Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pool of Death

Today's Bizarro is brought to you by the fine people at Styx Limousine Service. "We'll see you across the river in style." (previous, less popular motto: "Just shut up and get back in the box, you stiff.")

The Grim Reaper is a popular cartoon subject for good reason. A lot can be said about the human condition by the way we are escorted to the "other side."

This cartoon doesn't say anything about that, however, it's just a simple twist on the Bergman motif of playing chess with Death. (Or was it Pictionary? It's been a long time since I've seen that film.)

A reader emailed me when this ran and asked, "Why is the guy worried? The Grim Reaper is going to chop himself in the back as soon as he shoots."

Good point. But GR is already dead, so the worst that could happen is he rips his nightgown and maybe whacks his neck out of joint a bit. Nothing a chiropractor and a tailor couldn't fix.

Check out my fancy coloring job on the human's face as it fades behind the table light. It gives a sense of depth, right? These are the little extras you get from Bizarro that most features don't bother with. I spare no expense to pamper and entertain you, my precious reader.

All I really want in life is the approval of strangers.
Your devoted cartoonist pal,

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jail Bait

Today's Bizarro is brought to you by Double Entendre Wine.

This is a gag that would not have flown 15 years ago. Newspapers have always been very conservative about the kind of humor that appears on their comics pages. I can't blame them, they know that children read the comics and many parents don't want to be faced with answering what they consider to be difficult or embarrassing questions over the breakfast table. I'm happy to report, however, that in recent years they have loosened their standards somewhat.

I was always honest with my daughters, no matter what they asked, and found that they always accepted my answers casually and moved on unharmed. Contrary to what many parents fear, children do not become promiscuous because they know what sex is, or homosexual because they are aware of its existence, or drug addicts because someone explained to them what marijuana was when they were "too young." Knowledge of a behavior or lifestyle is not what makes a person choose that path for themselves.

More simply, what I've always wondered is why a parent feels they must answer a question they are not comfortable with. If my precocious 3-year-old asked me what this cartoon was about and I didn't want to go to the trouble to explain the concept of penis envy, I'd just say, "I'm not sure. I don't get it either." I suspect that 100% of children would then say, "oh," and forget about it. This seems like a much more logical approach to the situation than writing to the newspaper editor about how offended you were that such a pun was included in the comics page. Choose your battles, that's all I'm saying. And be honest with your kids, then have faith that they'll make good decisions. That's another thing I'm saying.

I did this with my kids and both of them are well adjusted, productive adults. At least they were before they went to prison and I have no reason to believe they won't be when they get out.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Guest Cartoonist

I normally don't write about Bizarro cartoons until they are a week old, but I want to address the "guest cartoonist" situation going on this week in newspapers a across the globe.

For a syndicated cartoonist responsible for 365 new cartoons per year, for as long as his/her career lasts, there are no vacations. For us to have time off, we have to write twice as many jokes for a given amount of time, draw, color, and format twice as many images, then rush out the door. When we get home, we race to catch up again because we used all our available ideas to get out the door, but now x amount of new ones are due again. It's a white-hot hell.

Some cartoonists will publish reruns, but unless your feature is widely considered indispensable, like Doonesbury or Peanuts, editors don't like to publish reruns and will frequently sub your feature out for someone else's, either permanently or until you get back to work. The market is so competitive these days that a smart cartoonist doesn't dare let that happen. Some syndication companies just ban the practice entirely.

Recently, some artists have gone to the "guest artist" system, which is a great alternative. I get my much-needed time off, another artist gets some exposure, the readers get a glimpse of a new artist they might otherwise have never come across.

Francesco Marciuliano, whom I chose as my sub this week, is a good friend and a brilliant and prolific humorist. The guy writes Sally Forth (I know, it's not typically at the top of a Bizarro reader's list, but read it a few times and see if he doesn't do an amazing job of breathing life into what is essentially a formula family strip) an Emmy-winning children's show for cable (can't remember the name of it – Binky and Floofloo? Invisible Playmate in My Pants? How Drunk is Uncle Rick?), as well as a clever blog, brilliantly funny essays, and a fair amount of stand-up comedy. My own personal favorite of Ces' myriad accomplishments, however, is his online comic, Medium Large. All of this, and he's as quiet and humble as a church mouse. And almost as furry.

Hope you like what Ces (pronounced: chez) did for this week. I'll be commenting on them daily next week. Here's one that didn't make the cut. (must be over 16 to read this one)

Be groovy, be well, B vitamins.

Piercing Limits

(click to enlargerate)

Today's Bizarro is brought to you by Back At Headquarters. "It's good to be home!"

Just got back from the San Diego Comic Con and a couple of parties in L.A. I'll blog about those later.

For now, here is a dandy little cartoon ditty from Sunday a week ago. I like this idea and am happy with the drawing, but I'm wishing now that I'd made the car keys on his ear more obvious, or drawn them differently somehow. They could get lost in some of the newspapers where they print Bizarro small.

Which brings up a pet peeve: why do so many papers put Garfield all huge and monumental on the front page of their Sunday pages, then relegate cartoons like mine, with elaborate art and relatively complex ideas (that's not saying much for newspaper comics) to smaller bits of real estate deeper in the section? Garfield is simply drawn, commercially produced by a committee of trained surrogates, and read primarily by small children who have yet to develop critical skills capable of discerning much beyond the texture of their SpahettiOs. If I ran a newspaper comics section, I'd feature art and commentary by artists who aren't phoning in their work from their corporate jet. But that's just me.

On another subject, I'm a guy with tatts (six) and piercings (one in each ear) and who appreciates any attempt at individuality. I will admit, however, that those whose number of piercings rival the number of their skin pores, disturb me just a bit. I'm particularly disturbed by people who have something the size of an SUV's hubcaps crammed into a flaccid loop of flesh at the bottom of their ear. I'm a little squeamish about the human body in general and deliberate deformities creep me out a bit. Tongue piercings creep me out even more. It just looks like it would hurt.

Tattoos hurt and I have no aversion to those, so I guess I'm just being a baby. We all have our reservations and limits, I guess.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Obsessive Humor

Bizarro is brought to you today by Censorship International. "Hey! You can't do that!"

As I mentioned yesterday, I accidentally left my current cartoons at home so I'm using stuff that is on my laptop, hence the date of this cartoon.

This is one that never ran in the papers because it was feared that people with OCD would rise up against newspaper editors all across the land and cause trouble for me. One might be tempted to say, "Don't give in, Dan. To hell with them if they can't take a joke." But editors don't like losing a day of work answering angry emails, letters and phone calls and may decide to replace Bizarro with a less controversial clone. That would be bad for me. So this isn't really censorship as much as it is my personal editor advising me against it and me agreeing.

I experienced a bit of this last week when I ran a cartoon about dyslexia. I didn't lose any papers over it (that I know of), but some folks complained. I have OCD and dyslexia in my family (and a touch of OCD myself) so I feel I have the right to poke a little fun at me and mine. Humor is an age-old human device for getting through tough times and situations, so I am not as sensitive about it as many people apparently are. God knows that vegans get regularly grilled in humor venues of all kinds, but I take it with grain of salt (or a salt lick) and laugh at myself and my kind. My folks taught me that. Laughing at ridicule and teasing takes the fun out of it for the other guy, and the sting out of it for you.

The blog is good for this kind of cartoon, which will likely never see wider publication. Glad I had this opportunity to share it with you, hope no one has taken time off from checking the door locks and stove handles to get offended.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Today's Bizarro is brought to you by My Faulty Brain.

Hello from Sunny San Diego, my BizarroBlogBuddies. Just before I left my estate in Brooklyn yesterday, I loaded all the appropriate cartoons that I would need to continue posting on this blog onto a little dealy-bobber stick so I could bring them with me. Then I left the dealy-bobber stick in my computer at home. What I have learned from this experience is that dealy-bobber sticks, no matter how well-designed, do not work at a distance of 2400 miles.

So I'm posting this older cartoon, which happens to be one of my faves from last year, because it was already on my laptop. 

Okay, kids, I'm off to the Comic Con to see strange people in stranger outfits. Next week I'll post a blog with my own pics from this year's show and a ridiculous running comentary.

I hope you like this panel and are not going to be a jerk about it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Comic Con

Don't come by my house this weekend looking for me, I'll be in San Diego at the world's biggest comics convention. If you've never been, you should go. And no need to take recreational drugs ahead of time, the tens of thousands of attendees are beyond the strangest mushroom trip anyone's ever experienced.

If you're going, come by the NCS (National Cartoonists Society) booth and say hello. I'll be selling and signing books, trading cards, prints, and some of my old T-shirts, the ones that are too stained to wear or don't fit me anymore since I've been taking steroids. Since I'm not a spoiled professional athlete with way more money than couth, autographs and pictures with me are completely free. I will be charging for sketches, however, but they're well worth it since I draw not with ink, but with my own blood from a self-inflicted bullet wound in my leg. You don't get that kind of dedication from your average cartoonist.

Don't come to my house this weekend looking to rob it, either. CHNW will be there and she's currently fostering two rescued pit bulls. They love her and they won't like you.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Free Valium

This Bizarro is brought to you by the struggling executives of America's oil companies. "We don't want your pity, just your firstborn, an arm, a leg, your soul, and another Republican in the White House."

Since I live in NYC, the only city in America where you can not own a car and still get anywhere, anytime, any day of the year, the price of gas isn't on my mind all that much.

I drive a Vespa scooter, which used to cost me about $4 to fill up, now nearly $8. If I drive it a lot every day, which I rarely do unless I'm smuggling illegals in from Canada, I fill up once a week. More typically, I fill up once a month.

I do feel the crunch when I fly, however, airline prices are out of sight, and the cost of cabs and car services in NYC keep going up.

What is the best thing we can do to alleviate the gas crisis? Elect a president who isn't butt buddies with the Saudis. (The ones who blew up the towers. Remember?)

Am I a genius, or could a box turtle to figure this out?

Bubble Court

Bizarro is brought to you today by Where The Hell? Industries. "Answering the question, 'Where the Hell did THAT come from?' since 1985."

In all modesty, let me say that I love this gag. I have no idea where it came from or why, it just fell out of my head when I leaned over my drawing table to write gags one morning , and I giggled.

It features one of my favorite cartoon tricks, to draw a picture that at first glance looks like something familiar, and at closer inspection is something entirely different. I didn't invent this trick, of course, I've just always loved it.

Below is perhaps my favorite example of it of my entire career. Tonto points at smoke signals in the distance. Or does he?

Click on the image to biggerize it and get the full effect.

I included this cartoon in the retrospective-of-my-career-so-far book, Bizarro and Other Strange Manifestations of the Art of Dan Piraro. If you like me or my work, it's a must-have book. I'm not saying that just because I want to sell the books (without decent sales numbers, you can't keep publshing), but because it honestly is a great book for people who like my work. Lots of unpublished paintings, sketches, photos, as well as my favorite cartoons from over the years, a humorous autobiography (that I wrote myself!), stories from my comedy show tours, controversial opinions about everything from tofu to our ravaged nation, you name it.

Order a case or two here. You and your descendants will thank me.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fruity Fun For Free

Bizarro is brought to you today by the Teresa Heinz Foundation for Condiment Awareness.

How often do you think to put fruit on your hamburger or hot dog? Or have pasta with fruit sauce? What about dipping your french fries in a fruit salsa?

Well even if you think you would never do such a thing, I am here to tell you that you would too! You do it all the time! For the plain scientific truth is, the tomato is a fruit, not a vegetable!!!

For eight more little-known facts, one of which has to do with handcuffs, go here.

Still Not Dead

Many of you who read this blog have wished me well regarding the personal struggles I have mentioned lately. (shown, at left, singing the blues)

I really appreciate it, it means a lot to know you're thinking of me. Some have suggested chemical solutions – from anti-depressants to pot – thanks for those, too. I am on anti-depressants, have been since '96, and repeated efforts to live without them have failed. I'm not a big believer in pharmaceuticals and hate the industry, but it looks as if I'm a customer for life. Could be worse.

The problems I am experiencing are of a nature that I won't share in detail here, although I'd love to because I'm a real blabbermouth when it comes to my emotions (I have a strong feminine side in that way, and I'm Italian, known for our sentimentality.) But for all involved, it would be best if I leave it vague.

But whatever the cause, suffice to say that things are looking up and I'm feeling better. Life is a series of peaks and valleys and I'm happy to have this particular valley mostly behind me.
If the automobile of my heart runs out of gas on the way up the next peak and begins to roll back toward that valley, I'll hurl myself from the car and crawl.
If the pants leg of my insecurity gets caught on the side mirror, I'll rip my pants off and crawl bare-assed.
If an avalanche of childhood memories comes my way, I'll hop up and down like a Mario Brothers' character and dodge the boulders.
If the grizzly bear of self doubt grabs me and starts dragging me back toward the valley, I'll shove my anti-depressants into his mouth until he chills.

I'm not going back to that damned valley, do you understand?!

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Non Bizarro Parade

Today's cartoon is not a Bizarro at all, and is brought to you by Parade Magazine. "Don't rain on us. Newsprint melts."

After decades of featuring Howard Huge and The Lockhorns in their comics section, Parade Magazine has recently taken on a small stable of different cartoonists to fill their page. I'm lucky enough to be one of them, and here are a few samples of ones they've run.

For the uninitiated, Parade is a semi-slick pull-out magazine that is included in Sunday newspapers all across the country. Many hundreds of markets, more markets than Bizarro's daily list, for sure. So this is nice exposure for me and a little extra money here and there. My drug habit being what it is, I can always use extra money.

They even have a caption contest now and then, which is fun. A couple of the future caption contests will feature my cartoons, so keep an eye out for them.

The first cartoon above is one of my favorites that Parade has bought. I like technology and always get a kick out of learning something new on my computer or phone, but I didn't grow up with it so it is more intimidating to me that it is for those of you under thirty.

I'm not a complete klutz, I've never taken a picture of my ear while trying to make a call, but I have spent 11 minutes sending a text message that would have taken me 11 seconds to speak, only to be texted back four paragraphs of copy less than a minute later. Who are these people with such fast and nimble fingers and why aren't they heart surgeons?

I've always loved lava lamps and am fortunate to have an original one from the 60s (exactly like this one, sans coffee mug) which came with CHNW when we married. Some would say that's not much of a dowry, but I'm happy with it. I also like volcanoes, but I don't have one.

I like this penguin joke, too. Tiny Speedos on just about anything other than a hot babe, are just inherently funny. Or disgusting. I actually have two swim suits: a baggy surfer-style one that I use for American beaches, and a small Euro-style Speedo (like this size) that I wear to foreign beaches. It's actually more comfortable and I don't feel as if I'm swimming in a dress, as I do with the big baggy American one. But wearing the small suit on an American beach just makes me feel conspicuous. People tend to assume I'm gay (partly because of the suit and partly because I am so good-looking and have such a great body) or an exhibitionist. I'm sure you ladies know what I mean when I say that being hit on by men is not conducive to a relaxing day at the beach.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Whispers and Shouts

Today's Bizarro cartoon is brought to you by Subvocalized Punch Lines. "Act them out in your head, they're funnier!"

It has been my experience that people read in very different ways. Really good readers, with large, bulging, veiny brains, can glance at words, understand their meaning in a microsecond, and move on at tremendous speed.

Average readers, like me, tend to hear a voice in their head saying the words. (Don't get me wrong, I am an avid reader and can achieve the glancing technique when I just want the info and don't care about style, but when reading for fun I slow way down.)

Then there is the third type, who move their lips and whisper as they read, usually more slowly than they would speak, often with their eyes half shut and a little drool on their chin. (This third type is not to be ridiculed, many such readers have attained great personal success.)

The punchline above is one that begs to be subvocalized, as the emphasis on the words is essential to the gag.

One of my pet peeves is when a cartoonist emphasizes the wrong words in a caption. I see this all the time. For instance, if during a heated debate one character says, "What are you talking about?!" the proper word to emphasize is "talking." But often, the word "about" or "you" will be emphasized instead. Say these aloud and hear which makes the most sense: What are you talking ABOUT?! What are YOU talking about?! (this version could make sense, but in the context of an argument, it isn't the emphasis you're looking for.) What are you TALKING about?!

That's a hypothetical example and sounds dumb, but believe me, I see this all the time. If I went on the Internets right now, I'm sure I could find an example somewhere and post it. But then I'd be deriding a colleague, which is not cool in my book. Unless it is Jim Davis, who no longer writes Garfield anyway and who could afford to buy the entire block across the street from my apartment in Brooklyn, turn it into an ice cream truck parking lot and leave the music on all night.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Happy Thoughts!

Bizarro is brought to you by Our Horrendous Predicament. "You asked for it

(click image to make it GMO BIG!)

Since I was a kid, I've enjoyed imagining and drawing what things would look like "if". Here, I got to explore what a pickup truck would look like if a 10,000 lbs. chicken stepped on it. It isn't strictly accurate, of course, an old truck from the 70s wouldn't have crushed nearly this easily or uniformly. But if I hadn't drawn it this way, wouldn't be funny. That's where science meets art in the world of the cartoonist. (said facetiously)

This cartoon also serves as a reminder of the dangers of GMO foods. Chickens probably won't grown to 25 feet tall (although I'd love to be there when one that size tore through the family room wall of Jim Perdue's house), but the truth is, we don't know what will happen. Like marriage, genetic modification can be sublimely beneficial or a never-ending horror show. In my opinion, it isn't something you should tinker with for as frivolous a reason as wider profit margins.

But that kind of thinking never stopped a capitalist before, so I'm pretty much just pissing into the wind. At least when the planet finally extinguishes our species, as our obese, pampered bodies succumb to flesh-eating bacteria and dissolve on live TV, some of us can wave our bumper stickers, pins, T-shirts, and cartoons and say, "TOLD you (cough, cough) so!"

This has been today's Bizarro Happy Thought. : )

I'll try to be more upbeat tomorrow.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Punny Paris

People suggest puns to me all the time but I rarely bite. Puns have to be very clever or unique or have a good visual to get me interested. In the case of this one, I just thought it was funny. Sadly, I can't remember who suggested this one or I'd give him/her props here.

(I know I've mentioned other people suggesting jokes to me a lot lately, but it is because I'm going through a tremendously rough patch in my personal life right now and am having trouble writing humor. Depending on others for the extra material needed to keep up with my merciless joke-a-day schedule is a life-saving option.)

Most people who wrote to me liked this one, but one reader politely suggested that I was making fun of suicide and objected. I politely explained that the Pont Neuf in Paris is a very short bridge and people don't typically use it for suicide, just jackassing around. She felt better.

Another email came in from regular readers who said they were in Paris a few weeks before this cartoon ran and saw a guy jump into the Seine off another bridge. They wondered if maybe I was there and that was what inspired the cartoon. Oddly enough, I was there and, in fact, was the guy who jumped.

I wish. I haven't been in Paris for years and really need to go back. Maybe soon.


I already mentioned this in the comments box of the previous post, but I would like to say that the Canadian immigration post was entirely satirical. I love Canada – Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver are three of my favorite cities in North America – and hockey is my favorite TV sport by far.

If we have one more phony election in this country and John McSame is in the White House, I may be a permanent fixture in your 'hood. Of course, the thing I dislike most about NYC is the winter here, so I may go to Rome instead. I'll keep you updated.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Pale Backs

Today's Bizarro cartoon is dedicated to the patriotic men and women of the American Northern Border Patrol. "If it looks like a Canuck and walks like a Canuck, we shoot at it."

Before any literal-minded readers' wigs start smoking, let me say I do NOT advocate shooting Canadians. Unless they are trying to sneak over the border, then they are fair game.

As the army of misinformation drones on Fox News tell us daily, illegal immigration is the biggest problem our country faces. They are behind the high price of gas, the sinking dollar, our faltering infrastructure, and the war in Iraq. It's not US, it's THEM. Any fool can see that.

But wait, the border between Canada and the U.S. is the longest unguarded border in the world. No fence, no barricades, no machine guns or howitzers pointed at Toronto. What gives?

That is a rhetorical question, of course. The last thing I want is for the U.S. to shut off the flow of illegal immigrants from Canada. My housekeeper and yard people are illegal Canadians, they work for peanuts and I don't have to pay their social security. Also, Canadian food is my absolute favorite. What would I do without my weekly moose tacos and Montreal Margarita? I contend that Canadians are hard working and gladly filling jobs that Americans feel are beneath them. So what if they talk funny? Who cares if they smell like maple syrup and think hockey is more important than football? I fail to see how they are eroding the fabric of our nation.

It's amazing what a little pale skin can do to alleviate a national security threat.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Suffering for Beauty

Today's Bizarro is brought to you by the Bizarro from 6-02-08 and a comment left by someone calling his/herself "julie."

This cartoon was inspired by a cartoon I posted in June about plastic surgery. In the comments section, a regular reader of this blog suggested the idea. I drew it up immediately and submitted it. I'm not too proud to accept a good idea when offered.

This cartoon's concept also grew from a comment from another reader, "ging," who sent me a link to an actual children's book about this very subject of helping children deal with their mother's new look. When I first saw the cover, I actually blacked out and lost control of my bowels for a moment. When I came to, I begged the gods to kill me, to no avail. My cats wouldn't oblige me either, thus I lived to blog another day.

Since you're my best friends in the whole wide world and I consider you family, I won't candy-coat it: The selfish, shallow, arrogant nature of our species turns my stomach. At the same time, I fully realize that all species are selfish by evolutionary design, it is part of how we live long enough to reproduce. But our species has achieved a type of intelligence that allows us to far overreach ourselves and torture and destroy the other inhabitants of the earth, and ourselves, with our arrogance. That same intelligence can be used to resist the temptation to enslave or kill others for our own pleasure.

I'm not saying plastic surgery will destroy the world, of course (unless Michael Jackson is your world), but it's the tip of an iceberg of symptoms. Many live animals suffer immensely as techniques to improve human beauty are practiced on them. At Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY, there is a pig named Charlie who has huge lumpy scars all over his body from such practice. Carved up by day, imprisoned at night, so mommy can be more beautiful.

I'd like to see a children's book about that.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Open Door

Today's Bizarro may not be reproduced in any manner – electronic, mechanical, oragami, mime, Kabuki, opera or interpretive dance – without express written consent, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in the original text of the Bhagavad Gita.

People write to me all the time to ask if they can use my cartoons for everything under the sun: blogs, presentations, web sites, advertising, books, newsletters, T-shirts, tattoos, you name it. A lot of cartoonists are super uptight about reprints and don't allow anything without attaching big fees. I, on the other hand, am the Zen Groovy Love Doctor of reprints and have very simple rules:

The answer is "yes, you may" if:

1. You ask nicely.

2.It is a not-for-profit use like your personal website or a charity thing. As long as your website or your charity do not stand for something I oppose, like electing John McBush for president or dairy products.

3. You have a for-profit use like a book or advertisment, but have asked permission and paid a fee. The fee is based on the size of the use. Tiny self-published book/tiny money – big international publication from a major publishing house/bigger money.

4. You have members of my family in your custody and threaten them bodily harm if I do not relent.

The answer is "no, sorry" if:

1. You are a jerk.

2. Your usage promotes something I don't agree with, like (see #2 above.)

3.You have had members of my family in your custody and threatened them bodily harm but I managed to rescue them.

Short answer, if you want to use one of my cartoons for any reason – from a T-shirt to a mural on the side of your cargo ship – just ask me. My electronic door is always open.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mounting America

Last week I was in South Dakota in the Mount Rushmore area with CHNW(crazy half-nekked wife, left) and her CFCF (crazy fully-clothed family, not pictured). Here's why the trip was particularly meaningful for me.

When I was a teen, I found an old snapshot in a drawer at my grandparents' house. It was taken by my grandfather in 1930, when he was traveling around the country looking for work. He was a bricklayer, so he'd go from job to job, wherever he could find them, and send money home to his wife and kids. Along with one of those letters came the photo below, with this enscription on the back.

(For a better view, click the image to enlarge it)

Pretty good handwriting for a Sicilian bricklayer with a limited education, eh? Of course, in his day, schools employed the infamous "Penmanship-or-Die" method.

Below is a shot of me with the photo, in front of the completed project. There are only four heads, not five, as my granddad wrote – not sure if five were planned at the time he was there, or if someone gave him wrong info. He didn't get the names quite right, either. They are, from left to right: Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Louis Armstrong.

In the closeup shot of Rue below, you can see some prairie dogs on her head, erecting a primitive antenna of some sort. So much for non-human animals not being able to use tools.

Another cool place we visited is the Crazy Horse monument. This one is WAAAAY bigger than Mt. Rushmore, which is why they've made so little progress and aren't predicted to finish it before the sun goes supernova. In the foreground is a statue of what they would like it to look like, in the background, over 320 miles away, is what it actually looks like.

If you click the bottom pic below to enlarge it, you can make out white lines on the mountain's lower right corner that represent the horse's ear and eye. Settle down, it isn't vandalism, but part of an official change of approach as they reaized that drawing on the mountain is faster and easier than carving it. The drawing is projected to be finished by 2084.

In that same shot, you can see the face of whoever that guy is that is riding Crazy Horse. To give you perspective on the size, three school buses full of fat kids could fit into the nostril, and did in the early nineties during an incredibly strange highway accident. All of the children were rescued, but the buses were left in place for fear of nasal collapse.

We also visited Deadwood, the original city of HBO fame. CHNW and I are big fans of that show and her dad, whom we call "Stranger," is actually an obsessed stalker of it. Here is a pic of Stranger standing out front of the saloon where Wild Bill Hickok was gunned down.

Inside, they have a small room at the back that is supposedly where the regrettable event actually happened. It is made up to look exactly as it did then with eerily realistic mannequins reenacting the crime. No detail was spared in this uncanny recreation and I can only imagine what it must have cost.

I was so caught up in the moment, I lunged at Bill to warn him of the approaching gunman. Wow, was I embarrassed when I remembered it was 2008 and the whole thing was just a display.

You can also visit the cemetery where all the stars from the TV show are buried: Wild Bill, Clamato Jane, Sherriff Seth Bullock, etc.

Bullock's grave is interesting because people have put various keepsakes and offerings on top of the headstone. Among them are flowers, necklaces, candles, a plastic kid's sherriff badge, various bits of trash and doodads, and numerous business cards, as displayed here by the lovely CHNW. Also interesting is that his full name was apparently "Seth Bullock Pioneer Martha His Wife ." I guess I can understand why he didn't want to go by "Sheriff Wife."

As if it were possible to have even more fun, we did. We took a long, leisurely drive (around 83 hours, by my internal clock) through the outback of South Dakota and saw many gorgeous wildlife-style things. Here are a few samples of our zoological eye feasts that day.

This is the Pronghorned Horse. The park ranger said that thing on her neck is a radio collar. He didn't say what kind of radio the horse likes to listen to, though.

At right, a young moose, yet to grow his antlers.

The Wooly Monkey Horse, left, and the ass of a jackass.

The Great American Bison, or "Buffalo." Before the white man came with his saloons and bar snacks, they are said to have had wings.

Not all buffaloes have underdeveloped twins growing out of their foreheads as this one does. Local people carve these beautiful beasts up with knives and hatchets and eat them like they were popcorn. Many of the locals are the size of buffaloes themselves, as a result.

Our last shot is from the lawn out front of a family museum attraction, where children are taught to shoot lethally sharp objects at their fellow mammals in an attempt to procure a feeling of accomplishment from their suffering.

CHNW and I wanted desperately to get hold of a human child-sized mannequin, paint a target on it and add it to the lineup.

All in all, South Dakota is beautiful and well worth a visit. I'm never comfortable long in places where animals are so blatantly disregarded as individuals and patriotism is so blindly flaunted, but the land was gorgeous and the people were friendly as hell. Your results may vary.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bird Food

Bizarro is made possible by millions of years of evolution.

My biggest problem with this cartoon was making the pigeons look huge. It's very difficult to do that if you don't have something of a known size to compare them to. Since this is prehistoric, the only reference I felt I could logically give are trees, but they could also be small, tree-shaped plants.

I consider this cartoon a failure because I missed the obvious answer, which would have immediately both driven the joke home and made it much funnier: that rodent in the bird's mouth should have been a tiny caveman.

Sometimes, I surprise even myself with my dumbassness.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Death Row Doggy

(click image to enlargenize)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Shallow Choices.
"Why rescue an innocent critter from Death Row when you can spend thousands on a purebred that matches your hair?"

I was thinking about the cliche cartoon premise of a dog eating a kid's homework one day and wondered what would happen if you took that scenario to its extreme. The dog develops a homework addiction and has to have it every day. The kid he lives with isn't studious enough to satisfy the dog's cravings. The one place the dog can depend on getting plenty of homework is at a school. He disguises himself as a teacher.

As in all crimes outside of the White House, however, he eventually gets caught and ends up in the hoosegow.

P.S. Never buy a dog or cat from any kind of breeder or pet store. There are literally millions of great animals – purebreds and mutts alike – put to death at city animal shelters every single day. They need our help more than we need a fashion accessory for our home.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Loaded Labeling

Today's Bizarro cartoon is brought to you by Natural Selection. "Being overridden by an arrogant species for over a thousand years."

This is another offering from my pal, Phil, and it appealed to me both because I like the word play, and idiotic legal warnings on signs and labels are a pet peeve of mine.

If a label has to tell you not to use an electric hair dryer in the bathtub, chances are nature didn't equip you with the skills to avoid accidental electrocution. Could be a sign you were not meant to pass those genes on. As cruel as it sounds, I feel the same way about the dangers of combining infants and plastic bags. I've not tested this theory on the infants in my own care, but I find it hard to imagine a child strong enough to get hold of a plastic bag not being strong enough to pull it from his/her mouth.

Seems if one person dies from product misuse, no matter how foolish, it must forever be labeled. Eventually lawn chairs will have labels that say, "Do not consume a case of Bud before attempting to clean a loaded gun while sitting in this chair."

Friday, July 11, 2008

Accused of Idiocy

Bizarro is brought to you today by Unexpected Underwear Unlimited.

This joke came to me a few weeks ago I thought because my CHNW and I had been planning a trip to Scotland later this year. But when it ran in papers, a TV writer friend of mine in Hollywood, Andy Cowan (Seinfeld), wrote and reminded me he had tried to sell me this gag months ago. He was right, so I thanked him and sent him a check. ($12 – don't tell him he should have asked for more.)

Another email arrived the day after this ran, from a goober in Louisiana somewhere who claimed very pompously that I had obviously stolen it from his cartoon published in a local Mensa newsletter in Baton Rouge six years ago. Like I comb old Mensa newsletters from Louisiana looking for ideas.

What few people realize is that when you and who-knows-how-many thousands of other humans pretty much just like you are racking their brains 365 days a year to come up with jokes, obvious ideas like this one are going to occur to more than one person over time. Professional cartoonists know this well, we inadvertently copy each other all the time, chide each other by email and buy the injured party a beer at the next convention. A gag like this one has been thought of dozens of times before, and will be thought of dozens of times in the future. As long as you're haven't seen the gag yourself somewhere, it is fair game.

Unless I'm mistaken, the same pompous putz (I am less than polite in my choice of moniker because his letters arrogantly insist I am knowingly stealing from him and owe him money) accused me some years ago of stealing one of his cartoons about a pirate who had gotten dressed in a hurry that morning and put his hook, peg leg, eye patch, etc. in the wrong places.

If a truly unique or strange idea is copied, you know it's plagiarism, and those kinds of cartoonists are not tolerated well among their peers. Consequently, it happens very rarely among professionals. Especially in the age of the Internet.

Bottom line, someone as widely published as I, doesn't steal jokes. It's too easy/embarrassing to get caught. In spite of the way I look, I am not a complete idiot.

Bizarro Icon Shirts

Hello again, my fabulous friends. A reader posted a comment yesterday saying he/she liked the T-shirts in the 3-legged race cartoon and wished they were available. Because I want nothing more in life than to solicit the love of strangers, I have made it happen.

Here is a site in which all manner of products are available with my world-famous iconic images that lead you down the treacherous path to Ultimate Bizarro Awareness.

Veiw them, buy them, wear them, vote in them, change the world with them. I beg of you.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Scary Products

Hey, you crazy mofos, I want to share with you some kewl new products that a good friend of mine (a talented artist/designer whom I taught everything he knows when he first got out of art school) has launched along with his wife to try to feed their new kid.

As readers of this blog well know, I'm completely against human reproduction, so I will never speak to my friend again. The child, however, who didn't ask to be brought into this heinous world, is innocent and deserves to eat. So check out the site and buy some crap. If you want to look like me, I'll be sporting the devil and scary clown shirts. There are other worthy designs there, too.

Don't forget to click the images herein to enlargenate. Be careful with the clown, though. When large, it will scare the chutney out of you.

Nuclear Summer

Today's Bizarro is brought to you by the word, "Nucular."

"He who cannot control his tongue, cannot hope to control his mind." – Fortune Cookie

This cartoon appeared in newspapers vertically, as opposed to horizontally, as it is shown here, and represents the first time I've ever done that with a panel-shaped cartoon. (I have done it on occasion with the strip format, however.) Readers seeing it in the newspaper had to turn the paper sideways or crane their neck to see it properly. (Why "crane" our necks and never "flamingo" our necks?)

This is a version of an idea that my buddy and occasional writing partner, Phil Witte sent me. His idea was a couple of normal kids being passed in a 3-legged race by a kid with three legs. I liked the idea, but added the twist of his having four legs and having to hold one up, with the nuclear (pronounced properly) reactors in the background. These are typical of the sort of adjustments that are sometimes made to cartoon ideas I get from other people. Other times, I use them verbatim. I love ideas from others, but still write around 85% or 90% of my own jokes.

I also like the subtle addition of his three eyes and the eye on his shirt. I always like to give readers plenty to look at.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Slavery Sarcasm

Today's Bizarro is brought to you by Controversy Industries, Inc.
"Looking for trouble? We've got it in over 250 different styles and colors!"

I normally post cartoons a week after they run in papers, but this one has attracted a lot of negative mail so I wanted to address it sooner.

Contrary to what many people assumed, this cartoon is not intended to make light of slavery or racism. My intention was to point out that modern "feel good" marketing techniques are no more honest than this kind of technique would have been during legal slavery in America. My earnest apology goes to anyone who misinterpreted it. I'm not into pushing those kinds of buttons.

Words like "free-range," "organic," and "humane," make consumers believe that animals are being well treated and that the environment is not being damaged. This is a patent lie in virtually all cases. Animal agriculture at current rates is always cruel to animals and damaging to the environment. Any animal that goes to a slaughterhouse has experienced the ultimate cruelty. It's a no-brainer, there is no such thing as "humane meat".

I don't personally believe that cruelty to any species of animal is less immoral than cruelty to our fellow humans. To me, we are all the same in our desire to be pain free, happy, and alive. I don't believe this because I am vegan, I am vegan because I believe this.

For the record, I also refrain from buying products from countries with serious human rights issues. (Although everything under the sun is made in China so to be ardent about this I'd have to live naked in the woods.)

I hope this alleviates some angry readers. If not, send me an email and I'll respond personally.
If you're interested, here is a website about what your animal-based food goes through.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

MGM Weddings

This Bizarro is brought to you by something clever, which I cannot at the moment think of.

If you're alive in America right now, you've probably been invited to a foreign wedding. This seems to be the new trend, I've been to four in the past three years.

Even though I poke fun of foreign-destination weddings in this cartoon, I actually kind of like them. Unlike people with real jobs, I can usually afford to get away for a while and I fly so much that I have lots of frequent-flier miles. They are usually three-or-four-day parties and fairly spectacular.

One thing I've noticed over the years, however, is that the more money a couple spends on their wedding, the shorter the marriage tends to last. That's not always true, of course, but I have a general theory that if it is important to you to make an MGM musical out of your wedding, chances are it is disguising some insecurity about the relationship.

Before you start filling the comment box with examples of that not being true, remember that it's just a general rule of mine and carries no legal weight or obligation. Your results may vary.