Crawling Through Cliches


Bizarro 05-01-16 hdrWEB

(A desire to embiggenate can be satisfied by clicking any of these cartoons.)

Bizarro 05-01-16 WEB

Bizarro is brought to you today by The Simpson’s Shout-Out to Jazz Pickles.

As I’ve said before on this blog, I enjoy doing cartoons within the canon of popular cartoon tropes like the desert island, the shrink’s couch, the man crawling through a desert, etc. Here I combine two of them and use another trope: the self-referential cartoon. Self-referential cartoons can be dangerous because if they’re too easy––a character simply noticing he is in a cartoon without anything more substantial to say about it––it can elicit a groan. I hope not too many people groaned at this one. I thought it was fun.

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Tarzan was a pretty popular character in TV and film when I was a kid. I loved the weekly show starring Ron Ely, which aired from ’66 to ’68, and watched it religiously. But even though I was not yet ten years old, I wondered why he was so well-groomed and well-spoken. Many years later I learned that in the novels and stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan was raised in Africa by apes but traveled to England to be educated before returning to run around the jungle in a loincloth. That scenario still seriously stretches one’s belief, but at least it’s an attempt to explain why he was so gentrified. To the best of my recollection, most of the old movies and the 60s TV show never mentioned any of that.


bz panel 04-26-16aYes, it’s another political cartoon. Sort of. I don’t do a lot of political cartoons because editorial and humor cartoons are sold separately, newspapers want to know which category you are in before they buy and publish your feature, and Bizarro is not sold as an editorial cartoon. But it’s fairly safe to do cartoons about Donald Trump no matter what kind of cartoon you have because he is––by his own design––more of a cartoon character than a politician. Anyone who will assure an audience at a nationally televised presidential candidate debate that his penis is plenty large enough not to be a cause for voter’s concern deserves a cartoon (or 2000) written about them.

This cartoon is also about the loathsome habit people have of voting for the person they “like” the most, regardless of their policies. If you were choosing someone to include in your carpool, that might be a good tactic, but being president of the most powerful country in the world is kind of more complex and important. If you needed a heart transplant, would you choose a surgeon based on their likability? George W. Bush was a president for whom a lot of people voted because they wanted to have a beer with him and we all know how that turned out. The world would have been better off if he’d just sat in a bar for 8 years having beers with people.

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These poor children have lost their pet and are doing what people do when that happens. Chances are they’d have better luck if they flushed that flyer down the toilet.

bz panel 04-28-16

Okay, I know this restaurant gag is disturbing and wrong. I know because so many people wrote to me to tell me so. Most of those who wrote were the sort who work to save or better the lives of dogs and cats at local animal shelters; a truly admirable and important pursuit. To say they were angry about this cartoon would be like saying that Donald Trump is “a little prickly”. But read on; there are a couple of reasons I published this cartoon and neither of them is because I recommend the practice of eating former pets.

The first is that sometimes something can be funny simply because it is so wrong. It’s commonly called “dark humor” (or black humor) and is a time-honored technique for helping humans deal with the tragic and frightening realities of life on Earth. This is one of those cartoons that, for me, elicits a sort of nervous laughter. (If you laughed but it wasn’t because the inappropriateness made you nervous, you should probably be on some kind of a neighborhood watch list.)

The second reason behind this gag is that while I’ve never enjoyed having my own blindspots challenged, I often later really appreciate the new perspective it sometimes gives me. As a cartoonist, I enjoy pointing out inconsistencies in our behavior and belief systems as individuals or a society.  Specifically in this case, I’ve long thought it was interesting that most of us revere dogs and cats and are horrified by their mistreatment, but never give a second thought to what so-called “food animals” go through. Shocking people with something disturbing like this cartoon can sometimes cause them to rethink things they’d long ago filed away in their brains as resolved.

So, if you’re an animal rights activist who is horrified by this cartoon, I understand your anger but consider how many people it may have caused to think about something they don’t normally care anything about. Also consider that this is only a drawing and no actual animals were injured in its creation.


bz panel 04-29-16

I’ve done a bit of stand-up at comedy clubs around the country over the years and it is amazing how many of them have brick walls behind the stage. I think The Improv started that trend but don’t quote me.

bz panel 04-30-16

This cartoon isn’t political, per se, but it was inspired by the kind of campaign Bernie Sanders has been running. He regularly calls attention to income disparity in the U.S. and though I’m not a dedicated Sanders supporter, I am annoyed that rich crooks like the sort that caused the financial meltdown in 2008 virtually never go to jail. They casually destroy hundreds of thousands of lives with a few clicks of a computer keyboard and pay no price other than to make slightly less obscene amounts of money for a short period. I like the fact that Sanders is keeping that kind of topic on the table this election season.

That wraps it up for this week, Jazz Pickles. Remain awesome.


30 thoughts on “Crawling Through Cliches

  1. In the sixties comedian Pat Cooper used to tell jokes as he built a brick wall. The first time I saw this as a teen-ager I believe I stayed tuned because of the masonry. I wondered about the punch line for the bricks- which never arrived.

    Pat was a former resident of Schenectady. The show was on a Capitol District station – I think channel 6 from Schenectady.

    Later I heard that he had been a brick layer before doing stand-up. I have found no evidence of this on YouTube.

  2. Thank you for waking me up this Sunday morning. I was feeling very glum and decided to just sit in my recliner and see what my email would supply. I read every single word, looking for the hidden thingies, and said, a thank you for the humor and the entertainment.

  3. About food….my daughter — who blames her obsessive carnivorousness on the fact that I was a vegetarian throughout my pregnancy AND didn’t feed her any meat until she was nearly three years old — isn’t at all squeamish about what she eats. Her only rule: if she doesn’t have it as a pet, she’ll eat it. Her rabbit died (of natural causes) and is buried in her garden; and rabbit is back on the menu! She has said she’d try dog if she ever got to Asia. The only “safe” animal right now is cat.
    I fell off the vegetarian wagon years ago yet I’m pickier about what I’ll eat (no baby animals — so lamb & veal are off my radar, no four-legged game — and game season is BIG in Belgium). However, I happily scarfed down two helpings of pig pate before someone told me it was EEL. So, give me snake but tell me it’s chicken and I’m fiiiiine!

    It’s so relative — unless you’re a PETA member and/ or a vegan.

    • Most of the animals you eat are babies that have been altered so that they are big when they are slaughtered but are still babies. Chickens bred for meat are only a few months old when slaughtered.

  4. After looking at these- getting dragged out of bed by a neighbor on a sunday morning ain’t so bad after all! (She even brought me breakfast.)
    And when Marge Simpson mentions you, you know you have arrived!

  5. You didn’t go with an Asian theme on the animal shelter one. For that I thank you. That is too big of cliche and it is getting old.

    Opening banner you need an empty water cooler next to the couch and the doctor holding a beer.

    • Loved the restaurant comic. In our city, we have a veterinarian clinic right beside a Korean restaurant, so that raises some eyebrows.

      • Funny! A group of us had sushi for lunch and discussed why so many Asian restaurants are near veterinary clinics.

  6. You may recall that New Yorker classic from the 1940s about the reporter writing about soldiers’ diets on the Russian Front. Just when he reaches the section describing what dog meat tastes like, he stops, thinks it over, leaves the office, buys a dog, takes the dog to a restaurant, exits the restaurant minus dog, and returns to his typewriter:

    “…gamy, tough, stringy….”

  7. I love these! As a vegan who has worked in companion animal rescue, it boggles my mind to see hardworking people who are extremely dedicated to dogs and cats, who will bend over backwards to achieve the best possible results for them — and then literally order other animals’ body parts for lunch. They’ll have fundraisers where they serve the parts of some animals in order to raise money for other animals. The disconnect is ridiculous. And omnivores who “love animals” are defensive about this because they know they’re hypocritical and wrong — and apparently it’s better to rail against the messenger than to actually change for the better.

    • I agree completely. I became a vegan animal rights activist in 2002 and have attended any number of fundraisers for animal causes that serve animals. It’s like giving out free cigarettes at a cancer fundraiser or something. So weird.

    • Cat apparently tastes somewhat like rabbit, while some people say dog tastes better than horse.

  8. I enjoyed all of them including the animal shelter one – however – there is a relatively new enterprise, NAIA and Patty Strand call it “Retail Rescue” and recently a planeload of dogs was purchased and flown to the US from Asia to “rescue” these animals from an Asian meat market. This is not a”rescue”, as the price to “rescue” one for your very own is sometimes well over $1,000.00. There is alot more to this story but I will not bore you. This also plays into your $25 Billion dollar beer.

  9. “But it’s fairly safe to do cartoons about Donald Trump no matter what kind of cartoon you have ”

    Nope. Because

    1) You don’t have anything particularly new to say. You just parrot the latest schtick.
    2) You aren’t funny when you do it.
    3) You simply remind readers how far from being The Far Side you actually are.

    Not a win for you on any level.

      • That’s an interesting question. Extreme political positions like the Tea Party appeal to people who are afraid of the way the world is headed. Fear is a powerful emotional response and one that makes people less likely to laugh. Just my opinion based on things I’ve read about psychology and political orientation.

  10. Vote for Gary Johnson.

    Come on. Johnson is much better than Trump, Clinton, Cruz, even Sanders. You cannot deny that.

  11. My dad bought me a baby duck when I was a young girl. She turned out to be a fantastic pet, although never could be house trained. (Old newspapers came in handy when she was indoors). When she grew up and he ate the eggs she laid, I would not speak to him the rest of the day. I have since grown up and am not offended by satirical cartoons! Love all your creations..

  12. The Sunday Bizzaro in one of our papers (Press Telegram) is twice the size as the one in the Times and at least much larger than most of all cartoons. I wonder if size means more bucks or does it only count in politician hand size.
    Last week Samantha Bee made a flesh eating reference. I laughed while my wife said “”That’s disgusting. ” I’m the vegetarian and she’s not. Comedy is tough.

    • The price a given newspaper pays for a feature is based on the size of the newspaper’s market. Big cities pay more than small towns. The size they print the cartoon has nothing to do with it. I’m happy to hear someone is printing it large, though. It’s so small in some markets that readers couldn’t possibly find the secret symbols.

  13. Wow, it looks like you decided to empty out the easter-egg drawer today (Friday, the teacher-parents conference). I love it, especially the arithmetic! And in each format, I see one more than your count says! (I often like to do the search and then look at the count.)

    • Happy you enjoyed it, Ed! I’m seeing six symbols and a six over the signature, though. Are you counting the Olive Oyl head as a symbol? I’ve not officially included that in the count.

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