Bizarro is brought to you today by I Might Take Up Scuba So I Can Wear This Hood.
I picked up some kind of horrid chest cold late last week and spent the weekend wishing I was dead. I’m sure you’ve been there. I didn’t have enough energy to do much more than lie around and not be able to sleep, so I got some reading done between fevered hallucinations.
Something I read yesterday and can recommend wholeheartedly is a new graphic novel called Nobody’s Fool: The Life and Times of Schlitzie the Pinhead. It is billed as a biography by Bill Griffith, who is the creative mind behind the newspaper comic, Zippy the Pinhead. So-called “pinheads” that were displayed in sideshows had an extremely rare medical condition called “microcephaly”.
What’s amazing about this book is that after his nearly forty-year career of drawing this character, Griffith now tells the real story of the sideshow performer on whom he based Zippy, a man by the name of “Schlitzie,” who was on the sideshow circuit all over the world for decades and was featured in a few scenes in the 1930s classic film Freaks. Schlitzie’s life was a fascinating one filled with alternating currents of cruelty and affection. This book tells a powerful story with a healthy dollop of the history of the turn-of-the-century sideshow and carnival business.
Sadly, sideshows began being outlawed in the mid-20th century and thousands of disabled people who had been able to support themselves by willingly allowing audiences to pay to see their deformities were put out of business and driven to welfare and poverty, not because so many instances of abuse had been found but because it made “decent people” uncomfortable. The political correctness of modern-day America could never tolerate sideshows of that sort, of course, but this book may change your mind on whether it should. While some instances of abuse certainly occurred (in what industry have they not?) the vast majority of these folks thought of themselves as performers and were happy to have a job when no one else would hire them. I can’t help but fall back on what I’ve said many times about certain laws: no victim, no crime. These people were willing, paid participants and mostly well cared for. I’m not a fan of attending this kind of show but I’m not seeing a victim.
Nobody’s Fool: The Life and Times of Schlitzie the Pinhead. is fascinating and well-drawn. If you’re a fan of history or sideshows or just graphic novels, snag one for yourself.
That’s the first book report I’ve written since junior high school and I apologize if the format in childishly familiar. But rest assured that I am pimping it because it’s a good read; no ulterior motives or kickbacks are forthcoming.
Now let’s find out what Wayno did with his carney tent full of performers last week…
It is difficult to imagine a cat who would not completely identify with a zombie’s disgusting diet.
After a cursory Google search, it seems that no one has photographed hummingbirds in various bonsai trees. I wish someone would get on that.
You wouldn’t think you could hide four Secret Symbols in this simple drawing, but Wayno did it. There’s also a horse’s head and a centipede hidden in the picture. Can you find them?
Over on Wayno’s weekly blog post, he recounts his experiences at the National Cartoonists Society’s annual get-together. This year they tried a new format, inviting the public to a cartoon festival or some such thing. Read all about it here.
In the pigeon bar next door, all the dudes are walking in circles with big, puffed-up throats while the females pretend to ignore them.
Appearing at The Sad Factory next week is Pauly Shore and Larry the Cable Guy, although I don’t think many folks could take that level of sad.
She has two talents that we know of from this image: sleeping on top of a watermelon and shouting the sound of a “Z” without opening her mouth. She could travel the carnival circuit as The Snoozing Ventriloquist.
ONE LAST HUGE THING: We have brand new Secret Symbol ball caps and trucker caps in the Bizarro store and this week we’re offering $5 off any T-shirt in the store with the purchase of a hat. Use coupon code HATS at checkout. My daughter chose this flattering photo of me to promote them on Instagram. Oh my.
That’s the end of this week’s sideshow, Jazz Pickles. Thanks for shuffling down the midway with us. If you like what we do and that we do it WITHOUT ugly ads, please consider dropping a morsel into one of the links below. It really helps keep the bunny fed at Rancho Bizarro.
Until next week, be happy, be smart, be nice, and resist ignorance and fascism.
DIEGO PIRARO FINE ART…where you can buy my paintings or prints of them from me personally!