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>Gladness

>This special Prodigal Son Edition of Bizarro is brought to you by Omnipotent Shipping.

Just got back late last night from the family reunion/wedding in my home state of Oklahoma. It was a harrowing adventure fraught with missed connections, misdirected luggage, airline incompetence, an auto accident, and a roach motel in Memphis whose airport shuttle driver is a former NYC pimp. The family events were even scarier. More about that in the days to come, after I catch up on a deadline or two.

For now, here is a tasty little morsel of cartooning that I hope you enjoy. This isn’t one of my preachy environmental cartoons, it’s just an amusing visual about what what will happen to all those tiny islands we cartoonists draw in those stranded-on-a-desert-island cartoons we are so fond of, if indeed the sea level rises.

This is a scientifically researched and accurate representation of such a scenario; tiny islands would disappear beneath the surface of the sea. Trees would pierce the surface in many instances, appearing to float. Caption balloons, being attached to their orator by the laws of graphics, would be at least partially obscured.

Climate Change will be as devastating to humor as it will be to flora and fauna.

>Mythology Humorolgy

>Today’s Bizarro is brought to you by Men’s Hats.

One of the many things I wondered about the Bible as a youth was why god is always referred to as a “he.” The pronoun denotes gender specificity, which means god has a penis. Why does “He” need a penis if he neither urinates nor reproduces biologically?

Could it be “He” is not literally male, but just representing himself as such so we may relate to “Him” better? If that is the case, the whole “trinity” issue seems ill advised. How can three men (or two men and a ghost) be one man simultaneously? Whether they have penises or not, that’s not very easy to relate to.

Another PR conundrum is that the Old Testament says Jews are the “chosen people.” If “He” created all of the myriad types, groups, ethnicities, and nationalities of people on earth, why choose any one specific group to be your favorite? Seems unfair and a bit contradictory.

So the god of the Bible is male and likes Jews best – let’s think about this. Maybe the answer is right under our noses. Maybe it is because male Jews wrote the Old Testament. Hmmm.

DISCLAIMER: I have nothing against Jews, this post is simply making a point about believing the Bible literally. I have many Jewish friends and neighbors and regard them on an individual basis, just like anyone else I meet. Bigotry against any group is deplorable.
DISCLAIMER 2: I have nothing against the Bible or any of the thousands of other religious texts around the world. I think interpreting any of them as the literal word of god is unwise at best, dangerous at worst. (See Jihad, Crusades, Fred Phelps)
DISCLAIMER 3: I have nothing against men or penises. Mine has long been my favorite organ.

>Krakatoa Komedy

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Last week, at the National Cartoonists Society’s annual convention (weekend of drinking and goofing off), I met Johnny Hart’s grandson, Mason, who now works on B.C. since his grandfather’s passing in 2007. He’s a great kid (I call anyone under 30 a “kid” now) and I wish him lots of success.

He’s got big shoes to fill as Johnny was one of the best and most consistent gag writers in the business, as well as being a terrific artist. According to those of my colleagues who “knew him when,” he was also quite the party animal and tons of fun to hang out with. By the time I met him he had already undergone his infamous conversion to Christian fundamentalism and was pretty quiet and unassuming. Maybe the booze gave him his personality, I didn’t know him well enough to say. I’m sure he was still a great guy, just not a party animal. Still, one can’t resist being amused by the irony of a cartoon called, in effect, “Before Christ,” having so many strips each year dedicated to Christian biblical messages. In spite of this and his controversial political opinions, he was and still is revered as one of the greats of newspaper cartooning.

I never met the guy who created Fred Flintstone, but I hear he is now in Geico commercials.

>Mything the Point

>Today’s Bizarro is brought to you by Post-Closet Veggies.

Since I like to do cartoons based on Bible stories and other common Christian myths, I have been criticized on occasion by atheists who think I am using my cartoons to advance my religious views, and praised at times by Christians who think I am trying to advance theirs. It is hard to imagine a person who would be more likely to believe in a religion because he saw it in the funny papers, but I’m sure they are out there. In truth, I’m doing neither.

I no longer believe the Noah story, of course, but when I was a kid I was taught it was true. As hard as it is to believe, we all know that there are many 21st century adult Americans with high school and college diplomas who are still convinced. I was raised in the Bible Belt and have seen it first hand. (It is also worth noting that most Christians worldwide believe these stories are allegories and not historical accounts.)

Of those who believe the story of Noah’s ark is factual, some don’t think about it too hard, others perform amazing feats of mental gymnastics to find logical ways in which a person could fit a breeding pair of every single species on the earth onto one boat, along with enough food to keep them all fed for who-knows-how-many months. Others just fall back on the Santa Claus Defense. The Santa Claus Defense is what parents use when their kid asks a logical question like, “How can Santa fit enough toys for every kid in the whole world into one sleigh?” The answer is always, “He’s magic.” Noah was magic in this same way.

Among my friends in the animal rights movement, some who advocate veganism and believe in the rights of non-human animals, as I do, attempt to reach people who believe in the fundamental truth of Bible stories by finding ways in which the scriptures support the notion that man is “meant” to eat plants, not animals. If you are one of those who are motivated to try this I wish you well, but you can argue scripture with fundamentalists until you are blue in the face because in the end, you are arguing with someone who believes in magic. When that is your premise, you can make up the rules to suit your argument.

I use Bible themes in cartoons because they are well known stories and, since they were written to describe common human dilemmas and traits, are great fodder for cartoons. It is the same reason I use children’s fairy tales, Greek myths or famous movie monsters. Most of the time, there is no more complex reason than that.

>The Sound of One Hand Inking

>Today’s Bizarro is brought to you by Singing Monks.

Okay, I admit I don’t know anything about Zen Buddhism, but the whole “nothingness” thing is a common conception and cartoons are often built on these, whether correct or not.

Like the Moses cartoon from a couple of days ago; several readers left comments on the inaccuracies of my drawing – from the error of having the burning bush and the ten commandments in the same picture to the fact that Moses is wearing shoes on “hallowed ground.” I also got a few emails of this sort.

Being neither a Zen Buddhist nor a believer in the historical accuracy of the Bible, I admit that I don’t get very nitpicky about these things. I just draw the cartoon in a way that everyone can understand and move on to the next crushing deadline. I don’t mind the corrections, by the way. I’m kind of a trivia buff anyway, so I always enjoy a few more tidbits of knowledge.

In spite of this flippant attitude toward history, I actually do try to be more accurate in my cartoons than do most cartoonists. I research historical costumes and such, to get things mostly right, and often look up what certain objects look like to add that extra bit of convincing detail, even though I’m perfectly capable of an approximation out of my own head. But if the accuracy conflicts with the joke, as it would have in the Moses cartoon, I toss it out and use the common misconception instead. Moses talking to a burning bush is immediately understood; Moses talking to a blinding beam of light would have been widely misconstrued to be a scene from Star Trek.

Of the handful of “Zen” cartoons I’ve done over the years, here is one of my favorites:

>Bible Balloonery

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(For a more enlightening view, click Moses’s beard.)

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Sacred Loungewear.

Climbing mountains is hard. Stone is heavy. Climbing mountains with big stone tablets has got to be a real buzzkill. And this was before backpacks and comfortable hiking boots. Imagine climbing down a mountain wearing a bathrobe and slippers, carrying a slab from the sidewalk. Yet Moses did this for God because God didn’t want to go all the way down to the bottom of the mountain and give the ten commandments to the Israelites Himself and have to deal with all the hubbub what with people fainting and wanting autographs and all. Moses was a true friend.

But it just seems that balloons would have been easier for Moses to deal with on that climb. And attention grabbing, too. Nothing grabs everyone’s attention like walking into a room with ten shiny, Mylar balloons. Maybe next time.

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