Sunday, August 31, 2008

Victim of Parody

(WARNING: If the above cartoon seems blurry and/or difficult to read, seek medical attention immediately. Or, just click on it and look at a larger version.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Citizens Who Wonder Who The Hell is Francesco Marciuliano and Why Does He Deserve So Many Vowels In His Name?

About a month ago, I took a week off from my 365-new-cartoons-a-year-for-23-years schedule and another cartoonist filled in for me. He did seven cartoons, but this Sunday panel printed many weeks later than the Monday through Saturday ones, because my own production schedule isn't in sync.

This parody of the children's book classic, The Little Prince, seems innocuous enough at first glance, but apparently possesses a seedy underbelly that is roiling with controversy. Read this letter sent to the editor of a major North American newspaper:

We once called the comic strips the funny pages. Why are they no
longer funny? The bulk of the current offerings are negative, some
verging on the abhorrent. In this latter category, I place this
feeble attempt at humor. At best, it elicits a sigh of disgust. At
worst, it mocks The Little Prince, the wartime masterpiece by Antoine
de Saint-Exupery. This runaway world best seller may be understood on
several levels. It captivates as a children's tale. It symbolically
tells the story of creation. At its peak, it is the autobiography of
a sensitive and lost soul dedicating his work to a dear friend in need
of consolation. The friend is cold and hungry in Nazi-occupied
France, while the author is safe in New York. Lines for the story
appear in every book of quotations. "It is only with the heart that
one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." (The
original French is even more beautiful.) Writing like that deserves
better treatment than an ill-considered distortion.

I've seen many such letters over the years from readers who did not like the way I treated a religious or political topic, but never one about a piece of literature. I never quibble with a person's opinion of a creative effort, we all have our individual opinions and perspective, which is part of what makes art interesting. But as a humorist, I don't feel that any topic is above parody under the right circumstances.

I also wonder who this reader sees as the victim of this "ill-considered" act. I don't believe in victimless crimes. To me it is simple: no victim–no crime. That's why I don't believe in laws against things like gay marriage, marijuana, physician-assisted suicide, or parody. Imagined victims are a big part of our society, however. I've gotten many letters over the years from people who object to my putting the hidden stick of dynamite in my cartoons for fear it will "give ideas to terrorists". If a terrorist is getting his ideas from the funny pages, he's much more likely to be a danger to himself than to any of us.

All this aside, the most curious line in the letter is this one: We once called the comic strips the funny pages. Why are they nolonger funny?

Since when have newspaper comics ever been funny?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

iAmerican Too

Today's Bizarro is brought to you by Cartoons That Are Sure To Attract Complaints, Inc.

Earlier this week I railed against obese people who take up handicap parking spots. It started a pretty rambunctious exchange in the comments section, which I think is a good thing.

Many criticized me for being everything from bigoted against fat folks to insensitive to those with disabilities. It was pointed out that many people have injuries or conditions that are not visible, which cause them great pain or immobility which leads to overweight because of their inability to exercise. All these points were well stated and I both appreciated them and took them to heart.

Here's another cartoon about the expanding growth of Americans and a chance to address some of the same topics. While it is true that there are people who, through no fault of their own, have health issues that lead to inactivity the overwhelming majority of overweight Americans become so because they eat too much of the wrong foods. We can argue that this is the fault of McDonalds commercials, but I don't buy that any more than blaming cigarette companies for lung cancer. These days, if you don't know what part of your lifestyle is killing you, cigarettes and Big Macs may not be your biggest problem. (Speaking of smoking vs. meat-eating, food-related heart disease kills far more people each year than smoking-related illness. And that doesn't count the myriad cancers suspected to arise from meat and dairy consumption. No single Internet link that I know of shows this comparison, but I'm sure there are some.) In short, the media has led us to believe that tobacco is the most lethal legal substance in our culture. The truth is that animal products are.

So eating too much of the wrong foods will kill you. This adds to our national health costs and also contributes to the amount of energy we consume. It takes more gas to haul around a carload of chunky Americans than thin ones. The more you eat, the more packaging you throw away, and on and on.

There is also no denying that this is an almost uniquely American problem. People from other countries come here and are shocked by the ubiquitous landscape of huge people. Families with no history of obesity move to the U.S. and their children grow up huge. Other nations import more American food products and their average weight and health costs rises like Old Glory on July 4th. (Nice metaphor, yes?)

According to a recent U.N. report, animal agriculture is one of the top two contributors to global warming, alongside energy production. Cars, trucks, airplanes, trains, all transport combined is a distant competitor. So when if you eat food that causes you to be overweight, you are contributing to many more problems than just your own health. And none of that mentions the suffering and unnecessary death of billions of innocent beings who, in our shortsightedness, aren't enough like us to warrant legal rights.

I'm not bigoted against fat folks, I have many friends and family members who are everything from chunky to obese, and I love them for who they are. But it is impossible for me to turn a blind eye toward an epidemic of self indulgence that causes so much damage on so many levels. Obesity is reaching epidemic proportions in the U.S. and I, for one, would like to see that addressed publicly on a daily basis and curtailed, the way cigarette smoking was when I was a kid.

I promise that tomorrow's blog will be more about humor and less preachy. Here's a ridiculous picture to get you by until then.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Windy Guitars

Today's Bizarro is brought to you by Martin Blais Air Guitars. "Getting high with guitars since 2003."

This cartoon is a collaboration between myself and San Francisco cartoonist and stand-up comic, Michael Capozzola. The original idea was his, I just jazzed it a bit so I wouldn't feel bad putting my name on it.

Having been in a band years ago and in many "green rooms" over the decades, I really enjoyed drawing this and trying to capture the look and personality of the various "musicians." Clearly, these guys are stuck in the 70s, but then those were my teen years so it makes it more fun for me to draw. The brilliant film, Spinal Tap, was about the kinds of guys who ruled the rock world when I was young.

My own band was part of the New Wave movement of the late 70s, early 80s, which more-or-less grew from refinement of punk rock, which was in direct rebellion to the hair bands. We looked like this.

Comedy in NYC

Hey, comedy-loving adults in the NY area:

My good friend and unbelievable comic genius, Will Franken, is performing one of his surreal one-man shows at Ars Nova in Manhattan next Wednesday night. This is a rare treat and one that, should you attend, you will be so glad I told you about that you will send me a nice fruit basket. I'm serious, I've seen this guy perform over a dozen times and it is never any less amazing than the time before. He is a phenomenon, no other way to put it.

Do it now.

I'll be there. If you see me, say hello.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tittering Terrorists

Today's Bizarro is dedicated to the memory of George W. Bush's credibility. Born, Sept 11, 2001 – Died, sometime thereafter, or never existed in the first place, depending on how perceptive you are.

Okay, I'm not going to get all political about how Bush's Chickenhawk Posse led us into a personally lucrative war against a red herring and ignored the folks who took down our towers. (I'm not one of those who think it was literally an inside job, sorry.) Or that he continues to ignore them and chase billions in profits at the expense of virtually every American citizen and millions of other folks around the world, and that John McSame agrees with him and will carry that torch further.

Instead, let's talk about how odd this idea is. I don't know where it came from, but I got a giggle when it passed by the cartoon picture window in my mind and thought I'd pass it on to you guys. I still like it weeks later, so that's a good sign.

I think this humor seed germinated from my memory of hearing the word "guerrilla" on the news when I was a kid in the late 1900s, and asking my parents why American soldiers were killing gorillas in Vietnam. From that amusing recollection, I jumped from synapse to synapse until I got to this scene in a cave in Afghanistan. (Presumably Afghanistan. We may never know where the hell Bin Laden is because our president has more important interests.)

Adding to the weirdness of this, a person emailed me the day this appeared in the paper, and said that Koko was making the American Sign Language symbol for "I love you." What? Get out! Stop it!

Apparently that is true, but I didn't know anything about sign language other than how to fake it when I'm feeling un-PC and grasping for lowbrow humor. I just made up gestures thinking the odds against them meaning anything were a blazillion to one. A stupid mistake, and not the first I've made in a comic.

So if you've been wondering: No, the "I love you" sign was not meant to be some subliminal message to terrorist sympathizers. I mean, geeez. It's not like I drew them engaged in a "terrorist fist jab" or something.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Yesterday's Handicap Post

I like it when a cartoon or post generates a lot of debate, as yesterday's did. I'd like to mention a few things about my post and chose to do it here instead of in the comments so that it would not be missed.

I agree with most of the comments left, there are many people whose disability is not visible and whose legitimate health problems led to their obesity. I recognize that and was not speaking of those folks. Over a dozen of both my wife's and my family are overweight, several are morbidly obese, which is the state of most Americans. And, like most Americans, none are this way as the result of disability or lack of education or choices. All are this way because, as is human nature, they want what they want and they don't care what the consequences are until it is too late. I'm not immune to this thinking, either, and certainly have my problems with things I want that may not be in my health's best interest. It takes a lot of discipline and/or conviction to overcome our tasty, convenient, deadly American lifestyle.

America has become a singular nation of laziness and lack of personal responsibility. Yes, our politicians and corporate overseers are at fault for leading us here, but it isn't exactly a secret where we are and what it is doing to us. We just refuse to give it up.

So it is to most Americans with no good excuse for their poor health that I speak, not those with legitimate disabilities or legitimate reasons for their weight difficulties.

My apologies for not making that clear, and thanks for all the input. I love honest debate.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Blind Eating the Blind

Today's Bizarro is brought to you by Three Blind Mice, Inc. "Making the world a wealthier place for a few of our closest friends."

Most decent people are angered when they see an able-bodied person parking in a handicap space. (Is "able-bodied" the PC term for the non-disabled nowadays? I can't keep up.) I am one of those who experiences revulsion when I see such a thing. But when I stop to think about it, I almost never see a legitimately disabled person using a handicap parking space. I don't mean never, I mean almost never.

The overwhelming majority of people I see squeezing out of their cars in handicap spots are obese, or have no visible disability at all. Not being able to stop eating is now a legal disability. I drink too much, can I get a permit for my car? Seems like it would behoove society to let drunk drivers park up front so they don't have to circle the lot too many times. Now, before you start accusing me of being bigoted toward fat folks, let me say I am not saying that they are bad people. But they have chosen to disable themselves and I question our society's decision to reward that with an opportunity to burn even fewer calories.

Medical costs go up for all of us when a large part of society chooses to abuse itself. That's why there are helmet laws. If someone wants to ride without a helmet and gets killed, that's natural selection. But if they are disabled for life and society has to pay for it, that's a decision by one person that costs the rest of us a fortune in the long run.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for making things easier for those who don't have it as easy as most. For folks whose physical capabilities have been compromised without their consent or control, I say let them park up front. Let them park in the mall. Let them drive from store to store and shop through their window, most American shopping malls have plenty of room for this. But for the rest of our lazy, undisciplined nation, let them walk a few yards, maybe burn off a calorie or two.

In Asia, I've seen tiny people over ninety years old carrying a stack of firewood up a hill in their bare feet and not breaking a sweat. An alarming number of Americans can barely pick up the phone to order a triple-cheese-meat-lover's pizza without needing a six-pack of cold Pepsis to bring their temperature back down. What's wrong with this picture?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Today's Bizarro is made possible by a grant from None Of Your Damn Business, Mofo!

We've all been insulted by uppity sales clerks or receptionists from time to time. When I was younger and more insecure, it used to really piss me off. Now, I'm relieved to say, I let it roll off me with a smile.

Let's say I'm strolling through Nieman Marcus (which, in and of itself, would mean that a dirty bomb had detonated near my home and I could not return without purchasing a radiation-proof hazmat suit and that was the only store within 1000 miles selling them – but for the sake of argument, let's just say I'm in that hellish place shopping) and I ask a clerk how much a pair of white socks are and he says, "$225," and I say, "For a pair of socks? For real? Do they talk or have a stock portfolio or something?" and the clerk gives me snooty look and says, "They're Donna Karan," and walks away smugly.

In my youth, my face would have flushed as though I had been slapped and I would have shouted, "If you could afford $225 socks you wouldn't be working here, you prick!"

But now that I'm older, wiser and more secure, in the same circumstance I would simply tap the clerk politely on the shoulder, shake his hand and with a smile on my face say, "I've got crabs and I never wash my hands."

My hairline notwithstanding, maturity has many rewards.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hammer Time

(To enlarge the above image and inspect it in all its glorious detail, click on the statue's buttock)

Today's Bizarro cartoon is brought to you by Sweatin' to the Oldies.

As a lifelong fan of classical art, I'm partial to this cartoon. It was a collaborative effort between myself and Todd Clark, a very good gag writer and talented cartoonist in his own right. He lives in Boise, Idaho and as such, has no friends. Most people won't even talk to him unless he moves. I feel sorry for him and correspond with him from time to time, and he gives me gag ideas for free as a way of thanks. It's kind of sad, I know, but he's a really talented guy and just as nice as a bowl of heated walnuts.

So he tosses me this idea that Rodin's famous statue, "The Thinker" originally had a thought balloon. I thought it was genius. So I fluggled around with it ( cartoonist lingo) and came up with the above image. A bit of interesting trivia regarding this cartoon: I make a cameo appearance in the background, can you spot me? The answer will be at the bottom of this page.

The image at left ran with the Rodin cartoon in some markets. It is an old gag of mine that I like to use as a title box with classical art cartoons. The original cartoon had a caption across the bottom that said, "Unfinished Self-Portrait."

I'm really proud of this self-portrait cartoon, it's one of my top five favorites I've ever written. Not because it's drop-dead funny, but because it is strange and thought provoking. I'm not sure what it means, but I'll bet it's profound. Maybe a shrink could analyze it and pontificate about my subconscious desire to be conquered by a hammer. Or perhaps it represents my inner struggle against petrification. "Am I but a stone?! Am I not flesh and blood!" he cried out in vain to the deaf sculptor.

No idea where that came from, my apologies.

Answer to today's puzzle: the skull in the drawing on the wall is mine.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Big-Headed Keister Dance

Today's Bizarro cartoon is brought to you by Barry Bonds brand denture adhesive.

I like to watch sports on TV. Not all sports–I'm not a fanatic who wears a lot of sports clothing or drives a car with a big Patriots logo painted on it or has his front teeth enameled with "KU." I'm more of an average fan who likes to watch sports on TV while I'm sketching cartoons, gets wrapped up in the playoffs from time-to-time, and loves highlight reels of people doing amazing things like catching and throwing simultaneously while six feet off the ground and upside down, or running full speed into the Gatorade stand and wiping out half of the marching band.

I'm also a big fan of sports mascots. What a hideous, thankless job it must be to wear a foam rubber suit and jump around like a leprechaun with a jalapeno up his keister. The only upside to a job like that is that you're anonymous, so you can pretend it isn't supremely humiliating. I once read a story about a mascot who extolled the virtues of "getting paid to watch the game." True, but you're watching it through a mesh-covered fun fur slit with a cascade of sweat pouring down your face. I'd pay a hundred bucks to alleviate those symptoms if they were affecting my enjoyment of the game, wouldn't you?

On the subject of steroids, I say legalize them all. If consenting adults want to pour chemicals into their bodies and become freakish lab experiments to be able to jump higher or throw harder or look lumpier, what do I care? If they get so freakish that they are scaring the fans, we can always cover them up in fun fur.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fueling Fools

Bizarro is brought to you today by Alien Technology Corporation.

I'm not a person who embraces the spiritual, mystical, mythical, or ethereal. I don't believe in Big Foot or Zeus or psychic phenomenon or ghosts. I used to add UFOs to that list without hesitation, but now I'm not so sure.

I've not had a UFO experience of any kind – unless you count the time I came across this Unusually Fetching Obelisk – but I've heard enough reputable people stand up before the press and say they have that it opens my mind a bit.

A smart guy once wrote that mathematically speaking, extra-terrestrial life is a possibility. Even if there is only a one-in-a-billion chance of intelligent life evolving on another planet, since there are a billion billion planets, that means that there should be a billion planets with intelligent life. That's all hypothetical, of course, but you get the idea.

If there were a billion planets with intelligent life, it is not impossible to believe that one or more of them might have been intelligent enough to invent a way to span huge expanses of space quickly and efficiently. In other words, they may have developed a better way to propel themselves around than exploding drops of liquid in a tin can. That technology has worked well for us here on Earth, but it is beginning to wear out its welcome. It is high time that we think outside the pump and invent some better way to get around.

If aliens are visiting earth and poking around, I hope they come to my comedy shows in San Francisco and Oakland in a couple of weeks. How much fun would it be to look out into the audience and see a couple of giant, green heads with big football-shaped eyes? I could riff on that for thirty minutes. We could hang out after for a drink, then they could give me a lift back to where I'm staying before they head back to their hotel.

An evening well worth the trip out West.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Phone Eddy Cut

Bizarro is made possible by a grant from the Level Forests Initiative. "Making trees work for you."

Instead of carping about the Bush administration's disastrous environmental policies, let's talk about cell phones.

I held off getting one until relatively late in the game. I don't like talking on the phone very much and dislike being "available" 24/7, so the prospect was not attractive. I don't remember what year I finally gave in, but by that time, most humans on the planet down to age 12-or-so, had one.

Now just about every kid old enough to hold one has one. I saw a five-year-old in NYC walking down the street with his yuppie mom, while talking on his cell phone. True story, my throat is still sore from the dry heaves. Soon, we will be able to hear the muffled tinkle of those hideous electronic "musical" ring tones emanating from the bulging stomachs of pregnant women. A sonogram will be nothing more than a quick call to the uterus. "How are you feeling? Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And how many fingers and toes? Mm-hmm, good. Now look down between your legs...anything sticking out?"

The worst thing about cell phones to my mind is the prospect of being killed by a driver on their phone. States outlaw phone use without a hands-free device, but it doesn't address the deeper issue: the problem is not so much your hands as your attention. A person in the car with you will innately stop a conversation when you need to concentrate because they see the same things you do. A person on a phone just keeps yammering, which divides your attention in a different, more exclusive way.

I realize that sounds uncharacteristically brainy of me, but that's only because I didn't think it up. I heard it discussed by some behavior study brain guy on the radio.

The next worst thing about cell phones is the volume with which some people speak. I cannot understand why some people think you must shout into a phone. That hasn't been true since Sheriff Taylor used to call Aunt Bea from the courthouse. It's a phone, not a paper cup and string. Keep it down, please.

By the way, this idea was suggested by my kooky buddy, Derek, who used to be a lumberjack, but denies being an ass.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Surgical Dancing

Bizarro is brought to you today by Slices of Life, providing the public with medical supplies at discount prices since 1869.

I've only had two surgeries in my life: knee surgery to repair a torn ACL in 2000, and a vasectomy in 2004. The knee surgery was far worse, requiring weeks of excruciatingly painful recovery and excruciatingly painful rehab. If you ever find yourself in the position of telling a goomba where the money is hidden or calling his bluff about breaking your knee, I'd recommend the former. But the old hinge works better than ever now that doctor whats-his-name fixed me up, and I'm as good as new. In fact, I'm better than new. After the surgery and rehab were complete, I found that I could tap dance with that leg. I've been meaning to take lessons to get the other leg to catch up but haven't gotten around to it.

The vasectomy, on the other hand, was no big deal and boy, what a terrific form of birth control. No fuss, no muss. No new skills to report after that surgery, however. Although, now that I think about it, I've never tried to tap dance with my scrotum. Hmmm.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Comedy Shows!

Yo, check it, mah homey peeps and niggahs. I'm doing FOUR comedy shows in NoCal in a couple of weeks and all of them will sell out fast (because I am wishing very very hard) so don't tarry. Buy a block of tickets and sell them to your friends!

Click on these images to biggerize them and see details.

Tickets for the Oakland show can be purchased at the theater starting Aug 27, or from here now:
Johnny Steele and Michael Capozzola performed with me last time I was in SF and both of them killed. There were very few people left alive by the time I got to the stage and they were already weak and easy to finish off.

At the Purple Onion this time I'll be performing TWO shows with Brian Malow. This guy is a longtime friend and a total pro. He'll show me up, big time. I should actually be opening for him but it's my show so tough monkeys. I'll be doing different material than I did last time I was at the PO, so come back again if you saw the last show. And bring a hundred friends. Tickets here:

Here's a show that is totally different than anything I've done before. It's an entire evening of art and performances speaking out against animal cruelty in the circus. But don't let that put you off. The artists are invitation-only and very talented. The performers are the sort you'd see at a burlesque show or a real circus, (but all are willing participants, unlike elephants and tigers.) I'll be exhibiting a painting of mine done specially for this show (which is really rare, for reals) and doing some stand-up comedy about the subject. You're sure to enjoy the entire experience and I won't accept no for an answer. Info here:

After each of these shows, I'll be selling my books and trading cards and signing stuff and posing for pictures with you and itching to get outside and smoke a cigar. So join me and spread the word!

Punny Brown

Bizarro is brought to you today by the Beijing Limbic Games.

Yes, this is a simple visual pun but I like that it requires a tiny leap of thought from the soccer player's socks to Charlie Brown's shirt. It is just surreal enough to engage me. I have a friend who hates puns of all kinds, categorically. I think she's missing an enjoyable category of humor. Puns can be many different things: obvious, original, surprising, idiotic, and occasionally sublime. They can also suck, of course.

Mahatma Gandhi, for instance, walked barefoot most of his life, ate very little food and had notoriously bad breath, which made him a super calloused fragile mystic hexed with halitosis.

Come on. That took some effort on somebody's part.

Special Note: Don't miss the next post, it's all about upcoming comedy shows in San Fran, Oakland, and Sacramento!!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Greek Breakfast

Today's Bizarro is brought to you by

I am fully aware of how un-PC it is to say this, but I can't help but wish that cyclopsism was real. Wouldn't it be fascinating to see a huge person with one eye in the middle of his forehead? Yes, I know, it's wrong to wish deformities on others, my mother used to tell me that constantly when I was a kid, but the people I'm wishing it on are fictional, hypothetical, imaginary, and the deformity is cool. Doesn't that count for anything?

Can you imagine what life for a cyclops who could rap would be like? If you're eight feet tall, as wide as a Port-A-Potty, have one eye in the middle of your forehead, fangs, and you could rap? You'd be the biggest pop-star in the world, bar none. You'd have a mansion with an eye-shaped swimming pool, a limo with one huge headlight. You could spread rumors that you had one large testicle and two penises. The PR possibilities are almost endless.

Of course, there would be a downside. Like Michael Jackson, you'd be so famous and so freakish that no amount of camouflage would ever allow you to go out in public unmolested. You'd be eight-feet tall, for one thing. A pair of sunglasses and a baseball cap would do nothing at all. (which begs the question: if you had glasses specially made for you with one lens in the middle, would they be a "pair of glasses," or a "glass"?)

But alas, such things are merely myths. There are no one-eyed monsters, no minotaurs, no satyrs, no harpies.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Paying Customer

Bizarro is brought to you today by Ol' Toothy brand chainsaws. "Nothing goes with that mask like an Ol' Toothy."

(You know you want it bigger, so click that comic, homeboy.)

I've got to say I'm proud of this comic. It's dry, deadpan, creepy, and about current events. It makes me happy.

But the price of gas does not. I don't own a car, so I don't suffer from pump shock every time I fill up my car. I drive an old Vespa scooter, which I bought new in 1981, and it costs me around $5 a week to drive it daily around NYC. (When I first moved here in 2002, it was more like $5 a month.) It's the perfect transportation for this city: cheap, able to leap huge traffic jams in a single bound, always a place to park, big rack on the back for bungee-cording cargo to, and fun.

The reason I don't like the price of gas these days is because the price of trains, planes, buses, everything else I rely on to get around when I'm not in NYC is going through the roof. Soon, normal folks like you and me will not be able to afford to leave the house except by bicycle. Which is fine, I ride my bicycle all the time and there are plenty of things to do here in NYC, so I'll be set. But folks in places like Underbite, Nebraska will not be so happy. Many are too big to ride a bike and there's nowhere to go if they could. (I've never been there, but from the looks of it on Google Maps, I'm guessing it isn't on many museum or concert tour schedules and is a couple day's bike ride to get to anywhere that is. Longer, if you've got your date on your handlebars.)

Someday soon, the only gasoline-powered vehicle that passes you overhead or on the road will be full of the uber wealthy: oil executives, politicans, drug dealers, TV evangelists, personal injury lawyers.

A world without gas-powered vehicles would probably be a good thing. I do worry about what it will do to the psycho-killer hitchhiker industry, though.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Happy Day

Happy Birthday, Hanna!

My good friend Hanna in Seattle is 85 years old today and one of the coolest people I've ever known. And I've known a lot of cool people.

I first heard from Hanna some years ago when she wrote to tell me that she and a few friends were fans of my cartoon and enjoyed looking for the hidden icons. Her favorite was the Bunny of Exhuberance (the "h" is added to both set it apart from other exuberant bunnies and to add that extra arrogant sound when pronouncing it), and she wondered if she could have permission to use her computer to print out iron-on decals of the bunny for T-shirts for her friends and her to wear. She referred to them as the "Bizarro Bunny Bunch."

(The image above is from my trading card line, not her T-shirts)

I gave her permission and sent her some art for the purpose. I made her promise not to sell them unless she cut me in on the profits, assuring her that I am not above breaking an old lady's kneecaps.

When I was in Seattle for a comedy show a few years ago my wife and I stayed at her house. She was the perfect hostess, as you can imagine. Hanna has a razor wit, an indomitable spirit (and has overcome more than her share of hardships as proof) and is an inspiration to all who know her. The friends of hers that I have met are all younger than she, which says a lot about how cool she is. Hanna is a blast to hang out with at any age.

So happy birthday, dear Hanna. I wish I could be there to celebrate with you! I want to be like you when I grow up.

Okay, if I grow up.

Crime Rodents

Bizarro is brought to you today by Red Star Sidewalk Chalk. "So vivid, you can see it from the sky."

Lately I've become addicted to the ubiquitous police/crime/mob/suspense-type movie. I don't like all of these kinds of movies, but if they have a good plot and characters, I'm all over it. The Bourne series is really great, for instance. Denzel Washington has been in some terrific ones. Who doens't love "Goodfellas"? Just saw one the other night with Ray Liotta and that other guy who is really good, called "Narc."

I thnk my passion for movies like this is why this gag appeals to me. Some might say this cartoon is stupid or simple, but then I'd just say, "YOU'RE stupid and simple!" and that would be that. I just like the idea of a mouse wanting a helicopter. Sometimes humor can be just that simple for me.

For instance, I still laugh at the children's joke I heard from a British girl of about six: "What's the last thing to go through the fly's head when he hits the windscreen? . . . His bum!" For readers without a British/American dictionary handy, this is a "windscreen" and this is a "bum". ("What," "thing," "through," "fly," "mind," and "hits," all mean the same things there as here.)

As much as I like crime movies, however, there are virtually no current crime TV shows that I can watch. All of the CSI series leave me cold and the Law and Order shows are too predictable and formulaic. "Damages" is an amazing suspense show starring Glenn Close. Rent the first season and tell me it isn't superbly written and brilliantly executed. (Rhetorical statement– if you did that I would only call you simple and stupid. See above.) "Dexter" is another terrific show, but watch it from the beginning on DVD, not in reruns on CBS or whoever picked it up. They doubtless dumbed down the language and stuff.

One last entertainment tip: pro wrestlers are not necessarily good actors.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Ouija Wonders

Bizarro is brought to you today by the power of suggestion.

I love this idea to death and wish I could claim it completely. A very clever friend of mine named Cliff, sent the pun idea to me. I dropped it into this scenario and voila, I smiled. I'm still smiling all these weeks later.

This appeals to me not only because it is funny but it touches on satirizing military brutality. For those of you inclined toward the warmer-colored part of the political scale, I am not saying that all military personnel are brutal. Don't Dixie Chick me. (Or, do. I could use the publicity.)

Torture is brutal, however, and from what I've read, yeilds unreliable results since virtually any person on earth will say or do whatever it takes to make the torture stop. Including lying. My guess is that Ouija boarding would gather as dependable results as water boarding.

Which makes me wonder if the military has ever tried hypnotism. They could interrogate prisoners at night, on stage, thus both gaining information and entertaining the troops. And if they can't get the subject to tell them where Bin Laden is, they could at least get him to cluck like a chicken or imagine he is a beautiful woman and sashay about the stage to peals of laughter from the audience.

Some of our top government officials have said that they do not consider water boarding to be torture. I'd personally pay a lot to see that theory tested first hand.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

MySpace MyDog

Today's Bizarro is brought to you by Unique Pets for Unusual People.

This cartoon isn't about hating MySpace, but I do, with a passion, so that's what I'm going to rant about.

I was talked into getting a MySpace page few years ago by a PR person who felt it was a good way to market comedy shows and books and such. She was right, people have had success with that, but I found that web site to be so badly designed, counter intuitive, and unfathomably annoying in all respects, that I gave it up within weeks. The thing operates like a video game with no rules or plot, designed by a drunken toddler.

A business partner of mine now monitors my MySpace page. It is the only element of the vast Bizarro empire that I don't look at myself, so don't write to me there unless you want to hear from my pal, Rey.

I know that people of all ages are into MySpace, but let's face it, it's mostly for kids and 20-somethings. It isn't meant for adults to understand, much the way gangsta rap isn't meant for suburban whites.

If I may be immodest for a moment (do I dare?), what I really like most about this cartoon is the dog's face on the left. I usually draw dogs more like the one on the right, but I decided to get all artsy-fartsy this time and try a different type. I'm very happy with the way the pug turned out.

One last note: I once knew a middle-aged man who was dating a girl in her early 20s. He found himself asking her why she hadn't put his picture on her MySpace page. If you find yourself in this situation, not having your picture on her MySpace page may not be your biggest problem.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Smelly Horses

Proceeds from today's Bizarro will be donated to Horses Against Gravity, a 501c3 organization.

I suspect that a lot of people under a certain age will not have gotten this joke. I never know for sure, so when I consider a gag like this one I have to decide whether I want to use it or not. Usually I decide to go for it, as I've learned over that years that my readers usually enjoy a challenge and don't mind not getting all the gags.

This one isn't really a challenge, though, it's just a reference to a TV commercial for Aqua Velva aftershave which was ubiquitous in the 60s and 70s. As I recall, the commercial was basically just attractive women getting all gooey over a guy who walks by at a party, office, or bar and smells good. The tag line was, "There's just something about an Aqua Velva man."

And that "something" was, since Aqua Velva was a cheap drugstore aftershave, that he wasn't a man who spent much on his grooming. So if thriftiness turns you on, you'd go for him in a big way. You might also dig his Sears leisure suit and Payless vinyl shoes. (As an ethical vegan, I don't wear leather shoes either, but then I'm sort of a cheapskate, too.)

Not that it has anything to do with this cartoon, really, but it seems that most little girls have a thing for horses. I can only assume adult women like horses, too, but I'm not sure. I'll resist making any comments about having something strong and silent between their legs (well, no, I guess I didn't resist making that comment) but I do wonder what the reason is. Is it their beauty, their power, their long, luxurious, style-able hair? That also describes Fabio, and he scares the crap out of all the little girls I know.

As for aftershave, I'm not a person who enjoys synthetic smells so I don't wear any of that smelly stuff. I prefer to be natural, so after I shower, I rub my body with one of my favorite natural scents.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Special Offer!

(Hey, boys and girls! Click the cartoon above and see how big it gets!)

If you've been dying to get this image on a T-shirt and simultaneously help out a worthy cause, here is your chance! A cool new company who gives the profits from this shirt to Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, and is ludicrously concerned with ethical manufacturing is offering it NOW. Yes, you read that correctly, N-O-W.

Here's how they describe their thing:
"Incredible ecogear makes the most earthfriendly tee shirt in the world. Made from 100% recycled fibres, the ecogear tee uses only organic inks or water based inks free of PVCs and pthalates.

In keeping with their corporate mantra of planet, people and animals, incredible ecogear is the first apparel brand to work directly with non profits and environmental groups by dedicating special tees to nominated groups."

Do it! You need the good karma.

Chalk Art

Today's Bizarro cartoon is brought to you by the Lascaux, France Chamber of Commerce.

Perhaps not one of my best comics ever, but it was done during a time a couple months ago when I was having a lot of personal problems and my head was a mess, so I think it's perfectly acceptable. I mentioned this "rough patch" on a few earlier blogs and a lot of you wrote to me with support, which was very appreciated. The worst thing about being a cartoonist (and I fully admit there are not many bad things about this job and I feel quadruply blessed to be making a living at it) is trying to come up with material when you're suffering. Whether you've got double-barreled flu, your dog just died, or your wife ran off with a transvestite, sitting down to be funny on days like that is like a cold water enema.

But back to the subject at hand, I'm a fan of cave paintings. They are among the earliest examples of the human compulsion to create. Though they are primitive by definition, they are, in my opinion, among the most sophisticated efforts at animal renderings ever created. The creators of these works understood so much more about their ecosystem than you or I could ever hope to. They were up to their eyeballs in it, it crawled into their beds at night, it lived in their hair. Knowledge of the flora and fauna they lived among was a matter of life or death.

And we have Animal Planet.

If future archaeologists find only one piece of art that I have drawn about my life, I hope it's the bottle of scotch and cigar that I drew with chalk on the sidewalk in front of my building. Some loves last forever.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Goth Godfather

Bizarro is brought to you today by Alice Cooper.

I have many shortcomings and one of the worst is that I do not know as much as I perhaps could about the history of "goth" style. Through tears of embarrassment and shame over this sad fact, I will say that I believe Alice Cooper was its godfather. Not in the traditional I-will-see-to-the-child's-religious-upbringing sense of the word, but in the sense that he was the first to popularize the look we now call "goth."

When I was a teenager in the late 1900s, Alice was all the rage. Back then, everything about him was outrageous: he was a boy but went by a girl's nameintentionally – the black circles around his eyes and downward-diving stripes from the corners of his black lips, disheveled, dyed-black hair and black clothing was so cool we could barely stand it. (female name, goth fashion, rock 'n roll: sound familiar?) Why hadn't we thought of celebrating Halloween all year round before? Who cared?– we were just glad we had finally been enlightened. Or, endarkened, as the case may be.

For years there was a rumor that Alice Cooper was the same guy who had played "Eddie Haskell" on the 1950s TV series, "Leave it to Beaver." (Historical note: this show was titled in a more naive time, and was not attempting to reference female genitalia.) They did look similar, (Eddie and Alice) but the rumor was eventually dispelled when Ken Osmond, the actual guy who played Haskell, began appearing on talk shows and such, reclaiming a little fame. Rumor had it he had become an L.A. cop, pretty much the opposite image of Alice Cooper in those days.

I like the way this cartoon came out. I tried to capture the godmother as a cross between the chubby, jolly, old, granny godmothers of Disney's Sleeping Beauty, and a goth teen. I'm happy with the result, hope you are, too.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cheap Holiday Laughs

(Click the cartoon and make it HUGER!)
Today's Bizarro is brought to you by Where The Hell Was I Yesterday?

The five or six of you who check into this blog every day (my favorite people in the world, by the way! Even more precious than my own children!) will have noticed that I did not post yesterday. Of those five or six, three or four were likely up all night with the local authorities, searching the woods for me, calling their contacts in the Middle East to see if I had been kidnapped by terrorists. Sorry to have inconvenienced you, my precious blog readers. I shall endeavor not to do it again.

Truth is, I woke up late, ran some errands, went to a memorial service for a friend, had some dinner, came home late and just didn't feel up to posting so belatedly. Nothing more than an average dose of real life for real people. Thanks for your concern and, yes, I remembered to pick up my crazy pills from the CVS on 17th.

I dig the cartoon above. It was a collaborative effort between myself (duh) and a smarty pants I know in Florida, name of Mark Brandt. His original notion was about the Italian vacation on the cheap, using real towns in the south. I added the recession angle, the old-time advertisement map style, prices, etc.

Below is the title panel I created for it, which not all papers that carry the Sunday Bizarro use. I love satirizing product labels for some reason.

If you don't have an Italian/English dictionary at your elbow, "Villa Torta" more-or-less means "Pie House." Get it?! Get it?!
One last bit: Here is the cartoon I missed posting yesterday. It is Francesco's last of the week, though he did a Sunday cartoon for me that will print on August 24.

Because I'm an advocate for the abolition of animal slavery of all kinds, I love, love, love this cartoon. I used to be critical of some people's tendency to anthropomorphize animals. But the more scientists learn about the nature of other species, the more they discover similarities to humans in areas like emotions and sentience. Now I believe that we do not anthropomorphize them enough. Currently, I won't do or subsidize doing anything to any animal that I wouldn't do to a human toddler.

Love this one, Ces, thanks for making me laugh.