Max:  Roz Chast reminds us with this week’s cover why flights to New York are cheap in January.

Simon:  The city in January is almost as unbearable as it is in August.


1 of 14: “Live a Little More” by Amy Kurzweil

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Simon:  The first cartoon in this issue is by Amy Kurzweil. The gate attendant offers a novel airline voucher.

Max:  As the recipient of many airline vouchers, I’d opt for drink tickets rather than an additional three hours in my 90s. It’s a novel concept, though it makes one contemplate mortality.

Simon:  It’s a good gag, but I think that the caption is too long, and there are too many elements in the drawing. Eliminating the entire left side would strengthen the art. I give this a 3.

Max:  I think you need all those passengers to warrant a formal public address announcement, but I agree the caption is overly long. I give this a 3 as well.

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2 of 14: “Cat Talk” by Bruce Eric Kaplan

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Max:  Mr. Kaplan points out the obvious – those big, slobby, slouch-on-the-couch canines have decidedly male characteristics. And the cat makes this observation with little affection.

Simon:  It’s a fairly obvious gag. I’ve seen a variation of this cartoon, where a female dog says something like this to a male dog. The cat on the right looks a bit malnourished, and the one on the left has the markings of a Holstein cow.

Max:  Mr. Kaplan hasn’t rendered these cats as cute. The caption on the other hand is the masterful three words. A straightforward gag, well laid out, I give it a 3.

Simon:  A 2 for me.

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3 of 14: “A Patient’s Opinion” by Edward Koren

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Simon:  Ed Koren is back with a doctor who’s looking for an opinion, apparently of a poet patient. I like this cartoon, both the gag and the drawing.

Max:  The ailing celebrity poet just can’t avoid well-meaning, would-be authors. Mr. Koren’s scratchy style sometimes obscures the mechanics of the gag, but here his style creates a scene of great depth and detail. Notice how he darkened the tie and the proffered tome containing the doctor’s amateur verses.

Simon:  I like that the doctor is asking for an opinion instead of giving one. I give this a 4.

Max:  I think this is one of Mr. Koren’s best gags. The drawing and caption nails the obsequious sentiment of the fawning doctor. And as you note, Simon, this time the physician is requesting an opinion. And now I give mine, a 5.

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4 of 14: “Careful What You Ask For” by Pia Guerra

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Max:  Weight consciousness is Ms. Guerra’s target in this circus-themed cartoon. She took care to make the bully larger, making him both more believable and more expensive. What price would they charge to video the beating of the body shamer, Simon?

Simon:  The carnival is a popular subject of New Yorker cartoons, and this caption less cartoon works for me. It has a nice set up with the guy on the left and the unexpected follow-up on the right.

Max:  It’s an imaginative gag that’s cleanly executed. I like the asymmetry of composition; it pulls your eyes exactly where they need to go. I give it a 5.

Simon:  I give it a high 4.

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5 of 14: “Love Pangs” by Colin Tom

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Simon:  Next is a cartoon by Colin Tom, who has had just one other cartoon in The New Yorker, back in 2015, according to the Cartoon Bank. Funnel of Love is a funny phrase, but what you make of the horribly compressed elements in the bottle, Max?

Max:  There are endless song lyrics about the vicissitudes of love; Mr. Tom imagines them as vacuum-packed into a glass bottle. Works for me. This cartoon is nicely composed, though purposefully top-heavy. Note the perfect symmetry of the drawing.

Simon:  An interesting and thoughtful concept, but I’m still puzzled by what to make of the bottle’s contents. There are a squashed people in there and even a car, which I guess suggests that once you’re paired up, life is quite messy. I give it a 4.

Max:  Look on the gangplank to the right—it looks like a cat will soon participate in the ultimate mosh pit. The Funnel of Love inexorably draws us all into an emotional maelstrom, the outcome of which does not bode well. I give this a 4 as well.

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6 of 14: “Cube Talk” by Amy Hwang

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Max:  A detailed cubicle scene for two from Amy Hwang. Simon, what’s the threshold for a “disgusting salary”?

Simon:  That’s above my pay grade, Max. This is a funny line, although it’s more of a quip. The image is more detailed than usual for Amy Hwang, but it’s really not that important for the cartoon to work.

Max:  I like this drawing, it creates a believable situation for the caption. Ms. Hwang summons up an intimate little world where this man and woman spend eight hours a day. I think it opens a window onto the forced intimacy of the modern workplace. I give this a 4.

Simon:  It’s more a funny line with a drawing attached to it. I give it a 3.

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7 of 14: “Sacrifice” by David Sipress

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Simon:  Next is a cartoon by David Sipress, very funny but a bit gruesome. This is an excellent example of how the drawing and the gag work together to make a fine cartoon. I particularly like the contrast between the modern-looking daughter and the medieval scene before her.

Max:  I agree this is an example of the artist illustrating the gag. The littered evidence of literal sacrifice underline the caption’s key word.

Simon:  It’s a fine anachronism cartoon. I give it a 5.

Max:  The same number I had in mind as well, a 5.

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8 of 14: “Fairy Tale Romance” by Paul Noth

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Max:  In Paul Noth’s “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” scene, we sometimes forget The Old Lady not only lives in a shoe, but she whips her kids and sends them to bed too. Oh, the seamy underside of Mother Goose.

Simon:  The old woman looks like she’s had some work done, which might explain why she needs to tell the would-be suitor that she’s old. The caption is a funny progression that follows the Rule of Three.

Max:  Mr. Noth places the feature couple at the elbow of the bar, all the other patrons face away. It looks innocent enough, but with growing horror we realize The Old Lady is out on booty call! Well, that explains all those kids. Irreverent and funny, I give this one a 4.

Simon:  The drawing is excellent, typical of Paul Noth. The gag works as well. I also give it a solid 4.

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9 of 14: “Nailed Him” by Carolita Johnson

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Simon:  Carolita Johnson gives us the requisite subway cartoon. At least this one is not set in the subway. Not only is the guy engaging in personal hygiene at the breakfast table, he’s man- spreading in his chair, just like some subway riders.

Max:  Ms. Johnson is masterful at capturing the postures and gestures of her characters. The woman speaking seems to burst right off the page. In terms of the gag, is it my imagination, or is there an epidemic of public grooming of late? The sidewalks are littered with those peculiar personal cleaning devices…Yuck!

Simon:  I note that this is another man-jab cartoon. I like this one, and give it a 4.

Max:  It’s icky, but well done. I give it a 4 as well.

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10 of 14: “Random Thoughts” by Joe Dator

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Max:  Though we tend to only witness high drama when it comes to Congressional hearings, a few minutes on C-SPAN debunks that myth. Mr. Dator’s Apropos-of-Nothing Committee drones on with the best of them.

Simon:  This is a funny twist on the House Appropriations Committee. The cartoon also follows the Rule of Three. I also like how no one is responding to the other person’s comments.

Max:  Mr. Dator dug a little deeper for banal comments than, say, the weather. He strung together a trio of themes: ethnic food, sale clothing, and the latest movie. It’s difficult to pull off a text-heavy cartoon about a ponderous topic, but this one works. A 5.

Simon:  It’s a well-balanced composition and amusing as well. I give it a high 4.

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11 of 14: “Speak Up” by Tom Chitty

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Simon:  Tom Chitty is back with a funny, one-word variation on the phrase “it’s very loud in here.” I’d like to drop a copy of this cartoon in the laps of these loud talkers in public places.

Max:  With Mr. Chitty’s permission, I’ll have a few dozen printed up for us so we can ticket the insolent offenders. He’s captured one of the major social irritants in the cell phone era.

Simon:  Yes, it’s a excellent critique of an unfortunate contemporary phenomenon. I give this another high 4.

Max:  A deft skewering, I give it a 4 as well.

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12 of 14: “In Harm’s Way” by Mick Stevens

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Max:  Mick Stevens knows how to show what a doctor means by “aggressive treatment”. The doctor’s office is a venerable cliché; this variant reveals a wicked sense of humor.

Simon:  This is a great caption landing on “doing a little harm.” The medical consultation, as you noted, is a common cartoon setup, but I’ve never seen one that plays on the Hippocratic Oath.

Max:  Yes, the Hippocratic Oath is more like a guideline for this referring physician. Perhaps that’s why there’s no diploma on the wall. I’m sure this’ll play well with Baby Boomers, who are spending more and more time with a revolving door of doctors. Funny stuff, I give this a 5.

Simon:  I’m right there with you—a 5.

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13 of 14: “Everyone’s a Critic” by Frank Cotham

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Simon:  Next is a Frank Cotham cartoon that’s more graphically violent than usual for him. The caption has two funny components, and together they make for a solid cartoon.

Max:  We’ve got some whipping going on and the chained chap appears to be somewhat of a connoisseur of such activities. How naughty!

Simon:  I like the nonchalance of the speaker and the physical distance that separates him from the other prisoner. This is a solid 4 for me.

Max:  And what material do we imagine was substituted for the real leather…Naugahyde? I give this a 4 as well.

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14 of 14: “I’ll Bite” by Liana Finck

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Max:  Ms. Finck presents a historical figure, John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. And yes, The Wall Street Journal hailed the sandwich as Britain’s “biggest contribution to gastronomy”. Faint praise, eh, Simon?

Simon:  Once again, Max, you have proven yourself to be a valuable source of information for our readers. Graphically, this cartoon is entertaining. As a gag, it’s a bit obvious. I’ve seen jokes and TV skits about the Earl of Sandwich, so this cartoon is not particularly original.

Max:  But having the good Earl as the veritable sandwich itself is a nice twist. I imagine the speaker on the left had just finished nattering on about his lofty place in the British Peerage, whereas the Earl of Sandwich needed no introduction to New Yorker readers. I give this a 4.

Simon:  For me, it’s a 3.

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