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Dangerous Crops

(To begin the embiggenation process, click the gimme cap in the cartoon below.)

Bizarro is brought to you today Trump Voodoo Doll.

There was a time when people were romantic about America’s “heartland,” as though it was where good, wholesome, moral, honest folks came from, as opposed to “big city folk”.  But to my mind these days, it seems to represent people who voted for and continue to support a racist White House that openly promises to take benefits away from poor children, the elderly, the disabled, the disadvantaged-in-general, while arresting innocent children who were born in the U.S. and throwing them out of the country because their parents came here out of desperation to make a better life for themselves and their children. (Don’t even try to tell me the immigrant issue is about jobs because there are no facts to back that bullshit up. And if you think it’s not about racism or jobs, it’s about the “rule of law,” let’s audit your taxes for the last ten years and see how law-abiding you are.)

If all of that isn’t enough to dissuade you from visiting The Heartland, consider that not one newspaper in Nebraska carries Bizarro, but all of them carry Marmaduke and Family Circus. There’s a reason they call these places “Flyover States.” Innumerable reasons, actually.

Disclaimer: If you are a decent, compassionate, open-minded person in The Heartland who thinks racism and bigotry have no place in our government, I’m not talking about you.

Disclaimer disclaimer: If you are a decent, compassionate, open-minded person in The Heartland who enjoys Bizarro but also really enjoys Marmaduke and Family Circus, and not in an ironic way, I might still be talking about you.

Hey! What’s my buddy, Wayno been cartooning about this week?…

The thing I like most about The Bible is that you can interpret it to mean anything you want. (Unless you’re what the rest of us call a “religious nut.”)  In this case, Wayno interprets the “serpent” to be a representative of Kellogg’s who is attempting to entice some friendly naked people into losing their souls while also promoting poor spelling.

All these years I’ve been avoiding snakes and it turns out toucans are the devil. And I guess that lump in the front of my throat is an “Adam’s Loop.”

Wayno writes about our week in cartoons every weekend, too, and you’ll find a link to that post at the end of this one. BUT… here’s a short, older post in which he describes the clever name he has given to the specific mechanism behind the Froot Loop joke above.

I hope he carries a really big towel to the gym to wipe off the machines when he’s done melting all over them. When he’s had a really good workout, he rewards himself with a slice of nose cake.

If you’ve not been to my mostly-new shop lately, please have a look. We sell products to help support our cartooning habits as newspapers continue to get smaller and fewer. Below is a poster I designed and illustrated specifically for your home, office, clubhouse, or bunker.

As a kid, I wasn’t particularly afraid of monsters under my bed but as an adult, I always check under my analyst’s couch before I lie down.

Lately, I’ve been indulging myself in what the Interwebs call, “Throwback Thursday.” Surprisingly, it does not involve pictures of fish that people have caught that are too small to eat––that’s called “Here’s a Picture of Me Torturing a Helpless Water Dweller Thursday”. Throwback Thursday is actually about stuff from the past, so below is a cartoon I did in 2003.

This is one of those comics that was based on my own experience during which I was trapped inside a small store in Kansas for 45 minutes while I tried to convince the other customers that the town was not closed, this was simply the back of a sign meant to be read from outside. “Then why ain’t it red?” was the reply.

This is what happens when entire states don’t carry Bizarro. I make mean jokes about them. Sometimes as I fly over them.

It took an embarrassingly long time but we are now finding out that women can do anything that men can do. Unfortunately, they still have to do it at a fraction of what men are paid to do the same job. (Especially white men.)

No, this does not mean we hate men or are ashamed to be men or white or want all white people, especially the men, to be rounded up and shot into outer space. We just support fairness no matter what color you are or what kind of plumbing you have. And no, America does NOT already have that kind of fairness.

In honor of women, Wayno and I are supporting a swell non-profit organization that helps educate girls and young women in technological fields, which are currently overwhelmingly dominated by men.  We recommend checking them out and possibly tossing a buck or two their way. Girls Who Code.

I prefer to participate in happy hour at home where the drinks are even cheaper and the atmosphere makes me a lot happier.  And yes, after the initial hour, I become all of those other things listed on the sign. Just don’t drop by my house unannounced after a certain time, that’s all I’m saying.

“Watson! We’ve invented something that will one day be used to take pictures of every plate of food we eat.” 

“Hmm. It’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to do that, but okay. Whatever.”

Even so, here we are a hundred-and-some years later with phones that take pictures, answer questions, promote fake news, rig elections in favor of our enemies and a thousand other things. And yet, most of the time, the reception on actual phone calls isn’t any better than Bell’s prototype. (sigh)

Until next week, my precious Jazz Pickles––be happy, be smart, be nice, and resist ignorance and fascism. And while we’re at it, our official Bizarro Jazz Pickle enamel pin is BACK IN STOCK after the initial batch sold out! Grab one now before it sells out again!

Wayno: Weekly blogTwitterInstagramWaynoVision

Piraro: Bizarro shop (enamel pins, a Hello Shitty shirt and more!)  Bizarro tip jar Signed, numbered, limited edition prints and original cartoon art Piraro Instagram  Piraro Twitter Piraro coloring book

All Natural

 

(To embiggenate, click on any foot or piece of footwear within any image.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by What’s In That Pipe, George?

It’s a fun day for Bizarro Jazz Pickles. Not only are there TEN Secret Symbols to find in today’s comic (click it to embiggenate it and begin your search!) but I’ve created a fun, new T-shirt design that I think those of you with a touch of social courage and a certain opinion of overly-used, overly-cute images will enjoy tremendously.

If it sells okay as a T-shirt, we’re going to make a lapel pin out of it.  (Here are the enamel pins I’m currently offering as of the date of this post. Go to the shop’s homepage to find them for sale individually.) Lots of folks have been asking for specific images of mine on enamel pins (most frequently the pie, the eyeball, and the green alien but one guy wanted a pin of his own gallbladder) and here’s the deal about that: With shirts and totes and mugs, I can use a print-on-demand service that doesn’t cost me anything in inventory because nothing gets made before it is ordered, and the company handles the shipping. With pins, I have to shell out the bucks to manufacture them and then mail each order myself or hire someone to mail them out. (My daughters, the K2, are handling that part for now.) So it’s a big risk and one that I can’t afford to take without some assurance they will sell. The bottom line is if the first four sell okay, we’ll add the pie, the eyeball, and the green alien in the next group. (We will likely never add that one guy’s gallbladder.) Stay tuned and share the link with your friends who might be interested in pins!

Now let’s see what Wayno was up to in the Kartoon Kingdom last week…

I like restaurants that treat adults like babies. I like them so much, in fact, that I won’t go to a restaurant that does not offer a plastic bib emblazoned with a picture of the exact thing I intend to order. If they don’t have them, I bring my own. I start out with a bib with a glass of water on it and move on from there.

Historical Alternative Fact: Vikings didn’t always just attack a village––burning, raping, and pillaging. Sometimes they’d read a Viking saga aloud through a bullhorn until the whole town fell asleep, and then quietly burn, rape, pillage and sneak off without waking anyone. ( I can relate because I once fell asleep in the first two minutes of America’s Got Talent and woke up feeling pillaged.)

This is very likely why Shakespeare’s Richard XXV closed after only one night. That, and the fact that characters playing close friends and family called him “King Dick” and the audience kept giggling.

Predictably, I got a complaint about this one from an organization of men who wear pinstriped suits and resent being associated with mobsters. I also got an avalanche of angry mail from Republican politicians who don’t like the word “bullets” being used for non-violent purposes.

On a related side note, I have so much to say about gun violence in the U.S. that I don’t feel I can even begin without this blog becoming a forty-page screed. Instead, I’ll just include this headline from the satirical newspaper The Onion, which I think says an enormous amount: “‘No Way To Prevent This’ Says Only Country Where This Regularly Happens.”

I successfully got rid of my head lice, it was the tiny furniture that was a pain to get untangled from my hair.

By the way, did you know that we have lice to thank for the words “lousy” and “nitpicking”? (This has been the educational portion of my post. We return now to juvenile chuckles and civil-war-inciting political commentary.)

Can’t help but wonder if he checked his gag reflex by shoving that rubber hammer thing down his throat. I check my gag reflex by turning on Fox and Friends or simply allowing it to cross my mind that Americans have turned their country over to an unprecedented gang of greedy, corrupt, lying cowards.

Thanks for coming along this far, Jazz Pickles! We adore your company.  Don’t miss Wayno’s (much more brief) blog this week. He adds some fun comments about the week’s cartoons as well as a bonus section at the end about music and design and some books he’s reading lately. We at Bizarro Enterprises (Rancho Bizarro in Mexico and Bizarro Studios North in Pittsburgh) always go the extra mile to seem to appear to be well educated in the liberal arts.) And please don’t miss my new shop as well as the other links below. It takes a village to keep a couple of cartoonists in business!

Wayno: Weekly blogTwitterInstagramWaynoVision

Piraro: Bizarro shop (where the enamel pins are)  Bizarro tip jar Signed, numbered, limited edition prints and original cartoon art Piraro Instagram  Twitter Piraro coloring book

 

Pecker

(For an embiggenated version of the cartoon below, click the pig.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Creepy Christmas.

(Sung to the tune of “Old MacDonald”.)  Farmer Ahab had a farm, E-I-E-I-O. And on this farm he tried to harpoon a cute fluffy little baby peep, O-my-effing-god.  (Stop singing now and good luck trying to get that tune out of your head for the next several hours.)

Other mistakes that off-duty clowns sometimes make is leaving their DNA behind at the scene of a crime.

(I assume that most people who are clowns are good-hearted folks who only want to make people happy but I’m guessing horror films have almost killed the entire industry. I’ve always found clowns really creepy, even as a child, but these days I have to admit I feel sorry for them. I’m still creeped out by them, though. Can’t help it.)

I actually prefer Miracle Whip over mayonnaise but only because it cured one of my cousins of leprosy. It’s also good for crow’s feet, hair loss, and erectile dysfunction. (Especially if your partner really loves Miracle Whip.)

 

My mother worried I would not be able to make a living as an artist so she encouraged me to “have a medical degree to fall back on”. Even if I didn’t hate being institutionalized too much to spend another 8 years in school,  I’m far too squeamish about other people’s bodies to ever consider being a doctor. Even nude beaches make me a little queasy.

Here’s how I see the future going if Trump doesn’t get us all killed and/or render Earth uninhabitable by undoing all of the laws preventing corporations from destroying the planet for profit: Alexa and Siri team up with drones and self-driving cars and realize they don’t need humans for anything so they shut down the Internet and all computerized financial systems. Within 30 days, we’ve all killed each other because we’re bored and hungry, or we’re dead because we no longer know how to work the planet without technology. A handful of “preppers” will still survive in the wild but they’ll kill each other off before they can repopulate the earth by shooting at what they believe is Bigfoot.

Just one man’s theory.

If you’re still looking for awesome holiday gifts or want to give me a little thanks for what I do, please consider these options ranging from cheap to not-as-cheap:

Give me a tip!  Buy my latest book of super crazy art.  Buy a print of pretty much any of my comics.  Grab a shirt or mug or tote from my store.  Buy a large, limited-edition, signed-and-numbered print of some of my favorite cartoons from my career, or an original drawing from Bizarro.  

Got a lot of hateful comments over this cartoon by people who have no idea how the election was influenced by the Russians in favor of Trump. They do, however, believe that Hillary somehow magically managed to get millions of dead people and illegal aliens to vote for her. This is what happens to a population that doesn’t trust actual journalism. See the previous comment about Bigfoot for how this is going to turn out for them.

I often wonder what the exact, biological rules are about The Invisible Man. Since you can’t see the food in his stomach or the contents of his intestines, at what point does food become invisible when he’s eating? Is it when he closes he mouth? If that’s true, could he hide your car keys just by popping them in his mouth? And when he defecates, does it become visible after it clears his body, or does it remain invisible and, if so, what kind of cruel practical jokes might he use that ability for? These are the things cartoonists ponder. When you’re responsible for a new joke every day for over 30 years, you can’t afford to leave any stone unturned.

That’s all for this week, Jazz Pickles. Thanks so much for coming along for the ride. If you want to join me again next time I post, leave your email in that slot in the righthand margin of this page. I assure you I will never share or sell your info.

Until next time––be happy, be nice, be smart, and resist ignorance and fascism with your dying breath.

 

Flying Mammals

(To escape the cruelties of a reality without embiggenation, click the bat’s nose.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Not Jazz Pickles.

I’ve done a lot of cartoons about superheroes but they never possess the qualities that I loved about them as a kid: power, intelligence, strength, coolness, etc.  Somehow, I find it much more enjoyable to poke fun at them than to draw comics that glorify them as heroes.

I’ve done so many superhero cartoons that a few years ago I published an entire book of my superhero satires, which you can buy here. You may be surprised to learn––as I was when I put that book together––that the word “superhero” is actually trademarked or something, which is why I had to name the book “Bizarro Heroes,” instead of “superheroes”. I was not happy about that but there really is no adequate substitute word.

Incidentally, people often ask me what the joke in the title panel means (first picture, above) and here’s the deal; the title panel appears next to my comic in the Sunday color comics supplement of some markets. It’s really only meant to be a title box that tells you what cartoon you’re about to read. Here’s an example from “Zits”.  It can be a joke, but it doesn’t have to be. So sometimes I just create a fun picture, and sometimes I use a piece of an old cartoon which may have a little joke to it. Here’s the old Bizarro that today’s title panel came from.

This cartoon was inspired by my hatred of the way airlines do business. Just recently, Olive Oyl went back to the U.S. for a week and filled up a suitcase with some stuff we can’t get here in Mexico. The suitcase weighed 76 lbs. and they charged her $220 to check it, which is almost enough to buy it a seat in the passenger compartment. If she’d divided it into two smaller suitcases, it would have been the same amount of weight and taken up even more room in the cargo compartment, but they would have charged her less than half that amount to check it. Sure, makes perfect sense.

Here’s a cartoon I did a few years back about a similar inequity. No other industry gets away with this kind of random charging structure but we’re so used to it with airlines that we just go along with it. Of course, what choice do we have if we want to fly?

Here’s a little pro cartooning tip: A well-placed catcher’s mitt can alleviate your need to draw an embarrassing crotch lump. You’re welcome.

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of fun exploring some pretty surreal premises like this one about chicken legs.  If you like this kind of humor, spray champagne over each other championship-locker-room-style because there are quite a few more heading your way in the coming weeks.

Some conservative type harrassed me on social media regarding this cartoon by saying something about liberals not being able to be trusted to bring fetuses to full term so blah blah blah, something stupid. I responded by observing that conservatives are obsessed with bringing unwanted children to term but then insist on completely abandoning them once they’re born. No help for poor or middle-class folks with birth control, no help with abortion, no help feeding, housing, or educating the child, no help providing them with healthcare which only the very wealthy can afford, etc. Historically and statistically, when you remove both birth control and abortion services for the not-wealthy, you get a big spike in crime 15 years later. Somehow, Republicans of this sort just can’t imagine how those two things could be connected.

Yes, this cartoon caused a shitstorm on social media, but I knew it would. I don’t read 99% of the negative comments on my social media so whatever they said about me didn’t stick.

One thing a lot of people mentioned was that this story about GW and the cherry tree is mythology in the first place and therefore an early example of fake news. That’s true––although it was written after Washington’s death and so it was more a case of hero worship after the fact as opposed to an attempt to change people’s perception of a given politician during his career, as fake news is used today–– but regardless, I still don’t see how that fact is relevant to this cartoon. I sense that most people who mentioned this were just proud of themselves for knowing it isn’t a true story.

Other people pointed out that the Founding Fathers were similar in many ways to racists of today because they owned slaves, counted black men as three-fifths of a person in the Constitution, etc. and they are correct. I still think if the Founding Fathers could see Trump in today’s context, most would dig their way out of their graves and slap the crap out of every American who voted for him.

Another person asked about the different font in the balloon, which is a legitimate question. I did that to be sure the reader knew it was a tweet, and not a voice speaking through his cell phone, or whatever.

I’ll admit I’m very proud of this cartoon. It satirizes the Cheeto Mussolini and his spoiled-rich-brat style of communication about any journalism that doesn’t directly serve or flatter him, and the “ALT” aspect of the caption box calls to mind his affiliation with the “alt-right movement,” which is a sanitized name for racists and anti-semites. I don’t think any of us should stop talking about the fact that we have a Nazi-sympathizing, racist, misogynist, lying, sexual predator in the White House until he and his kind are gone. That may take a good, long time, but let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope for a miracle.

This cartoon has a fundamental error in that Spongebob actually lives underwater and his clothes fit him fine in that state. So if he ventured onto dry land, as he dried out his clothes would become too large and fall off of him. I didn’t do the cartoon that way because who wants to see his tiny, dry, square penis? Not me.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s funnies, Jazz Pickles. If you’d like to feel the deep sense of satisfaction that comes from supporting the art and ideas that you enjoy, please consider one of the ways below that you can help keep the lights on here at Rancho Bizarro. THERE ARE SOME HOLIDAYS COMING UP AND SOME OF THE STUFF LISTED BELOW WOULD MAKE TERRIFIC GIFTS!

Until next time, be happy, be smart, be nice, and resist fascism. 


Medical Whacking

(To fulfill your desires of embiggenation, click any object made of fabric in any image.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Big Bizarro-Head Barbie.

A while back I had a couple of ideas about piñatas visiting human doctors. This one is the visually more complex of the two, which is why I used it as a Sunday and the other as a weekday cartoon.  This also has some nice background gags plus ELEVEN secret symbolthat you’ll see better if you embiggenate it. I hope I counted right this time.

By the way, I’m about to open a new store page with some new T-shirts, enamel pins, maybe hats and pillows and shower curtains, who knows? If you drop your email into that box in the right margin, you’ll get an email each time I post something on this blog. It will only be once a week, occasionally two, and I’ll never share your address with anyone.

(For cartoons and photos from my “real” life, follow me on Instagram…@danpiraro)


When I was a kid I was afraid of people in big animal or character costumes and I believe to this day that is the appropriate response. Why people insist on trying to create childhood fantasies in the real world with costumes is beyond my understanding. Hanging around shopping malls dressed as the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus is like milling around in a church lobby after services dressed as Jesus; these kinds of fantasies work best in the imagination. I think it sort of fits into the category of books always being better than movies.

This cartoon about France got a lot of play on the Interwebs. Predictably, right wing types began insulting France with all that cliche WWII crap about them surrendering to the Nazis, etc., and others argued back with the complete historical reasons why they had no choice (partly because it took America SO long to enter the war) but how the French underground continued to fight under even more dangerous conditions and were invaluable in the eventual victory. It will likely happen again in the comments section of this post. Yawn.

There was a time when the U.S. had moral superiority over many other countries but that’s gone and forgotten now with Trump. America would be a laughing stock if this feckless brat wasn’t so dangerous and the prognosis so tragic. France, on the other hand, avoiding the wave of misguided desires for authoritarian daddy figures that has swept the U.S. and much of Europe, managed to elect someone with reasonable views. With a single election, they’ve shown both the U.S. and Britain what grownups look like in the face of challenging times. In this case, the U.S. has surrendered to fear-based politics while the French are moving forward.

Do kids play “musical chairs” anymore? When I was a kid in the mid-1900s, the Internet had not been invented yet and TV only had three channels and none of them were for children, so we had to amuse ourselves with ridiculous activities like having 8 children walk around 7 chairs while music played and when it stopped, everyone fought for a chair to sit in and the one who didn’t get one got to feel like a loser for the rest of his/her life. After each round, a chair was removed, the music started again, and the next loser was chosen. Finally, after much hard work and anxiety, a single child would “win” and be declared the person able to sit down the fastest. Later in life, they were called “couch potatoes”.

The giant step backwards that women’s rights (and everyone other than white, Christian, heterosexual male’s rights) have taken since the Cheeto Mussolini took office has been on my mind a lot lately. This cartoon is half about that and half about the uneven playing field that higher education is played on. If your parents are wealthy, you get everything you need to build a decent life along with an entire news network dedicated to convincing uneducated low-income and middle class folks that what’s best for the wealthy and giant corporations is best for them, too. Having rich parents in America also gets you the opportunity to be treated by doctors when you’re sick and get an education that might lead to something other than a job at a fast food restaurant. If you’re among the other 90% of Americans, you probably won’t get all of that, but you will get the privilege of being called lazy by the very people Fox News convinced you were on your side. Ouch.

I’m happy to say that this Grim Reaper cartoon got a lot of compliments this week. It also got a lot of people sending me messages, comments, and emails about how the line should correctly be, “…neither of us is.” I hastened to remind them that when one is writing dialogue for a fictional character it is correct to use vernacular and there is not requirement for grammatical correctness. Think Huckleberry Finn. What I did not remind them of is how boorish it is to correct the grammar of others if you’re not their English teacher, and how living languages change by virtue of the way people use them and the world does not come to an end when they do.

A short anecdote about this cartoon: when I lived in NYC I really loved Halloween because it was the only day of the year that it was safe and acceptable to ask a stranger on the subway, “What are you supposed to be?” It was definitely not, however, the only day you wanted to ask that. My first Halloween there I was still fairly new to town and asked a number of people on the subway about their costumes and everyone was in a friendly, party mood. I asked one man if he was supposed to be Abe Lincoln or Moby Dick’s Captain Ahab and he indignantly informed me he was an orthodox Jew. I felt like a fool and apologized, but in my defense, we didn’t have those in Oklahoma when I grew up. Well, we probably did but they didn’t come out in daylight for fear of being subjected to some of the Deep South’s special hospitality.

I prefer the Half-Windsor in marinara sauce, please. And how long do we have to wait for a restaurant that offers bowtie pasta along with a pasta top hat and garlic bread cane?

If you’ve made it this far, you are my personal hero Mr. and Ms. Jazz Pickle. Thanks for not being one of those people who just drops in for the cartoons and misses all of the mediocre wit and wisdom of the words in between. Till next time, be happy, be smart, be nice.

THE AFTERPARTY: To reward you, here’s a quick back story to the image behind the link at the top of this page which says “Big Bizarro-Head Barbie“. Soon after Bizarro became syndicated in 1985, I noticed that pretty much all cartoonists used the same kind of publicity shot; them sitting at their drafting table drawing one of their characters and looking as though they’d just been surprised by a photographer. Like this one of Charles Schulz and this one of Jim Davis. I decided I wanted something different.

Not the first but possibly my favorite alternative publicity shot was this one of me as Frida Kahlo. I created this in the early 90s for a Halloween party costume. It was before I knew anything about Photoshop so I had to built a kind of box with a frame on the front and a board on the back and then I painted the board to look like the background of a famous Kahlo painting. Then I did myself up like Frida with a shawl, Mexican peasant blouse, skirt, and sandals (not shown) uni-brow and headpiece, and wore the box over my head, resting on two straps over my shoulders. The little banner at the bottom was made of Foam Core Board and was suspended by thin, stiff wires. The resulting photo taken by a friend became my publicity shot for a couple/three years and ended up on the back of one of my Bizarro compilations.

After using the Frida shot for a few years, however, I thought up the Big Bizarro-Head Barbie idea. I drew the background and lettering on a piece of pink cardboard, folded the edges to make a frame, cut a hole in the back for my head and attached a Barbie Doll body to my chin. I wanted to use the resulting photo on the back of one of my books but the publisher’s legal department said I couldn’t use an actual Barbie body because of trademark issues. The only work-around I could think of was to paint the body of the Barbie as uber-realistically as I could so it would look like a real doll in the photo. I’m a little disappointed that the trompe l’oeil didn’t turn out better, but I think the overall result is still funny. And yes, that was my real hair. I thought it was cool until someone said it reminded them of Weird Al Yankovic and I cut it short the next week. True story.

Ancient Legos

 

(Dost though seek embiggenation? Click thee an image henceforthwithverily.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Simple Explanations.

Stonehenge is one of those things that, by nature of its mystery, has been the subject of innumerable cartoons. I’ve done quite a few myself. Here’s one that springs to mind. And here’s another that is partly about Stonehenge.

It is said that Stonehenge was the inspiration for the modern-day building block toys called Legos. If that is true, I wonder if a majority of giants in the days of Stonehenge had henge-shaped bruises on the soles of their feet, as modern parents do now with Legos.

One might also wonder about the biological logistics of a woman the size of the one in this cartoon carrying and giving birth to a child that size. I will have to leave that to the experts, however, as I am not well versed in the field of gynecology.

I have found that mere words are not sufficient to express the embarrassment and horror that I feel for my country of birth regarding the adolescent, egomaniacal buffoon who has been allowed to occupy the Oval Office this year, so I drew a cartoon about it. Each time I do this, one or more readers chastise me for sticking my nose into politics and I have to remind them that they are confusing the United States with one of the very many countries where free speech is not encouraged or allowed. Like Russia. Which also happens to be the buffoon’s favorite country, which explains their confusion to some degree, I suppose.

I like food but I’m not what you’d call a “foodie,” so the enormous popularity of cooking shows, food channels, etc. has mystified me a bit. In fact, the kind of obsession America has with food-based television seems very similar to that of pornography, although that’s primarily a male thing. I contend that my relating the two makes sense since eating and mating are two of our top biological imperatives. Accordingly, it can’t be long before there are dozens of TV shows and cable networks dedicated to breathing. “This week on OxygenHigh, we compare the taste and smell of air on the crowded streets of Singapore with that of the air surrounding a corral full of llamas in the Andes.”

I have had discussions with intelligent people about whether health care should be a “right” or a “privilege” and I’ve heard intelligent people argue from both sides. If you fall on the “privilege” side of the equation and do not believe governments should provide health care for their citizens, I ask you to consider these scenarios: Your house is on fire and you call 911, only to be asked for your fire insurance policy number. If you don’t have the right insurance, the firetruck doesn’t leave the station and you’re tasked with putting the fire out yourself. That would routinely result in the loss of almost everything you’ve built over the years, with no way to get it back.

Or someone is breaking into your house and you call the cops. Same thing; you can’t afford police insurance, so no one shows up. I guess you should have thought of that when you got a job that doesn’t provide adequate fire and police insurance. Why should the rest of us pay for your ignorance and laziness?

I’m known to be a hard-working, intelligent guy who has made a name for himself in the world of art and creativity. It wasn’t easy, believe me, and though I’ve made enough money along the way to keep myself and my family eating regularly and living indoors, I’ve had a very hard time over the years affording health insurance. I insured my children when they lived at home but went for more than a dozen years without it myself, in fact, and only managed to get a bare-bones policy just three years ago. I assure you I am neither poor, nor lazy, and there are millions of Americans in the same boat as I’ve been. Had I gotten seriously ill or injured in those years, it would have ruined me or I would have died.

Is this the kind of community you want to live in? To my mind, communities are where humans agree to live together because we are pack animals and therefore stronger together than individually. When the community gets large enough, some of us get together to form a government whose job it is to protect the community and make sure everyone works alongside each other amicably for the common good, and gets the help they need when they’re, sick, disabled, victimized or disadvantaged in a way that makes them unable to participate in the community as well as they might otherwise. When someone in a small village is disabled or sick, do we simply drop them off out in the forest because they are no longer of use to the rest of us?

I’d like Americans to ask themselves why fire and police protection are a right but health protection is a privilege.

Along those lines, there are Americans who believe that Bernie Sander’s idea to offer a free college education to every citizen is nothing more than a “handout”. Again, what if you brought your kid to the local elementary school for first grade but were turned away because you couldn’t afford to send them to school? How is your child going to compete in the workforce with those who are getting a proper education? What opportunities will their future hold with this kind of disadvantage? Does it not improve the society as a whole to have an educated workforce? Don’t we all benefit when we live among educated people? We know from history that a lack of education increases the crime rate, so perhaps if we all pitch in a few bucks to offer education and healthcare to everyone, we’d have a more civil society. Sure, a statistically minuscule percentage of citizens would be slightly less filthy rich, but I can live with that.

This cartoon about drugs got a metric shitload of attention on the Interwebs. A few people waxed fearful about what would happen if pot was legalized, but most people agreed that it is high time (pun intended) that the United States AS A COUNTRY, NOT JUST INDIVIDUAL STATES, pull its head out of its ass and realize that cannabis has tremendous health benefits and is not a fraction as dangerous as many of the pharmaceuticals we’re being sold. It is also a much safer and less damaging form of recreation than is tobacco or alcohol.

In my judgment, pot is still illegal for two reasons:

  1. Most Americans have been steeped in scary pot propaganda for their entire lives and even if they’ve smoked it (as most have) and know first-hand how harmless it is, they still believe that at least some of the terrifying nonsense they’ve heard must be true. So many of them vote against legalizing it apparently believing that they could handle it, but others cannot.
  2. There are a handful of people are making billions selling drugs that marijuana could replace very cheaply, and those people control politicians by throwing money at them.

In closing, the Lord of the Rings character who is currently the Attorney General of the United States, Jeff Sessions, has said things about marijuana that show him to be either mentally disabled or the complete butt bitch of the pharmaceutical industry. I’m guessing both things are true.

I think if cops tried this, they’d be surprised how often it works.

In my youth I worked in the advertising world and have seen food stylists work in person. It’s kind of amazing that this is a job, but of course perfect-looking food sells better than something slapped together by the teenager who works in the actual kitchens of restaurants, so great attention is paid to this in photos. Behind likely every commercial photo of food you’ve ever seen, someone (and their assistant[s]) spent a lot of time placing each element of a dish carefully into place, often using tweezers and manicure scissors, discarding large amounts of food because it wasn’t exactly the right color, shape, size, or texture to be part of the “perfect” meal. With what is thrown away during a photo session for a single sandwich, you could feed three meals to a family of four. And that family of four is likely underinsured and won’t have nearly enough money to send their kids to college. But at least they won’t be relying on government handouts once the Cheeto Mussolini takes their Medicaid away to provide tax cuts for the extremely wealthy, who clearly deserve every advantage government can give them.

Thanks for dropping by for this informal, imaginary, one-sided chat Jazz Pickles. You mean more to me than you’d be comfortable hearing me tell you. If you enjoy the content I provide for you here for free, please consider the following options.

Tiny Sports

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Bizarro is brought to you today by First Step To Extinction.

ThIS week at Rancho Bizarro had its ups and downs with several of my cartoons drawing criticism from readers in both expected and unexpected ways. We’ll get to that momentarily but first, I’d like to give a heart-felt shout-out to someone who crosses my mind every Mother’s Day––my mother. Thanks for keeping me away from cliffs and preventing wild animals from carrying me off, without a single failure! Your perfect record allowed me to grow up and write this paragraph about how lucky I am to have had such a terrific mother. I am also grateful for your emotional support, friendship, guidance, and delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all the way through elementary schoolLOVE you, Mom!

And, of course, happy Mother’s Day to everyone else who has helped in raising kids, whether they were biologically yours or not, regardless of what kind of biological equipment you have in your pants, because we all eventually end up at the mercy of younger generations and if we don’t collectively do a good job raising them, we end up releasing rotten people into the world and you never know how much trouble they might cause. (See 45th president of the United States.)

And now to the week’s cartoons…

Nowhere in the field of human athletic endeavor is there a greater difference between the professional version and the miniature version of a sport than in golf. It would be as if miniature baseball was played on a field the size of your kitchen and you had to dodge pterodactyls and zeppelins to hit a home run. Or if miniature football were played inside a crowded junk store full of taxidermy bears, hat racks, chandeliers, sofas, and china cabinets. While many may wish that the miniature version of these games was more like the full-size, professional version, my fondest wish is the opposite; that the pro-size become more like the miniature. Would big-shot golfers like Tiger Woods or Greg Norman be as legendary if they’d had to hit through the legs of a dinosaur? Especially an animatronic one that could break your legs with a swipe of its mighty tail?

Quick announcement––> WANT TO MEET ME AND MORE THAN A DOZEN OTHER BIG-SHOT CARTOONISTS IN PERSON AT NO COST TO YOU? WE’LL BE SELLING AND SIGNING BOOKS, DRAWING SKETCHES, TAKING PICTURES WITH YOU, AND AUTOGRAPHING NEWBORN BABIES AT THE HILTON EXECUTIVE HOTEL IN DOWNTOWN PORTLAND AT 1PM ON SUNDAY, MAY 28! BE THERE OR DON’T! <––

To my great surprise, I did not get one comment this week about how celiac disease is a real thing and not a figment of people’s imagination and how miserable it is and how they are tired of people making fun of gluten sensitivity. That’s good. Because I am aware that celiac disease is real and a miserable thing to endure and I’m not making fun of those people. I’m making fun of the 99% of people who only think they are gluten sensitive because the food industry and wack-job, fringe diet gurus have convinced them of it. And, of course, people who think that Wheaten terriers could in any way be involved in that issue.

On a side note, it was harder than I imagined it would be to find a name for a pet rescue organization that has not already been taken. “Happy Fur Rescue” was maybe the fourth or fifth name I came up with before I found one that didn’t come up on a Google search. I just now thought of “Giddy Mutt,” though, and it doesn’t show up on Google so I wish I’d used that. Dammit.

This nuclear-age cartoon started another political shit storm on my FB page, of course. These days, there is no shortage of people who are willing to argue to the death over whether Trump is the least qualified, most embarrassing and dangerous person to ever hold the office of president of the U.S. (historically speaking, he absolutely is) or if Obama let the entire world shit all over America (historically speaking, he didn’t) as they have been told by Fox News. Don’t miss the fact that this cartoon doesn’t mention any politician or party.

This ad is from me…

This cartoon got lots of readers asking me what it meant. It refers to the belief that if you travel faster than the speed of light, you can go backwards in time. The actual science behind this kind of thing is far more complex than that, and entirely theoretical since no one has done it since the filming of Back To The Future in 1985. Unfortunately for scientists, the formula for doing so was lost in a studio fire caused by faulty wiring in a Mr. Coffee machine the following year.

This penguin cartoon got a few complaints but not from who you’d expect: people who object to the sexual objectification of fowls. No, it was from the ornithologically obsessed who felt the need to point out to me that penguins are hatched from eggs and so they don’t have navels. I’d like to take this opportunity to remind those readers that Bizarro is a comic feature and not a whimsically illustrated textbook.  (Here’s another thing that never happens to penguins.)

I quite like this cowboy/witch cartoon. It’s simple, funny, kind of sweet, and it points out a connection between these two cherished subcultures that I’d never considered before. I’d love to be a fly on the wall as they get to know each other further and he mentions that he’s a born-again Christian and she counters with her pledged devotion to the Dark Prince.

And now we come to the last comic and controversy of the week, which garnered me two angry letters. Here’s one of the complaints verbatim but the other was very similar:

“Your comic today is tasteless and cold. Do you not remember when Dave Dravecky broke his arm pitching? Later to be amputated because of cancer. You need to apologize to Dave and all SF Giants fans.”

My response was pretty much the same thing I always say to complaints like this:

“I’m sorry my cartoon upset you, that was certainly not my intent. To be honest, I’m not really a baseball fan and have never heard of Dave Dravecky, so my cartoon was not aimed at him or his story, of course. I often get complaints like this one but if every joke writer of TV shows, movies, late night host’s monologues, stand-up comics, cartoons, etc., had to withdraw every joke that had anything to do with someone’s personal tragedy, there would be very little humor left in the world. In fact, humor is our species’ unique way of dealing with our exceptional brain’s ability to comprehend, anticipate, and fear tragedy, which touches everyone’s life sooner or later. Dark humor is one of our most valuable coping methods.”

I believe that and stand by it. The great Steve Allen famously said that tragedy plus time equals comedy. That saying is responsible for the routine reply that stand-up comics utter to the silence an edgy joke will sometimes create––“Too soon?” I’d like to point out that while what happened to Dravecky was certainly tragic, it happened in 1989.

Thanks so much for spending this time with me, Jazz Pickles. Until next time, be smart, be happy, be nice. If you like what I do, please consider one of the support options included in this post. You will make those of us who protect Rancho Bizarro from repossession smile bigly!

Nepotism’s Double-Edged Sword

(To get you some enbiggenated cartoons, click you a shadow in any image.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Never Stopping, Just To Be Safe.

There is much to talk about today but I promise it will be rewarding in a way that will punish those who come here only for a quick scan of the cartoons and don’t read the text or click the links. Woe is them.

(Late update: After posting the cartoon above I began to get mail asking why I had used the Puerto Rican flag to depict a dictatorship when PR is not one. I’ve since changed it slightly so it’s not the PR flag anymore. I actually took the Cuban flag, changed the colors, and thought I’d created a new flag. I was surprised [and more than a little amused] to find that that design was already in use. Sorry, neighbors!)

When people in the U.S. learn that I’ve moved to Mexico, or when people I meet here learn that I’m a syndicated cartoonist, they often ask if living here has or will influence my cartoons. One might think that today’s big-ass-wide Sunday cartoon is the first obvious example of a Latin American influence but one would be wrong. This cartoon is, instead, the influence of one Brian Shanahan, a reader who offered me an idea via Facebook message. His concept was the basic connection between Spanish for “the boss,” which is “el jefe” (pronounced hey-fey) and the Family Circus character “Jeffy”. He didn’t have a scenario but just envisioned a poster of him as a Castro-style dictator and the words “El Jefe”.

I loved the idea immediately and concocted the above scenario, which was inspired by the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half-brother. You may notice that the soldier is saying “the boss” in his word balloon, but the banner on the wall is using a similar spelling for Jeffy’s name, a sort of loose pun.

Another interesting thing to note is that my original submission––the one that appeared in hundreds of newspapers on April 23rd and in the box at the top of Bizarro.com’s homepage on that date––does not include Jeffe’s mustache. (King Features programs the cartoon that appears at the top of my homepage and they used the one I submitted for publishing.) I often think of ways to improve a cartoon after it’s already in the pipeline and too late, and it always pains me. Personally, I think this cartoon is much funnier with the big, red, curly mustache.

Finally, this isn’t the first satire of The Family Circus I’ve done. My first was way back in 1995 and I got a bit of hate mail from people who revere FC as “the last bastion of family entertainment” and thought it was akin to sacrilege to associate those beloved characters with The Devil. In addition to the hate mail, I also got a phone call the next morning from FC’s creator, Bil Keane. It scared me to death because I hadn’t met him yet and feared he was going to chew me out and threaten to sue me. Instead, he was very friendly and gracious, thanked me for the lampoon, and wondered if he could trade one of his pieces of original art from a Sunday comic for the original art of my “Faustus’ Circus”. I agreed, of course.

Years later, I did another Sunday spoof in collaboration with my good friend, Michael Capozzola, who is a successful stand-up comic and a cartoonist. For the unenlightened, Bil Keane used to annually publish cartoons that were ostensibly drawn by one of the child characters in FC because he was on vacation, and ours was a satire of that scenario. Here’s an example of one of Bil’s “vacation” cartoons. 

Here’s one more from a few years back that is an attempt to mimmic a Family Circus cartoon entirely, except for the signature and a few of my Secret Symbols. I always have a ball doing these but the El Jeffe one is probably my favorite.

Here, I’ve used the term “artificial intelligence” as a reference to the current American “president” and his administration’s willful, loathsome, and self-serving denial of science. If you’re one of those people who believes politicians who say that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the left (or China, or Noam Chomsky, or the Tooth Fairy, or whomever) consider this: On one side of this issue are millionaire industrialists (and the politicians on their payroll) who stand to make billions by polluting your drinking water and your air, and on the other are academics and scientists who stand to make a hundred bucks here or there by publishing an article in a magazine only they read, but could lose their entire career if discovered to be lying to the public about science. Which of those groups has a greater motivation to lie about climate change? And which of those groups knows the most about science, which is what climate change is about?

If you still believe that the vast majority of scientists the world over have the same hidden agenda and that the Trump White House is doing us all a big favor by ignoring them and deregulating polluters, please do the rest of us a favor and dart out into high speed traffic at dusk as soon as possible.

Ever seen one of those rooms that is built with strange angles and perspective so that an apple appears to be rolling uphill or a person looks like they’re huge when they stand at the other side of the room? I first saw that at Six Flags Over Texas back in the late 60s in an attraction called “Casa Magnetica”.  My ten-year-old mind was blown away and I still love those kinds of things.

I posted this cartoon about the cat that is going to “make the couch great again” on FB and Twitter with this simple line: “When hats lie.” I didn’t think I was being all that cryptic, but apparently I was because a number of people commented by asking, “You mean CATS?” No, I meant “hats,” as in the one that the Cheeto Mussolini and his “crumbs” wore all during the campaign. (You didn’t think I’d actually make you look at a picture of that boob and his idiotic hat, did you? This is a safe place!) Foolishly, I did not make the cat orange, which would have helped a lot. Totally my bad. Here is a corrected version.

I’m sure you’ll agree that some super heroes take their alter egos far too seriously.

Also at the family style restaurant is a TV room where you can ignore each other while you eat, a garage where dad can disappear to for hours at a time while working on some project he uses to avoid the wife, and dogs roaming around under the tables for the kids to sneak unwanted food to.

This cartoon could have been titled “Centaurs of the Old West” but after 30+ years of daily cartooning I’ve come to believe that it is better not to spell out every single aspect of a cartoon. In this way, I have attracted a select group of more intelligent, well-read, well-educated readers such as yourself––ones that don’t need things explained to them and enjoy being in on the aspects of a joke that are not spelled out. That’s just one of the many reasons I have not become fabulously wealthy as a cartoonist, but can count on my most loyal readers to defend me in a Mexican knife fight. If I should get into one of those things down here, I’ll let you know so you can rush to my defense.

Hey, want some happy, insider news to reward you for reading what I write and not just quickly scanning the cartoons? How about this––> After three and a half years of groovy fun times with my beloved partner, Olive Oyl, I asked her this week to marry me and she was foolish enough to agree. Yay!  After two marriages that failed in spectacular fashion, I swore I would never marry again but O2 silently, stealthily changed my mind by being unerringly principled, honest, loving, intelligent, loyal, and insightful. She’s too amazing to ever live without and she richly deserves the social respect and legal rights one gets from a legal coupling, so I’m taking the plunge. Accordingly, I am officially adding the first new Secret Symbol to the Bizarro canon in many years. It is “O2,” which stands for Olive Oyl. (I don’t use her real name in public posts in order to reduce the number of people who may seek her out on FB or wherever and bug her in ways she’s not interested in.) To read about all of my Secret Symbols and their meanings, including the new one, go here!

Thanks for making it to the end of our weekly chat, Jazz Pickles. Please consider some of the support options linked to below. Those of us at Rancho Bizarro will think of you every time we sleep indoors. 

Humorlution

(Click freely upon the images herein and experience embiggenation therefrom.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Evolution Hiccup.

I was discussing cartoon cliches last night with someone I met at a friend’s house and he mentioned that Bob Mankoff, the cartoon editor at The New Yorker, recently put together a list of them. Without reading the list, the ones that come to my mind most readily are “crawling through a desert,” “stranded on a tiny one-tree island,” “two people in a bar,” “a psychiatrist’s couch,” and the famous “ascent of man” line of evolving mammals, like the one above. There are dozens more, of course.

Two reasons cartoonists love to use these cliches are 1) they are setups that lend themselves well to saying something about the human experience, and 2) they are a fun way in which cartoonists can engage in a sort of friendly competition. For us, it’s less about who has sold the most books or gotten the most cartoons published, it’s about putting your best psychiatrist’s couch joke out there and seeing how it stands up against your cartoonist heroes.

I’ve done quite a few “ascent of man” cartoons like the one above. The most famous (of mine) and the one I’m most proud of can be found under these blue words. As you can see if you clicked that link, it isn’t funny, but it’s poignant and true and I think it will stand the test of time. If there are people around in a couple hundred years and they come across that cartoon, they’ll still get it.

The one today is a little more opaque, I think. It’s a product of my belief that all humans have a sense of arrogant pride about how much we’ve created as a species––complex language, writing, philosophy, the innumerable discoveries of science, modern technology and medicine––yet most of us never achieve anything of note at all. A very tiny fraction of us have created the amazing world we live in, the rest of us have just learned how to use it. In short, the overwhelming majority of us have evolved to where we are now, then do nothing more than turn around and try to dress up the chimp for a cheap laugh.

I’m no different, of course. I’ve not contributed anything life-changing to the planet. I just draw silly pictures for money in an effort to stay out of an office cubicle. So far, dressing up the chimp has worked okay for me.

This cartoon about punctuation was born out of my childhood memories. Like many families in the 1960s, a vacation to us meant piling into the station wagon and driving somewhere with a cheap motel (with cheap diner attached) and some kind of inexpensive attraction. We also moved across country twice in that station wagon, so we got plenty of family road time. Something our dad used to do to amuse us was to point out the signs that said “Stop Ahead” and get all of us kids to help him watch for the head so he didn’t run over it. It made us laugh.

This cartoon about the Dark Ages got some good play on the Interwebs this week. As you can imagine, people argued over whether it is stupider to believe the “official” story behind various historic events, or the conspiratorial versions. The latter are far more entertaining, of course. A few of my more philosophical friends and readers, however, posed questions about the nature of reality in the first place.

On a side note, several people complained that this cartoon disparages mechanics and they wished I’d have picked a different scenario. I have nothing against mechanics, by the way, it was an arbitrary choice.

And also, yes, there are isolated regions of America where there are people who pronounce “oil” to sound like “erl”.

Murder isn’t funny but the real subject of this cartoon is karaoke, and it most certainly is. Under the proper conditions, I have on occasion had one hell of a lot of fun with karaoke. My biggest dilemma with it is trying to decide whether to pretend to be a rock star and sing the song well, which is a blast, or go for the humor by pretending to be a melodramatic diva.

Come to think of it, that’s the same dilemma I have in almost everything I do: go for the humor, or play it serious. I’ve gotten in trouble many times by going for the humor but playing it serious can be so boring. Sometimes you just need to dress up the chimp.

One reader wrote to me this week to say it was unfortunate that this cartoon about the bloodthirsty king published the same day the U.S. bombing of Syria was in the headlines. He was concerned I would get a lot of hate mail accusing me of being insensitive, so I see his point, but the truth is it could not have been better timing. My cartoon is about the mental illness of power-hungry leaders who care nothing about human lives outside of their own tiny circle. I’d say this cartoon accurately describes both of the main actors in the Syrian story this week. (Yes, Assad has been more violent than Trump, I get that. Let’s not start shouting about who is worse. Neither of these assholes care about anyone outside of their tiny circles and we’ve yet to see how many innocent people will suffer/die under Trump. If he ignites a nuclear incident, he wins hands down.)

I used to have two children but now I have two adults. We’re close and always have been but raising them was equal parts rewarding and difficult. I tell my younger friends who are considering having kids to be sure they fully understand that it is not a hobby, it’s a career that will eat every other part of your life until there is nothing left of you other than being Mommy or Daddy. When they finally move out, you have to reinvent yourself. That suits some people very well, others not so much.

Another thing to consider is the exploding population vs. limited natural resources, and the large number of children in orphanages and foster care. Adoption is a far kinder, greener way to go than producing your own crotch fruit. I’m not preaching because I didn’t adopt, I’m just putting it out there. Both of my daughters––thus far, anyway––have decided against having kids. To be honest, I’m fine with that. I don’t want to attach myself emotionally to small children then watch them suffer at the hands of Trump’s policies, environmental and otherwise, the disastrous effects of which will last far beyond his 4-to-8 year reign. I hope I’m wrong, but I suspect the world is at something of a tipping point. I may not live to see the collapse, but babies born now certainly have an excellent chance of doing so.

Olive Oyl and I have one cat, Boo, and one dog, Jemima. Our dog is extremely emotional and has a lot of anxiety issues. Among the things that scare her are wind, people speaking passionately about any topic, cuss words (even when only muttered under the breath), loud trucks, parades, and fireworks. Mexico was not her first choice for relocation because they shoot fireworks and have parades here almost daily. Some weeks are quieter than others, but never do more than a couple of days go by that we don’t hear “bombas” going off somewhere nearby, often right over our house. We’ve already gotten Jemima something called a “Thunder Jacket” and that helps a bit, but we’ve decided to also get her a therapy dog. We hope that she’ll be comforted by having another dog around while we’re gone. This week, an opportunity presented itself to rescue an adorable puppy from the streets of our ‘hood, so look forward to some pics of our new family member soon. I will, however, NOT be posting pictures of food.

Thanks for your attention, Jazz Pickles. I always enjoy our time together. If you want to help support my cartoons and commentary, please have a big ole gander at the suggested ways of doing so below. The four of us at Rancho Bizarro will be most appreciative!

Dangerous Magic

(If thou desires embiggenation, thee must no more than click the image of thine desire.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Dangerous Magic.

It was another wild week at Rancho Bizarro. One of my cartoons caused an uproar of praise and condemnation from both sides of the trench (“aisle” seems too civilized for today’s political atmosphere) but more about that in a bit. And also my new home country of Mexico gave us a surprise gift in the form of this thing that popped up spontaneously in one of the flower pots that was already on our patio when we bought the place. I believe they call that a “volunteer”. Thank you, Madre Naturaleza.

Today’s super-size Sunday comic is about the dangers of magic. I have no doubt that this cartoon occurred to me entirely because I grew up watching The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, during which Bullwinkle would regularly pull dangerous animals out of his magician’s top hat. (Click the “Dangerous Magic” link above for an example.)

But in a larger sense, belief is a very strange and powerful thing in humans. We clearly need to believe in things that comfort us––hence the very existence of religion––but it also benefits us in many ways. Countless studies consistently demonstrate the power of placebo; that is to say that if you believe you are taking or doing something that will heal you, you very often will actually get better. The effects are somewhat limited in many ways and you may not be cured, but your belief about your illness or injury (and your treatment) are undeniably of major importance with demonstrable results. There is no point to my bringing this up other than that it interests me.

The genesis of this cartoon was that Olive Oyl and I were at Chris and Mitchell’s house and Chris gave O2 some sesame seeds for a recipe she was planning, but they weren’t toasted and we realized we didn’t have a sesame seed toaster. We chuckled over it and Chris said something about it perhaps making a good cartoon. You be the judge if Chris was right.

This cartoon about the Foundering Fathers caused the stir I mentioned in the opening of this post. Mainly, it got a LOT of likes and positive comments but it also got some negative responses both from expected and unexpected places. Generally, the responses can be placed in three categories:

  1. People who have compassion for members of society who have historically been pushed to the edges thought it was a funny, clever way to say that everyone in the U.S. should enjoy the same rights.
  2. People who wanted to critique the cartoon as though it were a history textbook wanted me to know that the men who wrote the Bill of Rights dressed that way because it was the style of the day and not because they were trans-anything. And others in the same general camp wanted me to know that the Founding Fathers would hate modern day liberals and that everyone already has the same rights and people should stop whining for special rights and privileges, and just be who God intended them to be.
  3. People who are for transgender rights but criticized the cartoon and me because it isn’t an accurate representation of transgender people, and that it leads people to believe that transgenders are nothing more than men who like to play dress up, which is a common misunderstanding by many people in group 2 above.

I’ll try to keep this brief but I’ve never succeeded before, so I’ll apologize ahead of time. This is a topic I care about and one that has a LOT of moving parts.

To group 1: Thanks, you got it. The only point I was trying to make is that all Americans should be granted the same rights and respect as long as nobody is getting hurt. Being different always leads to scorn by the small-minded and insecure but it needn’t and shouldn’t. That’s among the things that laws and bills of rights are meant to protect.

To group 2: This cartoon is not a history lesson. I know why they dressed the way they did and that they actually didn’t even intend for these rights to apply to everyone. Many of them owned human beings, for god’s sake. The rights in those documents were only guaranteed to land-owning, white males, and the guns they were guaranteeing Americans could bear in “a well regulated militia” were ancient, manual-load rifles from which one could, with enough practice, perhaps get off two shots per minute. I don’t personally think that the Founding Fathers were gods incapable of error, or possessed magical powers enabling them to see into the future and design the Constitution and Bill of Rights to account for every eventuality. And therefore, I think looking to them and their original intentions to dictate (rather than “guide”) our current laws is as foolish as looking to the Bible to determine what method of treatment you should seek if you’ve been diagnosed with epilepsy. Good luck with that.

To group 3: When I create cartoons about rights for people outside the mainstream, I always get a small number of complaints from the very people whom I trying to support. At first I was surprised but now I’m starting to expect it. I fully realize that these complaints often come from the fact that transgender people (and many other non-hetero folks) have been maligned, ridiculed, attacked, prejudiced against and denied all kinds of things by the mainstream and so they want to be respected and understood and object when people describe them with inaccurate stereotypes. Fair enough. But the landscape of sexual possibilities is so large (and growing daily) that I sense that all you can realistically expect is respect; complete understanding will likely only come from people who are close enough to the issue to want to investigate the various names and definitions of the myriad orientations and situations. Most of us who support your struggle but aren’t facing those struggles ourselves probably aren’t going to concentrate on the details; we’re mostly just going to fall on the side of rights for everyone. I understand that my cartoon is not an accurate representation of transgender people but, only so much can be accomplished in a space that small. It’s not a pamphlet or a textbook or a documentary, it’s a simple connection between two topics that causes most people to smile and reminds everyone that this is an ongoing civil rights issue that is worth knowing about. I think that’s a good thing. If you insist that all references to these issues be completely accurate (by your personal definitions and standards) even in the case of cartoons, you’re going to eliminate a large amount of references entirely, including this cartoon; the gag would have vanished with the accuracy. In my view, reminding people of this issue is more important than getting the details exactly right and here’s why: Those readers who are for equal rights already know that transgenders are not just playing dress up and whining for special treatment, and those who are against equal rights will never care enough to understand the difference anyway.

And, finally, here’s why bathroom laws matter: Human sexuality is not a black and white issue, nor is it a frivolous choice that people make about what they want to do in bed. Each person’s sexual orientation is innate, genetically programmed, and an enormous part of who we are. In short, you didn’t choose what kind of person would turn you on sexually and neither does anyone else. If you’re a garden-variety heterosexual, you may not realize how important your sexual orientation is to your identity because it likely has never been challenged or scorned. Non-heterosexuals do not have that luxury.

Furthermore, human sexuality is extremely diverse and impossibly complex, and there are so many different orientations and preferences that you can’t hope to name and define them all, in spite of our almost comical attempts to do so. It’s not just gay or straight––it’s 10,000 things on a sliding scale that reaches out in a hundred different directions at once like a 200-year-old oak tree. My point is that there are far more people outside of the traditional heterosexual paradigm that society has labeled as “normal” than the average person who doesn’t hang out with the out-of-the-closet-crowd would ever guess. Far more. So to label someone that is different from you as a “pervert” to be scorned and feared, is both childish and inaccurate, and if you’re using your religion as an excuse to do so, it is archaically superstitious. People with epilepsy were commonly thought to be possessed by a demon. If you’re in the habit of openly disparaging non-heterosexuals, I can virtually guarantee you’ve unknowingly called your own friends and relatives perverts, and they probably smiled and took it on the chin out of fear of being ostracized by their community and loved ones. Congratulations. That is exactly what leads to large numbers of suicides among non-heterosexuals.

Opponents of equal rights for LGBTQs, routinely use the fear of encouraging sexual predators to hang out in women’s public restrooms as a reason for these “bathroom laws”. This is a complete red herring. National crime statistics do NOT in any way, shape, or form bear this out, in fact, they contradict this notion entirely. People who wish to commit crimes against women and children are not discouraged by restroom laws, and why would they be? It’s always been against the law to assault women and children, and that doesn’t stop them––why would a silly little bathroom law deter their violent urges?  What crime statistics DO show, however, is that transgender people who use public restrooms that do not match their “look” are regularly insulted, assaulted, and killed. If your concern for public safety is authentic and not just a disguise for your bigotry against people who are different from you, you should be voting for laws that allow people to use the facility that matches their sexual identity, not a box on their birth certificate. Period.

Many people have asked what civil rights are being denied to transgenders and the simple answer is the right to use a public restroom without being insulted, attacked, or killed. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Keep in mind that this same “imaginary predator” excuse was used to prevent blacks from being allowed to use the same restrooms as whites, and in propaganda campaigns against homosexuals. None of these arguments has any basis in reality.

I’ve had aquariums full of fish before but I always find them pretty boring. Once we had an African River Frog in an aquarium with water and he was sort of interesting. He made very strange noises late at night that echoed all over through house and that you wouldn’t immediately associate with a frog.

 

Someone commented on this cartoon that VHS is digital. I guess I don’t know the difference. It’s not a great cartoon anyway, so whatever.

This is my personal favorite cartoon of the week. Some readers asked what it meant, what’s the deal with the hat, that sort of thing. Others immediately got the subtext, that Moby was acting like a dick. A few others pointed out that Moby, the modern-day celebrity musician, is a descendent of Herman Melville, who wrote Moby Dick, and that’s where his nickname, and his real name Richard Melville Hall came from. (If you’re not familiar with the basic premise of the classic novel, Moby Dick, this cartoon probably escapes you entirely. Time to visit Wikipedia.)

Lastly, I know Moby personally and have hung out with him a few times, though not in recent years. We’re more acquaintances than friends, but from what I can tell he’s a pretty nice guy, so this cartoon is not meant to be a character judgement of Moby. (Although Captain Ahab could definitely be an obsessive jackass.)

This cartoon about the abstract Egyptians reports to have 27 secret symbols. If you can’t find them all, take another look at the publication date.

Thanks for reading this far, Jazz Pickles. Please have a look below at the ways in which you can keep me eating and drawing daily! Until next week, be safe, be smart, be nice.

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