On 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.