Painful Regrets


(When the urge to embiggenate overwhelms you, click any image.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Questionable Tattoo Choices.

Before we get to the subject of tattoos, let’s start here: Many readers are already aware of my “Secret Symbols,” but some are not. I place little icons in almost all of my cartoons and put a small number above my signature to tell you how many to look for. That number is usually 3 or under but today it is 18. For a full list of my Secret Symbols, click on those blue words you just saw a second ago. Yes, Al Hirschfeld used to do something like this and I got the idea partly from him and partly from those “find the hidden things in this picture” games in books and magazines for children.

About this cartoon: I have some tattoos (NOT the one in the blue link above) and can attest to the fact that their application is painful. I’ve always thought it feels like someone is scribbling on you with a pointy, hot curling iron. Tattoos are pretty popular these days but they’d likely be even more so if you could just drop your arm off at the shop while they work and go get a couple of margaritas.

One of my tattoos represents an ex-person in my life and it has always been my least favorite. That was true even before that person was an “ex,” because it the tattoo was badly executed. As an artist, I don’t like having crappy art on my arm, and as a human, I don’t like having art on me that represents someone that I went to an awful lot of time and expense to get out of my life. I would just tattoo over it, but tattoo ink is fairly transparent so to do that, you pretty much have to use a LOT of black ink. I’m not a fan of big black tattoos, so I opted to go for laser tattoo removal treatments to lighten it enough to tattoo over without a lot of black. This takes many individual treatments, each at a minimum of two months apart, so it takes a fair amount of time. The laser process is just as painful as a tattoo, but fortunately, each treatment only lasts a minute or two. In summary, it’s a whole expensive, long, involved thing and I wish I’d never gotten this crappy tattoo. The other ones I have I’m fine with and once this crappy one is faded enough, I’ll get a new (colorful) one tattooed over the same spot and that will be that. I know––I have nobody to blame but myself.

The moral of this story is this: some things in life would be less painful and more convenient if our body parts could simply pop on and off like Mr. Potato Head’s.

The moral of this massage cartoon is that if your hands are big enough, you could massage people more quickly. Here’s another massage cartoon from a while back.

This cartoon attempts to find the humor in slavery, something I generally do not recommend trying to do.

I do, however, recommend you look at this graphic I have created about something that is increasingly important to me.

If you’re having trouble trying to make sense of this dog cartoon, read up on the Trojan War.

I practiced yoga a couple/three of times a week for a few years. I got three good things out of it: I adopted my dog from someone in my class who had rescued her from the streets, I bought a classic motorcycle that I’d wanted for years (1968 BMW) which I found out was for sale from a different member of the class, and I met my beloved Olive Oyl. I also got one bad thing: a back injury that nagged me for months and I could never quite get rid of until I gave up yoga and adopted a different form of exercise. My takeaway is that yoga is terrific for some people and some things but probably not in all cases for all people. To return to a previous theme, if my body parts popped off like Mr. Potato Head’s I would probably have been better at it. There were many times when I feared they might.

The most important words in this cartoon are “non-ironic”.

I used to hang out with a whole lot of animal rights vegans (as opposed to people who are vegan only for their health) and I thought I might get a lot of positive and negative feedback from those type folks from this cartoon. That hasn’t happened but it still might since the cartoon was only published yesterday (at this writing).

Years ago, during a friendly conversation about veganism with none other than Sean Lennon, he argued that, like mammals, plants might also be sentient and feel pain in a completely different way than we can understand. He was theoretically right, of course. Scientists are finding out all kinds of things about the surprising complexity of plant communication and behavior that was not known even ten years ago. If we discover and are able to prove that this is true, it will be interesting for vegans. That’s all I’m prepared to say about it at this time.

I’ve enjoyed our time together and appreciate your reading all the way to the end without interrupting me. Until my next post, be smart, be happy, be nice.

I also made these for you…


52 thoughts on “Painful Regrets

  1. When I look at Mr. Potato Head and consider the arm and hand and how he must have pulled it off… well, it looks like two right arms.
    We’ve been here before, eh?

  2. Also, there’s on old Twilight Zone episode about an inventor who invents some sort of listening device and discovers the sounds of flowers screaming as they are picked, pruned bushes moaning, etc.

  3. This explains why my closest tattoo parlor has an ornate sign in the window stating they do tattoos `while you wait`.

  4. Mr. Potato Head brings up childhood memories. Growing up in south Florida, in a large family, our main source of recreation (other than running through the neighborhood) was the beach — which, especially for me, meant almost chronic earaches. I used to wish I could unscrew my ears and leave them at the doctor’s….

  5. That tattoo parlor one must have been really fun to draw, with so many opportunities to insert pieces of artwork! This is the only time I’ve seen the K2 stylized like that.

    I’m vegetarian – vegan except I do eat honey and eggs on occasion – and I can tell you it would be a challenge to come to terms with hurting another living creature. In the end of course, one has to eat. There’s also the option of going one step further and just eating what the plants volunteer – ie. fruit! I have two fruit trees in my yard. When I pluck a delicious fruit, I do feel appreciation and thankfulness to the tree for what she has offered me. If you have a tree, I’m sure you understand the feeling (but otherwise, it probably sounds really weird)!

  6. Ronald Dahl published a story in 1977, “The Sound Machine,” about a man who invents a device where he can hear the sound of plants screaming when they are cut. Great story.

  7. You do not need laser treatment, just a good artist. My buddy in Santa Clara, Ca can cover up black ink with white ink and you cannot tell. It is more about technique than the inks. Also the inks have come a long way since back in the day.

    • I liked the shadow too, it’s amazing how much detail you achieve every week.

      I also like how happy the guy is. It makes me want to get a backwards No Regrets tattoo.

      • The details and lighting effects assuage my regrets over not having become a fine artist instead of a cartoonist. :^}

        That would be an awesome tattoo. Better than any ironic T-shirt.

  8. Im trying to process the “Painful Regrets” tattoo cartoon.
    Humor is all about inferences.
    And humor about issues with mirrors messes with our minds.
    As do issues with words on windows seen from the insides of shops
    To wit — here are inferences Im counting with that older, undated, cartoon —
    1] He tatted himself & is pleased with his work …
    2] The reversed art on the window reminds us of how words on glass windows get reversed …
    3] The now un-reversed projection on the wall also reminds us of the reversal effect …
    4] Is his name Vinnie? (Look at the bottom of the image on the red heart in the window) …
    5] Still, the guy has some taste — he has 3 Bizarro icons on his arm & a portrait of Piraro …
    6] But wait! The idiot has reversed the words on his chest!
    7] His new tat may be correct in his mirror …
    8] But — Wait again! Was that his plan?
    9] Nope — the title — “Painful Regrets” settles the issue: Vinnie screwed up.
    Like Dan did with that earlier woman.

    Almost the same tat artist & shop appear in both cartoons.
    Are these 2 cartoons from parallel universes?

  9. I have always loved your work; but, even more so when I discovered years ago that we are both contemporary displaced Tulsans (Will Rogers High Scholl, Class of 1976). As an elected Judge in Southwest Kansas (almost as “Red” as Oklahoma these days), I have to be careful with whom I share my beliefs; but, you offer me a much needed oasis in a desert of conformity!

    • Great to hear from you. My parents (Kennedy Democrats) still live in Oklahoma and I don’t think they know a single other liberal. I don’t know how they do it. My hat’s off to you for managing to hold your ground in those parts. It’s literally insane what has happened to the Republican Party in the past 25 years.

  10. Mr. Potato Head has a left AND a right arm. The left one he left at home. The spare right one is being tattooed so that the ink doesn’t interfere with his day job as a hand model.

  11. On your website the Secret Symbol count is 18, for the tattoo but on ArcaMax it was 17. Out of all the people who looked at that comic only one lady caught the second fishtail. That was a really fantastic comic!
    Your Beloved Olive Oyl is beautiful! I got to see her pi cartooncture with you at Portland. It was really exciting getting to see You, JimmyHo, Wayno, Dave Coverly, and Dave Blazek I really enjoyed The Jazz Pickle Strike Force! That was totally awesome!
    Have a great day!!

    • I drew and submitted that cartoon before O2 was an official symbol so I neglected to count it when I turned it in for publication. I changed the number on my copy before I posted on the blog, though, so that’s the reason. Very observant of you!

      I’ll pass your compliment on to Olive Oyl and thanks for coming out to our event in Portland! Lots of fun!

    • Great news, David! We plan to get down there for a visit at some point and if I can remember, I’ll give you a shout and we can meet for a cerveza.

  12. So far, I’ve only managed to find 17 of the 18 – including the O2. This is going to drive me crazy.

    So far, I’ve got 12 in the pictures on the wall, 2 in the artist’s tattoos, and 3 others in the vicinity of the window. Where’s the one I’m missing?

  13. Of course vegetables are sentient, just ask Mr. Potato Head! It’s high time someone addressed the horror of our green brothers being vivisected and eaten alive at salad bars across the nation! ;-)

    Seriously: A fresh vegetable is alive. Even if the piece you’re looking at has been cut away from its roots and/or stem, it hasn’t actually realized that, and in more cases than you’d expect, it could continue growing if you put it in soil (let alone hydroponics). Some, notably root vegetables, will continue growing in your pantry or refrigerator. That said… being able to react to the environment, or to damage, doesn’t mean a plant is aware of what’s going on.

    • I’ve chatted with him a few times via email. If memory serves, he admits he was influenced by me and also Far Side, so I can see the resemblance. And, of course, the bunnies. :^}

  14. OK, Bizarro, you finally got me to quit reading your cartoon. Last week I procured new eye glasses with an up to date prescription. Your cartoon lettering was always out of focus, but I continued to struggle to enjoy it. It got no better with the new glasses. So, now, I’m quitting. It’s not worth the struggle to see clearly the lousy script. Happy Trials!

    • Sorry to hear it, Jim. If you’re trying to read it in your local newspaper, you should email them and request they print the comics larger. They won’t listen, of course, because it is one way that newspapers save money, but the comics in many papers have gotten so small that it seriously limits what cartoonists can do. If enough subscribers tell them they are printing them too small, they may find a different way to save money. Studies have consistently shown that comics are always at the top of the list of why people still subscribe to newspapers, so reducing their size also reduces the paper’s appeal.

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