Silent Security

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(A most rewarding experience awaits you when you click an image to embiggenate.)

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Bizarro is brought to you today by What Exactly Are They Suggesting?!

Today’s cartoon has 8 secret symbols and a handful of background gags that are fun, so you’ll want to embiggenate it. (My favorite background gag is the truck.) The main gag is a bit of a populist joke––to borrow an oft-used term of late––because most people seem to dislike the cliche, public street mime, the sort I’ve depicted here. I’ve long been on record as a person who finds that clowns, mimes, and street performers of all kinds just make me uncomfortable. I go out of my way to avoid and ignore them. My apologies to any readers who are street performers. I don’t mean to disparage your chosen career or hobby, it just doesn’t work for me. Kind of like door-to-door evangelists.

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Because I’m moving out of the country in less than three weeks, I’ve been working well ahead on my deadlines for quite a while. As most fans of newspaper cartoons know, even when working right up to deadline, we’re required to submit our work several weeks ahead of the date they print. (That schedule doesn’t apply to editorial cartoonists, for obvious reasons.) So even though this week of cartoons was written and drawn many weeks before the election, I accidentally tapped into a number of themes that resonate more now than when I submitted the gags.

The cartoon above was written about people disliking their day job but working it because they need to. Posting it here just now, however, I noticed for the first time that it could be seen as representing the general experience of women in the workplace, and one very notable woman’s experience last week. Of the multitude of things that bother me about our recent election, one that looms large is this: Of all the things you can say about both candidates and their many suspected wrongdoings, it is undeniable that in our society when a man breaks the rules as he claws and scratches his way to the top, he’s seen as a tough, ambitious son of a bitch who gets things done––a leader. When a woman does the same things, she’s a bitch; a witch to be burned at the stake. Women who have worked in corporations know exactly what I’m talking about.

And regardless of the list of things some Americans believe Hillary has done, one can easily argue that they are not as bad––or at least no worse––than what Trump has done. Yet millions of people despise her and admire him. This is a kind of deep-seated, subconscious misogyny that I believe stems from basic tribalism. Whether it manifests in the form of xenophobia, elitism, misogyny, or racism––as it did with the anti-Obama birther movement–– it is a gut feeling that says, “you’re not like us, you don’t belong here.” This kind of tribalism is an ugly and difficult thing to defeat.

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Here’s a gag I did just to for a chuckle. Stupid questions amuse me. But looking at it now, it can be seen as a cartoon about how utterly inaccurate and worthless polls have become.

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No idea what made me think of this gag but a reader commented this week that something very like this happened with a groomsman in his wedding: the tux shop transposed his waist measurement with his inseam and the end result was super-short pants with a gigantic waist.

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Here’s another cartoon that I wrote just for fun but also turned out to be prescient. In my original version the cat was gray, but make him orange and you’ve got a perfect allegory for what Trump has pulled off. Which brings me to one of the other things that bothers me most about this election.

My heart truly goes out to the millions of desperate, blue collar workers who trusted that Trump would help them. It is clear he will not. A seventy-year-old man who has made a fortune victimizing blue collar workers for the entirety of his life does not suddenly care about them; especially when he’s already gotten what he wanted from them. Trump is a master salesman and he said what he knew folks wanted to hear.

Sadly, though, manufacturing jobs will not come back in large numbers (because the vast majority were lost to technology, not China, and Trump knows that) our health care costs will not go down, taxes will only be lowered for the very rich, and no help will arrive for the downtrodden because Republicans don’t believe in programs to help the average person. (Go ahead, try to name one.) Also, no wall will be built to keep out illegal immigrants, Hillary will not be sent to jail, and ISIS will not be defeated in the foreseeable future. You have a better chance of getting those things from Santa Claus this Christmas than you ever will from the Trump administration.

People who voted for him thought they were voting against “the system”. Trump IS the system and the next few years will bear that out. And when I say my heart goes out to the people who voted for him (the ones who did so because they are desperate, not the racist ones) I meant no condescension. It is cruel and unfair to play on the emotions of people in need. I once saw a TV evangelist (Robert Tilton, 1982) tell his viewing audience, “Somewhere out there is a couple whose child has cancer. God wants you to pledge $1000 to him right now.”  Playing on the emotions of people in crisis is among the lowest things a person can do.


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Hey, here’s some good news! This cartoon doesn’t remind me of politics!

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Here is my favorite gag of the week, and it has nothing to do with politics, either. YAY! Regular Jazz Pickles know that I love taking cliches and finding surprising, new angles on them. This is one of those cartoons and I’m still getting a good chuckle out of it. Before you start sending me your own ideas about how to illustrate a common phrase, remember that surprise is the key element. If you do it in any way that the readers think they could have come up with on their own, they just groan. So remember this pro tip: Surprise is the difference between a good pun and a groaner.

Thanks for reading, Jazz Pickles. There’s still time to order Bizarro holiday cards and get them in the mail to your fave peeps!

Here’s my new coloring book full of outrageous surreal art that is fascinating and inspiring to grown-ups and kids alike! Also available at your local bookstore or any online book stores.

Prints of Bizarro cartoons make great gifts, too! Get them from Bizarro.com by using the calendar function below the cartoon at the top of the home page to pull up the image you want, then clicking the “Buy Prints” link below.

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51 thoughts on “Silent Security

  1. I am just delighted with this week’s selection! I do particularly like the lioness with her lovely pink bow. And I think I worked for the same boss at one time. . . . Thank you for the interlude from the national madness.

  2. Don’t forget that Hillary was heavily invested in the birther movement. There is even some evidence that her campaign started it. Just to keep things honest.

    • There is no evidence that she or anyone involved in her campaign started it. That’s a myth of the right wing that many journalists researched thoroughly during this last year and everyone came up empty. Zero truth.

  3. Well done … well stated. On all points, sir.
    In fact, fi you want, you can knock off early want and get a start on the weekend.

  4. I’d still love some t shirts of the title frames withe the yeti bizzaro logo and/or the deer with the pipe. It could even say: ” this is not a deer smoking a pipe” as a homage to Marcel! I know you are not in the t shirt business, but I love these designs. They speak to the region I live in Far Northern California and will no doubt turn some heads!
    Best wishes to you in your move to mexico. I have some family living in the Yucatan and will probably be spending more time there in light of recent events as I am partially of latino descent.
    Don’t give up on your fellow countrymen just yet though… I suspect I’m a bit more of a centrist than you, but if all the gems of American society and culture flee, pull back, or give up, we will have only what is discarded and left behind. Art, Comedy, culture, and beauty in our society is more important now than ever.
    I appreciate your social commentary and political views, (and agree with many, if not most of them) but never underestimate the power of pure comedy and simple laughter. It is something that brings us all together across borders, race, politics, language, etc. Really as a species. Thank you for all you do. Good luck to you, yours, and to us all in 2017 and beyond.

    • Thanks, Seth. I plan to continue to produce and publish cartoons daily so I won’t stop contributing to American culture. I’ll just be doing it from a place where I can afford to live well. :^}

  5. “we can do this the easy way or the hard way” — several years ago in Idaho, a law enforcement officer went after a fugitive out in the boonies, and after catching him, told him the trip back could be either the easy way or the hard way, whereupon the fugitive killed the officer and claimed self-defense, because he had understood that as meaning “dead or alive.” From my own, long-ago even then, law enforcement experience, I understood it as meaning “in handcuffs and leg shackles, or without, with your word of honor not to try to escape.” My recollection is that the jury acquitted the killer. Which removed the last residual doubt I had about once driving a prisoner from Flensburg, Germany, to Bremerhaven, about four hours, with his arms handcuffed behind him in the back seat of an MP sedan (he was particularly upset to remain cuffed and seatbelted during the ferry ride across the Elbe, and again on the transporter bridge across the Oste). So I dunno if that has anything to do with politics, either, but it isn’t necessarily light-hearted. ;}

  6. Dan, I just wanted to appreciate the special attention you give typography in your work. I was looking at the “Balloons” signboard and I wondered how easy it would have been to get away with some regular type, but you always go the extra mile by adding your classic surreal bent in every single detail. There are many more examples where I’ve seen you do this! Love your work as always.

    • Thanks so much for noticing, Ananth. I put a lot of work into the background details and fonts and it made my day to hear that someone notices and appreciates it!

      • Sometimes people think I’m a bit dim because it takes me so long to take in each panel. I love poring over the backgrounds, for the bonus gags and the artful details.

  7. It upsets me when you say misogyny is largely to blame for the way the election turned out. And when you, and others, talk like this, you just further create divisions. For better of worse, the public has voted – it is time now to accept the results and work together to unify the country, not further divide us. Please don’t be a part of the problem.

    The fact is, the vast majority of Americans are sick and tired of establishment politics, and they see Clinton as the textbook definition of the establishment and Trump as an anti-establishment renegade. People are desperate for change. Also to many on the left, Clinton is viewed as a pretend-liberal who actually veers too far to the right. Faced with a choice between a pretender and someone who just speaks their mind, the latter usually wins.

    I am deeply saddened to see people saying “He’s not MY president.” People were saying the exact same thing when President Obama was elected. Look, I don’t particularly like Trump either, but it’s time to face the fact that Trump IS my next president just like Obama IS my current president. Although there are many things I don’t like about Trump, the election is over and now is the time to move forward, accept it, and start working together to make the best of it.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments, John. I agree with your ideas about the “not my president” signs to a degree. It’s an old motif that rings hollow when the losing side uses it after every election. But when your candidate gets more votes than the person who is appointed the winner by an archaic system that most of us don’t even understand, it’s what a LOT of voters are going to feel.

      I disagree about discussing the racism and misogyny evident in the election. These kinds of things don’t go away if no one shines a light on them and society doesn’t shame the behavior.

      I understand your take on people rejecting establishment politics in favor of an outsider. But the concept that Trump is an outsider to the establishment and that he was speaking truth while others lied is complete myth. Trump and his kind are exactly what drives the kind of politics his supporters despise, and the press couldn’t even keep up with all of the blatant lies Trump told on a daily basis during the campaign. And that’s not hyperbole for the sake of political passion; it is literally true. It’s like people being sick of public schools serving their children lousy food, then appointing the CEO of McDonalds to do something about it. Absurd.

      There are many ways to parse the election but the moral of the lesson, I think, is that for a large percentage of people, emotion beats reason. If you’ve got a salesman stoking your fear, anger, and anxieties on one side, and an intellectual political nerd with a boring personality on the other side telling you why should exercise and eat right, the emotional plea is going to win almost every time. Sadly, when it comes to politics, personality beats policy virtually every time.

      • I was happy to find your concise reply, Dan, and I really appreciate you taking the time. Unfortunately, as you’ve rightly observed, politics is all too often about personality and emotion rather than the candidate’s record and qualifications. This goes for both sides. It’s disturbing to consider the fact that the vote by some ignoramus counts equally to one who has thoroughly done her/his research – but ironically that is a fundamental necessity of our democracy. In the end, we’re still one nation, one world. If only we can all just get along.

  8. I love the store sign, “Useless Things for Shallow People”. Sums up some people quite well and how their whims are catered to.

  9. Well, speaking of cliches, whenever I hear the “drain the swamp” rhetoric, I remember that the original quote is “When you are up to your ass in alligators, it is difficult to remember that your initial objective was to drain the swamp.” Of course, with that analogy, it’s hard NOT to see that Trump is not going to do that because he IS the Biggest Alligator. So what I can imagine for a cartoon is a group of business-suit-wearing alligators with the lead one saying “We’re here to drain the swamp”. (Of course, what we really need is some alligator-eating-otters https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCGKbgkisxc Yipes!)

  10. I really like the egg gag too. I imagine the guy getting interrogated is vegan and the officer is playing on his empathy to get him to talk.

  11. Re: Republicans don’t believe in programs to help the average person. (Go ahead, try to name one.) My mom used to say “never say never.”

    The earned income credit was enacted in 1975 during the Ford Administration.

    • The mountains of central Mexico. I’ll still be doing Bizarro every day so nothing will change in that regard. I was just looking for a place where I could afford to live well in a lovely town with nice weather and still put a little aside each month for retirement.

  12. The balloon cartoon says 6, but I counted 7…
    2 eyeballs,
    1 flying saucer,
    1 crown,
    1 bunny,
    1 dynamite,
    1 K2
    Plus the bird with the hat….who I would swear has another K2 on its wing.

  13. The pigeon with the hat (11/11) is a nice touch; but I count 7 icons, not the 6 signaled above your name; it would be like you to mislead just a bit on the icon search.
    I see 3 pie pieces this week.
    And 2 of those seem to have a bit of intelligence or attention.
    To wit — I dont recall ever seeing a piece of pie looking at, say, a blank wall, or into a corner. If the pie has no intelligence — as you told us once — it seems like it maybe otta be “looking” toward some part of the cartoon where there seems to be nothing going on.
    Forgive me — they are your pie pieces, but I think maybe they are acting up a bit without your permission.
    Faulkner said that his characters would surprise him with some of the stuff they did.
    This week’s Pie Pieces —
    Pie #1) On 11/8 it seems to be “looking at” the 2 men — like maybe it is listening? Or trying or hoping not to get stepped on? I wonder a bit too — Why duz the piece of pie never get stepped on, or run over — or eaten? Is this becuz it is smart & mobile enuf to avoid those hazards?
    Pie #2) On 11/10 it seems more clearly to be focused on the base of the bird bath. Like it is maybe hoping for a bit of bird dropped by the cat — like a leg shank & foot with a couple feathers?
    Pie #3) But on 11/13 it just seems to be part of a sign painted above the entry to the K2 … Pie Shop? And everybody knows a sign cant be intelligent.

    The “Secret Symbols” are a stroke of genius.
    Or several strokes.
    I’m going to get me some more of your old collections & watch the evolution of these creatures.
    Also, I have also noted once in a while recently some other cartoonist sticks — or seems to stick — 1 of your icons into his cartoon. Somewhere I think I saw “K2′ recently.

    You are gonna love Mexico!

    • Thanks for your pie comments, Scotty. Yes, I miscount from time to time but it’s never intentional. Except on a couple of different April Fool’s Days when I put an enormous number in the symbol count that couldn’t possibly be true without the entire cartoon being jammed full of secret symbols.

      And, yes, the pie does “look” at things. I’ve often wondered if it is coincidence or sentience.

  14. How prescient of you two to find your piece of Paradise OUTSIDE U.S. borders (a vantage point I have long enjoyed, although it tears me up to see what’s going on in America, especially now….).
    Vaya con amor, suerte y mucha felicidad!

    I hope you’ll be continuing your cartooning from Mexico, si???

    • Thanks, Pat. I’ll continue to do my daily Bizarro cartoons so nothing will change from your perspective. I’ll watch what’s going on in the U.S. but I hope it will not seem as “in my face” as the headlines do now. I would love to feel the calm of a little separation. The venomous political climate of America is extremely disheartening.

    • I just made some random letter shapes so I really don’t know. One of my readers said it looks like it could say “Sluts”. I didn’t actually intend that, but they’re right, it could.

      • Here are some more possibilities.
        clops, clots, cloys, gluts, sects,slops, slots
        Or maybe sect5, etc.I must say, “sluts” works.

        I also just want to say thank you for your incredible and uplifting work. I’m a huge fan.

  15. I’ve been in Europe for the last few years and some of your commentary leads me to think that I’m missing something. Who is this Trump you keep referencing?

  16. Now for a positive moment. Did you know that you have contributed to th literary world more than the recently released coloring book? It is true! I ordered five of your authored books this evening, many from when we had just finished college. Yes, most are used. Still, I’m looking forward to savoring Bizarro – the early years, the post modernist years. While these items don’t help your tip-jar, if I disseminate the goods to those people who would benefit from the wisdom of you, and I suspect that of Olive Oyl, the world will be a better place. Reflect upon that outcome when you are sipping your Bohemia (my favorite beer) on the veranda.

    • Thanks for your kind words, Scot. Much appreciated. My early books are a bit of an embarrassment to me at times, I must admit, because I think my art and gags were not what I’d have liked them to be, but such is life. I will savor a Bohemia (not my favorite beer but a worthy alternative) and share your compliments with my beloved O2. :^}

        • I’m a fan of scotch, tequila, and bourbon. As far as beer goes, I’m fond of dark ones that are not too bitter. Negra Modelo is a fave inexpensive Mexican one. I also like Newcastle and dark, sweet Belgian style beers that I can never remember the names of. Sometimes I’m really in the mood for a Guinness, though, even though its bitter.

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