30 Years of Shits & Giggles

Share

Bizarro sock exchangeWEB Bizarro Cow Court 1985 WEB Bizarro Alien OutletWEB BizarroPigeonStatue1985WEbPIraroPubShot1988 WEBOn this date thirty years ago (January 21, 1985 if you don’t have a calculator handy) I got out of bed early and hurried out to the front porch of my cheap little rental duplex on the outskirts of Dallas, Texas, to get the latest edition of the Dallas Times Herald. In it was the very first Bizarro cartoon ever published.

That means I’ve published 10,950 cartoons as of today. What?!

My career started 10 years before I owned a computer so my first decade of work was not digitized and I’ve no idea where my early work is in my archival catacombs. I’ll be honest, as I review my first year of work now, I can’t find much to recommend it. In my humble opinion, the art was stiff and a bit sloppy, and the gags were mostly lame. I’ve pulled a few of the less embarrassing ones from my first compilation book to show to you here today.

I’ve enjoyed my career and feel very blessed that I’ve been able to make a decent living as an artist. Even though I never got rich off Bizarro (and likely never will) as a college dropout  wandering into the workplace unprepared, I beat the odds by any standards and can’t complain. I’ve met some fascinating people, been to some cool places, and gotten some inspiring feedback from readers who’ve felt I’ve made a difference in their lives in some small way. I’m not one to live in the past, but upon reflection I must say that cartooning has been much better to me than it needed be, and I am indeed fortunate.

Also, just for kicks, I’ve included one of my first official publicity shots. It was concocted the old-fashioned way, before the days of Photoshop; I drew a bunch of cartoon images on a big sheet of butcher paper, then drew some more with fabric paint on a white, long-sleeved T-shirt, then stood in front of it and had my picture taken. After the film was taken to the drugstore for development, I zeroxed the photo and colored my face and the nose of the character just behind me with colored pencil. Then I took another picture of the final result and mailed it to the PR department of my syndicators. (God, how did we have that much patience back then?!)

Anyway, thanks for being a Jazz Pickle for however long you’ve been reading my cartoons. Without you, I’d be working in the stockroom of a local art supply store still.

 

Share

97 thoughts on “30 Years of Shits & Giggles

  1. I have been a huge fan since I saw your first cartoon many years ago. I use to clip and share your cartoons, first by mail, then over the net. Now, I share your magnificent work with every one on my email and Facebook lists. You and Gary Larson are the best cartoonists ever. BTW, your recent “New Years Eve at the old folks home” and “Catapult” were big hits. Really love that you shared your early works with us, many thanks. Looking forward to your next cartoons,

  2. All the smiles x all the days x all the people who look forward to your cartoons = a whole lot of joy (and you can’t ever have too much of that). Thanks, Dan.

  3. Dan, congratulations on thirty years of Bizarro. All your old friends from Tulsa, Oklahoma sure are proud to say “hey you know that cartoon Bizarro? ….”

    You have always been creative and witty. Keep on!

  4. Privileged to be treated to your cartoons and exception sense of humour Dan. Here’s to many more years of bringing a smile to our everyday lives through your humour. Thank you.

  5. Congratulations! Some of my personal favorites: the were-gerbil on the park bench (“You think you’ve got it bad…); the man on the deserted island sending a message in a bottle (“Please recycle”) and, since I was in college studying tv production around the time it came out…the man at the kitchen table shooting his wife with a tv studio camera (“Steve, you promised to stop bringing your work home.”). Thanks for all the laughs!

  6. I’ve loved your work just about forever, or at least since it started to appear in the SF Chronicle. You’ll say your early stuff looks stiff and sloppy, but it was always better drawn than most of the rest of the strips in the paper. Thank you for 30 years of delight. I sure hope you’re up for 30 more!

  7. congratulations to you sir. 30 consecutive years of anything, is amazing.
    while i can’t say any one (2or3) cartoons spring to my mind as outstanding,
    i can say (imho), you are an outstanding cartoonist, humorist and satirist.
    hey, that’s worth something, isn’t it?!

  8. very cool. Thanks for the background, and for 30 years. Just the phrase “After the film was taken to the drugstore for development….” sounds so quaint now

  9. The pleasure has been ours. Thank you, Dan.

    BTW – Who the hell else could make me call myself a ‘Jazz Pickle!?’ — And then have to explain it when I get questioned wearing your shirts!
    The shirts you sold on Teespring, of course. I found that I’m quite a bit larger than you and rip out the shoulders in your shirts, sorry bout that.

  10. 30 years? Congrats dude!

    I have been following since the very early 90’s and always got a laugh. Hell I have a few of the mid 90’s Sunday Funnies still on my fridge. They always get a laugh and reminds me of another time.

    As a artist myself stories like yours put a wee tear in my eye. I can relate to not having a hope in hell out of high school and somehow this life gives it to me. You making it 30 years says it can be done and worth the fight.

    Thanks for being a inspirations, a break in the day and always for the laugh (or groan).

    Ryan

  11. I found you in the 90’s as a nerdy youth. You may be partially to blame for me being a nerdy adult with a great sense of humour (in receipt…less so delivered). It is a shame you are not rich. Keep up the excellent work.

  12. You, sir, are a Steely-eyed Artist-man. Congratulations on a job well done!

    From a former Dallas-ite, current SoCal-ite, and fellow motorcyclist.

  13. Wow. I’ve been a fan almost as long as you’ve been cartooning. I think I have all your books – including one you autographed for me years ago (Bizarro among the Savages). Happy anniversary – and please don’t ever retire!

  14. I had a subscription to The Dallas Times Herald then, and I saw your first cartoon and I have been a jazz pickle ever since.

  15. I have nothing but utmost RESPECT for your talents!! To do what you’ve done day in and day out over the last 30 years is an incredibly amazing feat and I am constantly in awe of your abilities. I truly believe you will go down in cartoon history as one of the greats!! Thank you for making me laugh over the years!

  16. I love your work. I am so glad I found it online a couple of years ago after our newspaper dropped you. Now I am really into finding your hidden icons. Reminds me when I loved reading Highlights for Children in a doctor’s office.

  17. The Summer of 1985 was momentous for me. I met my first wife and she introduced me to your comics. Sheila LOVED your comics. It was one of the few things that brought a smile to her face during her battle with cancer. I will never forget the amazing gift that you gave her (and me).
    Our favorite was “Who ordered the Andy Warhol special?” … hilarious!!!
    Keep on keeping on.
    Peace,
    Fernando

  18. Well, at 76, I don’t expect to be around for the next 30 years. I sure hope you are. The world needs you! And I do intend to visit your daily creations as long as eyes will last. Je Suis Bizaro!

  19. Thanks Dan! I’ve been a fan of yours probably as long as you’ve been publishing, maybe longer. You are consistently funny, your art is a pleasure to look at, and always worth a second look. Calling your strip Bizarro sets certain expectations in the reader’s mind, on which you consistently deliver.Please keep bringing a little Bizarro into our lives!

  20. Congratulations on maintaining your sanity and inspiring creative after 30 years. Very happy you continue to challenge yourself which always brings laughter. From Texas, Get Inky.

    Casey

  21. I remember working along side you in Mr. Andrasko’s art class on a perspective drawing of a city. I knew you were destined for greatness when
    1. your finished work could be turned upside down to see another city in perspective in the clouds.
    2. At the age of 16 you sold artwork to a new office building.
    I have loved watching your amazing mind work and create. You have definitely left your mark in the world and I am excited to see what you will do after your stint ON TV! What is next? Anywho, love your humor ( I confess that it takes me a while to “get it” sometimes.) You are contributing to the prevention of brain decay! Just another of the amazing things you do Dan!

  22. Just thanks for your efforts.
    Your Santa midlife crisis sleigh looks almost exactly like the 2007 Saturn Sky convertible that I just bought. I am well past the midlife crisis and into old-life crisis.

  23. I can’t tell you how much we’ve enjoyed your work, and many, many years. There are a number of captions from your cartoons that have become catch phrases in our house over the years. Thanks for sharing your talent with us.

  24. I got on board the Jazz Pickle train pretty early. Thanks for not going with accounting or selling aluminum siding or something. I so adore what you do…

  25. Congratulations and many thanks for the giggles. I’ve been enjoying your strip since I was in high school in the 90s. When I worked at the local daily and did layout of the comics pages, I would keep a stash of your work as back up in the event any had to be pulled for its “potential to offend local sensibilities”. This was because the paper couldn’t risk losing its license over a comic strip. I hated having to be part of this censorship. I have always loved your classy way of mocking all belief systems and am glad I can now get my daily dose digitally, free of censorship. Keep up the fabulous work!

    -Tracy, Malaysia

  26. Fantastic body of work! I have enjoyed your collections since i was a kid. I am amazed at your ability to be topical and funny on a daily basis. Kuddos to your brain and arm (and the rest of you as well).

  27. I said congratulations on Facebook, so here I will say Bravo Dan!
    (I don’t remember the last time I said Bravo.)
    You are an artist with both your pen and your wit and because you genuinely make me laugh, I want to genuinely say Thank You.

  28. Some years ago, (during a medical checkup) and I asked the Doc:
    What can you tell me, about Involutional Melancholia.question tab not working
    He replied: Do you drive a sportscar and chase younger women.Q
    Nope to the sportscar. But I ride a motorcycle- will that doQ
    As to the younger women: not at the present time. Haw!
    He replied: You are too old for involutionary melancholia anyway. That should have happened to you twenty years ago! Haw!

  29. Those samples of the early work are reminiscent of The Far Side. Which is not a bad thing to be likened to. But you found your own voice as you went on, and it makes your cartoons just that much better.

  30. Congratulations! Yours is always one of the first comics I look for. And I’ve appreciated your blog reachout to your fans. Keep up the marvelous work!

  31. Happy Anniversary–congratulations on 30 years of awesomeness, Dan! I have been a fan since sometime in the 80’s, and love love love following you on Facebook these days. You’ve definitely made a positive difference in my life–thank you! I hope to be reading your comic 30 years from now!

  32. Wonderful stuff!

    I’ve actually been following Bizarro since these strips came out. I’d cut them out of the newspaper and tape them to my bedroom door (until I’d covered both sides and had to transfer them into a now-lost scrapbook).

  33. So satisfying! Thank You for making me laugh (hearty jokey laughs and thought provoking head laughs) for so long.

    One thing I want to compliment you on again, is how much your drawing has evolved, not just in your conceptual ideas but also just how well rendered and skillfully beautiful these strips have become. Visually rich, full of form, vivid color, alien spaceships and Pie. A joy to look at-a reminder that this is still an art form even when its being silly. You always seem to be getting ‘better’. I must tip my hat. Many, Happy & More!

  34. Nothing original, here ~ Just Thank You !! And as a former Vet ass’t who started a Petsitting biz 19 years ago, I have to say ~ I totally understand that you’re doing Heart work & not getting rich !
    SADLY, I REALLY do… But I’ll never stop doing it ~ And thanks for all you do for our fellow species !

  35. I remember loving your comics back in 1990 when I was in grade 7. I walked to school with a friend who’s family got a different newspaper than ours and it carried your comic. I loved reading the comics in the morning, but yours stood out to me.

    I love your humour, your drawings (especially the looks and reactions on peoples/animals faces), and now your blog! Here’s the 30 more years!

    PS – Will there be a 30th anniversary t-shirt? *ahem* my idea! *ahem* ;P

  36. Dan,
    you bring a unique perspective to the World, one could even say a Bizarro one… thank you for your hard work making strangers smile, giggle and laugh out loud (LOL as the kids nowadays would say).

  37. Congratulations from Canada! My mom & I have been fans of yours for, well, probably close to 30 years…I can’t remember when we discovered them. Love the gags, love the artwork, and since stumbling across your blog a few years ago, also loving that. I look forward to reading the inspirations behind the art. I hope to enjoy your comics for another 30 years. :)

  38. How young, how thin, how full head of hair. Sorry that I have only known of your work since 2010.
    David Ebinger
    Florida – Afghanistan

  39. Congrats, Dan! I’ve enjoyed your work since near the beginning, when the Houston paper brought in this new, quirky cartoon, from an artist who lived in Austin. Thanks for the dedication, hard work, and commitment to quality!

  40. Oh sure, it’s all well and good to be a famous humorist (your humor goes way beyond drawings). The art supply stockroom culture rues the day you left and still curses your name, though! You sellout! (joking here in case some reader doesn’t get it)

  41. I used to have an enormous collection of your ‘cartoons’ that I clipped from every Sunday’s Dallas Morning News before computerization, until one of my so-called-friends heisted them. They were big, in color and great!

  42. Dan, you are an inspiring story (besides being a little bit funny)

    I came to know you on recent years (around 2010) and that tells me how long does it take to become a staple in an industry.

    Congrats and keep it weird buddy.

  43. Hey, I met you once in Dallas at the Bookstop on Mockingbird. You were checking out the comics section to see if you were on the shelf. In the late seventies in Austin I met Shel Silverstein doing the same thing. You are the only post-Gary Larson cartoonist that comes close to his brilliance and I hope that Argyle Sweater guy has a happy life doing something else for a living sometime soon if at all possible. He can’t possibly love his work but we can all tell that you love yours. Thanks for all the years and for reminding me how old I am. Yeah, thanks a lot.

  44. 30 years at one thing and still on top of your game. Outstanding! Congrats and keep us laughing.

    PS. Who is your dentist? Those teeth are fabulous!

  45. I *LOVE* your cartoons! My favorite thing is to look for your mystery treasures. I think the eyeball is my favorite, followed by the demented rabbit. Will you please add a dog or horse one day?

  46. Congratulations Dan!!! I’m so happy for you that you have done something you love for so long. You have come along way since Byrd Junior High!!! Congrats again!

  47. I’ve read your cartoons from the beginning!!! I live in the Dallas area and was a huge fan of the Dallas Times Herald and that’s where I found you. So grateful that I did.

    May you always prosper and keep your totally skewed sense of humor!

  48. Can someone please explain why this cartoon is funny? It’s the one where the gal in sitting in her living room and there’s some kind of “dark colored thing” at her front door (the reader can’t tell what the heck it is—a shadow? A person? A giant box?) So she calls the neighbor across the street and asks the neighbor lady to look out her window to “tell me whether there’s a giant man at my door or my house has shrunk?” I just don’t get it….

    • The thing outside her window, at her front door, is an enormous shoe and the bottom of a pair of pants, as though a giant is standing at her door, or her house has shrunk and the person at the door is normal sized.

  49. Congratulations, Dan!
    I’ve been following Bizarro since the late 1990’s. I discovered it in the comics section of the Denver Post, and I quickly became an avid fan. The comic that tipped me from “I like this comic” to “I love this comic” was one captioned “Accountant’s Muse”: a accountant was furiously calculating away while a spirit-like muse encircled him and whispered into his ear “$467.93” (or some other dollar figure).
    I’m not saying anything new here, but I always loved how so many of the jokes depend upon the drawing. In most comics, the drawings are there mostly to inform us who’s speaking. The joke is all in the dialogue. In your comic, the drawings themselves communicate the joke. Like the one here with the soldiers sitting on the pigeon statue.
    Thank you, Dan, for the many, many laughs!

  50. Congratulations, Dan! You continue to make us snort and giggle with your clever, funny blend of humor and irony and commentary. Thanks for all the fun!

  51. I have a collection of several hundred of your cartoons, some yellowed, torn, wrinkled, cut or ripped from newspapers, and the rest saved on my iPad. (I’m developing an app that makes them look yellowed, torn, and wrinkled.) When I look through them, even though I know the punch line, I still always L, sometimes OL.

    Best to you.

  52. Wow Dan, 30 years and counting. I’ve appreciated your work ever since I first saw it in the late 80’s — as much for the artistic quality as for the humor. I also appreciate the humble camaraderie you share with us Jazz Pickles. BTW, I’ve mentioned this before (like someone’s keeping track), but my all time favorite is still the “Joan of Arc burnt the steaks” gag.

  53. What an awesome accomplishment, Dan. I’m glad you took a moment to reflect on it and share it.

    My first exposure to Bizarro was through those early books. I would guestimate I’ve been a fan of your work for over 20 years. Having been fortunate enough to get to know you for the past 10 or so, I’m an even bigger fan now.

    Wishing you many more years of creating fantastic comics, or whatever art you’re passionate about.

  54. You are the only reason I ever pick up a newspaper… Well I guess I like Hagar a little as well…
    CONGRATULATIONS ON ALL YOUR YEARS OF SUCCESS… Very entertaining stuff…

  55. I first thought the “Sock Exchange” one featured traders who couldn’t count past 10 without taking off their shoes … Congratulations!

  56. Maybe I’m just easily impressed, but it does impress me that you do double the art work to make both formats. Sometimes it’s fascinating to see how you rearrange things to make the second format work better. I hope you never get tired of entertaining us.

Leave a Reply to Laura Spreitzer Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

20 − eighteen =