Medical Whacking

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(To fulfill your desires of embiggenation, click any object made of fabric in any image.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Big Bizarro-Head Barbie.

A while back I had a couple of ideas about piñatas visiting human doctors. This one is the visually more complex of the two, which is why I used it as a Sunday and the other as a weekday cartoon.  This also has some nice background gags plus ELEVEN secret symbolthat you’ll see better if you embiggenate it. I hope I counted right this time.

By the way, I’m about to open a new store page with some new T-shirts, enamel pins, maybe hats and pillows and shower curtains, who knows? If you drop your email into that box in the right margin, you’ll get an email each time I post something on this blog. It will only be once a week, occasionally two, and I’ll never share your address with anyone.

(For cartoons and photos from my “real” life, follow me on Instagram…@danpiraro)


When I was a kid I was afraid of people in big animal or character costumes and I believe to this day that is the appropriate response. Why people insist on trying to create childhood fantasies in the real world with costumes is beyond my understanding. Hanging around shopping malls dressed as the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus is like milling around in a church lobby after services dressed as Jesus; these kinds of fantasies work best in the imagination. I think it sort of fits into the category of books always being better than movies.

This cartoon about France got a lot of play on the Interwebs. Predictably, right wing types began insulting France with all that cliche WWII crap about them surrendering to the Nazis, etc., and others argued back with the complete historical reasons why they had no choice (partly because it took America SO long to enter the war) but how the French underground continued to fight under even more dangerous conditions and were invaluable in the eventual victory. It will likely happen again in the comments section of this post. Yawn.

There was a time when the U.S. had moral superiority over many other countries but that’s gone and forgotten now with Trump. America would be a laughing stock if this feckless brat wasn’t so dangerous and the prognosis so tragic. France, on the other hand, avoiding the wave of misguided desires for authoritarian daddy figures that has swept the U.S. and much of Europe, managed to elect someone with reasonable views. With a single election, they’ve shown both the U.S. and Britain what grownups look like in the face of challenging times. In this case, the U.S. has surrendered to fear-based politics while the French are moving forward.

Do kids play “musical chairs” anymore? When I was a kid in the mid-1900s, the Internet had not been invented yet and TV only had three channels and none of them were for children, so we had to amuse ourselves with ridiculous activities like having 8 children walk around 7 chairs while music played and when it stopped, everyone fought for a chair to sit in and the one who didn’t get one got to feel like a loser for the rest of his/her life. After each round, a chair was removed, the music started again, and the next loser was chosen. Finally, after much hard work and anxiety, a single child would “win” and be declared the person able to sit down the fastest. Later in life, they were called “couch potatoes”.

The giant step backwards that women’s rights (and everyone other than white, Christian, heterosexual male’s rights) have taken since the Cheeto Mussolini took office has been on my mind a lot lately. This cartoon is half about that and half about the uneven playing field that higher education is played on. If your parents are wealthy, you get everything you need to build a decent life along with an entire news network dedicated to convincing uneducated low-income and middle class folks that what’s best for the wealthy and giant corporations is best for them, too. Having rich parents in America also gets you the opportunity to be treated by doctors when you’re sick and get an education that might lead to something other than a job at a fast food restaurant. If you’re among the other 90% of Americans, you probably won’t get all of that, but you will get the privilege of being called lazy by the very people Fox News convinced you were on your side. Ouch.

I’m happy to say that this Grim Reaper cartoon got a lot of compliments this week. It also got a lot of people sending me messages, comments, and emails about how the line should correctly be, “…neither of us is.” I hastened to remind them that when one is writing dialogue for a fictional character it is correct to use vernacular and there is not requirement for grammatical correctness. Think Huckleberry Finn. What I did not remind them of is how boorish it is to correct the grammar of others if you’re not their English teacher, and how living languages change by virtue of the way people use them and the world does not come to an end when they do.

A short anecdote about this cartoon: when I lived in NYC I really loved Halloween because it was the only day of the year that it was safe and acceptable to ask a stranger on the subway, “What are you supposed to be?” It was definitely not, however, the only day you wanted to ask that. My first Halloween there I was still fairly new to town and asked a number of people on the subway about their costumes and everyone was in a friendly, party mood. I asked one man if he was supposed to be Abe Lincoln or Moby Dick’s Captain Ahab and he indignantly informed me he was an orthodox Jew. I felt like a fool and apologized, but in my defense, we didn’t have those in Oklahoma when I grew up. Well, we probably did but they didn’t come out in daylight for fear of being subjected to some of the Deep South’s special hospitality.

I prefer the Half-Windsor in marinara sauce, please. And how long do we have to wait for a restaurant that offers bowtie pasta along with a pasta top hat and garlic bread cane?

If you’ve made it this far, you are my personal hero Mr. and Ms. Jazz Pickle. Thanks for not being one of those people who just drops in for the cartoons and misses all of the mediocre wit and wisdom of the words in between. Till next time, be happy, be smart, be nice.

THE AFTERPARTY: To reward you, here’s a quick back story to the image behind the link at the top of this page which says “Big Bizarro-Head Barbie“. Soon after Bizarro became syndicated in 1985, I noticed that pretty much all cartoonists used the same kind of publicity shot; them sitting at their drafting table drawing one of their characters and looking as though they’d just been surprised by a photographer. Like this one of Charles Schulz and this one of Jim Davis. I decided I wanted something different.

Not the first but possibly my favorite alternative publicity shot was this one of me as Frida Kahlo. I created this in the early 90s for a Halloween party costume. It was before I knew anything about Photoshop so I had to built a kind of box with a frame on the front and a board on the back and then I painted the board to look like the background of a famous Kahlo painting. Then I did myself up like Frida with a shawl, Mexican peasant blouse, skirt, and sandals (not shown) uni-brow and headpiece, and wore the box over my head, resting on two straps over my shoulders. The little banner at the bottom was made of Foam Core Board and was suspended by thin, stiff wires. The resulting photo taken by a friend became my publicity shot for a couple/three years and ended up on the back of one of my Bizarro compilations.

After using the Frida shot for a few years, however, I thought up the Big Bizarro-Head Barbie idea. I drew the background and lettering on a piece of pink cardboard, folded the edges to make a frame, cut a hole in the back for my head and attached a Barbie Doll body to my chin. I wanted to use the resulting photo on the back of one of my books but the publisher’s legal department said I couldn’t use an actual Barbie body because of trademark issues. The only work-around I could think of was to paint the body of the Barbie as uber-realistically as I could so it would look like a real doll in the photo. I’m a little disappointed that the trompe l’oeil didn’t turn out better, but I think the overall result is still funny. And yes, that was my real hair. I thought it was cool until someone said it reminded them of Weird Al Yankovic and I cut it short the next week. True story.

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55 thoughts on “Medical Whacking

  1. “There was a time when the U.S. had moral superiority over many other countries but that’s gone and forgotten now with Trump.”

    Was there, though? And supposing there was, did it really end only once Trump was chosen by the Electoral College (not the majority of the American people)?

    When the U.S invaded Irak under a false pretext in 2003, for instance, the president was Dubya, not the Orange Cheeto. In 1973, when the CIA backed a coup that established a dictatorship in Chile after the democratically-elected socialist government of Salvador Allende was overthrown, the president was Tricky Dicky. And those are just the first two examples that come to mind, but there are many others.

    • Agreed. Those examples you mentioned were all Republican (conservative) administrations but the Dems have made some bad mistakes, as well. My main point there was that Trump has given up all of our higher standards and is steering the U.S. toward ignorant, selfish isolationism, and doing it in a most embarrassing way.

  2. Dan, I am not going to rant on your comments about the current President or his party. What I find laughable is that many ignore how well off every one of the Democratic congress people are, yet they claim to be in it for those not so well off as they are. If they were so concerned, shouldn’t their constituents be in better shape since they had control for so long? There is quite the irony about that. How many trips to Hawaii did the previous President take? What is he doing now? I am sure he is very well off and enjoying life. Another laughable item is this whole health care debate. If Obama care was so good then why don’t all of our esteemed members of Congress have it as their health insurance? Doesn’t that bother anyone? Kindest regards and keep up the good work.

    • I appreciate your comments, MJS, but you don’t seem to have any idea how the country works. Fox News isn’t going to tell you. Members of congress have a Rolls Royce health plan. They get the best health care policy available as part of their job, so they have no need for anything else. Obamacare is working very well for tens of millions of low-income and middle class folks and that’s why the GOP is having so much trouble replacing it. Too many people, even those who voted for Trump, are angry that congress is planning to take it away. Look up what’s been happening in the past six months at town hall meetings in GOP districts all over America. (hint: you’ll have to search elsewhere than right wing propaganda news like Fox.)

      Also, almost all politicians are wealthy, regardless of whether they are liberal or conservative. The difference is that the Democratic party creates programs that help the poor, disabled, elderly, children, and sick while the Republican party cuts taxes for rich people. Period. Being wealthy does not stop a good person from caring about the poor or disadvantaged.

      And finally, the last time the Dems were in control over everything (Clinton), we had the largest economic expansion in U.S. history, and lower unemployment than any time since. The GOP ran the economy into the grave with George W––did you miss the huge economic collapse of 2008, right at the end of the Republicans being in charge for 8 years? Have you noticed that the economy has slowly but surely been rescued from the brink of collapse in the next 8 years under Obama? Numbers don’t lie. The answer is yes, you missed all of this while watching Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly lie through their teeth.

      It seems to me that you have the president you want and deserve. Good luck with that.

        • Do you say the same thing about fire fighters, police, and public school? Should poor folks have access to those things, too, or only those who can afford insurance to pay for it?

          • I’m wondering if people who disagree with the outlook of a movie and its fictional characters will call the studio/director/producer…etc to give them a piece of their opinions as opposed to just enjoying it for the entertainment that it is originally meant to be.

            That being said, looking at your predicament of having to stand by your humor and comics, I consider that part of the entertainment of your blog. All very amusing. Maybe because my ideals are in line with yours, I am hardly offended by your word usage and often share it.

            As funny as people think it is, they still won’t subscribe. Haha

            Thank you always for the good reads.

  3. My daughter is afraid of people in costumes with giant heads. We’ve encouraged this, as it’s saved us the trouble and expense of visiting DisneyWorld.

  4. A stellar week of provocative (as in poking my funny bone, which isn’t actually funny until you see it) artwork and prose!

    Today’s piñata panel is especially funny for those of us familiar with operating rooms! The anesthesia cart deserves extra attention from readers! Honestly, I suspect the ‘toon will be posted in surgery suites everywhere tomorrow am… many of them on actual anesthesia carts!

    Does that provoke your funny bone?

  5. I also disagree with people correcting grammar in cartoons or they’ll have Bugs Bunny say “What is being up doctor ?” and Alfred E Neuman with “What worry I ?

    Puns are often crafted with creative word usage.
    When the knock is on the grammarian’s door – will HE correct the grim reaper ?

  6. Your story about meeting an orthodox Jew for the first time when you came to NYC made me laugh out loud. I live in an area of Pittsburgh where there are many orthodox folks, as well as students (many who are Chinese and Indian) attending a nearby university, families with young children walking to school each morning, a fair number of blind people with their canes heading to the bus stop and grocery store, and the down-to-earth Pittsburghers talking about gum bands . . . I love my neighborhood. I forget how varied it is until someone comes to visit from out of town and comments on it, which reminds me how many people live in homogenous areas where they never see anyone who doesn’t look or talk like them. Where’s the fun in that?

    • I agree. I’ve always tried to live in mixed communities and live in a mostly Mexican neighborhood now with about 20% gringos. Sounds like you and I probably have the same opinion of “gated communities”.

  7. Can never get enough of your pinata cartoons. Anecdote: My husband and I will have been married for 25 years this coming Halloween. Yeah, we did a big Halloween motif. But we also had a wedding cake-shaped pinata for all the kid guests to whack at (with a pool cue). Great fun.

    • I love that idea. Olive Oyl and I are getting married early next year and we might snatch that wedding cake piñata idea!

      • Hope you do! It was a big winner at ours. Oh, and instead of a regular bride and groom on top, we had a Mr. and Mrs. Frankenstein made out of felt. Classy! P.S. When it got dark, the entire wedding party (pretty small, maybe 30 people) took all the kids trick or treating around the neighborhood. We were quite a sight.

  8. I am among those who love the Grim Reaper cartoon. The grammar error I never noticed, because English isn’t my first language, and after a good forty years of speaking, reading and writing it, I STILL frequently get the ‘is’ versus ‘are’ thing wrong. Especially with constructions like “neither of us is/are”.

  9. I love the cartoon about the new statue, and I never imagined the kind of discussions you report. Heck, it is simply a good one, independent of the current events.

  10. Loads of hilarity again this week, thanks. The Frida Kahlo gag is AWESOME, love that! The attention to detail is truly impressive, as is the engineering required to make it a wearable costume. Well done, Sir, I doff my beret to you!

    Speaking of berets, I love the “2nd French statue” gag. I’m reminded of how when they gave us the first statue We the People bitched and whined and moaned about having to come up with our own pedestal to mount it on – and then wound up making a pedestal bigger than the statue… We definitely deserve that second one (and I agree with your comments re the elections). Ah, c’est la vie.

    Gracias Amigo!

    Yer pal Mike (proud monthly tip-jar feeder)

  11. It’s so true!!! “When I was a kid I was afraid of people in big animal or character costumes and I believe to this day that is the appropriate response.” My kid is doing the same…

  12. I’m amused to learn that Americans translated the Italian pasta shape names, rather than just sticking with farfalle, penne etc.

    • By and large, American’s are not good at pronouncing foreign words and seem not to believe they should have to try. In Texas, where many streets and neighborhoods have Spanish names, almost all white people pronounce them phonetically with English rules. I think this is also a subtle type of racism, but that’s a whole other can of worms.

      • I once heard a guy in a Mexican restaurant order a “kwez-uh-dillah.” Being a Texan I agree that a lot of us just don’t care about correct pronunciations, but when I do make the attempt I feel like I’m making fun of Mexicans by impersonating them, even though none of my Mexican friends has accused me of such. In fact, they often correct me by pronouncing it more slowly.

  13. Of all the holiday mascots the weirdest, in my opinion, is the easter bunny. And it gets downright creepy when you see people dressed up in what has got to be the most awful, horrific, nightmare inducing costume of all time. The easter bunny costumes are scary as hell. I never liked them and I made darn sure to pass that sentiment on to my own kids.

  14. Have you heard of the artist Emilio Lopez-Menchero? (I just found out he was born in Belgium!) He does a series of portraits including this one (I hope the link works, sorry. I’m not much of a technocrat): https://goo.gl/images/hbC2xJ

    Your Frida preceded his (2005) by several decades. Emilio has said: “The artist is somewhere between a clown and a criminal who exceeds the existing limits.”

    It fits.

  15. I’m not going to say it’s the best part, because I love your comics, but I also definitely love the insight you offer into the thinking that went into each drawing.

  16. Ha! My Halloween costume might’ve scared you. Except my character was done through facepaint and clothing with some minimal but necessary costuming accessories (that being ears and tail). I have to wear a brimmed hat and I don’t want to be boring, so my costumes are limited. Fireman-hatted dalmatian with my walker decorated as a firetruck is fancier, but a giant hatted rabbit provides others options…

    Twice now, I’ve dressed as the Easter Bunny and faced trick-or-treaters. To the younger ones, I pretended to be entirely ignorant of “Halloween”, whatever that is. I played it off as being extremely confused why there were kids at the door demanding candy — was it Spring already? had I missed Easter? So sorry the Easter baskets aren’t done yet, I’m still working on them, but I do have some eggs… So I proffered two Easter basket full of plastic eggs with (not Halloween) candy and an Easter sticker.

    The kids enjoy it at the door. And I’ve been asked about on off years. (A thing like that is no good if it becomes routine.) The best responses are always a kid that hangs back until the crowd has gone.
    The sweetest, break-my-heart response was a 9 y/o boy who want a certain decorated egg but was embarrassed to let his friends see. He shyly picked up a pink egg with yellow dots and shot a glance at me, looking for approval. I was so proud of him, understanding what he’d done, so I had a huge smile and gave him a nod. The boy gave a slight shrug and smiled himself just as his friends cried for him to hurry up already. “Coming”, he called back, now confident that, no matter what his peers might think, some adults won’t judge him for his preferences. Cool.

    The very best response was the first time — this one from a 6 y/o kid that held waaaaay back until the crowd was gone. I thought he might have been afraid of me, but it turned out that his response was just too big to handle in a group. Alone at the door, the kid dropped to his knees and bowed his head, holding his bent-fingered hands near his face. Not knowing quite what to do, I waited. The kid started laughing, at first quietly and then louder and louder. By the time he looked up, I saw tears streaming down his face. “This is great! You’re the EA-STER BUN-NY!!!”, he exclaimed, shaking his arms toward me to emphasize each syllable. I affirmed and, as he gathered himself, he had some questions for me, which I answered. He pick his eggs and as he walked away, he looked over his shoulder at me. He slowly shook his head and said, with a look of wonder, “Awesome.” Ha! I don’t know that anything could ever top that.

    The youngest have no problem with it. The Easter Bunny has to live somewhere, why not here? The school-age kids, it starts to throw them off a little bit. It’s not overly unusual for adults to be costumed, but they expect to be confronted with another holiday tradition. So the little ones think it’s amazing, the older ones think it’s funny, and the ones at the margins (like the little boy), think it’s both. You’re probably right that character-filled fantasies are generally better in the imagination, but the absurd fits well in Halloween.

  17. 1. You DO look like Weird Al in the Barbie picture.
    2. Greg and I donated this week. Thank you for making us laugh. Greg was riding his motorcycle and got hit head-on by a woman who pulled into our lane for no apparent reason. He is recovering and we’re happy his brain is still intact enough to understand Bizarro. Unfortunately his Bunny Pie Repair shirt did not survive the collision, landing, and subsequent ER visit. I hope you decide to re-release the shirts in the future.
    3. I would like to see the Frida Kahlo picture. I love that.

    I tried to post this on my iPad and it didn’t cooperate, so if you receive it twice, please delete one. Thanks again for giving us a smile this week.

    • Thanks for the donation, Karen, and please give my best to Greg! We riders always know these things are possible but I hate to hear about them happening. So glad he’s (relatively) okay!

  18. For the Barbie pic, it interesting that you were not allowed to use a headless Barbie doll, but you were allowed to use the “Barbie” name written in a typeface very similar to the official Barbie logo. I really don’t know where intellectual property rights and fair use begin and end anymore…

    In any case, I love the fact that you stuck your head through a box for that. The things we do for art…

    • A lot of times these decisions just represent what a given publisher’s lawyer(s) worry about and not actual law. I suspected at the time that the Barbie decision was one of those.

  19. Yeah, France surrendered. So did most of Europe. If there hadn’t been 3000 miles of ocean between us and Germany, we might have been invaded and surrendered too. We had a pretty feeble military up until WWII, so defending ourselves would have been extremely difficult at best. It’s also worth noting that something like 80-85% of German soldiers who were killed, died on the Eastern Front. The Russians had enormous losses, but it could be argued they won the war, not “The Greatest Generation.” Still, millions of Americans who weren’t there nor ever served in any capacity will pat themselves on their own backs.

  20. Dan, just wanted to let you know that I finally fed the bunny (not much, but as much as I can afford for the moment) because I thoroughly enjoy my weekly Bizarro fix; and, we fellow displaced Tulsans (Will Rogers High School, Class of 1976) need to help one another out whenever we can. More donations to come. Thank you so much for all of your work!

    • Thanks so much, Chris! Your support and kind words are much appreciated. By the way, that was the same year I graduated, just across town. :^}

    • Thanks, Ed. I might actually produce that one and sell it in my shop soon. I’m wondering if it should simply be “SOME SPORTS TEAM” though. What do you think?

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