Saturday, May 31, 2008

An Uncommon Courtesy

As insulting, sick and manically depressed as Ziggy's computer can get, it's nice to see that it can occasionally make the courtesy of conserving a little power before Ziggy is thrown into debtor's prison.

I love the computers that Ziggy uses - ancient, one-piece affairs the likes of which you used to purchase with the Sears Roebuck catalog to liven up the drawing room. These things haven't been seen in stores for decades, which probably explains why they occasionally follow their better judgment and suddenly find themselves eager to serve. I don't think that Ziggy has a job, so I imagine he mainly uses his computer for bank defraudment schemes. Ever-serviceable, the computer will take most of the rap.

Irate Reprobate Service

Ugh. . . I don't know what's gotten into a young Bob Barker that he's taken up work for the IRS, but I shudder to imagine a future wherein penniless citizens are probed with a "metal detector" (actually a crude torture device hooked up to a car battery) upon announcement of their status.

His grotesque expression shows that he gets his kicks out of this sort of thing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Double Whammy - Grasping at the Shadow

I only have two things to say about this one. Firstly, what a cruelty for an animal without eyelids to be subjected to such indifference. I can't imagine the glare inside that tank. Secondly, I have trouble wrapping my brain around the odd syntax in Ziggy's speech ("There's no way I'm able. . .") .

This old sage's character is as inconsistent as my tapioca cooking. Today he's opted for a sort of wishy-washy Socratic existentialism. Truth be told, it all confuses the dickens out of me. Nice coloring, though.

Morose Encounters

I've always been partial to the idea that any supposed extraterrestrial race would have the same relationships to their spaceships and technology that we do to our computers and cuisinarts, our toasters and tasers - they don't have the slightest idea how they work. As on our planet, a couple of dozen experts on their homeworld have managed to appropriate enough of the technology, ideas and work of others to put together this hovership. And darned if its pilots would know how to fix it.

So their ignorance is hardly damning - we accept a certain degree of ignorance and confusion in our daily lives, understanding that we can't hope to understand half of what happens to us on any given day. But adding indecisiveness to the mix seems unneccessary. So what if they don't know who to abduct? If they have any red wine on board, I'd suggest that they go with the dog.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Screaming Heebie-Jeebies

Today's Ziggy does little to answer the question of just how a rat can get all the way to Cancun, nor does it explain the rats' familiarity with human calendars. Thanks the heavens for suspension of disbelief.

Bitter Harvest

Having misplaced his trust into the hands of purported experts, Ziggy now reaps the bitter harvest gleaned through ill-pointed reliance. The empty uniform on the left regards Ziggy with a sort of indignant suspicion, shrugging off his incompetence with the sort of wishy-washy explanation that his charge is likely to accept, while indirectly assigning blame to the one who called this "expert" in the first place.

The mechanic on the right (who we know is a different guy because his hat and jumpsuit are different colors, obviously) has apparently bypassed mere incompetence in favor of pure unbridled insanity, committing punny acts of Amelia Bedelia proportions. Ziggy is an apt target for mechanical misconduct - his world lacks the concept of malpractice suits or even well-founded anger. Even when individuals wrong him, Ziggy rarely assigns blame, more likely ascribing the mistreatment to the wheels of an inscrutable universe.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pocket Full of Shells

Poor Ziggy caught a virus from a sadistic seashell.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Day of Books and Babble

Again with the mountain and the climbing, Ziggy! Again with the backpack and the loss of direction and the crushing disappointment! You've visited this guy twice since I started reading this feature, and he ain't got nothin' to offer you. When will you learn? Sure he's got the beard and his butt on a mountain, but, if anything, he's even more wayward and lost than you. Drunk and depressed sages give untoward advice. So don't just assume that he's going to be serene and understanding. If you're going to judge a book by its cover, at least let it be this one:

See? That's pretty straightforward. When seeking enlightenment, however, don't look only for a beard or a robe, or you'll be bucking for disappointment. Looks like somebody could stand for a little self-help:

Dang - must you ruin everything?

The Psychosomatic Mechanic

Kudos to Tom Wilson for having the courage to use nearly the exact same strip two months in a row. It's a wonderful strip and I'm glad that it came up again so that I could discuss it. My first thought was to make a joke about Wilson's shrewdness: the average reader's age for his feature skews well into the 90s and he could with all likelihood reuse the same strip day after day with no real consequence. Old people live in a perpetual "Memento"-esque nightmare wherein the memory resets every fifteen minutes or so, so I'll go on record as saying that it's not worth the effort to impress them with quality work when they already spend most of the day staring at vapid knickknacks.

After pushing the old people angle I would lapse into a long soliloquy about subjectivity and mental objectivity and a hundred other "-ivities", before realizing that letting this double strip occurrence slide would be inexcusable. Let's give Tom Wilson credit for inserting an actual premonition into "Ziggy."

Why do I think that the 5 April strip was a premonition - a subtle hint at things to come? The white outlines, surreal perspectives and dreamy landscapes certainly hint toward a bizarre omen. Why not? If Ziggy were to have a premonition, wouldn't it be about something this bland and insecure? Notice the way the mechanic smiles wildly, nonthreateningly, while holding his wrench very close just in case.

The difference in Ziggy's sentence between iterations merely proves the veracity of this interpretation: "Mind" or "head", Ziggy's a heck of a lot more prescient and prophetic than we give him credit for.

Not all premonitions turn up so clearly. Imagine that you saw, one fateful morning, the following image, clear as Clearasil in your mind:

"GRISLY MURDER!" You'd be shouting to everybody who used to respect you. But wait until reality comes along a month later and gives you context for the image:

Oh! I just got a tantalizing look at my future in the wonderful field of custodial labor! Too bad I didn't notice it at the time.

Premonition image by Filipe Franco

The "guy sweeping" image was unattributed in the
first place, which makes it okay for me to repeat the
vicious cycle.

Monday, May 19, 2008

"If you go out in the woods today, you'd better go in disguise. . ."

Does this mean a "teddy bear picnic" - a picnic intended for children in which each brings a teddy bear - or a "teddy bear's picnic" a picnic intended for teddy bears?

I think we can agree that, in either case, the appropriate action is the same: get out of there! Whether your intended solitary camping spot is about to be overrun with biting, scratching, screaming children or massive hordes of facsimilic Ursidae reanimated against God's will, this will soon no longer be a happy place. Go have your lonely picnic elsewhere, Ziggy.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Animal House - Double Play

My schedule has beaten the heck out of me as of late, so today you're seeing double. Both of these are pretty funny if you stop to look at them:

Remind you of something?

Both pictures depict that moment of pure bestial malice and confident rage wherein the soul abandons the body, the pupils of the eyes vanish, and the sight of soft, supple prey supplants all rational thought. Where man has seen these eyes there can be only pain, death, and finally a large, off-color spot on the floor peppered with scraps of fabric and the signs of struggle.

What a change in demeanor from the parrot's last appearance. Reckon he's caught the yellow fever.

What an odd request for this jumpsuited pest control teen-turned bounty hunter - a rescue mission for personal belongings. The objectives of this mission are a great deal more subtle than the usual "Let none survive!" instructions given to fumigators.

Good luck with that, Ziggy. Jumpsuit Gas Man's constant on-the-job exposure to the potent fumes of his trade has shot his comprehension to hell. You'd have better luck giving instructions to the duffel bag at your feet.

And what of the mice? For a species whose goal is to lay low and forage quietly out of sight, these mice sure go to a lot of trouble to draw attention to themselves. Why, they'll be making off with the insulin next! I'm sure Ziggy would kill for some of Garfield's mice - they mostly just want to make friends. On the rare occasion that they, for example, make off with the entire refrigerator, they at least do so in a comical manner. Ziggy's mice mainly stay out of sight, tormenting him from the safety of their lairs. In fact, Ziggy's got such an inferiority complex that he's the one who feels excluded:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ziggy and the Mothers of Invention

Actually, this is about the only cliched cartoon situation that we've seen Ziggy in for the past few days. Nevertheless, the cartoon archetype of the psychologist's couch is an important one, provided that you're The Far Side or a Johnny Hart strip.

No - the numero uno newspaper comic cliche is banality, something which Ziggy regularly attempts to deliver in spades but manages nonetheless to be interesting. Geez - can I see a Cathy without talking toilets? Or a Mary Worth without characters buying ineffective drugs from psychedelic vending machines? On the first day of this blog Ziggy was held captive in a bank by the bank's employees. Cliche? Hardly.

I can already picture Freudy McBoredbeard's recommendation: break the fourth wall, once a week, until the feeling of déjà vu subsides.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

After Enlightenment, Chop Wood, Carry Water

Wow, Ziggy - it took female rejection and verbose waterclosets to get you back to the top of this peak, but the trip appears to be worth it. If you value meaningless platitudes, that is. For an enlightened sage, this old man's life is in remarkable turmoil - in the space of a few short weeks he's abandoned his celebrity wheeling and dealing in favor of a philosophy of militant obedience.

Ah, so this is why I was so disappointed the last time, Ziggy thinks, once again contemplating the unnecessary wear done to his hiking boots, which have now rubbed his raw blisters into impenetrable callouses. Meanwhile, enlightenment stands in full sight, as both erstwhile student and guideless guide balance on a grinning buddha.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

In the Wine of Love. . .

How sad - Ziggy is unable to hear the music of love. Consider the following: he was actually turned away from a dating service. Although it's possible that part of Ziggy's problem is an inability to tell how to visit websites. No, you don't always have to visit the company's HQ in Pittsburgh. No, the receptionist is not your only option. I'm sure that they have kiosks set up for just that purpose.

No, you'll have to brave it online, Ziggy. Let's see how the whole thing plays out. You'll have to click the following image to read it clearly:

Back to the parrot and the television set, my friend. It's for your own good. On a lighter note, look at his right foot in the image at the top.
Q: Doesn't he make suction cup sounds when he walks? A: He does.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Water Closet Speaks

Just what on Earth is happening here!?! I know that Ziggy's world is strange and surreal, but we cross the line into complete surreal horror when confronted with toilet couriers. We know the drill: Ziggy gets a message from his toilet announcing mail, then retreats into the hallway where his arm turns into a coat hanger and a giant insect crawls out of his sink. Oh - joy and humor!

Can I please request that my comic strips not have toilet couriers? I'm fine with front door singing telegrams, electronic mail and even pebbles thrown against my bedroom window in the wee hours of the morning, but the bathroom is not a neutral zone. The idea of outside voices, whether human or electronic, intruding into the private recesses of the loo is unsightful and tasteless. This strip isn't even colorized. Shame, shame on you, Ziggy.

Aw - I just can't stay mad at you.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

"Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."

How many times has this happened to you?: You bump off to the local super for a roll of chapstick, only to become waylaid on the return journey, astray in a land governed only by metaphor. Unfortunately, it seems that "THE COMEBACK TRAIL" is a path barely a hundred feet in circumference, looping back over to the sign announcing its existence. Heaven knows how many times Ziggy has walked this trail, or how many times he will continue to walk it. I won't cast any aspersions on Ziggy's childhood, but it's possible that the word "beaten" holds some unpleasant connotations to his mind.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Soldier Will Fight Long and Hard For a Bit of Colored Ribbon

If there's anything that consistently cooks my goose it's an honor system. Though my crippling , almost OCD-like sense of self-consciousness removes my desire to actually cheat the system, it just feels like an economic disadvantage to pony up the cash for something when there's no beefy guard with a handgun to make you. The honor system lowers prices a little, but it sure makes me feel like a huge loser.

I've got nothing on Ziggy, though. He's obviously left his watch at home and is paralyzed by the thought of exceeding his allotted five minutes should he swing. A well-reasoned point, it turns out: There's not a soul around for miles, but Ziggy's entire life is on a two-week delay before it's on every morning paper on every coffee table in America, and he knows it.

Check out the astonishing change in Ziggy's stance from yesterday. He's flipped and turned blue and that's it.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Stars. . . Space. . . I'm So Small

I had a pretty dark interpretation in mind for this one, involving a room full of frenzied claustrophobes who have killed each other off in an attempt to reach the door. I even wrote a couple of paragraphs in that vein in my usual wit-soaked delivery before hanging the sense of it and resolving to strive for lighter plateaus.

It's difficult to reach any sort of conclusion to this strip because it's such a half-joke. Your brain's humor center still experiences that appreciative tingle, almost as if you were hearing a real joke, but the punchline doesn't quite hit. It's like being stopped before a sneeze.

So I'll just find satisfaction in the usual things, particularly Ziggy's trademark bleak look of quiet desperation. There's really no situation in which Ziggy's body language is inappropriate:

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Images Not Loading

We seem to be having problems with images, for some reason. I've contacted Blogger about this so hopefully we'll be back up to full functionality soon.

Pass the MD

A few weeks ago, as a result of this incident, I recommended that Ziggy seek out a new source of medical care. Unfortunately, Ziggy searched via pawn shop ads, so it seems that he's in the same boat. But every cloud has a silver lining: This "doctor" hasn't been to medical school, so he doesn't know that patients who ask questions can be punished through misdiagnosis:

"What are all of those strange jars doing in the corner? And why are you handing me a blank waiver? Why the enormous collection of bear traps and matted pelts decomposing in the janitor's closet? And why was your receptionist selling cigarettes in the lobby? Why, why, why, why, WHY?!"

"You have Tourette's. You'll need a lobotomy. I'll get the saw."

Remember, if it quacks like a duck then it's a quack like this doc, if you catch my drift*. But the discovery that Ziggy's physician may be more "special" than "specialist" seems to have gotten Ziggy in full-on strangle deathgrip mode - look at his right hand clench involuntarily. You can't see Ziggy's eyelids but they're twitching like hummingbird wings.

* I honestly won't blame you if you don't.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Cheeky, With an Invigorating Sense of Audacity

I've gotta get up at 6 for work - stay tuned later today for the commentary on this one. You won't see tomorrow's newspaper columnists trying that.

All right - let's go. We'll begin with a topical poem:

Amusing Wine?

By Madeleine Begun Kane

When experts say wine is amusing,
It’s a compliment. Ain’t that confusing?
Why laugh at a wine
If you think that it’s fine?
Methinks they do far too much boozing.

It's the last line that deserves special mention. It's my understanding that alcohol merely reduces inhibitions, so unless you have some wonderful hilarious anecdote on the tip of your tongue amusement is hardly a necessary consequence of chugging down a bottle of '68.

On the other hand, if your life is a vale of tears and sadness that you'd rather not dwell upon, inhibitions are the only thing keeping yourself from a complete emotional breakdown. I think that we all agree that, in Ziggy's case, it may be better to just have a cookie.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Idiot Box Has Opened My Eyes

A confession: One recurring problem with this blog is the need to continuously reference the title character. Occasionally I'm able to stem the flow of Ziggy ennui by reaching into my descriptive grab bag, but referring to Ziggy as "our luckless chum" or "our pessimistic protagonist" does little to address the underlying issue of Ziggy's pervasiveness in this feature. I can only hope that you find, as I do, a certain camp value to the adventures of the hapless pink blob that serves as the subject of this blog. That name which shows up in the URL, posts and artwork of this blog, and the character who answers to it, are the heart and soul of this blog. It seems fitting that Ziggy, the world's most recognizable pink blob, be granted the dubious honor of this, the ultimate Blob's Blog.

On to the feature. Ziggy's television set, always honest-bordering-on-the-surreal, attempts a final disclaimer urging insomniacs citywide to bed. Ziggy's not hearing a single word of it, except possibly for the first: "ANOTHER." Another program?, He thinks with all of the vim and gusto of a late-nite television viewer: Don't mind if I do.

If this feature really wants to simulate the mind-numbing drudgery of television overdose (hey, it's a slippery slope!), I can think of nothing better than to run the following strip for a week. Trust me, it's the only way to make a statement. It's an actual, undoctored photo of the moment your soul solidifies into concrete:

Monday, May 5, 2008

Just Nod If You Can Hear Me. . .

Another technicolor dreamscape, barren save for today's bringer of confusion: another nondescript vending machine. Placebos are, of course, the perfect drug for the dedicated hypochondriac, though clearly labeling the machine dispensing the drugs seems to defeat the purpose.

Which reminds me: Didja hear about the guy who took an entire bottle of placebo sleeping pills? He committed fauxicide! I just thought of that.

So many Ziggy strips play out like this: Our pale protagonist stands in the shadow of some looming monolith, which purports to offer solace or escape. Sometimes this monolith is machine, but oftentimes the dysfunctional agent of inconvenience is a fellow human. In true monkey's paw fashion, the solution is but a half-answer, a mere facade, and does nothing to help Ziggy in his searching, without exactly hurting him either. You get the feeling that there's a curse of sorts on Ziggy, that the entire world functions perfectly well except for the space surrounding our tiny hero's person. Inside this space, dry-cleaning will be late, you are subject to personal insults hurled by the television and will be the victim of bizarre, inexplicable accidents.

Ziggy's website tries to explain this phenomenon but makes him sound like some kind of broke stalker:

Poor Ziggy. He’s perpetually one step behind, one nickel short, one lane away. But we love him for it, because everyone feels like Ziggy now and then!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Little Green Mensch

I'll admit that Ziggy's wardrobe holds more interest for me than the otherworldly scene being played out here. It seems that, in direct conflict with my statements three days ago, a Ziggy in pants is not an aberration. He's also donned the cap and collar of a Britain, which go well with his size 36 shoes for Bigfoots and other podiatrically-gifted individuals. Just another homely Britain, out for a walk, mumbling to himself. "Tut, tut, it looks like aliens! Ho ho! Sip a spot of tea, tally ho good chap, wettin' gee a golly whistle on the odds bodkins, never mind the bollocks," and so on. Oh, the mirth.

Now, on to the plot. An alien being draws neat little circles on his notepad, while his identical derriere-headed assistant stares absentmindedly at the foliage in front of the saucer. I can see why Standing Alien is in charge of the project.

Just here to check up on your "control group", eh, Zort? That means that there's another group of humans somewhere, probably somewhere else in space. Just a quick question, though:

Just what on Earth (so to speak) is happening to your other group!? Also, where did you get those clipboards!?

Presumably, the aliens are performing horrible experiments on some of Ziggy's fellow humans. "Subject shows no signs of profuse bleeding from the eyes, nor of any enormous tumors like the other subjects. Further investigation is needed but it seems that homo sapien reacts differently to microwave radiation than our species." Again: oh, the mirth!

Finally, that's one mighty well-drawn tree on the right side.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Find Something To Pacify

Everybody in Ziggy's neighborhood got a copy of this book for free, left anonymously on their respective kitchen tables in the dead of night. It mentions no author, no publishing company and has no jacket price, but contains information on Ziggy's life that is far, far too specific to be just lucky guesses: Ziggy, did you think that your dental floss malfunction went unnoticed?

All of this is just a build-up to the book's main point: a plead for fraternal alliance against the scheming, tricksy world. Suddenly, everything makes sense: Ziggy's world is like The Truman Show, only instead of keeping him in a bubble mystery world, the totality of humanity has contrived to make his life as surreal and horrific as possible.

Is the Book Man Ziggy's friend, or the real enemy? And is he crouching right behind Ziggy's chair, clenching his fist and breathing shallowly? We may never know.

On a related note, I once read a book called The Paranoid's Pocket Guide, a nifty little tome with all sorts of information to keep you up at night. A prominent page features a chart of bacteria counts on common household items. The rest of the book offers helpful tips like (from memory): "When staying in a hotel in an unfamiliar city, wait a few minutes after entering the building to turn on your room's light. That way people outside won't know what room you're staying in." Great stuff.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Divirtimento in Gee

Let it not be said that this strip is anything but wonderful. I'd love to imagine this strip in motion, if only to watch those notes shoot across the room, propelled from Kiltbeard's turkey-like bagpipe. The look in our patient's eyes shows that he appreciates the special attention; not every dentist's office has its own resident Scotsman. Even as Ziggy struggles to keep the saliva from dribbling down the right corner of his benumbed and paralyzed mouth, his arms gripping the armrests in silent desperation, he must appreciate the special effort undertaken by Dr. Drill 'n Gouge to incorporate all of Ziggy's phobias into each and every appointment. We're only a couple of manically-grinning clowns away from a complete Fear Encyclopedia.

Drill 'n Gouge must be in cahoots with Ziggy's shrink. I'm aware that the bagpipes are basically Britain's saxophone, with all the soul implied by such a comparison, but was this the only alternative to generic elevator-style muzak? "So, he doesn't like snakes!? Well, how about a sea of spiders!?!"

Grin (so to speak) and bear it, Ziggy: it could be much worse.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Have You Been To Electric Ziggyland?

In a world of uncertainty, despair and bleak hopelessness, I'm often reminded of a. . . wait a minute! Ziggy is wearing pants! Bellbottoms, by the looks of it. Why is he wearing pants!?! And need I draw undue attention to his shoes?

Studies have shown that the mind dwells on events long after they have occurred. Especially-traumatic or notable experiences remain locked in our mental banks for weeks, popping up when we least expect them. Ziggy's pants, shoes, and the general trippiness of this whole scenario shout "dream sequence"! They shout fairly loudly, in fact.

My, what could have brought this particular scene up during REM sleep? Allow me to venture a guess:

It's surprising that it took as long as five days for the experience to quell back up from Ziggy's subconscious. He appears to have merged the experience with his wardrobe from high school thirty years ago. It's like the Matrix, where they give us little hints as to whether we're in the real world or not. In real life, Ziggy's phone has buttons. He conforms to his strict dress code, standing pantless and sans footwear, as is his wont.

In the Dream Dimension, Ziggy is a bald Frank Zappa.

Once again, the real world is not nearly as exciting as our dreams. Heaven knows that today's psychedelic mushroom trip of a panel beats the pants (so to speak) off of the sidewalk chalk pastel it's derived from.