Max:  This week’s cover shows our Commander in Chief exercising his authority over his sons.

Simon:  United Airlines may have found its ideal flight attendant.




1 of 14: “Mom’s Rest Area” by Amy Hwang

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Simon:  The first cartoon is a charming one by Amy Hwang. I think that working mothers everywhere will appreciate this cartoon.

Max:  Yes, Simon, I couldn’t agree more, and, in fact, I think this cartoon really speaks to corporate strategy on the part of Starbucks. They have defined that place between home and work as the third place, and here, in this cartoon, Amy Hwang has entitled it Rest Area. I think it’s the fusing of these two concepts.

Simon:  I like that there’s no caption and that she has captured the concept in an economical way. I give this a solid 4.

Max:  It’s quite good. The woman’s body language shows the relief of being between these two places, where she has to work just as hard in either place. So I agree and give it a 4 as well.

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2 of 14: “No Shoes, No Socks” by P.C. Vey

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Max:  The next cartoon is another strange outing by P. C. Vey in which a startled gentleman looks out the window to see his companion’s former one-date boyfriend.

Simon:  The image is what really makes this cartoon work. A guy with no clothes, other than shoes and socks, staring into a café window and looking forlorn, while the woman’s date is clearly discombobulated, is a great image. We also get to see what type of figure drawing P. C. Vey does when his characters are unclothed.

Max:  I also like that he doesn’t distract from the trio of folks in this cartoon by pulling you away from the name of the restaurant; it’s just L and then a squiggle, so I think he’s done a good job of focusing the attention on the right place. This is one of P. C. Vey’s best. I give it a 5.

Simon:  I smiled broadly at this one, and I give it a 5 as well. And he really lands that punchline with “not until now, of course.”

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3 of 14: “Number 1 Son” by Barbara Smaller

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Simon:  Next up is a cartoon by Barbara Smaller, and it features a son who is best for the job. Did you like this one, Max?

Max:  Yes, it’s not bad. It certainly has a special ring to it, now that Donald Jr. is in such hot water. I wonder if the President is thinking of elevating his Senior Vice President of Golf Courses to a more exulted position, i.e., the best son for the job?

Simon:  The drawing is quite well done, especially the large portraits of the founders and CEOs of days gone by. The gag it’s a little jokey. I give this cartoon a 3.

Max:  I’m right with you there. I did like the proportions of this grand office, and the obvious callowness of the best son at the job here. I give this one a 3 as well.

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4 of 14: “Joyous Biomes” by Edward Koren

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Max:  Mr. Koren is next with another one of his scratchy creations. His dining couple look for all the world, especially the man, like a werewolf. Did that distract you, Simon?

Simon:  Ed Koren, of course, is a veteran New Yorker cartoonist, and we recognize his style immediately. I’m not distracted by the scratchy and scruffy look of all his characters because they are so familiar. But to be honest, he’s not my favorite New Yorker cartoonist. His characters always seem to embody a boho sophistication that I frankly find a little irritating.

Max:  Well, this one has a very New Agey vibe to me, especially with the line upon which the caption turns—biomes, those large biospheres of animals and fauna, which in this case just indicates the smaller environment of the stomach. This would have been somewhat funnier if the name of the restaurant had conveyed that it’s some vegan restaurant or other super specialty restaurant. I thought this was just okay, and I give this 2.

Simon:  Meh—a 2.

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5 of 14: “Life in a Fishbowl” by Paul Karasik

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Simon: Next up is a cartoon by Paul Karasik. It’s a very strong visual image. Did you like the gag, Max?

Max:  I thought this was a wonderful drawing that perfectly captured this idea that the parents are going to get some separation from their wee guppy, by moving a scant foot or so away. Well done.

Simon:  And I like that he’s used the specific 13 inches as opposed to say, a foot. That was a wise choice. The only graphic element I was a little confused by was the detritus at the bottom of the bowl, but that’s a minor issue. It’s a solid gag, and I give it a 4.

Max:  Yes I looked at that as well and decided it was a reef.  And you’re right, a round number, such as a foot away, wouldn’t have been as funny. Unfortunately, Simon, we’re in complete agreement today, I also give this a 4.

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6 of 14: “In a Bind” by Liana Finck

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Max:  Well, Simon, here we are: another Liana Finck cartoon that stretches the bounds of credulity and our ability to interpret cartoons. I’m quite interested to hear what you made of this.

Simon:  Max, I scratched my head until my hair fell out, something I can ill afford to do, trying to figure out what’s going on. I surmised that a scout’s knot has enveloped the scoutmaster, but I couldn’t figure out what the material or object is that is enveloping this man. Did you come to a conclusion, Max?

Max:  I did. At first, I thought it might have been some kind of scouting merit badge sash that was involved, but then I realized before too long that those are the buttons of his shirt and, in fact, he’s been tied into a square knot by these rascally scouts. The hapless scoutmaster cannot untie himself from this trussed up position.

Simon:  Well, no shirt has that many buttons, and I can’t even discern a shirt. This gag could have been funny in the hands of an expert draftsman, but the gag completely misses for me, because I couldn’t understand the illustration. I give this a 1.

Max:  I was tempted to give it a very low score until the tilt of the scoutmaster’s shorts gave away that, indeed, that is his torso wrapping around. I guess the way that Liana Finck solved the problem was to put some extra dots to show us that this is an elongated shirt, and as it elongated more buttons appeared. I then found it an interesting concept and so I give this a 3. It took a long time to figure out, but it nonetheless had a decent payoff.

Simon:  I would think you’d want to add an asterisk after that score.

Max:  Like a Roger Maris home run?

Simon:   You show your age.

Max:  I know.

Simon:  The Mystery New Yorker Cartoonist has an interesting take on this.

Mystery New Yorker Cartoonist:  When I saw this cartoon I knew I would have to comment on this one … without seeing any other cartoons. It may or may not be the best cartoon in the issue, but it is Liana’s Fincks’ best cartoon to date. Her writing shows a maturity expected in New Yorker cartoons, and while her style may be an acquired taste, if she continues to produce cartoons this funny and clever, it will be seen in a different light. A solid 4.

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7 of 14: “Doctors Go Nuts” by Ben Schwartz

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Simon:  The next cartoon is by Dr. Ben Schwartz, and indeed, it is a medical cartoon featuring the Hippocratic Oath. A good gag and well drawn, I thought.

Max:  Yes, the drawing is superb, as always. I’m guessing that Dr. Schwartz is as able a medical teacher, as I understand him to be, as he is an artist. We, as health care consumers, look at this and get a little queasy at the idea that these future doctors are being set loose to do whatever they want.

Simon:  I like the contrast between the oath and the slang expression “go nuts”. I also enjoy the variation of the faces of the doctors. I give this a high 4.

Max:  Yes, these future doctors are rather taken aback, and I suspect that there’s many a med school graduate this spring who will be taping this cartoon up to their future internship wall. I give this a 5.

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8 of 14: “Two Dog Night” by Sam Gross

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Max:  Sam Gross is our next cartoonist, who has a very charming cartoon of a pair of rather soft suburban dogs coming in from a hard day of likely doing little or nothing. Did you enjoy this one, Simon?

Simon:  I like the cartoon, but I am overjoyed to see the return of Sam Gross on the pages of The New Yorker. I’m a huge admirer of his work. I don’t know why we haven’t seen more of his cartoons. This one is delightful. The expressions on those dogs’ faces as well as the owners’ faces are just right. It’s a solid cartoon, but I guess I expect only great things from Sam Gross. I give this a high 4.

Max:  I also like the way the door is opening behind them. It tells the story well, and I, too, am elated to see the return of Mr. Gross. As a cat lover I have to give this one a 5. I think it’s very amusing.

Simon:  One gets the sense there’s a backstory of when the dogs are on the job and when they’re done for the night. And I note that two dogs were needed: one to hold the sign in its mouth and one to deliver the gag line.

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9 of 14: “He’s Toast” by Edward Steed

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Simon:  We have a two-page, along-the-bottom-border spread by none other than Mr. Steed, and the payoff is on the last of eight drawings. Wow!

Max:  This is brilliant work. On the left hand side you see the same basic running of the water, first too hot, then too cold, and finally just right. What did you think when your eyes lit upon that last panel?

Simon:  Even though Steed is the king of sick cartoons in The New Yorker, I’m always taken aback and amused at the same time when the punchline hits, and this one surely does hit. Lord forgive me, I give this a 5.

Max:  Yes, if there’s ever a cartoonist that’s in line for MacArthur Fellowship Award, it would be Steed. This is brilliant cartooning, I give this a 6.

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10 of 14: “Internet Irony” by Roz Chast

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Max:  Roz Chast gives us a different take on her recent run of tombstones to provide us with a magazine cover that’s entitled Internet Magazine. She’s got four gags on the left, or a fifth if you count “etc.” Which was your favorite, Simon?

Simon:  I like the second one, a famous person got fatter or skinnier, because it almost doesn’t matter what the content is in our internet addicted world. What I liked about the cartoon was the irony of having a paper magazine devoted to something that is completely digital.

Max:  Yes, that is definitely half of the punchline, or more. The Internet Magazine is clearly now a supermarket tabloid, rather than an expected online app. My favorite gag was “porn, accidents, funny pets”. It’s pretty good. I give this one a 3.

Simon:  I agree with you, Max. It’s a decent gag, and the front-page graphic isn’t going to attract readers with its flashiness. I give this a 3 as well.

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11 of 14: “Al Fresco Klepto” by William Haefeli

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Simon:  Next is a cartoon by William Haefeli, and I think this is one of his strongest ones. His artistry is unsurpassed, but some of his gags have not been as solid. This one hits the mark.

Max:  We might be parting company here, Simon. I thought that this was an unrealistic gag given these two very well-bejeweled suburban ladies. I’m sure that they probably have their groceries delivered. The idea that she’s somehow a kleptomaniac is unlikely.

Simon:  I thought that the unlikelihood of this woman stealing from her neighbor’s vegetable garden was amusing, so I give this one a 5.

Max:  He rescues the gag with “Please don’t tell him.” But still, I didn’t really find it that amusing, and I gave this a 3, although the tomatoes do look delectable.

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12 of 14: “Death Watch” by Drew Dernavich

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Max:  In the one week when Roz Chast finally leaves the cemetery, Drew Dernavich goes into the cemetery. We’ve got this couple looking at some very unusual and fairly wordy tombstones that are basically referring to the current trend in TV watching, that of binge-watching an entire series.

Simon:  The humor got diluted by the wordiness. He could have done the gag with just one tombstone, or maybe three. Four is overkill, and I think the gag is just so-so.

Max:  My favorite one was “Just getting into Game of Thrones”, but, yes, it was a little much in terms of the blizzard of words, and I would give this one a 2.

Simon:  I’ll go to a low 3 on this one. Incidentally, Drew’s website includes this comment: “Previously, Drew worked for years engraving pictures onto gravestones.”

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13 of 14: “Stale Joke” by Robert Leighton

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Simon:  The next cartoon is by Robert Leighton, and it is a distinctly urban scene, and probably a New York scene, combining crime fighting and pretzel sales. I imagine they are hot soft pretzels, so they probably wouldn’t make excellent handcuffs.

Max:  Well, having eaten many of them that have spent too long on the cart, I can tell you that they do have the appropriate properties of rigidity, staleness, and al dente texture to slip them over the wrists of the miscreant.

Simon:  Yeah, it’s a cute gag, but it doesn’t have quite the sophistication that is typical of The New Yorker. It’s perfectly okay, so I give it a 3.

Max:  I like the policeman looking back and with some urgency telling the vendor that he can assist in an arrest through this strange improvisation involving a questionable foodstuff. I give this one a 4. I got a chuckle out of this one.

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14 of 14: “Drowned Out” by Alex Gregory

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Max:  Our final cartoon is by Mr. Gregory, who unerringly skewers the modern, on-the-go business type, who, in trying to relax, informs his cell phone companion that, indeed, the ocean is just roaring a little too loudly for him to hear.

Simon:  This fellow is annoyed at the ocean, as if it is intentionally interfering with his very important business conversation. He just can’t get away from it, despite the baggy shorts, sandals, baseball cap, and sunglasses, and I don’t think he wants to. I like it.

Max:  I also like that little turn of the body, as if that could result in slightly better reception. Mr. Gregory has perfectly captured the body language of this wanna-be master of the universe. I give this a 5.

Simon:  Yes, it’s almost as if he’s turning to the ocean itself, as if to unsubtly suggest that the ocean keep it down. I’m gonna give this a high 4. That takes care of this issue.

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