Monday, May 31, 2010

Robots, Statues, Music

Bizarro is brought to you today by The Big Ugly.

This was an eventful weekend in my area. The National Cartoonists Society had their annual convention and awards ceremony just across the river from NYC, someplace called Jersey City. I've never been there myself, but I hear it is gorgeous.

I am told I won their biggest award, "Cartoonist of the Year" and am grateful for the honor. (Yes, I was told I was grateful for the honor, and I actually was.) The statue, which I have come to affectionately call "The Big Ugly," was designed in the early 1900s by Rube Goldberg, and is named The Reuben after him. Pictured below the blue link above is the one with Al Jaffee's name on it, from a couple of years ago.

Instead of attending this year's convention, which I've been to almost yearly since 1995, I was at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in upstate NY for a benefit concert given by Chrissie Hynde and JP Jones. It was a phenomenal experience; beautiful scenery, terrific music and good friends in a very intimate setting out on the lawn.

The musicians set up on a deck overlooking a large lawn and played songs from their new album, set to be released in August. I love Hynde's voice and JP Jones' voice blends terrifically well with it. I haven't heard the album, but if it was a good as the set we heard, you'll want to pick it up. By the way, that isn't the head of a cow/giraffe hybrid in the background, that's a costume used at the recent Veggie Pride Parade in NYC a few weeks back.

From behind the musicians you can see what an intimate gathering it was. We were only allowed 250 guests because of local ordinances (any more than that and you have to hire cops and that seriously cramps my party style, dude) but we had many hundreds more inquire about the show. We could easily have sold 500 tickets. The guitarist at left is from Liverpool and an amazing player, I was jealous, wish I could remember his name. Patrick M-something. JP is in the middle. His legs aren't actually 14 inches long, it's just the way it looks in this picture. He's actually completely normal.

Thanks so much to all the people who have been leaving "congrats" messages on my Facebook page and the comments sections of my blog posts, and to all of you who've sent emails. I can't answer them all personally, but they are all read and appreciated.

My editor at King Features and good friend, Brendan Burford, accepted the award for me. He asked me for an acceptance speech to read but I'm not one to write a lot down in those situations, so I gave him this:

"Dan Piraro would have been here tonight except that he was killed this afternoon when he lit a cigar near an open bottle of scotch while having sex with Ashley on his motorcycle. At least he died doing the four things he loved most."

Brendan said it was well received.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


("Make me bigger and clearer," said the little pig. "Click the wolf's nose!")

Bizarro is brought to you today by Charming Biker T-shirts.

No time for a lengthy hog blog this morning, I'm off on my own hog in a few minutes; my 1973 BMW R75/5, or, as I like to call it, "sweetheart." I'm heading up to Woodstock Sanctuary for the Chrissie Hynde concert tonight. Wish me good weather and safe driving and I'll wish you the same.

Have a dandy Memorial Day weekend, mis amigos, and party responsibly.
Asta Bastista, baby.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Androcles and the Text Message

Bizarro is brought to you today by Talking Laundry.

I'm sure a lot of readers don't remember the story of Androcles and the lion, or, if you went to an average American public school, never learned it, so here is a summary: A runaway slave removes a thorn from a lion's paw, then years later is not eaten by said lion because he remembered the favor.

Now, suddenly, the bartender joke becomes oh so poignant and humorous. Let us chuckle together, shall we?

The moral of the story is, if you want to be a super rich cartoonist, start drawing cartoons that anyone can immediately appreciate, even hillbillies. (Alas, will the parade of reasons I'm not rich never end?)

Here's one that any boob with a cell phone and a Facebook page can get. That includes just about ever boob in the country, including me. Let the riches begin!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Furless Snakes

Bizarro is brought to you today by The Dangers of Farsightedness.

Here's a pithy little cartoon about a homeless snake. The kind of snake I've drawn here is more like a constrictor, which I don't think actually care for pits, but drawing a tiny viper didn't seem right for the composition. I don't actually know much about snakes so feel free to educate me in the comments.

Also, I appear in the cartoon as the overly-hip hipster coming around the corner. Not my best (or most flattering) self portrait, but it works as another homage to Hitchcock.

Hey, here's something fun: I'm going to be doing some stage comedy and hosting at a movie premiere in LA soon. If you're in the area, come see me. The movie is a documentary about the cruelty of the fur industry, a subject I care a lot about, and both CHNW and I appear in the movie as interviewees. I haven't seen it yet, so I have no idea how we come off, but I'm hoping it is somewhere on the embarrassment scale below "devastating."

Below is the invitation poster. Read it, memorize it, print it out, then eat it. We can't afford to have this sort of thing fall into the wrong hands. Here's where all the cool kids are getting their tickets.

Click it to make it bigger and clearer. But then, you knew that.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Problem With Shoes

Reality Sux

Bizarro is brought today to you by Colored People.

I was among the zagillions of people who saw the Fantasy Blue People World movie in 3-D and really enjoyed it. I can't say I enjoyed it so much I want to get my ears surgically altered, grow a ponytail and paint myself blue, but the world they created, when experienced in 3-D, was, as the kids say, awesome. I'm not sure how much I would have liked it in 2-D.

The story was nice, too, as I recall.

Which begs the question posed in this cartoon: why don't we have 2D glasses that make reality seem less real? I'd wear them while in line at the DMV. (For foreign readers of this blog, that's the Department of Motor Vehicles, where we stand in line for hours waiting for the person behind the counter to tell us we have forgotten one crucial element of the six forms of I.D. necessary to attain a driver's license.)

Of course, the subtext of this cartoon is that the sort of people who are most adamantly attracted to films such as this are those least attracted to reality. But god bless those kinds of fans, without them, there would be no comics conventions.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Gaga for Gaga

(To view Lady Gaga's family in expanded glory, click on her belt buckle.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Shrinking Violets.

If you don't know who Lady Gaga is you won't understand this cartoon. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, I'm not sure why I know who Lady Gaga is, I'm not a fan, but I do and I saw an opportunity for a fun cartoon so I took it. In my career, I'm sort of required to know about relatively unsatisfying pop trends in the same way that I'm required to understand and use Facebook and Twitter. It's not necessarily how I prefer to spend my time, but it's part of my job.

Here's a bit of groovy news about my good friend and valued colleague, Wayno: he has an online art exhibit going that you might want to peruse. This is not a show of his single-panel cartoons, the ideas for which he occasionally shares with me for Bizarro, but some of his musician portraits. Check it out and buy some prints for your own bare nekked walls. It feels good to support the Friends of Bizarro and it might help Wayno move from his current domicile to a permanent abode.

And here's one last bit of dynamic news: I've been declared an American treasure and recommended for a Kennedy Center Honor! OMG, can this really be happening? Please leave a comment, so mine won't be so lonely.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Can't Miss This


If you're in the northeast, come to Woodstock Sanctuary next Saturday, May 29th for a concert on the farm with Chrissie Hynde (of The Pretenders) and Welsh songwriter, JP Jones.

It will be fun and cool and awesome and all the money goes to the sanctuary. I'll be there along with CHNW and my whole posse of closest pals. We can chat and pretend to be friends and in such an intimate setting, you might also get to meet Chrissie, because, let's face it, you always wanted to!

If you do drop by, be sure to introduce yourself and say you read my blog. I'll fawn over you real good!

Tickets and info.

Gay Cowboys

Bizarro is brought to you today by Flamenco Segway.

Here's a fun little ditty about a topic I've discussed here before. Among groups known for being homophobic are "cowboy types," whatever that means exactly. I was raised in Oklahoma and Texas and can vouch for the accuracy of this stereotype. In fact, when I was a teenager in Tulsa, I was often accused by strangers of being gay simply because I did not dress like a local hick. (I leaned more toward the British punk rockers at the time.)

But viewed objectively, one can't argue that cowboy clothing is unusually feminine: pearl buttons, embroidered shirts (frequently of flowers), fringe, scarves, pants with the butt and crotch cut out (chaps), high heel boots with pointy toes (often with embossed flowers and swirls), big shiny belt buckles with more flowers and swirls on belts with yet more embossed flowers and swirls and dangling handguns (the ultimate phallic symbol), flamboyant hats that make Truman Capote's seem macho by comparison.

Perhaps getting in touch with my own feminine side, I wear a lot of western shirts, though not the rest of the garb. I'm a fan of fancy, vintage cowboy shirts and have a collection of about two dozen. As a matter of fact, I'd really love to get hold of one of those outlandish suits that country western performers used to wear at the Grand Ole Opry, but I'm not holding my breath. I can't afford a new one and finding an old one that fits and is in good shape is a long shot at best. It's not the sort of thing you come across on Craigslist.

It is a common belief that those who complain most about gays are most likely to be closeted gays themselves, just as those who champion family values are the most likely to be caught with an underage prostitute. Maybe Brokeback Mountain is more common than we know.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Crash Talk

Bizarro is brought to you today by Cops on Break.

Lately I've been depending on my good friend and talented colleague, Wayno, to help me with cartoons. My schedule has been a mess lately, as I've mentioned here previously, and without some writing help I'd be a basket case. CHNW and I swapped houses with some friends in Maui a few weeks back (which had been planned before I knew just how busy my schedule was going to be), then my daughter got married in Texas*, then I had a stand-up gig and a business meeting in Los Angeles. All told, I was home for just three days of the past four weeks. Fun and exciting, but grueling. By far, the worst thing about syndicated cartooning is having to work 365 days a year for years on end – over 25 for me so far.

Here are a couple of Wayno's gags from the past week. I like the Starbucks one because I don't like Starbuck's coffee – it tastes like burnt grill scrapings to me – but I drink it when there is nothing else available. I fully recognize the insanity of drinking something you hate just because it is all you can find, but the need for a strong, hot drink in the morning trumps my tastebud's preferences. I also suspect that any company as large as Starbuck's can't be doing the planet any favors, but I could be wrong about that. When it comes to corporations, I say, "guilty until proven innocent."

This next joke is an obvious pun which may have even been done before but I like the angle and the visual. "Crash," as an expression meaning "to sleep," probably came from the hardcore drug culture reference to coming down hard from a high. It amuses me that even mainstream America has embraced this word to mean sleeping in general. A middle-aged fundamentalist preacher and his wife visiting Branson, Missouri would think nothing of saying "we were so tired we went back to our hotel and crashed."

That's not to say that middle-aged fundamentalist preachers aren't using hardcore drugs, of course, but you get the idea.

*This photo was taken by a super talented photographer you can find here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Puppies and Chickens

(For a larger, more better image of bigness to view, click the cartoon)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Good Name for a Band.

Dear faithful reader, thank you for your patience. I've been out of town for all but three days of the past four weeks and it's been difficult keeping up. As I look at the mounting pile of missed deadlines and cascading unanswered emails, I am experiencing fits of depression and feelings of hopelessness. These are mitigated with fantasies of setting fire to my apartment and moving to Tahiti, however, so that keeps me going.

Here are a couple of nice Sunday cartoons that ran in the past few weeks. I like both of these concepts and the art, as well. I like the idea of a werepuppy as opposed to a werewolf. Come to think of it, an excellent children's cartoon show might be a baby who is bitten by a werewolf and becomes a werepuppy every full moon. Oh, the shenanigans he/she could get into.

I've long been a fan of both birds and dogs, so combining them in one drawing was fun for me. One of the things I love so much about Hawaii is that the islands are populated with feral chickens. Descendants of escaped livestock, these kooky critters have thrived for generations, so the jungles and parks are full of them. When viewed objectively, they are among the most visually exciting birds in the world, in my opinion. And they are surprisingly smart.

Back to the grindstone for me. If you've emailed me recently and I haven't answered, please be patient. I badly need an assistant, wish I could afford one. I've used interns from time to time but they're too transient and take too much time to train.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Airport Monkey Business

Bizarro is brought to you today by Hair at First Sight.

This cartoon was inspired by the laughable system of security that we have adopted at U.S. airports since 9/11. I've long thought that it was designed primarily to create an "appearance" of safety so as to calm travelers and a couple of airline pilots I've spoken to in recent years confirmed that. A couple of weeks ago, while a small bottle of distilled water that I was carrying to keep my cigars humidified was confiscated by security, the guy who put a car bomb in Times Square was allowed to board a plane unmolested. He was on the No Fly List and was sought by every law enforcement agency in the free world, but at least he didn't have a bottle of water.

If you fly as much as I do, you cannot help but just shake your head at the idiotic structure of the T.S.A. I'm convinced that the only reason a plane hasn't been victimized since 9/11 is because nobody with any brains has tried very hard. One of the pilots I referenced above told me they consider T.S.A. to stand for "thousands standing around."

On to lighter subjects, here's a look at the old "a million monkeys typing" theory. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed finishing it and moving to the couch for a nap.

Wrong Size Sandwich

(click the images to see them LARGE)

Bizarro is brought to you today by
Liza Minelli.

Here's another post with a two-fer, to make up some ground on the cartoons I didn't post while away. I really like cartoons like "Clown Mistakes," ones that are outside the usual formula of one-panel comics. More like a chart or diagram than a scene, my hero, B. Kliban was a genius at this kind of joke and the first person I ever saw employ this style.

Lots of readers really loved the sandwich joke, one even said it was the "best Bizarro ever." Normally I'd be happy about such a compliment, but I confess I didn't write this joke. It was given to me by my colleague, Wayno, who was kind enough to help me get ahead while trying to prepare for my lengthy trip away. Several of the jokes that printed last week and this were by Wayno. You can see them all on his blog. Many thanks, amigo!

Still catching up, must run.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Helium Beards

Bizarro is brought to you today by My New Mustache.

Since I'm way behind on posting cartoons, I'll post a couple each day until I'm caught up. I like both of these a lot, so I wanted to share them with you even though they appeared in the paper a couple of weeks ago.

Seriously, have you ever heard someone who has been breathing helium scream in pain? Neither have I, but I think it would be one of those funny/tragic moments, like when your grandmother is knocked out of her wheelchair by your mom's runaway motorcycle.

The penguin idea came to me after seeing some old Muslim dudes who live in my neighborhood in Brooklyn. They die their beards bright red, I have no idea why but I'm guessing it identifies them as belonging to a certain sect. There's a mosque a few blocks away where they hang out. I've never asked them about the beard color, I just enjoy it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Comeback Blog

Bizarro is brought to you by
my long absence. Thanks for your patience and all of the notes and comments expressing a wish for my return to daily blogging. I've been away from home for three weeks, a rarity for me, partly on holiday in Hawaii and partly in Austin, Texas for my daughter's wedding. It was a terrific trip all around.

I'll post some holiday pics in the coming days or week, if I can get them downloaded and sorted and all that. Just the good/funny/weird ones. I don't want to subject you to boring personal moments or anything.

Speaking of boring personal moments, here are a couple of nice pics of my two daughters and me at the wedding. I'm the dark guy on the right who just got back from two weeks in Hawaii. The one in the light dress is Krapuzar, my eldest and the new bride, the one in the disgraceful, upstage-your-sister-at-her-own-wedding red dress is Krelspeth, the youngest. The "K2" that regularly appears in my cartoons stands for them.

And here, as proof that I was indeed in Hawaii, is a picture of me underwater at a Maui beach.

By the way, a handful of readers wrote to me asking what the above cartoon meant. If you were similarly confused, if you rearrange the letters in each word of the speaker's balloon, you get "There is no god." Hence the atheist anagram.

More shenanigans tomorrow!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Earth Wind Fire and Water

Bizarro is brought to you today by Maui Dude.

This is my last day in Maui, CHNW and I are taking an overnight plane to Austin, Texas where we will visit my daughters and attend the wedding of the elder one on Saturday. This is my first shot at being father of the bride, I hope I don't mess it up. I haven't used a shotgun in years.

So much for my plans to blog every day while I was here. There was just too much to do to get motivated to make time for it. The snorkeling is best early in the morning when the water is most calm, then the rest of the day we puttered around the island doing various things. A couple of mornings ago we swam with giant sea turtles and a couple of octopuses in the morning, then drove up to the summit of Haleakala, the dead volcano that makes up the larger part of the island, in the afternoon. The summit is 10,023 feet above sea level, which made my head 10,028 feet 8 inches above the ocean. This is several thousand feet above the clouds, so it is identical to the view out of a commercial airliner, but you're outdoors. The landscape is lunar, of course, all volcanic rock with a few small, dry plants poking out here and there. It was around 80º on the beach when we started the drive but at sunset on the crater's rim it was about 38º with a 40mph wind. I don't know the mathematical formula for figuring wind chill, but it was about as cold as we've ever been, even though we were wearing jackets, pants and hats. Very surreal.

Downloading and resizing the photos is something I've not gotten to yet, but I'll post some later.