Tentacle Tuesday: That Bizarro Look in Your Eye

Today’s Tentacle Tuesday is a continuation of previous post that’s close to my heart. In a little less than a year, I have accumulated a new batch of tantalizing tentacles from the pens and minds of that intrepid team, Wayno and Dan Piraro. The initial post can be found here: Tentacle Tuesday: Let’s Get Bizarro. The loveliest thing is that some of these are from 2021 – I am not taking for granted the fact that these guys just keep going on, with no loss in quality, year after year. Without further delay…

First, some Dan Piraro Sundays – Wayno has been part of the team since 2018, but only on the dailies.

And now, on to the aforementioned dailies! Wayno straddles the line between continuing the Bizarro aesthetic and keeping his own drawing style beautifully, I think.

As a bonus, 3 older Piraro dailies, artfully collated by co-admin RG. Wouldn’t you like to hang this in your home? I know I would.

~ ds

Welcome, One and All, to the Alphabet Soup Kitchen!

« What’s a soup kitchen? » — Paris Hilton

While concocting a post on a favourite oddball obscurity, the one-shot Alphabet Soup Kitchen (1990 Jabberwocky Graphix), I decided to reach out to one of its co-creators, the dapper Wayne ‘Wayno’ Honath, to see if he could shed some light on this delightfully batty project of yore. And did he ever come through!

Wayno’s lavish wraparound cover features most of the issue’s cast, and was coloured by ‘guest Boho Bro’ and publisher Brad W. Foster.

In one of those happy cases of talent and perseverance rewarded, Wayno® nowadays splits creative duties on syndicated strip Bizarro with its originator, Dan Piraro (since 2018, though he’d been part of team Bizarro going back to 2009), with Wayno® ably handling the dailies and Mr. Piraro the Sundays. It’s a fact: Wayno®, thanks to his crisp visual style, sharp gag writing and encyclopedic grasp of cartooning history and archetypes, was just the right ink slinger for the task.

Without further delay, I cheerfully yield the floor to Wayno®, his superbly lucid recollections, and some choice letters from the Alphabet Soup Kitchen!

Sure, I remember doing Alphabet Soup Kitchen! Ted Bolman and I had traded minicomics through the mail, and appeared in some of the same publications. We may have collaborated earlier, but I don’t think so.

I don’t recall whose idea the book was, but it sounds like something I’d have done. I liked to define parameters or constraints for projects, and then work to complete the parts. We split up the alphabet so Ted would do the first half of “A,” then I’d do “B,” and we’d alternate to the end. We sent the pages to each other by mail.

There were two different printings. I printed it as one of my “No Way Comics” minis. The interior was black & white, and the wraparound covers were brown ink on an off-white textured stock. I used a local printer for my minis, and most of them were offset printed, not Xeroxed. (I did several “secret” publications in editions of 50 or fewer, and those were Xeroxed.) They’d offer a free ink color once a week, and that’s how the brown ink on the cover came about. I drew the inside cover endpapers.

After my minicomic version was published, Brad Foster contacted me about doing a larger reprint under his Jabberwocky Graphix imprint. I drew a new wraparound cover featuring characters from the interior. I included a photo of two men wearing some sort of jaw-braces to represent the Boho Brothers, and also drew these guys on the cover. I can’t recall whether the endpaper drawings were included in this edition. I have a copy somewhere, probably in my office/storage space. I believe that Brad Foster may have done the color work on the cover. Yes, just confirmed that on the Poopsheet Foundation webpage (a good source of minicomics images and info).

I also included copies of my original printing in one of two multi-packs I offered for sale. This was in a set called THE NO WAY MINICOMIC FUNBAG, which included Boho, Uncontrolled Copy, The World’s Most Dangerous Animal, and one bonus minicomic from my backstock. They were packaged in a plastic bag with a wraparound cover.

Incidentally, the title is an example of a form of wordplay I still use from time to time in Bizarro. I couldn’t find a good descriptive name for this, and I coined the term streptonym, which still hasn’t caught on. I first blogged about it here: https://waynocartoons.blogspot.com/2011/08/whatchamacallit_11.html

That’s as much as I can come up with off the top of my head!

Watch the brief, eerie documentary entitled… Göring’s Ghost.
Nuns with rulers? A classic theme! “The nuns who smacked me and my friends at our small elementary school in New Jersey were Sisters of Charity, a cheap bit of irony that always draws a chuckle when I talk about being on the receiving end of those holy rights and lefts.
To join the Roy Orbison Fan Club, the line forms here.
Perhaps you’d like more details on Tyrone’s rather swanky tie? Say no more… here you go.
In case you doubted it (for shame!), yes, there *is* such a thing as Yiddish Yodeling.
Zachary the Zombie’s version hasn’t been committed to tape, I’m afraid, but here’s a rendition of Less Than Zero by its composer.

I mentioned to Wayno® that I enjoyed his cover work for Dana Countryman’s Cool and Strange Music magazine (28 issues, 1996-2003), to which he responded:

Cool & Strange Music was great! I’m still friends with Dana Countryman, and I still admire that he was able to continue self-publishing it for so long, and always on schedule, and he always paid for the art. He was more reliable and professional than a lot of bigger mainstream publications I worked with!

This was the first issue I chanced to get my mitts on. Some back issues of this most excellent publication are still available (at most reasonable prices!) direct from the publisher. Tell Dana we sent you!

Once more, three cheers and my most heartfelt thanks to Wayno® for his generosity and kindness. Best of luck with everything!

-RG

Tentacle Tuesday: Passive Protoplasm, Active Protoplasm

The thing kept coming.
“Die, die!” Parke screamed, his nerves breaking.
But the thing came on, grinning broadly.
“I like quiet protoplasm,” the thing said as its gigantic mouth converged on Parke.
“But I also like lively protoplasm.”
It gulped once, then drifted out the other side of the field. 
— excerpt from The Last Weapon by Robert Sheckley
I Am the Living Ghost!, illustrated by Steve Ditko, was published in Tales of Suspense no. 15 (Mar. 1961, Marvel). I came across a reprint of this story while looking for Draculian tentacles (which you can see in Tentacle Tuesday: Dracula Drops In).

Call it goo, label it as a giant amoeba, christen it ectoplasm or protoplasm, but when it starts crawling your way, do remember to beat a hasty retreat.

Oh, yeah, and keep your fingers away from it, too.

Coo! this page has everything: a prehensile amoeba, tentacled plants, aliens with cephalopod appendages…

Spawn of Venus was scripted by Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein, and illustrated by the latter. It was published in Weird Science no. 6 (Mar.-Apr. 1951, EC).

… but it’s the amoeba that’s of current interest to us (yes, the one devouring everything in its path, including dawdling professors).

Continuing our literary delusions, a peek at the adventures of a ‘star vampire’, from a (somewhat lackluster) comic book adaptation of a Robert Bloch short story:

The Shambler from the Stars!, based on a story by Robert Bloch, was adapted by Ron Goulart, pencilled by Jim Starlin and inked by Tom Palmer. It was published in Journey into Mystery no. 2 (Feb. 1973, Marvel). An amorphous red blob is not a dog to be ordered around, which explains the poor results.

If a tentacled amoeba is scary, just think of how startling it is to run into an amoeba with a single bloodshot eyeball (that feeds on soap, among other things).

A page from Creator of Life, published in Ghost Manor no. 11 (Apr. 1973, Charlton). This story was written by Joe Gill and illustrated by Charles Nicholas and Wayne Howard.
An eyeball in a turtleneck! Scary stuff.
Haunted no. 59 (January 1982), pencilled by Dan Reed and inked by John Beatty.

Not only does this monstrosity go after the scientist, instead of pursuing his absurdly attractive assistant…

The Man Who Played God was scripted by Joe Gill (again), pencilled by Dan Reed and inked by John Beatty.

But she’s also the one who saves the situation. Joe Gill, ladies and gentlemen!

I love his tough-guy stance at the end. He surely would have punched the amoeba out, if only the meddling female hadn’t interfered!

I’ll end this post with a woman with priorities:

Dan Piraro, unquestioned Tentacle Tuesday Master.

℘ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: Newspaper Ink

Greetings! Today we take another foray (I started with Tentacle Tuesday: the Many-Armed Tentacle Strip) into (modern) newspaper strips. It’s easy to assume that everything published in your paper’s comics page is drivel, but there’s some reassuring exceptions to this rule.

First, we have Canadian Pooch Café, around since 2000. One wouldn’t think that a strip about a dog (Poncho, the terror of the neighbourhood) and its owners and friends would have tentacles in it,  but it does, much to my delight.

PoochCafe-blind-date
The fish in the bowl (named Fish) is a recurring character, cohabiting (and occasionally having his life and safety threatened by) Poncho.

Pooch Café
All cats in this strip are purple and are indistinguishable one from another.

Scary Gary, by Mark Buford, follows the everyday tribulations of a 700-hundred year old vampire who’s gone quite soft and suburban. The most excitement he can hope for is purchasing a new bag of chips… on the other hand, his henchman Leopold’s life is a whirl of nefarious, villainous schemes and ploys.

ScaryGary-HammeredHenchman
In case you didn’t know what a mind flayer is, it’s the same thing as an illithid 😉

My colleague has talked in detail about a certain crotchety witch in Growing Old Gracelessly With Broom-Hilda, so I’ll just leave this one strip here (and politely inquire why Broomie thinks that the octopus isn’t good enough to cuddle with, huh, HUH??)

Broomhilda-octopus

Mark Tatulli’s Lio is a riot of tentacles, given that Lio’s best friend is a giant squid. All of it is pretty fun, but once in a while I’m so charmed that I save the strip to my computer. Here are some of those saved, favourite strips:

Leo-MarkTatulli-lunch

Leo-friedfood
No doubt Dr. Zoidberg would rush towards the seafood buffet offer with similar speed. Or is Ishmael just angry for friends of his that have been fried?

Leo-MarkTatulli-painting

TatulliIshmael
Ishmael painting by Lio fan Nina Levy. Visit her blog Daily Napkins!

Bizarro – ah, to be able to rely on something that’s still good some thirty-plus years later -, has already had a Tentacle Tuesday of its own (see Let’s Get Bizarro), but since then I’ve accumulated a few extra strips.

Bizarro-rescuemission

bizarro-won'tletusin

Bizarro-eyeball

~ ds

Tentacle Tuesday: Let’s Get Bizarro

Dan Piraro‘s Bizarro is a ubiquitous newspaper comic that usually doesn’t need much in the way of introduction. Favourite strips are widely shared by fans – cut out or photocopied from newspapers (or, more recently, printed from a website) to be pasted on office doors, cubicle walls and school binders. As a matter of fact, that’s where I spotted my first Bizarro strip: scotch-taped to the office door of my college English teacher. Oh, I’ve seen them before, of course, but this was the first time I consciously noticed one of them. Teachers of all stripes seem to have a thing for Bizarro – I had a university psychology professor once who actually collaborated with Piraro on some strips, an achievement of which he was justifiably proud.

Bizarro-DanPiraro-p.20161015

As usual, one can rely on the intrepid Tom Heintjes of Hogan’s Alley to conduct a worthwhile interview with whichever artist one is interested in. Read it here: Mondo Bizarro: The Dan Piraro Interview. I’m not going to compete with Heintjes’ ability to summarize, so I’ll just quote:

« Since Bizarro’s January 22, 1986, debut, Piraro has taken his panel in directions simultaneously surreal and topical. In a comic universe where world-weary talking dogs exist alongside nihilistic housewives, Piraro gives his cartoons heft by skewering his own bêtes noires: wasteful consumerism, environmental destruction, corporate greed and sheeplike people, to name a few.  Though his humor is never didactic, Piraro’s work is remarkable in its unwillingness to pander, even when the occasional panel borders on the inscrutable. For example, he once used the Etruscans as a punchline; if you skipped history class that day, tough. Since sustained excellence like Bizarro‘s is rare in any medium, his willingness to shepherd his panel into its third decade is great news for comics fans and for the more than 200 papers that carry the strip. Though Piraro maintains that Bizarro is a comic strip for people who don’t read comic strips, we all know better: Bizarro is a comic strip for people who love comic strips. »

Bizarro-supportanimal-DanPiraro.jpeg

Piraro is not the only cartoonist spoofing social conventions, endowing animals with the gift of human speech or forging surreal situations out of everyday occurrences… but he does it consistently well. His easily recognizable, flowing art style is the frosting on the cake, and very nice frosting it is, too. Yet who can grasp the scope of such prodigious output? Bizarro collections (there have been thirteen of them – fitting number, isn’t it?-, all quite out of print) generally end up in the discount bin of bookstores (often neighbours to disheveled anthologies of Gary Larson‘s The Far Side, another omnipresent yet somehow underappreciated strip). For all my affection for Piraro’s goofy world, I only own Bizarro and Other Strange Manifestations of the Art of Dan Piraro (Harry N. Abrams Publisher, 2006). Some of the strips in this post have been scanned from it (others were found in the trackless depths of the Internet.)

Pleasantly, Piraro wears his politics, heart and sympathies on his (rather accommodatingly large) sleeve:

BizarroAliens02A

BizarroAliens01A

Bizarro-DanPiraro-Stuffed

Most Bizarro cartoons feature a recurring object or creature (added value for a comic strip that’s already rich in detail). Some of my favourites: the Eyeball of Observation, the Pie of Opportunity (a piece of pie – blueberry, I think), the Dynamite of Unintended Consequences, or Firecracker of Pop (a dynamite stick), the Fish of Humility (or at least its tail), and my very favourite, the Bunny of Exuberance. One can just tell that Piraro enjoys his work. What kind of jerk still enjoys drawing the same strip after 30 years*?!

Bizarro-Freshfood

bizarrooc18-2006

Don’t forget to visit Bizarro’s official website!

BizarroTwoThingsAlikeA

~ ds

*Since 2018, Piraro’s pal Wayno has been drawing the dailies, with Piraro keeping the Sundays all to himself.