Max:  We miss George Booth’s cartoons, but the cover is his.

Simon:  Perhaps the overinflated elephant answers to the name of Donald.

 

1 of 15: “Meet the Frantic Author” by P.C. Vey

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Simon:  The first cartoon is by P.C. Vey, and features a funny twist on a familiar cartoon setup, the book signing. It looks like this author is going to run out of time before he runs out of cigs and booze.

Max:  Mr. Vey reveals the dark underbelly of authorship, toiling for unfeeling publishers catering to a mass market. As in the cartoon, the hours of 4-7 PM are also fraught at Cartoon Companion as we race to publish our weekly posting.

Simon:  I like the frantic look in the eyes of the author madly typing away, as well as the absence of anyone in line. I give this a solid 4.

Max:  Note the two little motion lines indicating that the author’s typing arm is pumping out content. I can’t help but wonder if those propped up books in the front window are all anticipatory blanks. A solid, well-executed gag, I give this a 4 as well.

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

 

2 of 15: “Home Not on the Range” by Lars Kenseth

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Max:  Well, Simon, an interesting set of cowboys presented by Lars Kenseth – one of whom seems unhappy with his holiday attire.

Simon:  Yes, the ugly Christmas sweater is an easy target, but the novel cowboy setting gives this cartoon a comic lift. There’s also the brother relationship that adds interest to this cartoon.

Max:  Speaking of attire, the festive cowboy’s hat looks more like a fedora than a Stetson. No matter, the caption has a great, staccato rhythm to it. It brings home the gag just like the cowpokes bring home the cattle. I give this a 4.

Simon:  I like how the cartoon relies heavily on the illustrated sweater, which is truly awful. I also give this a 4.

For more on Lars Kenseth, check out patreon.com/larskenseth

 

3 of 15: “Balloon Doggerel” by Jason Adam Katzenstein

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Simon:  Next is a Jason Adam Katzenstein cartoon, and I think this is one of his best. It plays on the cliché that is sometimes used to critique modern art. The object of the clown’s derision is of course a Jeff Koons sculpture that has attracted the derision of many.

Max:  Modern art is an inexhaustible wellspring of cartooning inspiration. The joke is in the scale of the blow-up doggie; balloon-size is a kid’s toy, jumbo-size gets you prime space at world class museums.

Simon:  It’s a great takedown of both Jeff Koons and modern art museum-goers. I give this a 5.

Max:  The offended clown’s outburst made this cartoon for me—a 5 as well.

For more on Jason Adam Katzenstein, check out jasonkatzenstein.tumblr.com

 

4 of 15: “Stalactite Spelunker” by John O’Brien

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Max:  Whether the spelunker is a stalactite or a stalagmite, this caption-less mirror image is gorgeous. Mr. O’Brien’s got a winner here.

Simon:  I agree. The artwork is both arresting and unsettling. This cave explorer has seemingly entered an alternative universe. I wonder if he stays where he is that perhaps the caps will meet in a couple thousand years.

Max:  Ah yes, reminiscent of the two fingers touching in Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam. I award this a rare 6.

Simon:  I’m almost there with a solid 5.

For more on John O’Brien, check out johnobrienillustrator.com

 

5 of 15: “Superhero Survey” by Pia Guerra

This cartoon is unavailable on The New Yorker Cartoon Bank.

Simon:  Next is a cartoon by a relative newcomer, Pia Guerra. Superman is rescuing a hipster from his burning Brooklyn brownstone flat. I guess it’s open season on hipsters these days.

Max:  We’re all a little “surveyed-out” these days. My survey opinion is eagerly sought out for the most mundane of transactions.

Simon:  This cartoon combines elements of gags seen before: Superman, hipsters, and online reviews, so the gag doesn’t score high, but the artwork is above average. I give this a 3.

Max:  The artwork is strong and clearly illustrates the situation; however, survey fatigue limits my score to a 3.

For more on Pia Guerra, check out hellkitty.com

 

6 of 15: “Heaven’s Back Gate” by Frank Cotham

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Max:  Simon, was Mr. Cotham thinking of the recent tax bonanza for the wealthy when he executed this cartoon?

Simon:  Hard to say, Max. I guess the gag is that Heaven is a much more humble place than is usually depicted, with Saint Peter sitting high before the pearly gates, but this illustration looks a little spooky to me, like a good place to get mugged.

Max:  Yes, arriving in a limo at this Motel 6 version of Heaven is in bad form. Note the padlock on the chain link “pearly gate”. And is that a TV dinner tray holding up Saint Peter’s Day of Judgment book? This dystopian view of the afterlife gives me the shivers, a 3.

Simon:  I don’t think the illustration gets across the concept that Heaven is not a place of extravagance. It looks forbidding, especially with those El Greco clouds. I give this a 3.

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

 

7 of 15: “Coliseum Quotes” by David Sipress

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Simon:  David Sipress has a good anachronism cartoon with a journalist covering the blood sports at the Roman Coliseum.

Max:  Certainly gives a stark meaning to the hackneyed sports cliché “must-win”. Simon, what do you make of the jolly sports scribe?

Simon:  I guess he’s happy to get this contestant’s final interview. I like the looming barbarian quite a bit. I give this a 4.

Max:  This cartoon is economically captioned and delivers the mental movie in one’s head of incipient mayhem. I give this a 5.

For more on David Sipress, check out facebook.com/david.sipress

 

8 of 15: “Bed for Three” by William Haefeli

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Max:  After months of deep perspective drawings, Mr. Haefeli’s current composition looks almost flat. Regardless, this gag will resonate with many pet owners who don’t draw the sleeping arrangement line at the bedroom door.

Simon:  It’s a somewhat more spare look, but I disagree about perspective, given the dotted line receding into the distance and the salesman’s foreshortened arm. I like the expectant look on the dog, which you could almost miss at the bottom of the frame.

Max:  And it looks like a dog that gets its way nearly all the time. In terms of the art, I’ll stick to my conviction that the action takes place on a single, squashed plane. The mattress signage floats in mid-air giving the bed an odd, flat look. I give this a 3. Incidentally, I would note that Mr. Haefeli is almost unique in convincingly populating his world with multiple races.

Simon:  The gag is fairly obvious. I give it a 3 as well.

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

 

9 of 15: “To Eat, or Not to Eat” by Roz Chast

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Simon:  Roz Chast has one of her characters out and about, albeit on the familiar urban street. This restaurant advertises through guilt. I like how the word “again” is underlined.

Max:  The forlorn plant in the front window belies the bustling scene inside. If guilt is this restaurant‘s strategy, then the stricken look on the woman’s face shows it’s effective.

Simon:  Yes, the restaurant’s name seems to be pointing a critical finger at anyone who walks by, not this person in particular, although perhaps it’s all in the character’s imagination. An original concept—I give a 4.

Max:  Just looking at this cartoon sets the gastric juices flowing. Best restaurant name in a cartoon ever, a 4.

For more on Roz Chast, check out rozchast.com

 

10 of 15: “Soul Bear-ing” by Liana Finck

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Max:  Awww, Baby Bear is on the shrink couch over issues with his or her parents. This ursine whiner is the new poster child for hyper-sensitivity.

Simon:  Liana Finck takes on two cartoon clichés at once, namely, the psychologist’s office and the Goldilocks fairytale. Clearly this childhood trauma has left its mark on the now full-grown and former Baby Bear. Is Ms. Finck’s artwork improving, or do you think I’m just getting used to it, Max?

Max:  This is a well-executed drawing. The bear commands center stage with just the appropriate snivelly mien. The analyst is convincingly taking notes on her legal pad in an unusually barren office. It occurs to me, she might use that empty space to scoot her swivel chair around to better serve her super-size clients. This cartoon is thoughtfully assembled, the gag works, I give it a 4.

Simon:  The gag is put across successfully, but I have the feeling she doesn’t like to draw elements that would normally be found in the scene she portrays. I give this a 4, nevertheless.

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

 

11 of 15: “Spinning Tourists” by Maggie Larson

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Simon:  Next is a Maggie Larson cartoon. This a minimalist drawing, nominally a cartoon. It has a touch of whimsy in its rendering, but also expresses a New Yorker’s annoyance with less direction-oriented tourists.

Max:  I take it to mean New Yorkers trudge directly to their destinations while tourists pirouette in circles gazing up at the Midtown or Wall Street skyscraper canyons.

Simon:  I think tourists are seen as an obstacle in the way of New Yorkers, who prefer to go directly from point A to point B. It’s a funny gag that is put across in very simple terms. I give it a 4.

Max:  It’s a different way to mock tourists, I guess. A 3 from me.

For more on Maggie Larson, check out maggiejanelarson.com/cartoons/

 

12 of 15: “A Wolf In Grandma’s Clothing” by Zachary Kanin

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Max:  Oh no, can it be that the Wolf has taken up with Little Red Riding Hood? Is there no decency left in cartooning? Is this cartoon funny? Yes!

Simon:  This is a wonderful cartoon by Zach Kanin because it conjures up such an unlikely scenario with a rich narrative that you have to imagine, as you have, Max. I like how Little Red Riding Hood looks bored to tears.

Max:  Indeed, she’s not bothered by any of his lupine antics anymore, just another day at home. And this isn’t the first time Wolfie has shimmied into Grandma’s wedding sheath. I’m shocked! So shocked, I’m giving it a 5.

Simon:  I’m going up to a 6. This cartoon turns the fairy tale completely upside down, with the Wolf and Miss Hood in an adult-seeming domestic scene. The Wolf admires himself in not just any old clothes of Granny’s but in her wedding dress, which means that the Wolf is a cross-dresser on top of everything else. Really great gag.

For more on Zachary Kanin, check out newyorker.com/contributors/zachary-kanin

 

13 of 15: “Phony News” by Mick Stevens

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Simon:  Next is a simple cartoon by Mick Stevens with a bittersweet comment on today’s divisive politics and frayed social fabric. It’s an oblique attack on Trump’s favorite expression, but it made me feel little sad.

Max:  All hope is gone in the eyes of Mick Stevens. The good news we’d love to hear is all a cynical ploy. A bit depressing during this holiday time, or is that Fake News as well?

Simon:  It’s a sharp criticism and well presented, but not really funny. I give it a 3.

Max:  I tend to like my steaks rare, martinis dry, and cartoons funny. Mick Stevens has made us laugh for decades, but I found this poignant cartoon a downer. I give it a 3 as well.

For more on Mick Stevens, check out mickstevens.com

 

14 of 15: “Crystal Crap” by Teresa Burns Parkhurst

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Max:  Ms. Parkhurst’s characters are amazingly endearing, rarely fashionable, and just a little off center. I appreciated the twin New Age characteristics of purification and overpricing.

Simon:  New Age stores are an easy target, but I like the artwork, and the wording of the caption is solid. I also like the name of the store, “Healing Stuff”.

Max:  “Stuff” says it all when it comes to sham merchandise. The proprietor is pawning off her shopworn goods on gullible believers. I like the gag and drawing, I give this a 4.

Simon:  We are thinking similarly, perhaps because we have some telepathic powers ‘tween us in a New Age way. I also this a 4.

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

 

15 of 15: “In-House Tech Help” by Julia Bernhard

This cartoon is unavailable on The New Yorker Cartoon Bank.

Simon:  Our final cartoon is by a newcomer to The New Yorker, Julia Bernhard. This cartoon relies on an all-too-common theme–-the child helping her parents with tech issues—so I would not award points for originality. I like certain elements of the drawing, especially that chair, but the faces, which are both in profile, look like cutouts pasted onto the bodies. And what’s with the rosy cheeks and those matching striped socks?

Max:  I’m guessing these are signature elements to her style. These young women have a comfortable, casual style that’s engaging. The tilted chair and relaxed postures exude coziness.

Simon:  Yes, the art generally is well done, but more attention should be paid to the faces, which is what you’re going to be focusing on, and that’s the weakest element of the drawing. I give it a 3.

Max:  The gag is okay, but the caption is longer than necessary. I give this a 3 as well.

For more on Julia Bernhard, check out juliabernhard.de/