Dan Piraro—creator of the innovative, acclaimed, and much-beloved comic strip, “Bizarro,” which he’s drawn for more than 35 years, and in which animals (talking, and otherwise) often play a central role—surveys some of the notable changes he’s experienced, personally and professionally, since our last “Talking Animals” conversation, in 2015. Piraro starts by addressing the decision that he and his now-wife, Christy (aka Olive Oyl) made to move to Mexico just over five years ago, blown away by the political winds of change—Trump being nominated, never mind elected—and disturbed post-relocation by mask madness and more. (With Piraro’s permission, I’ve included a “Bizarro” cartoon that features dogs wryly dealing with the mask situation.) Having settled into San Miguel de Allende, a beautiful city that’s drawn many expats, and become an artists’ colony, Piraro enthuses about life in Mexico, raving about the culture, the country’s art scene, and more. He observes that his new home has provided fresh artistic inspiration, which leads to a broader meditation on creativity, with Piraro suggesting everyone can and should create something, it doesn’t matter much what it is—it’s the act of bringing something new into existence, he says, that’s important and thrilling. Piraro himself sounds more than a little thrilled as he recounts the discovery that a new artistic impulse turned out to be the beginning of “Peyote Cowboy,” his graphic novel. He explains that he did not set out to create a graphic novel, but opened himself to receive the story that seemed to be transmitted to him, writing it all down, which he’s completed, and he’s gradually been illustrating it, unveiling new installments of the saga on https://peyotecowboy.net/. Of course, he has more time for such pursuits since taking the momentous step of semi-retiring from “Bizarro.” Discussing how he arrived at this significant career move, Piraro says the decision was driven partly by the fatigue from needing to come up with a brand new, viable joke every day for 35 years, and recognizing that in the cartoonist Wayno—who had already made some contributions to “Bizarro”—he had a colleague and friend who could take on the daily duties of the strip. Consequently, Wayno creates most of the week’s “Bizarro,” while Piraro remains responsible for each Sunday’s comic. You really must hear Piraro describe this uniquely symbiotic relationship, and how generous and complimentary he is toward Wayno’s work on “Bizarro,” which, after all, is one of the most singular comics in the annals of cartooning. But then, some would say you should hear this entire conversation, for an array of reasons, including his description of evolving from “a science-based atheist to a science-based mystic.” Well, here, below, is the audio archive…. (https://www.bizarro.com, https://peyotecowboy.net/, https://www.instagram.com/danpiraro/, https://www.facebook.com/bizarrocomics)
ALSO: I spoke briefly with Helene Greenberg, of Florida Voices for Animals (FVA) about the organization gearing up for its annual Animal Hero of the Year awards, and how FVA is accepting nominations for people in the Tampa Bay Area who have done something extraordinary to help an animal, or animals, in 2021. She cited past examples of heroism that have been recognized with past Animal Hero of the Year awards, and notes that the way to submit someone you feel is a contender is to email ([email protected]) information about that nominee—including their name and the specifics of their heroic act toward one or more animals. She added that the new Award winners will be announced and celebrated at an outdoor event—a picnic–at Philippe Park, on May 14. (https://www.floridavoicesforanimals.org, https://www.facebook.com/FLVoicesForAnimals/?ref=br_tf, https://www.instagram.com/floridavoicesforanimals/)
COMEDY CORNER: Brian Simpson’s “Missing Pets” (DS edit) (https://www.briansimpsoncomedy.com)
MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.
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