Dining with Dirt


Bizarro 07-03-16 hdrWEB

(To embiggenate any image in this post, click your favorite color in that cartoon.)
Bizarro 07-03-16 WEB

Bizarro is brought to you today by Staying Cool.

The “farm to table” movement is one that big city hipsters have been concerned about in recent years; I have no idea how it’s playing in small towns or rural areas. You can read the definition of it here.  I think it’s a good thing because it favors local growers and small farms and businesses who care more about their process and products than do the practitioners of the industrial food complex that America has built since WWII. The industrial way of growing plants and animals for food has been a nightmare for human health, the environment, and the treatment of animals. Michael Pollan has had a lot of important things to say about our food system in recent years, in my opinion. So all I did here was take it to an absurd extreme, which gave me a chance to draw some realistic crops and chickens on a dining room table. In my early adulthood I made a living drawing realistic food products for advertising, so this was kind of a nostalgic process for me. I did so much of that in the old days that I can actually draw things like this without any reference.

Speaking of things I drew one time, I have a limited-edition Bizarro T-shirt for sale right now, but only until July 13th. That’s the “limited” part. I offered this shirt for two weeks back in 2014 and it sold pretty well. Since then, the Jazz Pickles that didn’t get one then have been asking me to bring it back, so here it is. Many of those who did buy it back then have reported magical powers and large amounts of cash coming their way. I can’t vouch for the authenticity of those claims but, really, why would a person lie about a thing like that?


And now, more cartoons for your chuckleness…

bz panel 06-27-16

Waldo has been missing for decades now and his “While You Were Out” messages are starting to stack up. His secretary’s hair is stacking up pretty nicely, too. This character is modeled after my memory of a 7th grade English teacher I had in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I can’t remember her name right now but I think it was something like Mrs. IDon’tThinkYou’reFunnyYouArrogantLittleShitNowSitDownAndShutUp.


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As an avid motorcyclist, I am always acutely aware of what other drivers are doing and it scares the hell out of me when I see people on their cell phones or primping in their rearview mirror. This idea came from that terror.


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Here’s a strange thought that occurred to me one day. A set of dentures dropped from 42 flights up would do a lot more damage than a “bite,” but you get the idea.

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Here’s one of my favorite cartoons in a good while. The idea came from my good buddy, Cliff Harris The King Of Wordplay. Like so many of Cliff’s ideas, it is simple, unexpected, and hilarious. That’s me in the back seat reading, doing another one of my homages to Alfred Hitchcock, who used to appear as background characters in his films. Cliff and a couple of his lifelong buddies have put out a pretty funny book of silliness which you may find amusing.

Folks who follow the news might think I published this cartoon in response to the story this week about the first fatality arising from a person using the enhanced auto pilot feature of a Tesla. It was not and I would not do that. My cartoons are submitted for publication four weeks before they appear online and in newspapers, so I can’t predict these kinds of coincidences. I think it is worth noting that Tesla’s cars are not advertised as “self-driving” and the person who died in that crash was not paying attention, expecting the car to do more than it was designed to do. Tesla’s feature is basically a cruise control with advanced features and is not intended to be self-driving. I think self-driving cars will be safer than human-operated cars one day but that hasn’t happened just yet and the Tesla that crashed was not designed to be one of those cars.

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One reader chastised me for this cartoon about “reality” TV as being too violent in light of all the violence in the news lately. My response was the same as it always is in these cases: Humor is a time-honored way of dealing with life’s inevitable tragedies; cartoons like this one do not incite more violence; the human world has always been an exceedingly violent one on a daily basis, it only seems more so in recent years because of the efficiency of news media. It is my belief that, since for the vast majority of our species’ time on earth we lived in relatively small villages, we’ve only evolved to process the amount of tragedy that befalls a small group. With the advent of highly-efficient, international journalism and the 24-hour news cycle, we are exposed to many more tragedies daily than our ancestors had knowledge of in a year. We’re not biologically equipped to know this much, so, quite understandably, it becomes a great source of fear and anxiety for many and the world seems like an increasingly dangerous place. Humans are dangerous, yes, but the notion that we are getting worse is mostly an illusion.

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I got a big kick out of this cartoon when I first wrote it. I’ve never joined a book club but I’m an avid reader and sometimes I bite into books that are so lofty that they become hard work. I’ve known people who never read because it reminds them of homework and thought perhaps some of us would be happier in a club like the one above.

That’s the week in Bizarro cartoons, thanks for reading along, Jazz Pickles. If you would forward my T-shirt offer to anyone you think might be a Bizarro fan, Olive Oyl and I would be most appreciative! Facebook recently changed their methods so my posts on there don’t reach nearly as many people as they used to. The Interwebs continue to conspire to make it easier for artists to get their work in front of eyes, but much harder for us to get paid for our efforts. 

I hope my American readers have a dandy 4th of July tomorrow and will remember to let go of the firecracker before the sparkles on the string get to the paper part.


36 thoughts on “Dining with Dirt

  1. Well I can tell you the farm-to-table movement is alive and well in rural Colorado. I live in a town of roughly 800 people (during tourist season), and we have 2 restaurants that boast of the practice, plus the farm that supports them. But I do love your interpretation! http://www.lavetafarmtotable.com/

    • It would be more hilarious were it not so consistent (and if the authorial voice was not the same in all of them. Quite a writing exercise.

    • About those gummy bears…was the sugar substitute stevia? (I looked at the Amazon page & the only ingredients list I could find named high fructose corn syrup, sugar and dextrose* which is also a sugar…)

      Stevia is a plant product, a “natural” sugar “substitute”, which apparently has a similar effect — my sister and I being two who can attest to that. She tried stevia as a sugar substitute in the many, highly sweetened ice coffees she consumes in a day. I was more “fortunate”; I only had a small piece of chocolate cake laced with stevia (to accommodate a diabetic in our group).
      These experiences happened on two continents, an ocean apart. Stevia was the commonality. And the results were….explosive.

      *Maybe the dextrose was “another term” for stevia?

      • I’ve used stevia for years and so have a number of my friends and have not had that experience. I googled “artificial sweeteners that cause diarrhea and got “sorbitol and mannitol”. I’m not sure what products those are typically in.

  2. I saw the very first one at the top (pillow with eye, in chair, looking up at lamp) and my first thought was, OMG he’s seen the light! Then I discounted it. Please tell me you haven’t.

  3. I understood the “rock, paper, scissors” cartoon as a commentary on how many people actually seriously play that game. There are tournaments and championships and so forth.

    I do agree with your assessment about how much violence humans are exposed to these days. Even Dear Abby advises disconnecting from social media for a day or two, just to give your mind a break from the constant feed of tragedy. Horrible things have always happened throughout human existence. We just didn’t hear about it all the time.

  4. I love these weekly posts I only wish that each individual ‘toon had a share ability. Unfortunately people I send the home page post don’t often feel like scrolling through the entire set of ‘toons — I’d like to select for individual friends who THEN most likely would like your site and enjoy it as I do spoon feeding time

    • I think you can save an individual cartoon by right-clicking (or something, depending on the type of computer you’re on). Then you can send it to a friend via email or post it on your FB page and tag them or whatever. I don’t mind people doing that as long as they don’t change the cartoon in any way.

      • On my Mac, I can just drag it to the desktop and, as you say, send that to a friend or whatever. And on the relatively rare occasions when I put it on FB, I’m always careful to attribute it to you.

  5. Personally I enjoyed the cartoon you got from Cliff’s notes. On the other hand, my wife read the “Book Club” panel, frowned and said, “There are two members in our book club who this fits.”

  6. Well Mr Dan,

    I think that living almost forever in Fort Worth has made me prefer white T-shirts over all other colors, because it’s a freaking inferno here. I can’t swear to you that I’ll buy one of your shirts, but the odds will increase with some lighter colored options.


    • I lived in Dallas for many years so I hear you. I wanted to offer that design on light shirts as well but I actually would have had to redo major parts of the art (a simple reversal of the image won’t do the trick) and then have a separate campaign on that site because while they offer different shirt options within one campaign, they don’t offer more than one ink color per campaign. So it became a hassle and I didn’t do it. Sorry. (Side note: I far preferred Ft. Worth to Dallas.)

  7. It’s nit-picking, and actually not a reflection on the cartoon at all, but a pair of dentures probably would NOT do much damage to a person no matter how far they fell. They’d reach their terminal velocity fairly quickly and not travel any faster than that due to air resistance. Pennies dropped from any height will not do much more than leave a red mark on you. Bullets fired exactly straight up in the air will lose all their energy going up, then fall down and again, not even break your skin on impact. Though if they’re fired at any sort of angle at all, they’ll retain some horizontal momentum and then all bets are off. So, I dunno, maybe a nice set of lead dentures would have enough mass to do some damage to a person, but not normal ones. Long explanation for an extremely minor point, sorry, but the physics nerd in me couldn’t help it. :-)

    • Thanks, Jimbo, I appreciate the detailed answer. I’m a big fan of this kind of trivia and have often heard that a penny dropped from the top of the Empire State Building would kill a person. Good to know that isn’t true.

  8. Hi Dan,
    Love your work.
    By definition, your July 4th comic is inaccurate. The physician holding the eye chart stating “What a coincidence. I Doctor, too.” is an otolaryngologist. The round thingy on his head and otoscope in his left hand are the tools of the ear nose throat Doctor not optometrist or ophthalmologist.

  9. I saw your gummy bear club cartoon the morning after I heard about a friend of a friend who belongs to a green tea club. Probably healthier than the gummy bear club but not as tasty. I do prefer actual book clubs myself, which usually include a wide range of refreshments!

  10. When people tell me about how violent society has become, I usually ask them about their last encounter with highwaymen.

  11. Dan, I had forgotten that you originally hailed from Tulsa OK. As it so happens we’ll be spending a week there to attend a national 3D convention, and event for stereographic photography nerds. Each year the convention is held in a different part of the country. One of the regular events is an on-site 3D photo competition where the photo has to be taken while the convention is in session with a subject from the surrounding area. I’m hoping I can find something iconic to Tulsa other than the giant hands or the titanic oil man. Any suggestions would be welcomed!! :-)

    • Well, Tulsa isn’t known for its iconic landmarks other than the two you’ve already mentioned. If I think of something, I’ll let you know, though!

  12. As the wife of a police sergeant, and the mother of two police officers, I find your cartoon today very distasteful. There is nothing funny about this at all. I highly doubt you put your life on the line every day when you go to work. I also highly doubt you have ever saved anyone’s life – all three of “my” police guys have saved a life – more than once. An apology from you would be most welcome. But I would bet it will not happen.

    • Thanks very much for your comment, Karen. I’m sorry you were offended by my cartoon and I do most certainly apologize. My intention was not to insult all police officers, but only to comment on the known fact that there are good and bad officers. It is undeniably true that without the police, society would be a far more chaotic and dangerous experience for all of us, and so we owe them a great debt. But I think it is also undeniably true that not all cops are alike. Some (one would hope most) choose the career because they want to help people, and manage to maintain their composure in a wide variety of dangerous and confusing situations. Others, however, seem to revel in the power the office gives them over others, exhibit racism and other kinds of discrimination, and give in to corruption of various kinds. Since all police officers are humans, it comes as no surprise that they exist at all points on a very wide spectrum.

      Though the vast majority of my encounters with the police have been positive, I did on one occasion have a negative experience with some very racist and overly violent cops in Dallas when I attended a sporting event with some Mexican friends of mine, none of whom were acting threatening or breaking the law in any way. I think it also bears noting that the fact that the vast majority of my experiences with police have been polite and positive is in part due to the fact that I’m a middle-class white person. Statistics show that low-income citizens and racial minorities all-too-often have a very different experience.

      So this cartoon is simply about the fact that there are both kinds of cops and it is impossible to know which is which until you’re engaged. I appreciate your reaching out and allowing me the opportunity to further explain myself. I hope you will accept my apology and extend it to the cops in your family.

      • Well said, Dan. The good cop/bad cop cartoon of the “Next” week’s blog post, at any other time would have struck me as merely a parody of the role play good cop/bad cop. Obviously you didn’t have any mean intent, but the current events are certainly prone to elicit a negative response.

        I think your observation about the immediacy of news, media, and social technology is completely appropriate, as we are simply not made to take in so much negativity and violence around the world or even around the country. As someone diagnosed with PTSD, I would say that to some extent, we all in our fast paced society have some extend post traumatic stress.

        In truth, the exposure each of us has to local police is generally good, and it is only because of the tremendous impact of the immediate access to bad news so readily available to each of us that causes us to be aware of the rare incidences of apparent abuses. And because of this, so few of us are aware of most of the circumstances surrounding those stories, the media may only give one side of the story, and tends to stir up further anxiety, so that most people do not know all the associated facts.

        Humor is a fine instrument for alleviating stress in many cases, but sometimes folks are under so much duress, it can be taken the wrong way, even when not intended to harm. I hope we can all heal. Thanks for your role in helping us laugh.

  13. Your Dr. Zeus comic today gave me a belly laugh, for which I thank you. I’m not sure WHY it did, but there we are.

    And as a former newspaper reporter, let me commend your reply to Karen, just above here. Most cops are good people, but a few are not. I’m glad Karen’s three are among the good people.

  14. I love Waldo’s Secretary and the commentary with the incredibly hilarious punchline. As a male teacher no longer employed in public education for obvious reasons (I was that same kid when I was the student) that just cracked me up.

    • Thanks so much for mentioning that teacher’s name in the comments! I was proud of that joke when I wrote it but not one person has even mentioned it. So happy to hear you enjoyed it!

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