I’m Dan Piraro, the creator of the Bizarro newspaper comic. Each week, I post my Sunday Bizarro comic, then a short essay, then the past week’s Monday-Saturday Bizarro comics written and drawn by my partner, Wayno whose weekly blog post can be seen here. I highly recommend it.

Here’s the ANSWER KEY to this week’s Sunday comic, above.


Welcome, Jazz Pickles! If you celebrated the American version of Thanksgiving last Thursday, I hope you had a dandy one. If you didn’t, I hope your average Thursday was wonderful, nonetheless.

Today’s Sunday cartoon (above) is a nod to cartoon cursing. “Cross words,” of course, can be interpreted as words used when you are angry, and when a cartoon character uses profanity, it is commonly represented by a series of unpronounceable typographical symbols like, @#%! 

The inventor of this invaluable tool was Rudolph Dirks, the creator of the early 20th-century comic, The Katzenjammer Kids and it was first used in 1902. In those days, cartoon humor was primarily slapstick, so it was necessary to find a way for characters who’s skulls had hilariously been clobbered by a blunt object to curse. 

I’ve seen these symbols referred to as “obscenicons,” which is a logical portmanteau, but I was unable to find the origin of it. In the 1960s, the creator of Beetle Bailey, Mort Walker, coined the word “grawlix,” which I think is more widely used. I have no idea what the inspiration for “grawlix” was.

Regarding cursing, I’ve never been one to bow down to the idea that “bad words” should be prohibited even when used out of context. I fully agree that words have power and that they can be used to injure and demean, but out of context, I’ve always argued that they are simply noises we make with our mouths. To agree that a given word is off-limits in certain contexts lest someone feel assaulted is fine, but to say the word has the magical power to injure no matter when or how it is uttered seems superstitious to me. In the context of a news story, is it really necessary for a TV anchor to refer to “the F word” instead of saying it? Why are so many of us sensitive about hearing these words spoken even when no harm is meant?

But just now, while writing that last sentence describing my age-old opinion about profanity, I suddenly realized that it is the superstitious reverence that we pay to these words—even out of context—that keeps them powerful in context. If profanity is allowed to be used too commonly, it could lose its sting. It’s kind of obvious when I think about it. I guess it just goes to show you what a stupid motherfucker I can be.

If you were offended by reading the MF word, I apologize. In service to keeping it powerful for future, more judicious use, I will refrain from using it casually in my blog posts in the future. 

Let’s move on now to Wayno’s Bizarro cartoons this week. He’s one talented SOB…

Christo is an artist who wrapped gigantic things like buildings, islands, and coastlines. I’ve never been sure why.

If the Milky Way doesn’t make you feel insignificant, you’re probably beyond redemption.

Lots of dangerous animals can be found in NYC, many work on Wall Street.

Several readers pointed out the subtle joke of these characters’ cocktail choices: a tiki drink and a Manhattan. Wayno is good at touches like that. I love the moai version of our alien secret symbol, too.

If this one confuses you, look it up, read the book, have some fun!

There was a national effort to get us cartoonists to do a tribute to Charles M. Schulz on this hundredth anniversary of his birth and I think Wayno did a great job. It’s very hard to come up with a tribute cartoon without it being schmaltzy and unfunny and I think this one is neither.

Schulz was a terrific guy, easy to talk to, and a friend to all cartoonists. His friends called him “Sparky” and he encouraged all of us to do so, as well. The one thing that I can say that Sparky and I always had in common is that his last name is misspelled as often as mine is. Most people seem to want to spell it “Schultz” but there is no T in it.

That concludes this week’s flirtation with humor. Thanks for not vomiting. If you don’t utterly despise what we do here and don’t mind us continuing to offer our work for free, without paywall, ads, or clickbait, we’d much appreciate your helping us to keep it that way via the links below.

Until next week, if you can’t stand the heat, try sitting down.

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* This article was originally published here


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