Bizarro is brought to you today by Never Stopping, Just To Be Safe.
There is much to talk about today but I promise it will be rewarding in a way that will punish those who come here only for a quick scan of the cartoons and don’t read the text or click the links. Woe is them.
(Late update: After posting the cartoon above I began to get mail asking why I had used the Puerto Rican flag to depict a dictatorship when PR is not one. I’ve since changed it slightly so it’s not the PR flag anymore. I actually took the Cuban flag, changed the colors, and thought I’d created a new flag. I was surprised [and more than a little amused] to find that that design was already in use. Sorry, neighbors!)
When people in the U.S. learn that I’ve moved to Mexico, or when people I meet here learn that I’m a syndicated cartoonist, they often ask if living here has or will influence my cartoons. One might think that today’s big-ass-wide Sunday cartoon is the first obvious example of a Latin American influence but one would be wrong. This cartoon is, instead, the influence of one Brian Shanahan, a reader who offered me an idea via Facebook message. His concept was the basic connection between Spanish for “the boss,” which is “el jefe” (pronounced hey-fey) and the Family Circus character “Jeffy”. He didn’t have a scenario but just envisioned a poster of him as a Castro-style dictator and the words “El Jefe”.
I loved the idea immediately and concocted the above scenario, which was inspired by the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half-brother. You may notice that the soldier is saying “the boss” in his word balloon, but the banner on the wall is using a similar spelling for Jeffy’s name, a sort of loose pun.
Another interesting thing to note is that my original submission––the one that appeared in hundreds of newspapers on April 23rd and in the box at the top of Bizarro.com’s homepage on that date––does not include Jeffe’s mustache. (King Features programs the cartoon that appears at the top of my homepage and they used the one I submitted for publishing.) I often think of ways to improve a cartoon after it’s already in the pipeline and too late, and it always pains me. Personally, I think this cartoon is much funnier with the big, red, curly mustache.
Finally, this isn’t the first satire of The Family Circus I’ve done. My first was way back in 1995 and I got a bit of hate mail from people who revere FC as “the last bastion of family entertainment” and thought it was akin to sacrilege to associate those beloved characters with The Devil. In addition to the hate mail, I also got a phone call the next morning from FC’s creator, Bil Keane. It scared me to death because I hadn’t met him yet and feared he was going to chew me out and threaten to sue me. Instead, he was very friendly and gracious, thanked me for the lampoon, and wondered if he could trade one of his pieces of original art from a Sunday comic for the original art of my “Faustus’ Circus”. I agreed, of course.
Years later, I did another Sunday spoof in collaboration with my good friend, Michael Capozzola, who is a successful stand-up comic and a cartoonist. For the unenlightened, Bil Keane used to annually publish cartoons that were ostensibly drawn by one of the child characters in FC because he was on vacation, and ours was a satire of that scenario. Here’s an example of one of Bil’s “vacation” cartoons.
Here’s one more from a few years back that is an attempt to mimmic a Family Circus cartoon entirely, except for the signature and a few of my Secret Symbols. I always have a ball doing these but the El Jeffe one is probably my favorite.
Here, I’ve used the term “artificial intelligence” as a reference to the current American “president” and his administration’s willful, loathsome, and self-serving denial of science. If you’re one of those people who believes politicians who say that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the left (or China, or Noam Chomsky, or the Tooth Fairy, or whomever) consider this: On one side of this issue are millionaire industrialists (and the politicians on their payroll) who stand to make billions by polluting your drinking water and your air, and on the other are academics and scientists who stand to make a hundred bucks here or there by publishing an article in a magazine only they read, but could lose their entire career if discovered to be lying to the public about science. Which of those groups has a greater motivation to lie about climate change? And which of those groups knows the most about science, which is what climate change is about?
If you still believe that the vast majority of scientists the world over have the same hidden agenda and that the Trump White House is doing us all a big favor by ignoring them and deregulating polluters, please do the rest of us a favor and dart out into high speed traffic at dusk as soon as possible.
Ever seen one of those rooms that is built with strange angles and perspective so that an apple appears to be rolling uphill or a person looks like they’re huge when they stand at the other side of the room? I first saw that at Six Flags Over Texas back in the late 60s in an attraction called “Casa Magnetica”. My ten-year-old mind was blown away and I still love those kinds of things.
I posted this cartoon about the cat that is going to “make the couch great again” on FB and Twitter with this simple line: “When hats lie.” I didn’t think I was being all that cryptic, but apparently I was because a number of people commented by asking, “You mean CATS?” No, I meant “hats,” as in the one that the Cheeto Mussolini and his “crumbs” wore all during the campaign. (You didn’t think I’d actually make you look at a picture of that boob and his idiotic hat, did you? This is a safe place!) Foolishly, I did not make the cat orange, which would have helped a lot. Totally my bad. Here is a corrected version.
I’m sure you’ll agree that some super heroes take their alter egos far too seriously.
Also at the family style restaurant is a TV room where you can ignore each other while you eat, a garage where dad can disappear to for hours at a time while working on some project he uses to avoid the wife, and dogs roaming around under the tables for the kids to sneak unwanted food to.
This cartoon could have been titled “Centaurs of the Old West” but after 30+ years of daily cartooning I’ve come to believe that it is better not to spell out every single aspect of a cartoon. In this way, I have attracted a select group of more intelligent, well-read, well-educated readers such as yourself––ones that don’t need things explained to them and enjoy being in on the aspects of a joke that are not spelled out. That’s just one of the many reasons I have not become fabulously wealthy as a cartoonist, but can count on my most loyal readers to defend me in a Mexican knife fight. If I should get into one of those things down here, I’ll let you know so you can rush to my defense.
Hey, want some happy, insider news to reward you for reading what I write and not just quickly scanning the cartoons? How about this––> After three and a half years of groovy fun times with my beloved partner, Olive Oyl, I asked her this week to marry me and she was foolish enough to agree. Yay! After two marriages that failed in spectacular fashion, I swore I would never marry again but O2 silently, stealthily changed my mind by being unerringly principled, honest, loving, intelligent, loyal, and insightful. She’s too amazing to ever live without and she richly deserves the social respect and legal rights one gets from a legal coupling, so I’m taking the plunge. Accordingly, I am officially adding the first new Secret Symbol to the Bizarro canon in many years. It is “O2,” which stands for Olive Oyl. (I don’t use her real name in public posts in order to reduce the number of people who may seek her out on FB or wherever and bug her in ways she’s not interested in.) To read about all of my Secret Symbols and their meanings, including the new one, go here!
Thanks for making it to the end of our weekly chat, Jazz Pickles. Please consider some of the support options linked to below. Those of us at Rancho Bizarro will think of you every time we sleep indoors.