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30 Years of Shits & Giggles

Bizarro sock exchangeWEB Bizarro Cow Court 1985 WEB Bizarro Alien OutletWEB BizarroPigeonStatue1985WEbPIraroPubShot1988 WEBOn this date thirty years ago (January 21, 1985 if you don’t have a calculator handy) I got out of bed early and hurried out to the front porch of my cheap little rental duplex on the outskirts of Dallas, Texas, to get the latest edition of the Dallas Times Herald. In it was the very first Bizarro cartoon ever published.

That means I’ve published 10,950 cartoons as of today. What?!

My career started 10 years before I owned a computer so my first decade of work was not digitized and I’ve no idea where my early work is in my archival catacombs. I’ll be honest, as I review my first year of work now, I can’t find much to recommend it. In my humble opinion, the art was stiff and a bit sloppy, and the gags were mostly lame. I’ve pulled a few of the less embarrassing ones from my first compilation book to show to you here today.

I’ve enjoyed my career and feel very blessed that I’ve been able to make a decent living as an artist. Even though I never got rich off Bizarro (and likely never will) as a college dropout  wandering into the workplace unprepared, I beat the odds by any standards and can’t complain. I’ve met some fascinating people, been to some cool places, and gotten some inspiring feedback from readers who’ve felt I’ve made a difference in their lives in some small way. I’m not one to live in the past, but upon reflection I must say that cartooning has been much better to me than it needed be, and I am indeed fortunate.

Also, just for kicks, I’ve included one of my first official publicity shots. It was concocted the old-fashioned way, before the days of Photoshop; I drew a bunch of cartoon images on a big sheet of butcher paper, then drew some more with fabric paint on a white, long-sleeved T-shirt, then stood in front of it and had my picture taken. After the film was taken to the drugstore for development, I zeroxed the photo and colored my face and the nose of the character just behind me with colored pencil. Then I took another picture of the final result and mailed it to the PR department of my syndicators. (God, how did we have that much patience back then?!)

Anyway, thanks for being a Jazz Pickle for however long you’ve been reading my cartoons. Without you, I’d be working in the stockroom of a local art supply store still.

 

Week That Was

Bizarro 01-18-15 HedrWEBBizarro 01-18-15 WEBbz panel 01-12-15bz strip 01-12-15bz panel 01-13-15bz strip 01-13-15bz panel 01-14-15bz strip 01-14-15bz panel 01-15-15bz strip 01-15-15bz panel 01-16-15bz strip 01-16-15bz panel 01-17-15bz strip 01-17-15(Go ahead and click any of these images and see if I care.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Five Cool Dudes Having a Ball.

I’ve been blogging less frequently lately because I’m working on an oil painting commission and need the extra time. It’s coming along fine, thanks for wondering. I’d like to do more fine art before I die and since I’m old and nearly dead, it’s time to get started on that before it’s too late.

Today’s cartoon stars my beloved Olive Oyl and her cat, Boo. I’m told by one of my Jazz Pickles that Gary Larson did a similar gag back in the 80s and, following the link he provided, I saw that he is correct. Sorry about that. It’s a little embarrassing, but these things happen to cartoonists all the time. His had no secret symbols to look for and mine has seven, though, so there’s that.

Reviewing the cartoons from last week, we have a “hands-on” therapist doing something of a Vulcan Mind Meld on Monday.

On Tuesday a thief is reminded that he’s supposed to take food with his drugs. Since someone invariably asks, I reversed the image between the strip and panel version in order to keep the punchline as close to the end of the reader’s experience as possible.

Wednesday’s cartoon was particularly enjoyed by my friend Randall, from Tulsa. He’s an engineer and says they like to make fun of architects. I didn’t know that but I’m happy to have helped, Randall.

Last Thursday’s cartoon was (and still is) a satire of the Flintstones. As everyone will doubtless remember, Fred’s car didn’t have an engine, he just used his feet to get it moving. Because at least one reader asked about the cables with paddles, I was referring to that contraption they use to zap someone’s heart back into working. Maybe they call that thing a defibrillator, but I’m not exactly sure.

Friday’s cartoon is a hilarious bait-and-switch style gag that plays with the idea of an Indian restaurant. Why aren’t there American Indian restaurants? They probably dined on delicious, healthy cuisine before the White Man arrived with his fast food franchises and high-fructose corn syrup.

Finally, we have Saturday’s cartoon which is about the ubiquitous pumpkin-flavored stuff in America every fall. I dislike pumpkin-flavored things so this gag came from my own personal struggles to keep such things out of my mouth. I wrote, drew, and submitted this cartoon weeks ago but since then have seen a few other everything-is-pumpkin-flavored cartoons. I guess the fad hit critical mass this past year and became a part of the collective unconscious (not the correct usage of that term but you get the idea.) Or maybe people do gags about this every year and I just haven’t noticed, which would be very likely since I don’t much follow cartoons.

PAZZ JICKLES: Exactly a certain number of years ago today, the following cartoon was published in newspapers around the world. This is notable because three days from now is the 30th anniversary of Bizarro. Yes, the first Bizarro cartoon appeared in newspapers on January 21, 1985. How did it suddenly become thirty years later?! It makes my brain hurt. It also makes me feel old. (See comment about my impending death above.) biz03tscooWEB

Party Drug Snack Group

bz panel 12-31-14bz strip 12-31-14bz panel 12-29-14 bz strip 12-29-14bz panel 12-30-14bz strip 12-30-14Bizarro is brought to you today by My Choice for Album of the Year.

My least favorite night of the year to leave my hut is New Year’s Eve. One might reasonably think this is a sign that I am getting old but I’ve been this way since my twenties. New Year’s Eve is an arbitrary moment in time that has no meaning for me, it’s also noisier, more expensive, and more crowded than most any other night of the year. There are also a lot of drunks on the roads and sober people have enough trouble controlling their cars. Thus, I can find nothing to recommend it.  On the plus side, however, this New Year’s Eve cartoon is kinda funny.

Then there’s this vision of what it might be like if doctor’s offices adopted the practices of airlines. They both overbook, so why not?

And now, here’s a bit of appetizing zombie fun.

 

BIZARRO OF THE LIVING DEAD: Since we’re on the subjects of zombies and the new year, here’s a cartoon about that topic from Jan 2, 2011. It reflects my feelings about the efficacy of online activism in general.bizarro 01-02-11 ZombieWEB (Click it to see it embiggened.)

 

Prank Blog Breakup Cauliflower

Bizarro 12-28-14 hdr Bizarro 12-28-14 WEB(For a larger view, click any dang image in this post.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Santa Gives Birth.

I hope you all had a happy holiday thing, whatever that might mean for you. As for me, I couldn’t be happier that it’s over. In spite of my affinity for the occasional stage performance, I’m actually an introvert and so the rapid succession of parties and family get-togethers really takes a toll on me. I’m looking forward to a few months without obligatory socializing.

I’m happy with my cartoon today. An email buddy of mine from Germany, one Michael Roth (who happens to be a writer) sends me cartoon ideas almost every week. Some of them intrigue me and I end up using them––or a version of them––in Bizarro. This is one such idea and came in as follows, “Snowman school. Little snowboy with magnifying glass bugs snowkid sitting in front of him with sunbeam. Bugged snowkid raises arm: “Mrs. Wiesencramer, Harry is doing it again!” I liked the graphic challenge of drawing a beam of sunlight channeled through a magnifying glass to melt a hole in a fellow snow-classmate. I’m very happy with the way it turned out and encourage you to click on the image and see it larger. There are also plenty of fun side gags in the posters on the wall, so click the image to enlarge it and check those out.

For you who bother to read the text I provide with my cartoons here, I’ll let you in on a fun back story: In the “Anatomy of a Cell” poster on the wall, the tiny hole in the center of the snowflake is designated as “anus.” My editors asked me to remove it because while it isn’t a hugely offensive word or concept, newspaper editors hate it when cartoonists sneak questionable content into their comics. If it had been large and an integral part of the gag, most editors would have likely approved it, but they resent getting emails or phone calls from uptight readers who are complaining about something that they didn’t know was there and had no choice about publishing. I suppose I can’t blame them and in the current climate of declining newspaper revenues, I can’t afford to lose clients so I took it out for the one that ran in newspapers, but left it in on this one for you. bz panel 12-26-14bz strip 12-26-14bz panel 12-27-14bz strip 12-27-14

The following cartoons are from the last two days before today’s Sunday comic. The first one is self explanatory, I think, but the second one confused at least one reader who sent me a comment about it. It’s simple, really; the cartoon looks and sounds exactly like a divorce or breakup of a romantic couple but when you read the bottom caption, you see that it’s something entirely different––a brief visit by a luggage salesman that ended without a sale. I’ve always enjoyed cartoons that misdirect in this way. (see below.)

Bygone Bizarro: This older cartoon is perhaps my favorite example from my career of this kind of misdirection. At first you think you are looking at a typical scene of an Indian pointing out smoke signals to a cowboy, but the bottom caption tells a different story that still makes me chuckle to this day. If you look at it closely, you’ll see they both have a bowl of salad in their laps. Hope you enjoy it.bizarro 09-21-03 TontoCauliflowerWEB

bz panel 12-22-14bz strip 12-22-14bz panel 12-23-14bz strip 12-23-14bz panel 12-24-14bz strip 12-24-14bz panel 12-25-14bz strip 12-25-14Bizarro is brought to you today by Scary Christmas and Santa’s Package.

This week brings four holiday cartoons for your end-of-year enjoyment. I’m  not one who adheres to the religious celebration of Jesus but I’ve long been bothered by the tacky commercial-ization of Christmas in America. To my sensibilities it’s noisy and ugly no matter what the reason, but the fact that it is all supposedly in honor of one of the least materialistic characters in modern times makes it even more unpalatable.  I stopped participating in it back in the early 90s, announcing politely to my friends and family that I wouldn’t be sending cards or giving gifts anymore and did not expect any. On the increasingly rare occasion when I do get a gift, I accept graciously, of course. I’m not trying to be an ass about it, I just don’t want to play anymore. I’ve found it very liberating.

Thus, my Xmas cartoons tend to come from a fairly irreverent place. In case you missed it, my previous post was a collection of 29 of my favorite Xmas-themed Bizarros from years past. Check it out here for more fun.

GHOST OF BIZARRO PAST: Scroll down to see a strange Xmas cartoon of mine from 1997 that depicts what holidays are like in Cookie Land. Other cultures can be so strange. bizarro 12-24-97 WEBThe nation of Cookie Land recently hacked into my website and stole a bunch of top secret information about future comics and some embarrassing emails in which I openly criticized their king, then threatened to attack my blog if I posted this cartoon. I told them, “I’m not Sony, assholes!”

Happy holidays to all my Jazz Pickles. Stay tangy.

Reindeer Games and Predators

Bizarro 12-21-14 hdrBizarro 12-21-14 WEBbz panel 12-19-14bz strip 12-19-14bz panel 12-20-14bz strip 12-20-14bz 12-20-07XmasWEB(For embiggenated views of any of these cartoons, tap it with your pointy thing.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by The Hilarity of Horror.

Can you believe it’s Christmas week again? It’s been about a year since the last one, so yes, I can. But doesn’t it seem that the older you get, the more often Christmas comes around?  I’d like to propose that we change it from once a year to once every 75 years, to coincide with Halley’s Comet. That way plastic nativity scenes on front lawns can benefit from the more realistic “star”.

In the next few days, I’ll have some fun Xmas cartoons in Bizarro and I’m going to post a special edition of this blog tomorrow (or the next day) with a sled full of my favorite Xmas cartoons from years past.

Today’s post is about Santa’s midlife crisis. This one was fun to draw, but a tad tedious, I must say. I was seeing cheetah spots every time I closed my eyes for days.

These other two cartoons are from Friday and Saturday and I haven’t anything clever to say about them.  Let’s move onto the archival cartoon today.

 
PALEOZARRO: This cartoon from 2007 was wrought from personal experience. I’m one of those people who cannot get a song out of my head, especially annoying ones that I don’t like in the first place. The three Xmas TV specials I commemorate here are chock full of those damned things. Just looking at this drawing again puts those songs in my head and now I’ll be tortured for the next who-knows-how-long. Do you see the sacrifices I make for you, dear reader?

 

Wasting Time

bizarro 12-14-14 hdr WEB Bizarro 12-14-14 WEB (Make any picture bigger by clicking it with your clicker thing.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Advanced Self Defense.

I’ve done quite a few cartoons about the famous “Ascent of Man” illustrations. This one is specifically about the tech age and how so many people have utterly abandoned their bodies and “real” lives for online substitutes. It would take who-knows-how-many years to get to this point in evolution, of course, and we’ll likely kill ourselves off as a species long before then.

More fun than that doomsday scenario is this bit of hate mail that I got last week about my Old West chiropractor cartoon from a couple Sundays back: Bizarro 11-30-14 WEB

“To whom it may concern: In regards to the comic posted in the Detroit Free Press recently, ‘In between crime waves, we let the chiropractor use it’. This comic showed a picture of a person hanging in reference to chiropractors. I as a chiropractic assistant found this extremely inappropriate along with several patients and the Chiropractor himself. To all of us who believe in chiropractic we found this very offensive and would ask you to refrain from such absurdities in all other comics in the future.”

I never cease to be amazed by the way America has become a nation of thin-skinned, humorless victims who seemingly look for an opportunity to be offended by a casual comment or joke. I can’t for the life of me imagine being insulted by this kind of gag, no matter how religiously dedicated to chiropractic I might be. I blame the culture of “political correctness” for this kind of wasted indignation. As a nation, we are so used to seeing public figures deliver “humble” apologies for hurting some sector of the public’s feelings that we think we are owed an apology every time we see something that falls short of venerating something we are or hold dear. In my opinion, this isn’t just a waste of time and effort but is childish and ridiculous. So, rather than apologize for publishing a cartoon that fails to hold chiropractic up to the high standards that this particular reader deems “appropriate,” I offer the following cartoon about chiropractors from 2008. In this one, I managed to offend both chiropractors and mobsters. Can’t wait for the hate mail to come in and the bullets to start flying.bizarro 10-26-08 MobChiroWEB1

Civilized Saucers

Bizarro 12-07-14 hdr Bizarro 12-07-14 WEB(Treat yourself to a larger version of these images by clicking them!)

Bizarro is brought to you today by The Perfect Gift.

Have you ever felt the need to run away from “civilization” and live a more natural life? It seems to me that there is little about civilization that is civilized and little about humans that is humane. Accordingly, I have found myself rethinking my choices in this world. It’s not that civilization is treating me badly, it most certainly isn’t, especially on a worldwide scale. It’s more about getting in touch with what I am, not what I’ve become as the result of social pressure and historical tradition. In my recent readings about the origins of human societies, I’ve begun to see that we are far from what we should be, and my instincts tell me that I’d be much happier and live a more meaningful life if I were more true to my nature. That’s where my head’s been at lately and why I wrote this cartoon.

OLD BIZNESS: I came across this cartoon from 2002 on a different subject and thought it was amusing. I share it with you now in hopes that you will, too.Bizarro 10-27-02 WEB

Genesis Fat Brat Drugs

bz panel 12-04-14bz strip 12-04-14bz panel 12-05-14bz strip 12-05-14bz panel 12-06-14bz strip 12-06-14Bizarro is brought to you today by Man with Huge Wiener.

So I was thinking what would happen if Adam and Eve’s neighbors happened by just as they were standing naked together, talking to a snake and eating a piece of “forbidden” fruit. Now, I know in the classic version there were no neighbors because Adam and Eve were the first humans, but according to the same story, they had a couple of sons, Cain and Able, and one of them grew up and got married. So where did his bride come from? This leads me to believe that either this is a traditional myth used to teach a certain lesson, or incest was okay for a very long time (until there were enough people to find someone to mate with to whom you were not very closely related.)  Ew. I’m going to assume it is a myth.

Another myth in our culture is that women actually want your honest opinion when they ask if they look fat in something. The lady in this cartoon decides to only ask the question once, with all her dresses on at the same time. I like that idea––one question, one lie.

My final salvo this week is a cartoon with an editorial message on the childish behavior of our species toward each other, the rest of the planet’s inhabitants, and the Earth itself. I’ve been reading a lot lately about anthropology and where we went wrong, mental health in a materialistic, technological world, and the science behind spirituality. (Yes, there actually are areas where the two intersect and it is fascinating, especially to this diehard atheist.) I’ve never been so enthralled by a subject. Olive Oyl and I are currently transitioning off of our anti-depressants for good (we hope) with a fairly rigorous regimen of vitamins, minerals, exercise, and meditative practices. We’re both excited to be able to say goodbye to the sinkhole that is allopathic medicine. I’m convinced that pharmaceuticals are among the worst things ever invented by humans. Many bacteriologists are confidently predicting the end of our species will not come in the form of climate change or nuclear war, but disease  and bacteria that is smarter than us or our antibiotics. I’ll let you know how it goes (regarding our quest to be happy without pharmaceuticals, not the end of human civilization.)
BIZARCHAEOLOGY: From the year 2000 I bring you a cartoon about which I have just spoken in the paragraph above. Stay tangy, Jazz Pickles.bizarro 03-03-00WEB

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