Dangerous Magic

By Jeremy Meltingtallow

(If thou desires embiggenation, thee must no more than click the image of thine desire.)

Bizarro is brought to you today by Dangerous Magic.

It was another wild week at Rancho Bizarro. One of my cartoons caused an uproar of praise and condemnation from both sides of the trench (“aisle” seems too civilized for today’s political atmosphere) but more about that in a bit. And also my new home country of Mexico gave us a surprise gift in the form of this thing that popped up spontaneously in one of the flower pots that was already on our patio when we bought the place. I believe they call that a “volunteer”. Thank you, Madre Naturaleza.

Today’s super-size Sunday comic is about the dangers of magic. I have no doubt that this cartoon occurred to me entirely because I grew up watching The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, during which Bullwinkle would regularly pull dangerous animals out of his magician’s top hat. (Click the “Dangerous Magic” link above for an example.)

But in a larger sense, belief is a very strange and powerful thing in humans. We clearly need to believe in things that comfort us––hence the very existence of religion––but it also benefits us in many ways. Countless studies consistently demonstrate the power of placebo; that is to say that if you believe you are taking or doing something that will heal you, you very often will actually get better. The effects are somewhat limited in many ways and you may not be cured, but your belief about your illness or injury (and your treatment) are undeniably of major importance with demonstrable results. There is no point to my bringing this up other than that it interests me.

The genesis of this cartoon was that Olive Oyl and I were at Chris and Mitchell’s house and Chris gave O2 some sesame seeds for a recipe she was planning, but they weren’t toasted and we realized we didn’t have a sesame seed toaster. We chuckled over it and Chris said something about it perhaps making a good cartoon. You be the judge if Chris was right.

This cartoon about the Foundering Fathers caused the stir I mentioned in the opening of this post. Mainly, it got a LOT of likes and positive comments but it also got some negative responses both from expected and unexpected places. Generally, the responses can be placed in three categories:

  1. People who have compassion for members of society who have historically been pushed to the edges thought it was a funny, clever way to say that everyone in the U.S. should enjoy the same rights.
  2. People who wanted to critique the cartoon as though it were a history textbook wanted me to know that the men who wrote the Bill of Rights dressed that way because it was the style of the day and not because they were trans-anything. And others in the same general camp wanted me to know that the Founding Fathers would hate modern day liberals and that everyone already has the same rights and people should stop whining for special rights and privileges, and just be who God intended them to be.
  3. People who are for transgender rights but criticized the cartoon and me because it isn’t an accurate representation of transgender people, and that it leads people to believe that transgenders are nothing more than men who like to play dress up, which is a common misunderstanding by many people in group 2 above.

I’ll try to keep this brief but I’ve never succeeded before, so I’ll apologize ahead of time. This is a topic I care about and one that has a LOT of moving parts.

To group 1: Thanks, you got it. The only point I was trying to make is that all Americans should be granted the same rights and respect as long as nobody is getting hurt. Being different always leads to scorn by the small-minded and insecure but it needn’t and shouldn’t. That’s among the things that laws and bills of rights are meant to protect.

To group 2: This cartoon is not a history lesson. I know why they dressed the way they did and that they actually didn’t even intend for these rights to apply to everyone. Many of them owned human beings, for god’s sake. The rights in those documents were only guaranteed to land-owning, white males, and the guns they were guaranteeing Americans could bear in “a well regulated militia” were ancient, manual-load rifles from which one could, with enough practice, perhaps get off two shots per minute. I don’t personally think that the Founding Fathers were gods incapable of error, or possessed magical powers enabling them to see into the future and design the Constitution and Bill of Rights to account for every eventuality. And therefore, I think looking to them and their original intentions to dictate (rather than “guide”) our current laws is as foolish as looking to the Bible to determine what method of treatment you should seek if you’ve been diagnosed with epilepsy. Good luck with that.

To group 3: When I create cartoons about rights for people outside the mainstream, I always get a small number of complaints from the very people whom I trying to support. At first I was surprised but now I’m starting to expect it. I fully realize that these complaints often come from the fact that transgender people (and many other non-hetero folks) have been maligned, ridiculed, attacked, prejudiced against and denied all kinds of things by the mainstream and so they want to be respected and understood and object when people describe them with inaccurate stereotypes. Fair enough. But the landscape of sexual possibilities is so large (and growing daily) that I sense that all you can realistically expect is respect; complete understanding will likely only come from people who are close enough to the issue to want to investigate the various names and definitions of the myriad orientations and situations. Most of us who support your struggle but aren’t facing those struggles ourselves probably aren’t going to concentrate on the details; we’re mostly just going to fall on the side of rights for everyone. I understand that my cartoon is not an accurate representation of transgender people but, only so much can be accomplished in a space that small. It’s not a pamphlet or a textbook or a documentary, it’s a simple connection between two topics that causes most people to smile and reminds everyone that this is an ongoing civil rights issue that is worth knowing about. I think that’s a good thing. If you insist that all references to these issues be completely accurate (by your personal definitions and standards) even in the case of cartoons, you’re going to eliminate a large amount of references entirely, including this cartoon; the gag would have vanished with the accuracy. In my view, reminding people of this issue is more important than getting the details exactly right and here’s why: Those readers who are for equal rights already know that transgenders are not just playing dress up and whining for special treatment, and those who are against equal rights will never care enough to understand the difference anyway.

And, finally, here’s why bathroom laws matter: Human sexuality is not a black and white issue, nor is it a frivolous choice that people make about what they want to do in bed. Each person’s sexual orientation is innate, genetically programmed, and an enormous part of who we are. In short, you didn’t choose what kind of person would turn you on sexually and neither does anyone else. If you’re a garden-variety heterosexual, you may not realize how important your sexual orientation is to your identity because it likely has never been challenged or scorned. Non-heterosexuals do not have that luxury.

Furthermore, human sexuality is extremely diverse and impossibly complex, and there are so many different orientations and preferences that you can’t hope to name and define them all, in spite of our almost comical attempts to do so. It’s not just gay or straight––it’s 10,000 things on a sliding scale that reaches out in a hundred different directions at once like a 200-year-old oak tree. My point is that there are far more people outside of the traditional heterosexual paradigm that society has labeled as “normal” than the average person who doesn’t hang out with the out-of-the-closet-crowd would ever guess. Far more. So to label someone that is different from you as a “pervert” to be scorned and feared, is both childish and inaccurate, and if you’re using your religion as an excuse to do so, it is archaically superstitious. People with epilepsy were commonly thought to be possessed by a demon. If you’re in the habit of openly disparaging non-heterosexuals, I can virtually guarantee you’ve unknowingly called your own friends and relatives perverts, and they probably smiled and took it on the chin out of fear of being ostracized by their community and loved ones. Congratulations. That is exactly what leads to large numbers of suicides among non-heterosexuals.

Opponents of equal rights for LGBTQs, routinely use the fear of encouraging sexual predators to hang out in women’s public restrooms as a reason for these “bathroom laws”. This is a complete red herring. National crime statistics do NOT in any way, shape, or form bear this out, in fact, they contradict this notion entirely. People who wish to commit crimes against women and children are not discouraged by restroom laws, and why would they be? It’s always been against the law to assault women and children, and that doesn’t stop them––why would a silly little bathroom law deter their violent urges?  What crime statistics DO show, however, is that transgender people who use public restrooms that do not match their “look” are regularly insulted, assaulted, and killed. If your concern for public safety is authentic and not just a disguise for your bigotry against people who are different from you, you should be voting for laws that allow people to use the facility that matches their sexual identity, not a box on their birth certificate. Period.

Many people have asked what civil rights are being denied to transgenders and the simple answer is the right to use a public restroom without being insulted, attacked, or killed. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Keep in mind that this same “imaginary predator” excuse was used to prevent blacks from being allowed to use the same restrooms as whites, and in propaganda campaigns against homosexuals. None of these arguments has any basis in reality.

I’ve had aquariums full of fish before but I always find them pretty boring. Once we had an African River Frog in an aquarium with water and he was sort of interesting. He made very strange noises late at night that echoed all over through house and that you wouldn’t immediately associate with a frog.


Someone commented on this cartoon that VHS is digital. I guess I don’t know the difference. It’s not a great cartoon anyway, so whatever.

This is my personal favorite cartoon of the week. Some readers asked what it meant, what’s the deal with the hat, that sort of thing. Others immediately got the subtext, that Moby was acting like a dick. A few others pointed out that Moby, the modern-day celebrity musician, is a descendent of Herman Melville, who wrote Moby Dick, and that’s where his nickname, and his real name Richard Melville Hall came from. (If you’re not familiar with the basic premise of the classic novel, Moby Dick, this cartoon probably escapes you entirely. Time to visit Wikipedia.)

Lastly, I know Moby personally and have hung out with him a few times, though not in recent years. We’re more acquaintances than friends, but from what I can tell he’s a pretty nice guy, so this cartoon is not meant to be a character judgement of Moby. (Although Captain Ahab could definitely be an obsessive jackass.)

This cartoon about the abstract Egyptians reports to have 27 secret symbols. If you can’t find them all, take another look at the publication date.

Thanks for reading this far, Jazz Pickles. Please have a look below at the ways in which you can keep me eating and drawing daily! Until next week, be safe, be smart, be nice.