Secrets of the Trade

bz panel 05-27-13Bizarro is brought to you today by A LOT of Tie Dye.

Here’s how cartooning works:

1. I draw and submit the best cartoon I can, then forget about it.

2. Weeks later when it publishes, I grab it for this blog. At this time I often think of things that would have made the cartoon better. In this case, the caption should have been, “I see a small, green stranger in your future,” which would, of course, refer to the next cycle of the crossing light. Here, I regret having gone with the cliche palm reader line seen here.

3. I say to myself, “Damn.”

4. I say to myself, “Oh well.”

My job here is done. Back to the drawing board.

Bouncing Wisdom

Bizarro 05-26-13 WEB










(To experience the bouncing guru at a largerer size, click the hiker’s backpack.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Dream Ticket.

I’m bitter about “bouncy castles” like the one seen in this cartoon because they didn’t exist when I was a child. All we had was Pin the Tail on the Donkey, which we knew was boring even before anything more exciting had been invented. Attempting to find some way to spice it up, I asked my mom if we could blindfold a kid, put the pin in his hand, then substitute the donkey poster for a real donkey.  My mom wouldn’t let us do that, partly because it would be cruel to the donkey and dangerous for the temporarily blind child standing behind it poking it in the butt with a pin, but also because we didn’t have a donkey. According to her, my dad was the only ass for miles around and he didn’t want to play.

Yes, my childhood was a dark, damp tunnel of disappointment and I still have nightmares about it.

Behind-the-scenes note: the hiker in this cartoon is my buddy from the old country (Oklahoma), Randall Baker. He asked me recently why he’s never been in one of my cartoons so I rewarded him with this cameo. He now owes me an Oliva and a glass of Lagavulin.



Party People

bz panel 05-24-13Bizarro is brought to you today by Daily News.

Sorry for the absence, Jazz Pickles. I’ve been out of town for four days at our annual National Cartoonists Society’s convention. This year it was in Pittsburgh and we had a blast.  Here are the two cartoons I missed posting last week after I’d gone, plus a few highlights and pictures from the Reubens (as we call our yearly get-together.)

This first cartoon has a fun little faux-cameo by me in the form of an anatomical model in the background. bz panel 05-25-13




While at one of our cartoonist events over the weekend, I met a family of four whose youngest son was in a stroller. He was perhaps 2-years-old and was surfing the Internet on an iPad. His mom told me that he regularly flips through my cartoons on the web. Is he a genius or an idiot? You be the judge. The family was super nice but I was afraid of the 2-year-old who could surf the web. Seems like black magic.DanJimmyHoMcCWaynoWEB







Meanwhile, back at the Reubens award dinner, I am seen here enjoying my evening with my buddies, colleagues, and collaborators, Jim Horwitz (JimmyHo), Wayno, and Dan McConnell (whose bylines in Bizarro appear as “Dan McC.”)DanJimmyHoDanMcCWaynoWEB






We don’t usually kiss this much, it’s just the effects of an open bar.DanWaynoKimH WEB






More open-bar kissing with Wayno and his adorable wife, Kim.KlugPiraroMcParlane WEB







On the other side of our table were a couple more of my best cartoonist buddies, Dave Klug,and Michael McParlane.








Since I’d spent so much time kissing my cartoonist pals, I thought it only appropriate to lick my SpecialLadyFriend, Klamelda, on the face. The lighting in this photo is pretty psychedelic but I don’t think I can blame the open bar on this one. For the record, we did not have radioactive dust smeared on our faces.








DanKateTonyCliftonWBOn another night, under the influences of a different open bar (there are a lot of open bars at the NCS convention, I’m afraid) my good buddies Kate McParlane (Michael’s wife) and Dan McConnell are goofing off with costumes. Dan thought he was dressed up as Elvis but he was actually just a bushy mustache away from Andy Kaufman’s famous “Tony Clifton.”Dan JimmyHo WEB







Same night with me and JimmyHo.WaynoBand WEB





Lastly, we have a nice shot of Wayno and his band, The Chalk Outlines. They played the final night party on Sunday and were fabulous. Wayno was on harmonica and vocals, Dave Klug on drums, and three non-cartoonist musicians. (Sorry I don’t have your names, guys. You were all delightful and I enjoyed meeting you but, again, the open bar prevented me from remembering your names.)

All in all, a great weekend and lots of fun. I’ll leave you now with a pic of one of the many boards they had lying around for all of us to draw on and sign. Click it for a larger view. (I hope. You can never depend on the formatting of these long blog posts with multiple images and limited copy. Sorry if it is all screwed up!)CartoonBoardWEB









Triple Shrinkage

bz panel 05-23-13Bizarro is brought to you today by Eating Too Quickly.

When drawing this cartoon, the biggest challenge I faced aside from drawing three adults on a small couch was giving the three men the right looks. In cartoons such as mine, I usually will go for a recognizable stereotype to increase the percentage of readers worldwide who will understand the gag.

Even though the story line here is very “California,” the stereotype look of the lawyer isn’t particularly common here. My divorce lawyer, for instance, wears Hawaiian shirts, jeans, flip-flops, and a straw fedora to work. My agent, on the other hand, looks just like the guy against the wall above.

Also note that while most cartoonists use the same colors for the flesh tones of all of their characters, I’ve got four characters here and four different flesh tones! It’s the little details like this that make Bizarro the finest handcrafted, home-brewed cartoon panel currently appearing on this web site.

Serious Comedy

bz panel 05-22-13Bizarro is brought to you today by Deep Thoughts.

We all grow up being taught myths about life: our country is always right, God is watching over you, hard work will yield wealth, justice will prevail, the police are your friends, the people inside the TV cannot actually see you, marriage is forever. The list goes on and on.

The myth I was taught that did me the most physical harm was the one about marriage. It was a combination of my parents and Hollywood that did the trick; my folks were 1950s high school sweethearts, likely virgins when they married at age 21 (I’m not going to ask them for details about that and if you do, please don’t tell me), and are still married in their late 70s. Because of this small-town, old-world impression of adult life, I got married at 21 also. It lasted 16 years, we had two daughters, then it fell apart with alarming speed and misery.

I was single for six years, then, like a blathering halfwit, I got married again. She was a wonderful woman and we were destined to be with each other (then) but there was no logical reason to drag the courts into it. We could’ve had the same relationship without marriage and it would have been logistically and financially easier when it was over. Still, the idea that two people can be best friends and lovers for decades on end is a farce, whether you complicate it with legal entanglements or not. A lucky few couples have that kind of relationship, but the overwhelming majority do not. They either split up after x years or they stay together in mutual misery. That’s fine, but I just wish someone had told me when I was a kid that that’s the way life is.

In fact, I wish someone had said this: relationships are terrific but they end in pain; there is no higher power that’s willing to drop everything to help you succeed, so do it yourself; this country is a terrific place to live but it isn’t any more “right” than most others and “GOD” isn’t on our side; some police are your friends, others are assholes who wanted a legal reason to carry a weapon and push people around; hard work is good but don’t expect it to make you rich unless you’re already a member of that club; most priests are probably good people but some are dangerous so stay out of the rectory after school.*  Stuff like that.

*In the interest of fairness to victims of molestation, I should make it clear that I was never molested by a priest or anyone else. But I was an altar boy, was alone with priests many times and was taught to respect their authority without question, which is how that stuff happens. I was lucky it didn’t.