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Bizarro is a single-panel cartoon written and drawn by cartoonist Dan Piraro. Launched January 22, 1985, the panel appears daily in 350 markets throughout North and South America, Europe and Asia. Initially syndicated by Chronicle Features, it moved to the Universal Press Syndicate and then King Features.
Bizarro gives an eccentric, exaggerated and, as the name implies, bizarre look at everyday life. Piraro has described it as "about the incredibly surreal things that happen to all of us in our so-called 'normal' lives." The situations are surreal, yet often plausible. Some cartoons involve celebrities, such as Sheryl Crow and Penn Jillette, while others make reference to themselves or characters from comics or animation, such as Superman and Gumby. Comics critic Tom Heintjes described Bizarro's themes, cryptic aspects and expansion into performance art:
Most Bizarro cartoons include an eyeball (the Eyeball of Observation), a piece of pie (the Pie of Opportunity), a rabbit (the Bunny of Exuberance), an alien in a spaceship (the Flying Saucer of Possibility), the abbreviation "K2" (referring to his children Kermit and Krapuzar), a crown (the Crown of Power), a stick of dynamite (the Dynamite of Unintended Consequences), a shoe (the Lost Loafer), an arrow (The Arrow of Vulnerability), a fish tail (The Fish of Humility) and/or an upside down bird (the Inverted Bird) hidden somewhere in the cartoon. Piraro has begun indicating how many symbols are hidden in each strip with a number above his signature.
The strip and its creator have been recognized with several awards, including the National Cartoonists Society's Newspaper Panel Cartoon Award (in 1999, 2000 and 2001). Nominated for the NCS Reuben Award each year from 2002 to 2010, it finally won in 2010.
In 2005, Piraro was seen in the 75th anniversary in Blondie.
In 2002, Piraro became a vegan. The effects of that lifestyle change are visible in his work, as Piraro often incorporates vegan and animal cruelty themes into his cartoons. He garnered kudos from the "cruelty-free" activist community for being a visible supporter of its cause, while others, including fans of his older work, see his new output as overtly preachy, viewing his cartoons as conveying more message than humor. In 2007, Piraro designed a limited-edition T-shirt for endangeredwear.com to raise money for the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, a non profit organization committed to working to end the systematic abuse of animals used for food.