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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.)

Sex Preachin’

bizarro 04-05-15 hdrWEb1Bizarro 04-05-15 WEB(Hankerin’ for a bigger look? Click the cartoons.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Sex.

All of the cartoons from this week are self explanatory (as a cartoon should be) but I have a few things to say about the last one posted here: two ladies at a sidewalk cafe talking about an old boyfriend. I suggest you read all of these cartoons, then come back here for my commentary.

bz panel 03-31-15 When I submitted the cafe cartoon, my editor warned me that it could cause trouble. It is hard for someone like me to imagine anyone being upset in 2015 by a cartoon like this but at the same time, I know there are people who will. Fortunately, we received no complaints from the editors of any of my client newspapers and bz panel 04-02-15 I consider that a good sign, but I got a few complaints from readers who chided me for including a reference to casual sex outside of marriage in a newspaper comic “where kids could see it.”

Casual sex outside of marriage has been a hallmark of the human race since ancient bz panel 04-03-15 copy times and it always will be. Hiding it from your children won’t change their behavior when the time comes, in fact, it likely make it all the more attractive to them.

Whether we’re trying to control our children’s future sex lives or our own, we are fighting a force that is stronger than us and one way or another, we will lose in the end. Humans are highly sexual mammals bz panel 04-01-15and one of only a very small handful that have sex for reasons other than procreation. Most animals only tolerate sex because they are driven to do it. (We judge this by the ratio of copulatory incidents to conceptions. Most animals have sex around 3 or 4 times per pregnancy, humans do it over a thousand times per.) Humans bz panel 03-30-15actually enjoy it and need it often, one way or another. It’s simple biology and there’s nothing we can do about it no matter what we believe about gods in the sky who look down on us for giving in to our animal nature. In truth, when it comes to sex, we’re giving in to our human nature.

I’m not just talking “out of my ass” here, I actually raised two daughters who had no trouble navigating the waters of sex and dating and became well-adjusted, happily married adults. Here’s how I did it:

From a very early age, before they learned to be ashamed or embarrassed about sex, their mom and I told them everything about sexuality that they were capable of understanding (at a given age), as though it were a scientific fact of nature and an inevitable social force. (Which it is, of course.) Nothing magical or mystical, just the truth. We told them what to expect physically, emotionally, and socially and gave them things they should consider when the time came, and what good and bad things they could expect to experience as a result of becoming sexually active. And we were dead honest. When we would have these talks over the years, chapter by chapter, as they were old enough to understand a new piece of the story, they listened matter-of-factly and said, “Okay.” It was an open topic in our house and both of them knew that the power to make those decisions was in their own hands, not ours. As a result, they had less curiosity about it and waited longer than their peers to experiment. Both were in long-term relationships in college when they did. My point, of course, is that talking to your kids about sex doesn’t have to be mysterious and embarrassing and you don’t have to lie awake at night worried that your child might find out something about sex that might make you lose control over them. Your control over them is an illusion in the first place.

It makes more sense to me to relax about it, stop making it so important and mystical, and just get on with more important aspects of life; like whether your 12-year-old boy is constantly playing violent video games or is becoming a bully. In my opinion, it is literally insane that so few Americans raise an eyebrow over violence on TV and in pop culture, but a reference to sex raises the roof.

 

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

 

bz panel 12-22-14bz strip 12-22-14bz panel 12-23-14bz strip 12-23-14bz panel 12-24-14bz strip 12-24-14bz panel 12-25-14bz strip 12-25-14Bizarro is brought to you today by Scary Christmas and Santa’s Package.

This week brings four holiday cartoons for your end-of-year enjoyment. I’m  not one who adheres to the religious celebration of Jesus but I’ve long been bothered by the tacky commercial-ization of Christmas in America. To my sensibilities it’s noisy and ugly no matter what the reason, but the fact that it is all supposedly in honor of one of the least materialistic characters in modern times makes it even more unpalatable.  I stopped participating in it back in the early 90s, announcing politely to my friends and family that I wouldn’t be sending cards or giving gifts anymore and did not expect any. On the increasingly rare occasion when I do get a gift, I accept graciously, of course. I’m not trying to be an ass about it, I just don’t want to play anymore. I’ve found it very liberating.

Thus, my Xmas cartoons tend to come from a fairly irreverent place. In case you missed it, my previous post was a collection of 29 of my favorite Xmas-themed Bizarros from years past. Check it out here for more fun.

GHOST OF BIZARRO PAST: Scroll down to see a strange Xmas cartoon of mine from 1997 that depicts what holidays are like in Cookie Land. Other cultures can be so strange. bizarro 12-24-97 WEBThe nation of Cookie Land recently hacked into my website and stole a bunch of top secret information about future comics and some embarrassing emails in which I openly criticized their king, then threatened to attack my blog if I posted this cartoon. I told them, “I’m not Sony, assholes!”

Happy holidays to all my Jazz Pickles. Stay tangy.

Genesis Fat Brat Drugs

bz panel 12-04-14bz strip 12-04-14bz panel 12-05-14bz strip 12-05-14bz panel 12-06-14bz strip 12-06-14Bizarro is brought to you today by Man with Huge Wiener.

So I was thinking what would happen if Adam and Eve’s neighbors happened by just as they were standing naked together, talking to a snake and eating a piece of “forbidden” fruit. Now, I know in the classic version there were no neighbors because Adam and Eve were the first humans, but according to the same story, they had a couple of sons, Cain and Able, and one of them grew up and got married. So where did his bride come from? This leads me to believe that either this is a traditional myth used to teach a certain lesson, or incest was okay for a very long time (until there were enough people to find someone to mate with to whom you were not very closely related.)  Ew. I’m going to assume it is a myth.

Another myth in our culture is that women actually want your honest opinion when they ask if they look fat in something. The lady in this cartoon decides to only ask the question once, with all her dresses on at the same time. I like that idea––one question, one lie.

My final salvo this week is a cartoon with an editorial message on the childish behavior of our species toward each other, the rest of the planet’s inhabitants, and the Earth itself. I’ve been reading a lot lately about anthropology and where we went wrong, mental health in a materialistic, technological world, and the science behind spirituality. (Yes, there actually are areas where the two intersect and it is fascinating, especially to this diehard atheist.) I’ve never been so enthralled by a subject. Olive Oyl and I are currently transitioning off of our anti-depressants for good (we hope) with a fairly rigorous regimen of vitamins, minerals, exercise, and meditative practices. We’re both excited to be able to say goodbye to the sinkhole that is allopathic medicine. I’m convinced that pharmaceuticals are among the worst things ever invented by humans. Many bacteriologists are confidently predicting the end of our species will not come in the form of climate change or nuclear war, but disease  and bacteria that is smarter than us or our antibiotics. I’ll let you know how it goes (regarding our quest to be happy without pharmaceuticals, not the end of human civilization.)
BIZARCHAEOLOGY: From the year 2000 I bring you a cartoon about which I have just spoken in the paragraph above. Stay tangy, Jazz Pickles.bizarro 03-03-00WEB

Psychic Longneck Cat Worship

bz panel 12-01-14bz strip 12-01-14bz panel 12-02-14bz strip 12-02-14bz panel 12-03-14bz strip 12-03-14Bizarro is brought to you today by Gun Lingo.

Does anyone out there have a modern solution to the password thing? You’re supposed to use different passwords for all your sites to reduce the possibility of having your identity stolen, but how do you remember them all? If you write them on a list, someone will steal the list and steal your life. I’ve taken to keeping a list but writing it in code. But sometimes I can’t remember what the code is. Gosh, life in the future can suck sometimes.

This giraffe gag is a bit of a throw-away joke, but I’ve always enjoyed reminding myself to look at things objectively, as though I’d never seen it before. In doing so with a giraffe, it occurred to me that no other animal resembles it; it truly looks Photoshopped.

It also occurred to me when I was writing this batch that most of the single women I’ve known (and a good number of ones in relationships) seem to nearly worship their cats. No judgement––cats are lovely creatures worth adoring––I was just wondering if there was a reason. If there is, I’ll likely never understand it, as most things about women are inscrutable to men.

SECRET TRIVIA FOR JAZZ PICKLES ONLY: I originally drew this cartoon for a different caption but it was decided it would be too incendiary in the light of current gun issues in the U.S., so it has been relegated to the Internet only. See the original caption here. Seriously, what is it about so many Americans that they equate godliness with the right to carry guns? It’s mystifying.

DNA Hippo Can Bellbottoms

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Bizarro is brought to you today by Granny Sale.

 

It’s Saturday, so I’m posting the silliness exhibited in Bizarro since Thursday. If that confuses you, consult your local calendar expert. I have no specific comments to make about any of them. I know, it is rare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REZARRO: From Bizarro of 1998, I offer you this other bit of foolishness that has deep, hidden meaning. Let me know if you figure out what it is so I’ll have a good answer should someone ask.bizarro981002WEB

Camper Bite Godzilla God

bz panel 09-11-14bz strip 09-11-14bz panel 09-12-14bz strip 09-12-14bz panel 09-13-14bz strip 09-13-14Bizarro is brought to you today by Cartoons Inspiring Sculpture.

In creating this first cartoon, I was well aware of the fact that there are plenty of women (and men) out there who really dig this kind of guy. To those folks I’d like to say that the point of this was not to say that this guy is wrong for everyone, just wrong for the gal at the bar. I have a lot of friends who are political, environmental, and/or animal rights activists and some of them have the habit of plastering their vehicles with tons of stickers about their beliefs, as well. I’m not sure how many people actually change their belief system based on the bumper stickers they read while at a red light, but I’m guessing it’s a fairly small percentage. Still, somehow we all like to tell the world what we believe or cherish in one way or another. I, for instance, enjoy wearing a T-shirt that says, “ONE OF MY CHILDREN HAS NEVER BEEN ARRESTED.” (Purchase a print of this cartoon.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This “Found Dog” cartoon is a favorite of mine, because the punch line is so hidden. I found it very difficult to convert into a strip version, however, and wonder how many readers missed the joke when seeing it in the tiny newspaper format. Life is like that sometimes. (Purchase a print of this cartoon.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regarding my Godzilla cartoon, I figured I would get a complaint or two from religious readers and I was not disappointed. This one appeared this morning on my Bizarro Facebook page:

Mr. Piraro, as a Christian, I take offense at your cartoon in today’s (paper), wherein you depict godzilla returning in a Christ-like manner.”  

This was my response: “I’m sorry you were offended, that wasn’t my intention. For me, it was just a simple pun between God and Godzilla. I’ve always felt that humor is an innate and invaluable part of the human mind and that if there is a supreme, omnipotent being, it is likely not easily offended by the meager attempts of humans to make each other smile.”

This is a common problem with jokes about religion and one that keeps most mainstream cartoonists from broaching the subject. I was raised in a devout Catholic family and attended Catholic school for many years, so I was raised to take spiritual matters very seriously. As an adult I’ve read a fair amount about world religions, theology, and philosophy and continue to study the subject of “higher powers” in all its forms. I’m no longer a believer in any established religions or gods, but still find the powerful attraction most humans have to belief in a higher power fascinating. For some time I was a fairly militant atheist, but now my views have softened a bit and I see the human experience as something endlessly complex and difficult, and have come to believe that whatever means people use to make their journey a little more tolerable is understandable. I draw the line, of course, when religious beliefs are used to prosecute or oppress others. Which, to be fair, is alarmingly often, so I still get ample chances to exercise my militant side.  (Purchase a print of this cartoon.)

PREBIZTORICALS: On the topic of religion, I bring you this cartoon from the archives. In the version that appeared in newspapers, the word “shit” was replaced with “poo.” It’s not as funny that way, somehow, so I reverted to my original caption for this post.  It has long been interesting to me how utterly ridiculous certain other religions seem (even when I was a devout believer) primitive ones especially, and the thought that immediately followed was that the religion I was raised in would seem just as ridiculous to someone convinced otherwise. Bz 04-17-06 GodBirdPooSMThis gag, for instance, won’t offend modern folks in any great number, but if the statue had been of Jesus, I would not have even been allowed to publish it. I think we often fool ourselves into believing that other religions have more superstition in them than ours, whatever it may be.

 

 

Zombie Burning Anger

bz panel 08-08-14bz strip 08-08-14bz panel 08-09-14bz strip 08-09-14Bizarro is brought to you today by Chocolate Family, Please.

These cartoons are a couple of my favorites of late. As tempting as it was to draw the zombies “running” the race, I’m happy that I chose this remote view instead, which leaves part of the gag to the reader’s imagination.

Attention young cartoonists: The reader’s imagination is key to a good gag.  

Also: Get out of cartooning now––there’s less money in it all the time and I could do without the competition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve done a lot of ventriloquist cartoons (there’s just so much fodder in the image of an adult with a talking doll) but this may be my favorite because it touches on a favorite topic of mine––the limitless capacity of humans to be superstitious and fearful of what they don’t understand. I’ll let you draw your own analogies about how this relates to modern society.

Jazz Pickles with better memories and/or powers of observation may notice that I used some art from another cartoon for much of this image. Here is a peek at that one, which is not about fear and superstition but another of my pet peeves: mandatory jury duty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PREZARROS: This cartoon from 1999 isn’t about reacting to something you don’t understand with superstition or fear, but rather with anger. Over the years I’ve gotten a fair amount of vitriolic hate mail from people who want Bizarro to go away simply because they don’t understand it. (I often have asked them if someone is forcing them to read it.) This was my published response to that kind of mail.bz 04-09-99 AmbiguousWEB I’m pretty certain they didn’t get this one, either. To be a Jazz Pickle, you have to be willing to think around corners and I love you guys for that.

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