Max:  This cover may suggest that the magazine is seeking to broaden its readership.

Simon:  More readers of the magazine mean more readers of the Cartoon Companion (I hope).

 

1 of 14: “Subway to Anywhere” by P.C. Vey

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Simon:  We start with the obligatory subway cartoon. This passenger hopes the train will take him to a happy place, and pronto.

Max:  Right, except I’m having trouble with the logic of this gag. Subways only run through dank tunnels or rickety aboveground tracks to utilitarian stations – not where anyone really wants to go. It’s a little vague for me.

Simon:  This cartoon defies logic, which is almost a hallmark of P.C. Vey’s cartoons. They rely on quirkiness. This one, however, is more quirky than funny. I give it a 3.

Max:  Mr. Vey is indeed famous for his offbeat style; however, this one wanders too far afield for me. I give it a 2.

For more on P.C. Vey, check out pcvey.com

 

2 of 14: “Robin Hood by Half” by Barbara Smaller

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Max:  In Ms. Smaller’s lock-up scene, one prisoner confesses to another that he only carried out the first half of the Robin Hood ethos. Nice drawing, but the gag’s a bit threadbare.

Simon:  I agree. This one sounds like an old joke—nothing original about it.

Max:  The prisoner setup was fine, but the Robin Hood joke has been around so long it needs extra pizzazz to make it work. I give it a 2.

Simon:  I agree—a 2.

For more on Barbara Smaller, check out condenaststore.com/Barbara-Smaller

 

3 of 14: “Childhood Realizations” by Roz Chast

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Simon:  I love this cartoon because it brought back memories of the exact same childhood realization—that the fleshy object boiling in a kitchen pot, which my mother called “tongue”, was, in fact, part of a cow’s mouth. I haven’t touched it since.

Max:  We agree there, Simon. I had the same childhood realization, though not nearly as high as #3,271 – Ms. Chast must have been a precocious child indeed. She deftly captures the indescribable yuck of a live tongue touching a dead one. I’ve tasted tongue exactly once and have no intention of going near it again. This cartoon is stellar for its insight into the mind of a child.

Simon:  A great cartoon and delightfully illustrated—a well-deserved 5.

Max:  Though I shuddered at the memory this cartoon dredged up, I chortled as well. I give this a 5.

For more on Roz Chast, check out rozchast.com

 

4 of 14: “Political Views at 35,000 Feet” by Edward Koren

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Max:  Mr. Koren imagines a political sea change occurring in the landscape of voters unfurling below. Looking more closely, not all the passengers are thrilled with this partisan announcement.

Simon:  It’s a funny, hopeful, and condescending comment on the so-called flyover states. Like you, I noticed the varied expressions on the faces of the passengers, including one of the few non-white people you’ll see in a Koren cartoon.

Max:  The fella in the left-hand row looks grim, but perhaps he’s just irritated with his middle seat. I’ll bet if we zoomed in enough on his baseball hat, it would say MAGA. Another thing I noticed is the roof of the plane appears almost 20 feet tall! It didn’t bother me much, I give this a 4.

Simon:  I thought a high ceiling referred to an aircraft’s maximum altitude. Here, I don’t know how anyone could even reach the overhead bins. I give this a high 3.

For more on Edward Koren, check out edwardkoren.com

 

5 of 14: “Lights, Camera, Action!” by Farley Katz

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Simon:  Next is a Farley Katz cartoon. We’ve seen variations on this setup of directors giving motivational advice to actors or actors wondering what their motivation is, but this is the first time I’ve seen a dog in the role of a performer.

Max:  This cartoon is a classic sendup of an utterly self-absorbed industry. The idea of a director exploring the interior mind of a canine performer is quite amusing.

Simon:  It’s a funny line and an unusually well-drawn graphic by Mr. Katz. I give this a high 4.

Max:  Yes, this a complicated drawing rendered cleanly with a crisp caption. I imagine this cartoon will be taped onto the mirrors of actors everywhere. I give it a 5.

For more on Farley Katz, check out farleykatz.com

 

6 of 14: “Human Prototyping” by Emma Hunsinger

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Max:  Emma Hunsinger pulls back the curtain on the creation of humankind. A nice turn of phrase with the “too juicy” comment.

Simon:  Yes, this caption lands on that word “juicy”. I also like the original graphic to depict the creation of Adam. There are a lot of funny details here: God tugging at his beard with uncertainty, the angels handling the clay work, and the still-to-be-added genitals.

Max:  Yes, and look at the preliminary drawings on the blackboard—obviously more tinkering needed for the humankind formula. Funny concept, I give it a 4.

Simon:  I agree with you, and I also give it a 4.

For more on Emma Hunsinger, check out emmahunsinger.com

 

7 of 14: “Unhinged Binge Watch” by Teresa Burns Parkhurst

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Simon:  Next is another solid effort by Teresa Burns Parkhurst. This one is a domestic scene with what appears to be two guys who must decide between episodic entertainment and more serious matters.

Max:  I also thought it was two guys at first – certainly the character with sideburns is a guy – but having seen Ms. Parkhurst’s characters over the last several weeks, the person on the left could be a woman based on the clothing. It matters not; we here at Cartoon Companion are open-minded. Of greater interest is Ms. Parkhurst’s observation of current viewing habits of millennials. They often don’t have conventional standalone televisions; instead, they binge-watch Netflix series on their laptops.

Simon:  Well, cartoons change with the times, as we must as well. “Heal our relationship” sounds like she’s mocking somewhat that New Agey-sounding phrase. I like this one and give it a 4.

Max:  This captures a certain zeitgeist of today’s millennials. I give it a 4 as well.

For more on Teresa Burns Parkhurst, check out linkedin.com/in/teresa-burns-parkhurst

 

8 of 14: “So What?” by William Haefeli

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Max:  Corporate indifference to the lives they affect is on powerful display in Mr. Haefeli’s cartoon. Simon, say it ain’t so!

Simon:  This is a hard-hitting cartoon aimed at the corporate world. I love how the subordinates appeared to be rendered speechless, and the boss’s hand gesture is a good touch.

Max:  You can cut the cynicism with a knife in this cartoon. I don’t agree the subordinates are stunned—that’s just the “Haefeli mouth”. I believe we’re looking at a spineless acquiescence by the toadying corporate climbers. It’s a great drawing – especially the cityscape in the background – but the humor is dark, a 4.

Simon:  The cynicism cuts against the humor for me. I disagree with your observation about the staff. I think they are silently appalled. In any case, I give this a 4.

For more on William Haefeli, check out condenaststore.com/William-Haefeli

 

9 of 14: “Leap in Logic” by Liana Finck

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Simon:  Next is a Liana Finck cartoon, and, as is often the case with her cartoons, I have many issues with the execution. It’s a funny idea, but the drawing is so odd that it detracts from the humor.

Max:  The humor is in the evocation of a familiar road sign. I reproduced one below and can’t help but notice it depicts a mighty stag in the midst of a heroic leap.

Simon:  Your observation proves my point. Her deer resembles a cockroach doing some dance steps. The road sign is on a plane that no driver could see, and that one bit of vegetation looks like a raised hand. Good idea, not so good execution, a nominal 3.

Max:  It took a moment to sink in due to the ubiquity of the sign. I also think she purposely exaggerated the iconic deer to look as if it were executing an exuberant cha-cha. Like you, I thought the drawing execution detracted somewhat from a decent gag. I give this a 3 as well.

For more on Liana Finck, check out newyorker.com/contributors/liana-finck

 

10 of 14: “Never Too Young” by Frank Cotham

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Max:  I guess you can’t be too careful in Mr. Cotham’s paranoid view of life at the top. I like the earpieces sprouting from ears of “the muscle”.

Simon:  Yes, in stark contrast to Liana Finck’s childlike style is the work of a master cartoon artist, Frank Cotham. I’m not sure if the speaker is a Mafia don or a run-of-the-mill corporate thug. What do you think, Max?

Max:  The ornate furnishings and classy paintings are hallmarks of corporate success. This business tycoon is sharing his climb to the top with an ambitious kid who’s not far behind. It’s masterfully done, I give this a 4.

Simon:  I initially thought that the boy is the speaker’s son, but I suppose that’s not necessarily true. I love the drawing, in any case. I give this a 4 as well.

For more on Frank Cotham, check out condenaststore.com/Frank-Cotham

 

11 of 14: “Funny You Should Say That” by Bruce Eric Kaplan

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Simon:  Bruce Eric Kaplan’s experience in Hollywood may well have been the source of inspiration for this funny cartoon about what is or is not funny. I am reminded of the William Goldman quote that “nobody knows anything.”

Max: This is one of the most detailed drawings in Mr. Kaplan’s oeuvre. He’s certainly captured the Hollywood dealmaker with verve. This cartoon encapsulates the paradoxical logic that somehow works in Tinseltown.

Simon:  Yes, and it is a perverse logic that somehow results in good films but more often lousy ones. A funny commentary. I give this a 4.

Max:  Strong artwork from Mr. Kaplan, and the caption unspools an illogic that only works in the peculiar world of TV and movies. I give this 4 as well.

For more on Bruce Eric Kaplan, check out bruceerickaplan.com

 

12 of 14: “Sharp Remark” by Amy Hwang

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Max:  This is my favorite Amy Hwang drawing to date. And quite a prickly social situation, eh, Simon?

Simon:  I suppose so, Max. I was confused for a moment about the term “munchkins”, which really has nothing to do with the cartoon. I was also confused about the mom’s slight smile given the fate of her tykes should she allow them to enter this ominous-looking garden.

Max:  The mom’s surprise and delight at the nice invitation from a welcoming neighbor is about to be dashed. As soon as she peers over the fence, her reaction will be priceless. This cartoon creates a mental image of what comes next. I think this is Amy Hwang’s best cartoon to date, I give it a 5.

Simon:  You might be right about the mom not seeing the cacti, although there are certainly some sharp objects to the right of the neighbor in plain view, albeit a little bit taller than child height. I like the cartoon but not as much as you. I give this a solid 3.

For more on Amy Hwang, check out amyhwang.com

 

13 of 14: “Feeling Electricity” by Mick Stevens

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Simon:  Simple, clever, and cute is how I would describe this cartoon by Mick Stevens. It really deflates the idea of love.

Max:  It doesn’t get any more elegant than this: a couple circles, a couple squiggly lines, and some red ink. Mix with a punchy caption, and voilà! A cartoon.

Simon:  I agree. Nothing extraneous here. A solid drawing with a funny line. I give this a 5.

Max:  Mr. Stevens makes it look effortless, a 5 for me as well.

For more on Mick Stevens, check out mickstevens.com

 

14 of 14: “One Step at a Time” by Joe Dator

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Max:  Mr. Dator blends a common evolution theme with a socio-economic twist. I believe the taunting fish in the water are sneering at their more “woke” cohort.

Simon:  Of course, the fish crawling out of the primordial swamp onto land is a cartoon cliché, but this is a nice twist on that subject. The subtext is that the critics of the so-called coastal elites are less evolved and more likely to remain in the swamp.

Max:  One solution to this conflict was proposed by our President – drain the swamp. A nicely executed drawing and tight caption. I give it a 4.

Simon:  And if you drain the swamp, you’ll find a lot of the President’s supporters flopping around. I give this a high 4.

For more on Joe Dator, check out joedator.com