Sunday, July 12, 2009

Strange Week

Bizarro is brought to you today by Summer Weather.

I've been getting a lot of emails and blog comments in the last couple of days about the cartoons of July 10 and 11. I drew these five or six weeks ago and I suppose I was having an ambiguous week. Sometimes I get experimental in subject matter, or humor, or color scheme, and even if it doesn't work for everyone, I think it keeps the feature fresh. For me, at least, which I think is important. If I get bored, it will show.

This cartoon about the happy family means nothing more than what it looks like. It's just funny to me. "Let's get started!" doing what? I don't know. What do happy, perfect families do at home at night? I don't know anyone who had one, so I've no experience to draw from.

When I was a child, my own family looked very normal from the outside, the quintessential Ozzy-and-Harriet dreamworld. And even though we ate dinner together every night, then settled in to watch TV, it was not the utopia pictured above.

Night after night, we were forced to watch industrial training films from the linoleum industry over and over again. To make certain we were paying attention, my mother shot live rounds over our heads. Dad watched from a dog cage under the dining room table, barking and panting like a Golden Retriever. One of my sisters was born with gills and lived in an oil drum full of water. Her splashing would spot the TV screen with rainbow dots of magnifying liquid.

Maybe this cartoon was just therapy for me.

REGARDING YESTERDAY'S CARTOON: A few people have complained that suicide isn't funny. I agree, I lost a good friend to suicide. But humor of this kind is a uniquely human practice and serves a valuable purpose for us. To find humor in what scares or horrifies us gives us a psychological edge over the tragedy. This kind of humor has existed in human cultures for as long as we've been writing things down.

Some time ago, I promised a reader I would not picture suicide in my cartoons for the very reason that some of you were offended, and I've kept to that. But I think a cartoon such as this one is so far fetched and the reader is left to wonder/assume what has happened to the woman, that it does not strike the same chord. To me, anyway. One person accused me of being sexist because the cartoon insinuates that all men want when they come home from work is sex from their woman. This cartoon is not about what men want when they come home from work, but that if a man comes home from work and sees his partner's clothing spread seductively in a trail across the floor, 99% of them are going to think of sex. Either she is seducing him, or she has already seduced someone else. It's not insulting, its human nature.


Tim said...

I quite like the weirdness factor on this one! I don't need every comic to elicit a knowing belly laugh. Sometimes I pull out my Glen Baxter books to be purposely confounded. It's always great to see where an artist's unfettered mind takes them. Keep on experimenting, man.

Dave Stratton said...

The dog's non sequitor (sp?) is what makes this comic. I don't need to know.

Tegin said...

I liked yesterday's cartoon.

The "perfect family" linked...mmmh, I think that the dog is a psycho killer.

You had a cool haircut. You should use that again.

(my English is creepy, I know)

isee3dtoo said...

There was a cartoon in Spike's and Mike's Sick and Twisted Animation Festival called "Honey I'm High" and that may have been a better quote for the guy. It would explain the talking dog.

LoyalReader said...

Hmmm... two recent cartoons (suicide and dog) have left me puzzled. I think I like this, however. It says you're not going for easy laughs and predictable stuff.

I do wonder about the symbols. There have been several times in the past few months where a random symbol has distracted from the visual punchline.

P.S. The Escher was excellent.

Robert said...

Industrial training films from the linoleum industry?! Oh, you lucky dog!

There seems to be many cartoons out there that are so contrived and over explained that it is hardly worth the trouble to read them. So, I like the occasional cartoon where I have to think a little bit, to try and figure out if I'm missing something.

Well done, sir!

p.s. I thought the bear family was actually a mouse family when I first saw it.

Penny said...

To me, this cartoon represents the way so many families interact now. My sister-in-law may be 36, but texts as fast as any 15 year old. Every family gathering is spent with her wandering around, glued to her cell. It's astonishing. The whole house can be full of people to whom she's related, yet she interacts with no one outside of the people she's texting. I get more conversation out of her four year old than I do from her.

We're turning into a society of people who can sit in the same room together every evening and yet know nothing about each other.

Dimension Skipper said...

As I suspected, this one's still a head scratcher for me. Oh well. But thanks for again explaining ahead of your usual one week delay.

Nowax said...

Yikes, that photo of the governor-of-Maine's family looked like a serial killer's family photo. That's the worst composition I've ever seen. None of them looked like they wanted to be there and they all looked like someone dragged them into the photo -- even the dog!

Nowax said...

I'm sorry, but how is thinking that all men want sex from their wives when they get home "sexist?"

Maybe my dictionary defines sexist differently. But maybe all men don't want sex all the time. But my experience has been that all men with sex organs over a certain age want sex all the time (adjusting for the odd one in a zillion that have had their equipment removed, etc.)

It's like all women with sex organs over and under a certain age menstruate (adjusting for the few million that have had their equipment removed, etc.) It's biology.

Personally, I'd like to meet a sex-less man. It would be refreshing. Do they really exist? Or is that like a unicorn?

markleggett said...

If you made cartoons that offended no one, they would be terribly unfunny, leading to a cease and desist letter from the estate of Charles M. Schulz.

RSJ said...

This is exactly why people used to drink heavily in the perfect All-American Home of the 'Make Room for Daddy' era. Mom & Pop needed all those after-5 whiskey sours and martinis just to shoulder the burden of Keeping Up With The TV Jones' and Maintaining the Perfect Lawn.

Today, of course, thanks to the miracle of modern medicine, we have prescription pills to keep Mr. and Mrs. America 'normal,' hard at work and oblivious. "200 dead in Afghanistan bombing -- Oh, look at that adorable puppy!" If not for our national legal drug culture, I'm convinced they'd all be out in the streets screaming, crying and tearing their hair out.

Katherine said...

This cartoon is so weird and great! Thanks for your consistent awesomeness, Dan!

Bob said...

I thought the sexy suicide cartoon was hysterical. It's funny to look at somebody perched on zenith about to stumble to nadir (as humor). Well done.

Kablack said...

There are a number of Bizarro strips I consider to be profound and sublime. This one may have just topped them all. The "I don't know, you figure it out" explanation only makes it better. And by "it" I mean everything. And by "everything" I mean everything.