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Yuck It Up!

Bizarro 05-03-15 hdrWEb(For a bigger-looking cartoon, click it!)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Millennial Confusion.

If you’ve ever been to the taping of a TV show, you know that those with live audiences are driven like slaves building the pyramids to laugh and applaud and hoot and holler and gasp Bizarro 05-03-15 WEBand whistle as though they’re having the times of their lives. The less funny the show is, the harder the audience wrangler has to work. It’s just one more aspect of TV that isn’t what it seems, like the scripting and multiple takes on “reality” TV shows. While I think this is notable and funny, I don’t actually think it is wrong. TV shows of this sort are theater, and by definition, aren’t meant to be real.

To be upset that the laughs on a sitcom are added electronically or the arguments on Real Housewives of New Jersey are scripted is like being upset that Scarlet Johansson isn’t really a martial artist. What is upsetting, however, is when shows portraying themselves as journalism are finagled for the sake of ratings. That happens a lot, too.

Going back in time (not really, cartoons are a kind of drama, too) let’s review last week’s gags…

bz panel 04-27-15Monday: Town criers used to play the same role as a newspaper so this one is adding a crossword puzzle to his format. I resisted having him describe a Garfield cartoon.

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday: You bz panel 04-28-15may not get this gag if you’ve never heard the expression, “I’ll dance on your grave,” which is used in an effort to express to someone how much you dislike them. I’ve never actually said this but I’ve thought it bz panel 04-29-15a few times.

 

 

 

Wednesday: I’ve often looked at thrones in museums and wondered how anyone could comfortably sit in one of those things for five minutes, much less for as long as it takes to declare war on a neighboring kingdom or hear a peasant’s request for justice. Today’s thrones are much more user friendly.

 

bz panel 04-30-15Thursday: This is one of those rare cartoons that was inspired by my own personal experience –– I got an email from a Nigerian prince once and was almost eaten by a cat.

 

 

 

 

 

bz panel 05-01-15Friday: This hasn’t ever happened to me but it is weird when you get to an age where many doctors and all cops are younger than you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

bz panel 05-02-15Saturday: I think a treadmill for a tightrope walker is amusing. I wonder if there’s a stationary machine of some kind for trapeze artists to use.

Here’s another treadmill gag of mine from a while back that I also like.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you’ve signed up to be notified by email when I post on this blog, you must sign up again. The last program crashed and the addresses were lost. The box to sign up again––or for the first time––is in the right margin of this and every post! I’ll never sell or share your email address, so it’s safe. Thanks, Jazz Pickles!

An Open Letter to the Supreme Court

bizarro 05-03-13GayAirplaneWEBTry as I might to stay out of politics in my comics, some issues just grab me by the throat and force my hand. This is one such issue.

No matter how long I live I don’t think I’ll ever understand why anyone cares who anyone else marries.

Personally, I don’t think the government should be involved in marriage issues whatsoever. Marriage should be left to the individuals entering into it: a civil contract, an agreement on a handshake, a religious ceremony if you like, a costume party in the woods, whatever makes sense to the people doing it. But the government’s interest in the institution is entirely misplaced in this day and age. Why do married people get tax breaks, special treatment from hospitals and insurance companies, or any special treatment at all from anyone, unless the powers-that-be are trying to direct and control society to their own end? We know from history that this never turns out well for the rest of us.

Some would say that family arrangements outside of two heterosexuals legally bound to each other for life work to erode society but there is no evidence of this in the real world. Families consist (and have always consisted) of virtually every combination of people, places, and things that one can imagine, and yet the world has not spiraled into chaos as a result. Children need loving adults in their lives, as many as they can get, and never does it occur to them to ask what kind of thingy the people who care for them have between their legs.

Outside of the archaic and fearful “rules” of certain religions, there are no logical objections to an all-inclusive attitude toward marriage. And religious notions are not something America is supposed to be legislating.

So if the government is going to keep their grimy hands in the marriage business, they must open the institution to anyone willing to pay the price of admission. Anything else would be a transparent attempt to control the direction of the human race, which is as futile as attempting to control the weather. (Although we’ve had some luck controlling the climate, and look where that’s gotten us.)

GMO Shuffle

bizarro 04-19-15 hdrWEB
Bizarro 04-19-15 WEBBizarro is brought to you today by The Three Stooges.

A few years ago we had a very long and spirited debate on this blog about the dangers/benefits of GMO crops. People I trust were on both sides of the issue so in the end, I wasn’t sure if I’m for or against them. Like most things, there are likely good and bad elements to the practice

bz panel 04-13-15 bz panel 04-14-15 bz panel 04-15-15 bz panel 04-16-15 bz panel 04-17-15 bz panel 04-18-15and there is definitely a lot of false propaganda about the subject. But this cartoon isn’t about that, it’s just a ludicrous look at a “what if” scenario. If this damn blog site is working properly, you should be able to click the image for a larger view so you can see some of the background elements better.

As for my other cartoons in the past seven days, let’s sally forth…

Monday: The American health care industry is insidious in my opinion. Don’t get me started.

Tuesday: An idea from my good buddy, Cliff The King of Wordplay. This one is so dry you’ll need to reach for a cold beer after reading it, but that’s what I like about it.

Wednesday: I’ve never been to a speed dating event but I’ve heard of them. It’s where lots of single people all get together in a big room with lots of small tables for two and I guess you jump from one person to the next, spending just a few minutes chatting up each person and seeing if you get a spark that you might want to pursue later. I envisioned a “too much information” guy and used a rough version of my own romantic biography for his line.

Thursday: My buddy Rick and I were having lunch one day and the topic of being able to throw a surprise party for a psychic would mean he/she wasn’t a very good psychic. We chuckled, I made a mental note and then later a cartoon.

Friday: My German pen pal and a writer in his own right, Michael Roth, tossed me an idea about a seeing-eye-snowdog and a snowman with no coals for eyes and I fashioned it thusly. It is sort of sweet with a touch of pathos. Heres an old favorite of mine from a few years back on a similar subject. Yes, it is late in the year to feature a snowman cartoon but my feature is called “Bizarro,” not “Normalo.”

Saturday: Just a bit of fun with a famous fictional character whose name is nothing more than a description of her clothing. I used it to make fun of two loooooooong-standing fashion trends that offend my eyes daily. As an artistic type, I find the poor fashion choices of others more distressing than others might.

Jocularity Jive

Bizarro is brought to you today byBizarro 04-12-15 hdrWEB Lost in Translation.

Barrooms, restaurants, downtown streets and the like are always a bit of a pain to draw because of the complexity of the space and all of the characters involved. I often avoid these kinds of scenes because they put a major crimp in my schedule but when I do force myself to get into it, I always end up enjoying the process and appreciating Bizarro 04-12-15 WEBthe result. Feedback from readers over thebz panel 04-06-15 years tells me that they enjoy the complex art, too, so that’s a win/win. This image has some fun details which I hope you’ll enjoy. It also has a whopping 9 secret symbols to look for! For an easier search, click the image to make it bigger.

Last week’s cartoons began with a foray into the inherent cruelty of the bz panel 04-07-15modern office environment. I don’t know what’s under that table, but it can’t be good.

Tuesday’s gag was about the cruelty of nature as it depicts a female praying mantis––who are known for decapitating their male lovers (no idea what the LGBT mantises do)––visiting her insurance agent to find out if she

bz panel 04-08-15can collect on his life insurance. The name of the company on the window is a side joke: Aetna Insurance is a company in the U.S. and my “Enta” is a cross between that and “entomology,” the study of bugs.

Over on the King Features site a couple readers left comments describing their confusion over the vegan diner gag. The joke is bz panel 04-09-15simple wordplay, of course. If you don’t get it, don’t worry about it.

My fireside gag between a man and his young daughter got some interesting comments on the King site, too. Several came from right-wing types who buy the FOX News angle that it isn’t corporations who are destroying the middle class but illegal aliens. I bz panel 04-10-15often forget that conservatives read my cartoons, too. What I can’t forget is that although FOX News is the highest rated news channel in the U.S. it also consistently proves to be the most inaccurate news source in America according to  independent studies. Its followers will decry that these studies are biased, of course, and bz panel 04-11-15there’s nothing one can say to dissuade a true believer of anything, so I won’t try here. To my eyes and ears, FOX News is a flashy, corporate propaganda machine not unlike the one Ned Beatty was running in the brilliant and prescient film from 1976, “Network.” But perhaps I’m wrong. (Whether you’re right- or left-wing, rent it now!)

Moving on to the Pie & Coffee cartoon, I got this idea while drawing a cartoon from the previous week with similar art. See it here. This gag is very simple but I think it’s my favorite of the week.

Lastly we have the TSA joke. I can’t imagine how bored the people who work those lines at the airport must be. To be trained to be hyper-vigilant against an insidious enemy that you are almost certainly NEVER going to encounter is a strange kind of torture. I’ve not done any research on the subject but my average brain tells me that the TSA is an enormous waste of money. The odds of another giant terrorism attack on American commercial airlines seem like an absurd longshot. I say just go back to running everyone and their luggage through metal detectors and forget about shoes and liquids and body scanners and pat downs. But, again, maybe I’m wrong.

 

 

Alt Tarzan

Bizarro 03-22-15 hdrBizarro 03-22-15 WEB(Nobody will mind if you make these cartoons larger by clicking them. Try it. You’ll see.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Horseracing Cheaters.

Last Sunday I published a cartoon with soldiers on a statue of a pigeon (this week’s title panel was constructed from it, in fact!) so this makes it two Sunday’s in a row that I’ve featured a cartoon with a human on a statue. This kind of thing often happens to cartoonists; one idea leads to another idea in the same vein. I like this one about Tarzan being raised in a city park instead of the jungles of Africa. The perspective was fun to draw and it has a few behind-the-scenes aspects that truly dedicated Jazz Pickles might find interesting: The statue’s plaque features a name that is similar to my fiance-in-law who is an award-winning brewmaster, the speaking character looks more-or-less like me a couple decades ago, the name on the back of his jersey refers to my lovely life partner, Olive Oyl, and the 13 is my daughter’s birth date (the one engaged to my fiance-in-law.) Lastly, more observant readers will notice that I tucked Tarzan’s loin cloth beneath him, thus obscuring an unpleasant view. You’re welcome. bz panel 03-16-15 bz panel 03-17-15 bz panel 03-18-15 bz panel 03-19-15bz strip 03-19-15bz panel 03-20-15 bz panel 03-21-15

Earlier this week (or “last” week, if you consider Sunday to be the first day of a new week) I published some other cartoons which you may notice floating in the space to the left of this text. I’m particularly fond of the parents who found their investment in a hidden video system worthwhile, though not for the reason they thought they would.

In this vampire cartoon I chose to draw a Nosferatu style character, though he’s wearing the traditional Hollywood Dracula outfit so he’s a bit of a hybrid. I regret that I made it look like daytime outside the window; that breaks the rules of vampires and was an absent-minded mistake on my part.

This next cartoon was born from my thoughts that living in a community controlled by a neighborhood association would for me be barely one step above prison. I have a lot of trouble with people who need this level of control over others.

I particularly like the bookstore cartoon, but more for the books on the shelves than the main gag. At this resolution you likely won’t be able to read the back of the book the kid is holding so I will tell you it says this: More titles by Seuss PhD, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Mercury, The Cat in the Bathrobe, Horton Steps on the Lorax, Thidwick the Big-Mouthed Moose. The book on the lower right corner of the shelf says, A Kid’s Guide to Propaganda, and the large yellow one on the top shelf is Harry Potter and the Climate Change Deniers. I’ve also included the horizontal format of this gag (which I now only do when it shows something different or interesting that the vertical version does not) has one extra book on the far left called Bizarro Among the Cabbages. I once published a book titled Bizarro Among the Savages, which is long out of print but you can possibly still find one on the Interwebs somewhere.

I have little to say about these last two comics other than that I think they are humorous.

I hope you had a good week, Jazz Pickles, and I wish you a good week to come. Olive Oyl and I are settling in nicely in our new digs and almost everything is unpacked. The house is small and humble but we think we’ve made it look pretty cool and cozy inside.

Pooping in the Park

bizarro 03-15-15 hdr eWEB Bizarro 03-15-15aWEBbz panel 03-09-15 bz panel 03-10-15 bz panel 03-11-15 bz panel 03-12-15 bz panel 03-13-15 bz panel 03-14-15(Make this pigeon statue comic swell like a lip after a knuckle sandwich, by clicking George Washington’s boots.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Super Styles For Super Men.

I conceived of this cartoon back in my first year of syndication in 1985 when I was just a child cartoonist, but the drawing was perfectly awful. (OMG, look how ugly it was!) I’d forgotten all about it until I came across it again recently but I liked the concept so much that I decided to draw and publish it again. I hope you enjoy looking upon it as much as I did redrawing it in a less ugly fashion.

Last Monday’s cartoon was this one about a vending machine called The New York Experience. I lived in NYC for almost ten years and can say that I enjoyed it very much for the first four or five, but then it began to really wear on me. There’s lots to do and tons of terrific history, of course, but the vibe of the city is stuck-up, irritable, and aggressive, the weather sucks big time all but a few weeks out of each year, and the bureaucracy that one encounters with even the simplest of tasks is enough to make you shoot yourself. If your wifi or cable TV is out, be prepared to wait a week or more for a service appointment. If you’re going to the DMV to get your driver’s license switched over, be prepared to wait four or five hours in line. Going to a post office is like visiting prison: bullet-proof glass, surly inmates and sadistic guards. I was happy to leave and honestly don’t care if I ever go back.

Tuesday’s cartoon was also about NYC, but in a less realistic way.

Moving to the West Coast, my Wednesday cartoon highlights the attention many Californians put on invisible forces of the universe. No definitive way to tell how much is real or imagined.

Thursday’s gag takes a shot at politicians and their never-ending scandals. The older I get, the less I trust anyone in a position of power.

Friday’s funny explores one woman’s battle with the power of temptation and a store manager’s gracious attempt to humor her.

And my Saturday cartoon is a wildly reckless foray into the world of politically correct language and is therefore fraught with danger. These days, a single slip of the tongue or ill-conceived email can ruin a person’s career. Polite language has a place in society but in my opinion, we’ve gone a bit overboard in the U.S.––far too many people are looking to be the victim of hurt feelings and take someone down.

Thanks for reading this far, Jazz Pickles. I hope you’re enjoying your life wherever you are today (even in NYC!)

 

Good Game

Bizarro 03-08-15 hdrWEB Bizarro 03-08-15 WEBbz panel 03-02-15 bz panel 03-03-15 bz panel 03-04-15 bz panel 03-05-15 bz panel 03-06-15 bz panel 03-07-15(For a more festive experience, click any of these cartoons and make it bigger!)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Fear of Balls.

IN the comments section of this cartoon on King Features’ site, a couple of readers were debating whether or not I was a sports fan. I’m one of those rare Bohemian, artistic types who is. I follow football and hockey pretty closely and as a kid played pretty much any sport my school or community offered: football, baseball, basketball, track, soccer, tennis. I gave most of it up in high school because I was too small to be given a decent chance by short-sighted coaches and also because I began to be acutely aware of the social differences between  creative types and jock types. But I still enjoy sports and physical activity of most kinds. (Except for those featured in the “Jackass” movies.) What I don’t enjoy (and never have) are interviews with players and coaches––as dull and predictable as political debates.

Monday’s cartoon about the pimped-out puppy is a reference to the Superbowl commercial from Budweiser. (I think.)

Tuesday’s cartoon is about something I don’t consider as much of a sport as a game. I find it too dull to watch. I’d watch full-contact golf, though.

Wednesday’s cartoon is about the baldness trend. Even before my hairline began receding I was happy to see shaved heads become fashionable. As a kid, I thought Telly Savalas and Yul Brynner were cool. Plus, to my eyes, anything looks better than thin, see-through hair, or, GOD FORBID, the comb-over.

I’m proud of my party store cartoon from Thursday and a little surprised my client papers didn’t object to it. You’d be surprised how puritanical some newspaper editors can be about the funny pages. But they are getting better; ten years ago I’d likely not have gotten away with this gag.

Friday’s Starbucks cartoon is my favorite of the week, I think. To me, it says a lot.

Saturday’s gag makes me smile, too. I love the idea of a guy who frames every dollar he ever makes. That’s why his office is so spare, in fact.

 

BIZARRCHIVES: I’ve not posted an old comic from the archival dungeon lately, so here’s one about golf that I hope you enjoy.bizarro 04-12-09 WEB

 

 

Tower of Titters

Bizarro 02-22-15 hdr Bizarro 02-22-15 WEB1(Indulge your desire to embiggenate these cartoons by clicking them.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Scaring a Child to Death.

It’s Oscar night tonight and this cartoon satirizes the Academy’s habit of showing a short video of the showbiz people who have died since the last Oscar ceremony. But I used an alternate meaning of the word “lost” and applied it to a famous fictional character who is perennially just that. That’s it. No secret meanings or messages. (I got asked if this was in reference to the Charlie Hebdo event.)

bz panel 02-16-15 bz panel 02-17-15 bz panel 02-18-15 bz panel 02-19-15 bz panel 02-20-15 bz panel 02-21-15My other most recent cartoons looked like this:

The rocket-crash cartoon was inspired by Planet of the Apes, of course, and is meant to be a couple of futuristic space travelers commenting on what an abysmal job we humans have done of “ruling” the earth. On King Feature’s web site, the comments below this cartoon devolved into a discussion of religion, evolution, and racism. (The most offensive racist comment has since been deleted by King Features) I’ll be honest, the tendencies of Americans to wallow in this kind of gutter sometimes makes it hard to keep myself from jumping off of something very high. In responding to this unfortunate conversation, I came across a recent Gallup poll that shows that nearly half of all Americans actually believe the mythological account of creation in The Bible over the facts our most intellectually gifted humans have discovered about our planet and it’s inhabitants over many centuries of accumulated knowledge. Nearly HALF. So embarrassing. You can read the comments here if so inclined.

The “well grammar” cartoon got picked up and forwarded a lot by some grammar sites, which was fun. Side note: even the grammar nazi in this cartoon makes a grammatical error (“real” instead of “really”) but I needed to use that tense to make the joke work. Sorry, grammar commandants.

The bird/worm cartoon is just a joke. A few readers thought it might have some literary or historical reference, but no.

My “auto parts” gag is a bit of fun wordplay. I just saw the truly amazing film “Birdman” last night and this cartoon reminds me of it in a way. Not because my cartoon deserves an Oscar (as Michael Keaton most surely does) but because it’s about a surreal theatrical endeavor.

My gag about bird seed is more wordplay as that seems to be the theme of the week. I’ve enjoyed thinking this way since childhood. If carrot seeds grow carrots…

And the duck gag is a dramatization of the ancient children’s riddle. If you were puzzled by this cartoon, it’s likely you just never heard the joke. Sorry about that.

BIZARCHIVYNESS: My Waldo/Oscars gag and it’s different meaning of the word “lost,” has reminded me of an old favorite gag of mine from 2000, shown below. I used the name Van Amerongen as a shout-out to my buddy and fellow cartoonist, Jerry Van Amerongen, creator of “The Neighborhood” and “Ballard Street.” He’s a funny guy and just the sort to pull this kind of stunt.BizarroVanAmerongen07-16-00WEB

 

7 Days of Silly

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(Make your comedy world bigger by clicking these comics.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Romance.

I hope you had a dandy Valentine’s Day this weekend. Olive Oyl (seen here with her grandmother) and I went to Topanga Canyon to visit some friends and take a lovely hike. Afterwards, the four of us went to a small, out-of-the-way Thai restaurant and had dinner with The Edge (guitarist for U2). And by “had dinner with,” I mean that he was at the next table with his wife and daughter and did not acknowledge our existence. But still, it was as close to having dinner with The Edge as we’ll likely ever get, so it was fun.

Let’s talk cartoons: Today’s big Sunday extravaganza tells the back story of how Mickey Mouse became the multitalented rodent icon that he is. Take heart, young, unknown performers! If a lowly mouse can do it, so can you!*

Monday: A friend of mine pointed out that there’s a commercial on TV these days with a penguin on an airplane. I’d not seen it until I viewed the link he provided and it has nothing to do with the gag here, so this information is meaningless.

Tuesday: Here’s a couple of puns about sheep and an unusual therapist/client relationship. I used to be a little ashamed of puns but I’ve decided to come out of the closet and admit that I really like certain kinds. And I’m not the only one; Alfred Hitchcock said that puns were the highest form of literature. And he was British.

Wednesday: As an artist, I have strong feelings about art. Messiness in and of itself is not art by my standards. I suspect Jackson Pollack happened to be doing what he did at a time when doing anything for the first time was applauded. If he’d done it at any other time in history (past or future) he likely (and justly) would have been ignored. In general, I think that a great deal of what the fine art world embraces is simply “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” over and over again. My blog, my opinion. Your results may vary.

Thursday: LA is a city with a lot of conspicuous wealth: fabulous houses, amazingly expensive cars, plastic surgery, etc. Especially here, but anywhere in the world these days, it is easy to feel left behind because you’re not fabulously rich and famous. When this happens to me, I remind myself that even the lower middle class in America have a higher standard of living than most people on Earth. And, even more important, that wealth and fame never made anyone happier than they would’ve been otherwise.

Friday: I thought of this gag because a random Internet troll once told me that the only reason I wear a hat most of the time is because I’m losing my hair. My response was that by that standard, people only wear gloves because they are losing their fingers.

Saturday: I needed three names for this gag so I chose three friends of mine. Chris Ryan is an author and new friend, Jeff Topper is my show-biz manager and nanny, Christy Higgins is my colorist and life coach. And she has the dreamiest eyes.

*But the odds are astronomical against it.

30 Years of Shits & Giggles

Bizarro sock exchangeWEB Bizarro Cow Court 1985 WEB Bizarro Alien OutletWEB BizarroPigeonStatue1985WEbPIraroPubShot1988 WEBOn this date thirty years ago (January 21, 1985 if you don’t have a calculator handy) I got out of bed early and hurried out to the front porch of my cheap little rental duplex on the outskirts of Dallas, Texas, to get the latest edition of the Dallas Times Herald. In it was the very first Bizarro cartoon ever published.

That means I’ve published 10,950 cartoons as of today. What?!

My career started 10 years before I owned a computer so my first decade of work was not digitized and I’ve no idea where my early work is in my archival catacombs. I’ll be honest, as I review my first year of work now, I can’t find much to recommend it. In my humble opinion, the art was stiff and a bit sloppy, and the gags were mostly lame. I’ve pulled a few of the less embarrassing ones from my first compilation book to show to you here today.

I’ve enjoyed my career and feel very blessed that I’ve been able to make a decent living as an artist. Even though I never got rich off Bizarro (and likely never will) as a college dropout  wandering into the workplace unprepared, I beat the odds by any standards and can’t complain. I’ve met some fascinating people, been to some cool places, and gotten some inspiring feedback from readers who’ve felt I’ve made a difference in their lives in some small way. I’m not one to live in the past, but upon reflection I must say that cartooning has been much better to me than it needed be, and I am indeed fortunate.

Also, just for kicks, I’ve included one of my first official publicity shots. It was concocted the old-fashioned way, before the days of Photoshop; I drew a bunch of cartoon images on a big sheet of butcher paper, then drew some more with fabric paint on a white, long-sleeved T-shirt, then stood in front of it and had my picture taken. After the film was taken to the drugstore for development, I zeroxed the photo and colored my face and the nose of the character just behind me with colored pencil. Then I took another picture of the final result and mailed it to the PR department of my syndicators. (God, how did we have that much patience back then?!)

Anyway, thanks for being a Jazz Pickle for however long you’ve been reading my cartoons. Without you, I’d be working in the stockroom of a local art supply store still.

 

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