Max:  The fiercely beautiful young woman on the cover looks like she means business.

Simon:  She reminds me that we need to get down to business and rate these cartoons.

 

 

1 of 14: “Tuba Rescue” by Michael Maslin

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Simon:  Our first cartoon this week is a Michael Maslin cartoon, and a whimsical one at that. I imagined a backstory with this cartoon, and I wondered what a marching band member was doing late at night in the sticks.

Max:  Marching to his own drummer? By all rights, he should be somewhere around the 50-yard line. Nonetheless, the meandering marcher seems overjoyed at the sight of rescue. Is there an app for mobile tuba repair?

Simon:  That is just one question raised by this cartoon. What is wrong with the tuba? Did it have a flat note? And what sound does the alarm on the service truck make for a tuba repair? Blub-blub?

Max:  Whether sharp or flat, that service truck looks capable of repairing a nuclear submarine! A fun cartoon and featuring a tuba – actually, a Sousaphone – in distress. I give this a 4.

Simon:  I liked it, even though it is a bit silly. I also give it a 4. And the Mystery New Yorker Cartoonist offers this opinion:

Mystery New Yorker Cartoonist:  I told them I considered them Murderer’s Row, the core of the Golden Age of Modern New Yorker cartoons. In alphabetical order, that line-up was Bob Mankoff, Michael Maslin, Danny Shanahan, Mick Stevens, and the late Jack Ziegler (I consider Roz Chast in a different category altogether, although that is debatable). They ushered in a new sensibility and style to the magazine that raised the bar.

This issue we have three from that group, four some can argue with Roz being in with a thorny joke. Two of the cartoons in the issue are by friends and neighbors Maslin and Shanahan, and both of their cartoons are head and shoulders above the rest, exemplifying the difference in eras. I give both a 4.

For more on Michael Maslin, check out michaelmaslin.com

 

2 of 14: “Suns” by Alice Cheng

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Max:  Our next cartoon is by Alice Cheng, a relative newcomer to The New Yorker. She cleverly contrasts our current, groovy sun in the prime of its hipness, with a prehistoric sun transiting planetary puberty, including its braces and nerdy glasses.

Simon:  I see this as a meta-cartoon, or at least a take on old travel posters inviting tourists to sunny Florida and the like. I give her credit for the artwork as parody, but the gag is just so-so.

Max:  As we’ve seen, it’s difficult to come up with an original cartoon – one not predicated on the 100 or so cartoon clichés. I think this is inventive, I give it a 4.

Simon:  I found it less entertaining than you did, and I give it a 3.

For more on Alice Cheng, check out condenaststore.com/Alice-Cheng-Prints

 

3 of 14: “Sippy Cup Contest” by Danny Shanahan

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Simon:  Next up is a Danny Shannon cartoon, and I think he lands one here. Two toddlers are turning Sesame Street into a drinking game.

Max:  Yes, a funny scene with the toddlers tippling away on their sippy cups every time their favorite cartoon character laughs.

Simon:  I like the simplicity of the drawing, and note the almost formless cat in the background. This is a solid 4 for me.

Max:  A nice and fine caption, I give it a 4 as well.

For more on Danny Shanahan, check out newyorker.com/contributors/danny-shanahan

 

4 of 14: “Maudlin Air Dancer” by Farley Katz

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Max:  Farley Katz has a contemporary setting featuring one of those plastic tubes that dance around over an air blower. The tube man seems a little depressed. By the way, Simon, what are those things called?

Simon:  An air dancer, I believe. It’s a imaginative gag. He has anthropomorphized the inflatable advertising sock. The salesman has the requisite of plaid suit.

Max:  Well, an air dancer on a bender is a nice twist, though a bit of a downer. And yes, that salesman’s suit is a classic – I’ve got a set of dish towels in that pattern. Another 4.

Simon:  I’ll give it a high 3. I  checked the Cartoon Bank, and this is the second air dancer cartoon by Farley Katz. I can imagine a syndicated strip featuring the Air Dancer family.

For more on Farley Katz, check out farleykatz.com

 

5 of 14: “Sacramental Rosé” by Jeremy Nguyen

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Simon:  Next up is a cartoon by another relative newcomer, Jeremy Nguyen. His style has a simple, retro look. I’m reminded somewhat of cartoons by Chon Day, although he used wash.

Max:  Well, the simplicity concentrates attention on the commenting altar boy. His caption turns on the reviving interest in rosé, so much so that his parents are willing to rejoin the congregation if the chalice overflows with the pink stuff.

Simon:  It’s a little jokey for me. I give it a 3.

Max:  Nice drawing, decent caption, but I hate rosé. I also give it a 3.

For more on Jeremy Nguyen, check out jeremywinslife.com

 

6 of 14: “New Directions in Office Space” by Liam Francis Walsh

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Max:  Here’s a rather baffling cartoon by Mr. Walsh in which a pair of drenched café goers have a spat in the middle of a whole terrace of outdoor café goers. Well, Simon, what is this cartoon getting at exactly? Al fresco in a rainstorm?

Simon:  Oh, no, I took this to be office workers who formerly were in cubicles, but now have to suffer a truly open floor plan—one that is outdoors and unprotected from the elements.

Max:  I asked and the light streams in. Yes, this cartoon mocks the latest evolutions in office space design – typically jamming as many office workers as possible into the most compressed area. I like this idea and give it a 4, also nicely executed.

Simon:  This cartoon relies on exaggeration, which usually is not my favorite type of gag, but this one puts the idea across well. I give it a 4.

For more on Liam Francis Walsh, check out liamfranciswalsh.com

 

7 of 14: “Have Gun, Will Travel” by Frank Cotham

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Simon:  Okay, next is a Frank Cotham cartoon. Usually when he has a doctor and a patient in a cartoon, the doctor is delivering bad news. Here is a switch, where the patient has some news for the doctor.

Max:  Indeed, you don’t want to mess with this mean-looking sexagenarian sporting the ratty ponytail!

Simon:  This is nicely drawn and a good gag. I give this a 4.

Max:  Agreed, a nice variation on the doctor-patient cartoon. I give this one a 4 as well.

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

 

8 of 14: “Watercolor” by Harry Bliss

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Max:  Mr. Bliss returns with a bucolic-seeming seascape that skillfully captures the sun, the sea, and …a frantic, drowning man! This is quite an original cartoon, don’t you think Simon?

Simon:  I really like this cartoon. Look how the couple is gazing out over the canvas in a nonchalant way. Everyone is more or less expressionless except the hapless swimmer, who is seen only in the painting. Very clever.

Max:  Indeed, this couple appears to understand the dire situation, but chooses not to ruin the painter’s composition by raising a hue and cry. Speaking of composition, I like the nicely laid out blanket in the foreground with the hat and sunglasses – a nice touch, I give this a 5.

Simon:  I also give it a 5, in part because of what Mr. Bliss has chosen not to show us.

For more on Harry Bliss, check out harrybliss.com

 

9 of 14: “Gone and Forgotten” by Roz Chast

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Simon:  Next is a Roz Chase cartoon, and she is back in the cemetery, where she apparently feels quite comfortable. What do you think of this one, Max?

Max:  Well, Ms. Chast usually presents us with a trio of tombstones, each with an increasingly funny gag. Here we have just one gag inscribed on a rather impressive tomb. By the way, Simon, is “Plus-one” a new clothing size?

Simon:  I understand that a “plus-one” is an unidentified additional guest that an invitee can bring to a social event. This one really didn’t do much for me. It’s kind of a throwaway line. I’m going to have to go down to a 2.

Max:  Hmmm, I’m now imagining all those millions of unnamed invitees dancing the night away though the years. I plus-one your score to a 3.

For more on Roz Chast, check out rozchast.com

 

10 of 14: “Sensitive Plants” by P.C. Vey

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Max:  P.C. Vey is next with a bedroom scene featuring an ardent lover whose partner is distracted by the pet plants perched at the end of the bed.

Simon:  And of course the question is, what the hell are potted plants doing at the foot of someone’s bed? But of course the absurdity of the image is what make this gag go. I liked it.

Max:  I did as well. It makes me think of all those couples who allow their furry pets on the bed at night. I can imagine that often leads to interruptions when the couple decides to become amorous. I give this one a 4.

Simon:  Yes, it’s a solid 4 for me as well. I also think of a parent saying something along the lines of “Not in front of the children.”

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

 

11 of 14: “Fatness, Not Fitness” by Will McPhail

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Simon:  Our next cartoon is by William McPhail, and is set in a fitness center. This individual seems a bit out of place, as does his bulging belly.

Max:  He’s out of place for his honesty as well. Typically a conversation like this leads to prevarications such as, “Oh, it’s just water weight”, or “Just due to anxiety eating”, or something like that. This chap just fesses up that he’s been pigging out and got chubby.

Simon:  Again, this is kind of a jokey cartoon, so that downgrades it for me. A quibble here, but someone so honest wouldn’t have a comb-over of the type this gentleman apparently sports. I give this a low 3.

Max:  It looked to me like the gent had bangs, but bangs that started near his crown – a semi- comb-over, I suppose. I liked it more than you, Simon, and as always from Mr. McPhail, superbly drawn. I give it a high 3.

For more on Will McPhail, check out willmcphail.com

 

12 of 14: “Bad Commute” by Emily Flake

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Max:  Emily Flake descends into the subway to mock a trend of late, that of the so-called RBF. Do you know about RBF, Simon?

Simon:  I confess ignorance. Please explain.

Max:  Well, to put it indelicately, RBF stands for Resting B*tch Face. The Urban Dictionary describes it as “A person, usually a girl, who naturally looks mean when her face is expressionless, without meaning to.”

Simon:  I think between the two of us, we can fully comprehend all of The New Yorker‘s cartoons. With that explanation, I can adjust my score to a 3.

Max:  Yes, it’s well done, and I particularly like the way she has captured the attitudes of the two protagonists. I give this a 4.

For more on Emily Flake, check out emilyflake.com

 

13 of 14: “Double Double Meaning” by Paul Noth

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Simon:  Next up is a Paul Noth cartoon. It has no caption, and none is needed for this well-executed and funny cartoon that plays on two different optical illusions.

Max:  Well, I see one of the reverse illusions – the duck/rabbit is well-known within the pages of The New Yorker. Help me out, Simon – I don’t quite see the other optical illusion.

Simon:  The old crone could be seen as a young woman with her head turned to the right.

Max:  Ah yes, the old “double picture optical illusion“ according to the omniscient Google. The old crone’s nose is the jaw line of the young woman.

Simon:  I’m not sure what the child sees in this, but I think it’s clever. I give this a 5.

Max:  Agreed, I give this one a 4.

For more on Paul Noth, check out paulnoth.com

 

14 of 14: “Strategy Session” by Jack Ziegler

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Max:  For our last cartoon, the late Jack Ziegler presents a cabal of middle-aged men conspiring to stave off legal action that will likely result in spending time in the slammer.

Simon:  This is another fine cartoon by the late Jack Ziegler. I wish he were still with us. I like the pose of the guy standing up and looking over his shoulder. The whole idea of a meeting to develop a strategy before they all plead guilty tickled me.

Max:  I also enjoyed the pose of the corpulent burgher as he contemplates his future diet of prison fare served on a tin tray.

Simon:  Yes, and I like his finger point as if to emphasize that this seems like a wise approach, and the almost expressionless look on the faces of everyone else. This is a high 4 for me.

Max:  Yes, a 4 from me as well, and may I never have to be in a room like this.

For more on Jack Ziegler, check out newyorker.com/contributors/jack-ziegler