Cap’n Cleek


(To embiggenate an image, click any object within the drawing that would in reality weigh more than 18 ounces.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by High Speed Golf Cart.

I’ve often remarked that one reason pirates are so popular with cartoonists is that it is the only way we can do a cartoon about a disability without being buried under an avalanche of angry mail accusing us of being insensitive. If I published a cartoon about a one-legged old lady at the grocery store people would get pissed, but the same gag about a one-legged pirate is fair game. That doesn’t mean I’ve never gotten angry mail from a pirate cartoon. I got three very nasty letters about this cartoon, but it is noteworthy that none came from a disabled person; only people who felt sorry for disabled people and didn’t like them being made fun of. In contrast, that same cartoon garnered numerous letters of thanks from disabled people who reported that their sense of humor was an important tool in overcoming the hardships and inconveniences they’d faced. And I got one letter from a prosthetics company that wanted to put that cartoon on T-shirts to give out to their clients. I’ve often used that story to help guide me in deciding whether or not to do a cartoon like this.

Another thing that this cartoon brings to mind is how inventive disabled people can be. I have three friends that I can think of off the top of my head who are missing limbs and it is pretty impressive how they find ways to do the same things anyone with a full set does. Which makes me wonder if there aren’t some one-handed golfers in the world. Without even googling it, I’d say yes, there have to be. I’d love to find out that at least one of them had actually devised a club holder like the one I drew here.

Here’s an example of a cartoon that features a disabled person but about which I do not expect to receive any angry mail. Unless there really is someone with a nose and ears the size of deck chairs, and I hope there isn’t. If there is, I’ve no doubt they’ve figured out a clever way to brush their teeth.

As most people have heard, it is fairly common for people to believe that your nose and ears are the only things that do not stop growing throughout your lifetime, which, for a full-nosed gentleman such as myself, is a harrowing thought. But after a few seconds of research into this issue I found something sort of interesting––two medical sites that contradict each other in answering this question. One said that this belief is true because your nose and ears are primarily cartilage and cartilage never stops growing, and the other said that medical science used to believe this but now realizes that cartilage doesn’t keep growing, but it is particularly susceptible to gravity so it only appears that your nose and ears are getting bigger, because they are sagging.

I’m pretty sure we can add a number of other body parts to this category, as well.

A reader of this blog recently commented that “dogs are the most wonderful creatures with the most disgusting habits” and I concur wholeheartedly. Yesterday, on our daily walk through our wild and wooly neighborhood here in Mexico, my two dogs and I encountered a stray dog, which is not at all unusual here. Most either ignore us entirely or are friendly and want to frolic a bit with my dogs. This one was the latter and I normally welcome that, but he was also covered in the shit of an unidentified species. The stench was unbearable and I could smell him from probably 20 feet away. My dogs thought this was amazing, of course, and wanted to be as close to him as possible, as though they’d randomly run into their favorite pop star. The stray was wagging his tail and wanted to follow us on our walk, so keeping them apart was a monumental effort on my part but I eventually succeeded in scaring him off, which I hated doing because he was so good natured.

If you feel inclined to help me buy doggy shampoo while improving your own life immeasurably, please consider taking advantage of the following link which leads to a book full of an amazing amount of hard work on my part for a minuscule amount of cash outlay on your part.

I’m not sure this is a good cartoon but some people seemed to like it, mostly those who prefer “real” books over e-books. I bought a Kindle in the early 2000s and read it exclusively for about six or seven years. I liked the convenience of ordering and receiving a book instantly, even in the middle of the night, as well as the lightness of it when traveling, the research features, etc. But then, in 2013 I borrowed an old-fashioned book from a friend and loved the experience so much that I never went back to e-books. I’ve been reading nothing but traditional books since, which is around four years now.

In a larger sense, I have no doubt that technology will end up killing us all. It is already making us profoundly unhappy and unhealthy as so many of us live our lives not in the infinite universe of real people, animals, and plants surrounding us, but trapped inside a tiny screen competing for “likes” on the World Wide Junior High School that most people simply call the Web.

This old-fogey moment was brought to you by life after fifty.

This simple bait-and-switch cartoon about the dragon actually stirred up some controversy and political tension on my FB page, which I find amazing. It’s fine if people want to waste time fighting with strangers, but I don’t even read those kinds of comments anymore because I’m just not into inviting more unpleasantness into my life, you know?  One thing I’ve learned in my three-decades-long career as a cartoonist is that there is never a shortage of people looking to be offended.

I glanced at one thread and it seemed to be a guy who objected to the “predictable politically-correct” stance that women don’t need men and he somehow found this offensive.  In my view, no one with a measurable IQ can fail to notice that the single most dangerous animal on the entire planet is the human male, and his favorite victim is women. The fact that they routinely make less money for the same work is reason enough to prefer the dragon.  In terms of violence and abuse of power, nothing else even comes close to the human male. (Not all men, of course, but human males as a category.)

I like this joke about dog pants both because dogs wearing pants is automatically funny and because it gives a surprising reason for the oft-used expression, ” he/she probably smells my dog”. Good cartoons are often made of alternative interpretations of common sayings. From a few years back, here’s another version of the “smells my dog” line that I like a lot. If you clicked that link you may immediately notice that I used much of the same art for both cartoons. Like Hollywood, I sometimes use backgrounds and actors more than once. I mean, after 32 years of drawing doctors’ offices and store fronts, why draw the same damn thing again and again?

I’m not crazy about this Pinocchio cartoon but it’s okay. In the comments section, you may now commence with puns using the word “woody”. Or not.\

And by the way, last Friday was Bastille Day.

Thanks for joining me in this fantasy friendship, Jazz Pickles. I hope we get to meet in person real soon! Until my next post, be happy, be smart, be nice.



51 thoughts on “Cap’n Cleek

  1. The web may look like a junior high school to many but more comprehensively the idea it is a ‘school’ could easily be applied to our species as a whole… and to be truthful, of course the general run of homo sapiens might also be characterized as adolescent… but humanity will either grow up or die off, and some form of internet will remain a part of that process as long as we maintain a collective grip on the future

    • I agree. My money is on it dying off. Never in the history of our species have we been able to deny ourselves anything simply because it was going to kill us.

  2. As part of my policy of supporting your efforts, I acquired some time ago your “Bizarro Buccaneers: Nuttin’ But Pirate Cartoons” book and have been laughing “harr, harr, harr” at it ever since. But there appeared to be something missing in the Pirate Golfer cartoon. He’s getting a golf club screwed in to replace his hand hook… but where’s the hook? I expected to see it in the golf bag. Anyway, I hope to see a sequel/follow-up with a Pirate Tennis Player wearing an attached racket. And hey, isn’t there a baseball team named the Pirates?

    And to prove I have the Bizarro Buccaneers book, I just looked through it again and noticed the ‘previous’ cartoon you linked to in it TWICE, in Sunday format on page 38 and Daily format on page 52. And it really wasn’t “Nuttin’ But Pirates”, with the group of 6 ‘desert island’ cartoons in the middle… but I did not feel cheated. Or pirated. Or deserted.

    • The pirate’s hook on the golf bag would have been a nice touch. I’ll have to start emailing you with a preview of my cartoons before I publish them.

      And thanks for buying my pirate book!

      • I liked the subtly hidden “Caribbean Open” on the caddy’s shirt.

        I was hoping embiggenation would reveal some humorous logo on the pirate’s polo shirt, but… Arrr! Just a squiggle.

        As a golfer (well, in that world I’m actually called a duffer) I thought this was a fun cartoon.

  3. I just liked the comparison of sunburn (to which I’m prone) to termites. It made me guffaw.

    Seriously, people got upset about a prosthetics salesman and the woman wanting the dragon to eat the knight? Some people need a hobby. Those are both very funny ideas that upset the reader’s expectations. Isn’t that what humor is?

  4. I see we are hitting them alllllll the way out of the ball park this week! Home run; home run, home run!! (x whatever–I didn’t count!!). Can you spray me for termites? Save me! (Golfing. . . .) Thanks for another week of laughs.

  5. I am on my second Kindle, which is bigger than the first,which zonked out, and I need to buy another small one for waiting rooms. My public library is just down the road, so if I read a good book on the Kindle, I can get more similar books via electronic request from the library which emails me when they come in from various member libraries. Free. I like living in the 21st century.

  6. When I come home from the movies, I’ve noticed my dogs are really interested in sniffing my pants. I continue to wonder if they are interested in the dogs and cats of the people who sat in the same theater seat as I did and presumably deposited their pets’ hair and dander on the seat… or if the dogs are simply interested in sampling the transferred odor of popcorn farts emanating from the moviegoers… as well as mine own. Ah dogs: the animal kingdom’s rectal detectives!

  7. You surely know that “Game of Thrones” is a religion with many and the latest season starts tonight! Thus, I am sure many will relate to the dragon and the damsel!

    • To be honest, I’m not a watcher of Game of Thrones so it’s kind of not on my radar. Olive Oyl and I forced ourselves to make it through the first two seasons but we just didn’t like it so we gave up. I know. We might be the only people in the world who don’t get it. :^}

  8. My husband used to carry a golf club while walking the dog to ward off potential ‘bad dogs’. It worked 99% of the time.

    • Hey, that’s pretty cool. I don’t actually make any money here so I don’t have to pay taxes but if that changes, this might be handy to know!

  9. As to the one-armed golfer, I do know that they exist, but I don’t know of any on the pro tour.
    My father was an amputee (leg), and he golfed. I do recall some kind of a news story about a one-armed golfer on the news (my dad played in some of the amputee tournaments), but I don’t recall a name, and my father has been deceased for 20 years now. If he was still around, I know he would remember the name, because that news coverage really pissed him off. In his mind, golfing with just one leg and a prosthesis was more difficult than just using one arm to swing. Go figure. But dad was like that.
    One of the reasons I hate golf.

    • I don’t have any books in my store because, to be honest, I don’t really have a store. I’ve got somebody building one and it should be up and running by the end of the year. For now, you have to go to Amazon or other online booksellers or local bookstores to find my books. Here’s my latest, which should also be in your local store.

  10. I found it amazing that some were offended by the dragon cartoon; if you didn’t tell us why, I would have been sitting here trying to work out what on earth about it could possibly be offensive to anyone.

    What I did wonder was whether it was perhaps inspired by Game of Thrones… :-)

    You’ll probably be accused of pedophilia for the Pinocchio cartoon, but it has occurred to me that it is actually peculiar that he feels any need to wear swimming trunks. If you have nothing “down there” then could you still be said to be nude?

    • I know what you mean about the supposedly offensive nature of the dragon cartoon. It’s a stretch.

      Regarding Game of Thrones, I’m sorry to say I’m not a fan. Olive Oyl and I tried to watch it but it never “took”. Just isn’t our thing.

      • Ah, well, there is a character in Game of Thrones that rides around on dragons. In between scenes of murder, mayhem and debauchery. I suppose you already see enough of that in the news. :-)

  11. I don’t know about one-armed golfers, but I do know of a one-armed motorcycle racer. And as a disabled person, I don’t generally have a problem with humor, even disabled person humor, any more than I, as a human being, have a problem with human being humor.

    • My point exactly, Doug, thanks. I often tell people that doing cartoons about disabled folks, LGBT people, whatever, brings them into the fold with the rest of humanity instead of keeping them in some special quarantine area.

  12. Moons ago when I was a student in Manchester there was a local blues band who featured a one-handed drummer. He had a regular drum stick in his one hand and a prosthetic drum stick on the other.

    I’d like to say he was a brilliant drummer, but it’s probably fairer to say he was good enough for the task… He was very entertaining with it mind.

  13. I love your work, and will buy your book to enable your dogs to get washed, etc. The dragon hater guy is funny, he told you to be more PC because you were too PC.
    Carry on!

  14. dan, these were all particularly inspired cartoons…. pirates, dogs, wooden puppets…. you really outdid yourself… again. my only other comment is that isn’t human males, but human males with short hair, that are dangerous…. killing sprees, market manipulation, terrorists, snake oil salesman and televangelists, the american taliban, walter white and jesse pinkman…. all of them committed by guys with short hair. at least tsa recognizes this…. my hair is far past my shoulders and i never get pulled out of line for further scrutiny…. unless you live in portland and ride the train (the exception that proves the rule), i am the safest person to be around.

  15. Bravo! Senor!
    I mean the Tuesday dragon + damsel + knight cartoon, for 2 reasons —
    #1] The Bait-&-Switch aspect was delightful.
    To wit — You “get” a little INFERENCE when you realize the dragon is saving her FROM the knight.
    That inference occurs when 2 bits of your brain go “zap” — & the resulting drip of dopamine is fun.
    #2] Methinks me detects a COINKYDINK perpetrated between you & Mastroianni & Hart in their strip “B.C.”
    To wit — on that same Tuesday they also crafted a cartoon featuring a huge reptilian.
    They have these 2 characters riding the beast as a form of public transport.
    You have a winged dragon — while they have a giant crocodilian.
    The clinching part of the COINKYDINK is that both beasts are forms of transportation.

    Your Bizarro cartoons provide many pleasures, including at least these —
    a] The basic INFERENCE of most of your cartoons has its own reward.
    b] Your ICONS invite a further level of scrutiny & discovery.
    c] Your occasional COINKYDINKS make for a 3rd level.
    I ought to start keeping track of the other strips you collude with thisaway.

  16. Regarding a mixture of comments concerning disabilities and cartoons “hitting it out of the ballpark” last week, if you’ve never seen video of Jim Abbott, the one handed pitcher, throwing a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians, I recommend it. (The puns that followed were atrocious [“He beat us single-handedly,” topping the list, of course.]) He played 10 seasons in the majors — none in the minors — benfitting most of them playing in the American League with its designated hitter rule. But he last played for the Brewers and got two hits with them. He wasn’t the only one handed player, either — just probably the best and likely the last — at least in baseball. Tom Dempsey of the New Orleans Saints kicked a 63 yard field goal which set a record by 7 YARDS; Dempsey had basically only half a kicking foot — missing all of his toes from birth (he also was missing the fingers on his right hand, but that didn’t affect his kicking). You can just Google “handicapped pro athletes” and come up with a trove of cartoon material, I suspect, if you’re careful in the execution. (One of my grandfathers, when he reached 94, just before he died, didn’t look a whole lot less “nosey and eary” than your patient!)

  17. My wife’s publisher released her e-book, in part about dragons, just a few weeks ago, so I got to send her not one but two of your ‘toons this week. Double the chuckles all around!

  18. Dear Mr. Piraro,

    You do a great disservice to especially the young, impressionable members of your readership when you don’t observe basic English conventions. FYI, “neither” and its positive cousin “either” are singular words.

    • Thanks, Ronald. As you also know, however, when writing for a fictional character, such as Mark Twain did with Huckleberry Finn, it is acceptable to use vernacular that is not strictly grammatically correct.

  19. Re: the dragon saving the fair maiden: it reminds me of a wonderfully amusing book series by the late, great Gordon R. Dickson that starts with the novel The Dragon and the George. You should check it out.

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