor and intelligence above looks and money when it comes to choosing a mate. This is the one and only reason I have been successful with attractive women, for I am no George Clooney in either looks or money.

The next cartoon is from the late 1900s. This was drawn at a time when I was on my "Mooch Book Tour," one that was funded entirely by my readers. I visited around 15 cities on donated plane tickets, stayed with Bizarro readers who had volunteered to drive me around, feed me and let me stay at their house. Some had nice guest rooms, others put me on the couch on in their child's room. (sans toddler) At one house, I slept in a pink bedroom with Little Mermaid sheets. I wrote a book about it, which is long out of print but I still have a box or two of them. If you want one, I'll sell them for $15 each, signed. Just a little way to clear my closet space and make some cigar money.

You may notice the hirsute man at the back of the line. That is a self-portrait from the period. To add to the impact, I've posted here a publicity photo from '95 as well. I painted the big pink sign and cut a hole in it for my head. I thought is was funny.

That concludes today's trip down memory lane. I hope nobody got car sick.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Click!

Bizarro is brought to you today by Camera Phone Self-Portraits

CHNW and I are big fans of the cell phone camera self-portrait. Well, it's CHNW mostly, she can't resist taking dozens of pics of us doing nothing. She does it everywhere: on the street, on the motorcycle, on vacation, sitting on the couch watching TV, hiding the bodies of our enemies in the backyard. I often remind her that one of these photos could come back to bite us in the ass one day, but she will not relent.

She takes photos of lots of others things, as well. She has I-don't-know-how-many cameras and uses them relentlessly. I must admit she's got a great eye, many of her photos are really beautiful.

On the other end of the spectrum, something that is the opposite of beautiful is any of my cartoons from my first couple of years of Bizarro. Posted here is one from my very first year, maybe even the first couple of months. The joke is "meh," the art is horrendous, the border is as thick and chunky as Tex-Mex salsa, the lettering is some nondescript psuedo-comic book-looking crap. And what was with that signature? Was I trying to replicate an auto parts logo?

Quite honestly, I didn't know what I was doing. It does, however, show my affinity for deadpan comments and hats, even then.

I decided recently to randomly pull things like this out of my archives to share with you on each blog post. Hope you enjoy it.


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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Food?











(click the lettuce to make the image bigger)


Bizarro is brought to you today by
Suspicious "Food"

Today's offering, which ran in papers last Sunday, is a Jack and the Beanstalk spin off. Magic beans aren't always a good thing; who needs a four ton head of lettuce in their yard? Imagine the size of the bunnies it would attract.

Drawing the lettuce reminded me a lot of my days as a commercial illustrator. I worked for many years in a small commercial art studio in Dallas and we specialized in line drawings of products, mostly food. Some of our regular clients were Frito Lay, Armour Meats, Pepsi and American Airlines. AA had us draw planes, of course, not food. It was not glamorous work but it was good, consistent money in those days.

Most of what we did was photorealistic stipple drawings like the image I've posted here. This was not for a client but was a promotional image we did for the studio, which was called "Cat Pak." Get it? It's food in the shape of a cat. I wasn't vegan then, so drawing a dead fish as food did not conflict with my personal ethics. This is a bad copy of the original but was the best I could find today. The original was not so "gloppy" looking. Gloppy is an advertising term used to describe things that are, I don't know, gloppy-looking.

In the first ten years of Bizarro, from 1985 to 1995, the feature didn't make enough money to support my family so I worked full time as an illustrator and did all my cartooning at nights and on weekends. It was a grind.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Tiny Footsteps

Bizarro is brought to you today by Man-Eating Bird.

As I've mentioned before on this blog, my favorite cartoons are those that only make sense after thorough inspection. In this one, at first the reader assumes the situation is normal but on second look sees that the waiter has very short legs and is actually standing on the table. This sort of thing makes me smile every time.

If you enjoyed this cartoon 3/16ths as much as I enjoyed drawing it, then you had 12/23rds more fun than someone who didn't see it at all because they were eaten by an elk the day before it was published. It's the little things in life that make it all worthwhile.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Translations

Bizarro is brought to you today by Ethnic Dancing.

The cartoon at left was suggested to me by a reader who noted that the Hawaiian hula dance is a method of story telling and perhaps it needed translation into Spanish by a flamenco dancer. It's a simple idea but I liked it and drew it pretty much as they described. I'm a big fan of flamenco, by the way, and spent many hours pounding my heels on hard floors when I was a kid. I think I would have been good at it.

The therapy cartoon was a reaction to a memory I have of a therapist I had back in the early nineties who used to regularly nod off during my sessions. At the time I was very agitated and emotional during the sessions so I can't imagine what I could have done to keep her any more entertained. A few months into therapy she died unexpectedly, so I forgave her. Fortunately, she did not die during one of our sessions. I'm not sure I would have ever sought therapy again fearing that my problems were lethally boring.

This last cartoon is one from over ten years ago that a textbook publishing company recently asked about including in one of their books. I remembered how much I liked it and thought I'd share it with you people. If you're not familiar enough with the work of Magritte, here is the original painting from which this cartoon grew. Since the cartoon is already a bit opaque, I translated his original French into English to make it a little more accessible. If there were such a thing as a surrealist plumber it would be interesting to hire one just to see what happens when you flush the toilet.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Even I'm Confused

Bizarro is brought to you today by Unclear Signage.

I got a lot of questions about the beer cartoon, primarily because it is rather opaque and not particularly well done. Some people tried to make it a complete sentence – "I bean my mug" – others were unsure what it was in the first place – "I (rock? bean?) my coffee."

It doesn't make a sentence, it's just that I replaced the usual heart with a kidney to refer to how quickly beer goes through you. I know, it doesn't really make much sense. I may have been drunk when I drew this one.

The next cartoon was one I wondered if people would understand but I didn't get any mail from confused readers after all. I'm still guessing some people just thought the guy was exasperated because the printer was out of ink. But I intended to show that he was "low" on ink, the way a person might get "high" on something. The way I originally drew this was rejected because it was felt that if I showed someone drinking, eating, or inhaling an ink cartridge, some kid would try it and die and I'd be accused of corrupting the public. If you promise not to try this because I'm telling you right now it might kill you, I'll show you the original image.

That's all for today, have to walk the dog now.