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>Don’t Fear the Squeaker

>Bizarro is brought to you today by Sexy Eternal Bozo.

Over the course of my career, I’ve done a lot of clown gags. I also fear and loathe clowns. Since my cartoons don’t criticize clowns this may seem like a contradiction, but I see it more as a subconscious way of conquering my fears. Perhaps if I draw clowns often enough I will no longer fear them.

Nah. I’ll always loathe clowns.

If you are a clown, please do not be offended. This is my problem, not yours. As I explained to my therapist a few years ago, it started when I was a child of perhaps three or four years. One of my earliest memories is of a visit to the circus, where I saw a clown that I particularly liked. My parents bought me a doll that looked like the clown, I suppose from a souvenir vendor at the circus, and I took it home. It was a constant companion until a few weeks later when it came to life and murdered my entire family. I escaped by hiding in a potted plant where I was discovered by authorities days later, paralyzed with fear.

I spent the rest of my childhood in a Catholic orphanage where I also learned to hate nuns.

So here’s a clown cartoon. I love Smart Cars and enjoy drawing them. And although I hate clowns, I really enjoy drawing them, too.

>Que Sero Sero

>Bizarro is brought to you today by Clean Skin.

As longtime readers of this blog know, I suffer from chronic depression. My whole family does, except for my younger brother, whom the rest of us killed during Christmas dinner a few years ago. We just couldn’t stand all that damned jolliness.

For those of you who are not biologically inclined, serotonin is the crap in your brain that makes you happy. So in medical terms, if you don’t have enough of it or the spigot that connects to your serotonin vat is clogged, you get depressed for seemingly no reason. That’s why antidepressants were invented. Not really to make everyone happy, just those of us with a rusty vat faucet, and not happy all the time, just normal most of the time.

They work pretty well for me, with a few side effects, all of which are more tolerable than feeling like the world is coming to an end in the next few minutes for no discernible reason.

I envy people with a lot of natural serotonin. Envy is a vast improvement over what I used to feel for them, which was contempt and deep, deep hatred. With the help of antidepressants and meditation, I’ve found that I’m actually a happy, easygoing person trapped in the body of an *sshole. (Thank goodness I can afford my pills. Lots of people can’t, but helping them pay for it would turn this country into Russia and we can’t have that.)

No need to leave encouraging comments or send consoling emails, I’m fine now and enjoying life as much as the next guy. And he’s got easy access to an average amount of serotonin.

Until next time…even a journey of 1000 miles begins with several frustrating hours on the Internet looking for the cheapest flights that leave at a decent hour and don’t have a layover in Atlanta.

>Psycho Analyzes

>Bizarro is brought today before your face by Signage Improvement.

I’m not sure why I drew myself as the analyst in this cartoon. I didn’t really mean to, it just sort of came out that way in the pencil sketch and got even more so when I inked it.

Perhaps it is what they call a “Freudian slip.” Perhaps I have a closeted sheep within me that I am afraid to embrace. Buried deep in the cockles of my being could be mounds of squooshy wool and big floppy ears, yearning to bleat and graze and follow the herd from hill to dale.

Or, maybe I am the wolf, wishing I could break the societal constraints of our culture and run naked in the wild, ripping the throats out of weaker beings.

Perhaps I secretly see myself as the table, patiently waiting in silence to offer a sip of water or a tissue.

Or, I’m just an egomaniac who likes to draw himself. Kind of pathetic.

Until next time…if you want to distract the monkeys, you may have to throw some bananas.

>Zombie Therapy

>Bizarro is brought to you today by Fashion Police.

Monsters who feel remorse for their behavior is a regular theme in vampire dramas – HBO’s “True Blood,” the film, “Twilight” – so I thought it might be fun to extend the same feelings to a zombie. He eats people’s brains, then feels bad about it. If only Karl Rove were capable of such emotion.

A libertarian reader told me recently that he believed government should stay out of our way because most people are basically good and will do the right thing without government intervention. He called my view that humans cannot be trusted, “cynical.”

He’s absolutely right, it is cynical. I also happen to think it is realistic and accurate, as witnessed by recent human history. (By “recent,” I mean the past 100,000 years.) While most “individuals” might be good, groups of idividuals in power cannot be trusted. Corporations are amoral by definition – their sole purpose for existence is to make money, not serve humanity – and the very small percentage of people who rise to the top of corporations are very often as unethical and unrepentant as a zombie. That’s how they get there. Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay, Dick Cheney, everyone on Wall Street, etc.

People who rise to the top of government usually have the same problem, of course; power almost always corrupts. But the difference is that government is not amoral by definition and in a republic such as ours, the politicians eventually, in some way, must answer to the rest of us. That is to say that if things get out of hand we can fire them, as we did to so many Republicans in the last election. (Of course, people have to be smart enough to figure out they are being screwed, which sometimes takes a while, but that’s another story.)

It’s not perfect, god knows, but it’s better than letting markets police themselves and not screw the rest of us (see Wall Street, last eight years), and corporations not to pollute the planet and sell toxic goods to the rest of us (see last 60 years), and people to treat each other fairly and not seek to destroy those with more skin pigment. (See Civil War, civil rights movement, “birthers,” current town hall hooliganism over health care, Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs, Rush, etc.)

Stories about zombies and vampires are popular because they are a metaphor for our actual lives as we struggle to avoid the bloodsuckers and braineaters at the top. What discourages me most is when the monsters find ways to scare their prey into fighting for them, instead of against, as they have done so often in the past decade and most recently with health care reform.

Enough seriousness, now this.


>Bizarro has been brought to you today by When Your Phone Rings You Will Think You A Chicken.

This cartoon is not about hypnotism per se, but I’d like to say a few words about the subject.

I’ve been to various therapists from time to time over the years – not constantly but on an as-needed basis – but I’ve never had one that wanted to hypnotize me. And I’ve been to one of those hypnotism nightclub acts before, but have never been onstage. So speaking as a person who has no experience with hypnotism whatsoever and hasn’t even read anything about it, let me expound on its applications and limitations.

I think hypnotism is probably useful in a CSI:Miami situation, like when the person who witnesses a crime without realizing it and is trying desperately to remember the license number of the car that drove away with the ambassador’s kidnapped granddaughter in the trunk. And it’s probably also useful for quitting smoking and overcoming anxiety, stuff like that, and for tricking someone into becoming your crime zombie and robbing banks for you then forgetting they ever did it.

But I strongly suspect that the humorous nightclub routines are all about people who want to perform but need an excuse for being a ham. I don’t believe for a minute that the insurance salesman’s wife really thinks she’s at the beach on a hot day when she peels off her dress and parades around in her bra and undies. I’d say it’s a lot more likely that she’s bored out of her mind raising those three brats of his and doing his laundry and regrets not having become and exotic dancer at a truck stop honkytonk.

>Please Get Some Help

>Bizarro is brought to you today by Biker Chick.

I began consulting psychotherapists and counselors in my late twenties when I was beset with depression. I’ve always found therapy helpful in a crisis-by-crisis context, that is to say that I don’t just go once a week for years on end no matter what is going on in my life, like Woody Allen or this pampered rich lady I know who actually just needs more attention for her trivial soap-opera-of-a-life than the public is willing to give her. I go when I’m having trouble with something specific like a breakup, a job change, etc., and continue until I’ve got a grip on it. That’s how it works best for me.

My first therapist, the one treating me for depression all those years ago, taught me to monitor my feelings more closely, discern why I react a certain way to certain stimulus, and be more assertive in getting my own needs met. Then she died of cancer. I immediately sought the help of another therapist in dealing with my abandonment issues.

The most important thing about the process is to pick a therapist who is right for you. For those of you considering therapy for the first time, here are some tips about choosing one:

1. Once your therapist begins helping you help yourself, it is quite common to have very strong feelings for them. Some patients even believe they are in love. This is called “transference.” For this reason, pick a therapist that you could not possibly imagine having sex with, no matter how drunk you were. If you’re straight, pick someone of the same sex, if you’re gay, choose someone of the opposite sex. If you’ve got “daddy issues,” choose someone younger than you, etc. My current therapist is an avid fan of reality game shows, smells like damp Fritos, and dresses like a clown.

2.Therapy styles vary widely. Some offer advice and feedback, others sit silently for months and force you to do all the work, claiming the only way one can truly learn is to discover the answers for oneself. Choose the style that is right for you. If you are actually interested in solving your problems and moving on, someone who offers feedback might be best. If, on the other hand, you just want someone to listen to you whine, your friends and family have cut you off, and money is no object, the quiet kind may be just what the doctor ordered. My own opinion is that the quiet kind is little more than a very expensive bartender who serves no alcohol.

3. Run a background check on your therapist. If he or she has a record of extracting personal information from vulnerable people then posting it on a web site with hidden-camera videos of them using their tiny office bathroom, shy away. The legal case can drag on for years.

4. When speaking of your spouse, refrain from expressions like, “I want to kill her.” They are required to report this to the authorities.

I hope you have found this list to be informative and that it helps you find help. If you’re anything like me, you really need it.

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