Max:  This week’s cover provides a respite from the frenzy of activity in our nation’s capital.

Simon:  Is that Sean Spicer in the bushes?




1 of 19: “Man on the Floor” by Sara Lautman

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Simon:  The first cartoon is by a relative newcomer to The New Yorker, Sara Lautman. It features an enormous man on his side filling an entire restaurant dining room. What do you make of this, Max?

Max:  I assume that this is some sort of metaphor for the elephant in the room.

Simon:  I took it more literally. The restaurant has no seating because a single giant has taken up all available space. One customer, rather than being dumbfounded by this improbable scenario, believes that making a reservation would have solved the problem. It’s a combination of the bizarre and the banal. Incidentally, I have no idea why the giant has a five o’clock shadow or the person at the reservation desk has no facial features.

Max:  I think the person at the reservation desk looks like a Wesleyan minister. But back to the large man, look at his claws. This is a peculiar cartoon, and I give this a 2.

Simon: Peculiar and not especially funny. I agree, a 2.

For more on Sara Lautman, check out


2 of 19: “Difficult Commute” by David Sipress

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Max:  Second item up is from Mr. Sipress with an assembly in which the straphangers are defying gravity by being upside down. The caption is one that I’ve heard many times in a New York subway.

Simon:  The caption, no doubt, quotes the announcement heard in subways, but it’s awfully long, and I think this is a pretty easy gag. There are many subway cartoons in The New Yorker; yet another one needs to be strong to justify its place in the magazine.

Max:  I felt the same way, but I like the expression of the woman walking to the train. I’ll give this a 3.

Simon:  I’ll give it a 3 because it’s visually entertaining.

For more on David Sipress, check out


3 of 19: “Comic Masterpiece” by Paul Karasik

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Simon:  Next is a cartoon by Paul Karasik that features figures from masterpieces of art. Clearly the man on the right is from Grant Wood’s American Gothic and the woman in the middle is Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, but it took me a moment or two to realize that the woman on the left is Mona Lisa. Did you recognize La Giaconda, Max?

Max:  Indeed, I did, but it was the one in the middle that took a moment. By the way, the Vermeer painting was known throughout Europe as the Mona Lisa of the North. If the sitcom writers got ahold of this, they’d come up with a show called “A Couple of Renaissance Chicks Sitting Around Talking.”

Simon:  It’s a pretty good gag, depicting the famous woman with the hint of a smile wanting a man who can make her guffaw. I give this cartoon a low 4.

Max: I thought this is the funniest of the bunch so far, and the same 4 for me as well.

Simon:  This issue is off to a rather slow start, but perhaps it’s gaining momentum.

For more on Paul Karasik, check out


4 of 19: “Slippery Characters” by Liza Donnelly

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Max:  The next cartoon is by Liza Donnelly, and this cartoon may have a generational appeal. What do you think, Simon?

Simon:  Yes, Max, not too many freezers still have ice cube trays. Liza Donnelly is a veteran New Yorker cartoonist, but we have not seen much of her work, which is too bad. This is a cute cartoon, and I don’t mean that to be disparaging. What do you think of the multiple gags attached to this cube collusion cartoon?

Max:  That’s what makes it so funny, being of the generation that participated in the conversion to the plastic trays that required you to twist them. Many a time I’ve seen multiple cubes disappear every which way. It was great for me, I give it a 5.

Simon:  It’s a nice reference to the current political situation where collusion seems to be the word of the day and combines that with little domestic mishaps. I give it a 4.

For more on Liza Donnelly, check out


5 of 19: “A Cry for Help” by Harry Bliss

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Simon:  Next up is a Harry Bliss cartoon, and I believe this is the second one of his in recent memory involving a swimmer in distress. This time the swimmer is not drowning, but rather, is being attacked by a shark.

Max:  Clearly, Mr. Bliss summers at the shore. This is not one of my favorite Bliss cartoons. It’s just okay for me. What did you like about it, Simon?

Simon:  I like the low angle, and the overall drawing is excellent as always, but I agree, it’s not that strong a gag. I’ll give it a 3.

Max:  Yes, a punchy caption, but that’s about it. I’ll give it a 3 as well.

For more on Harry Bliss, check out


6 of 19: “One in the Side Pocket” by Liana Finck

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Max:  Liana Finck brings us another one of her innocent cartoons, this one with a marsupial and two pouches.

Simon:  I’ve been critical of her art in the past, but I think this one is a decent drawing and a pretty funny gag: a kangaroo with her little joey in her pouch, plus the juice box. I like it.

Max:  For those of us viewing this cartoon on a phone, the juice box didn’t read very well.

Simon:  Her illustrations are sometimes unfocused on the key points. I give this one a 4.

Max:  It’s a little on the cute side for me. I give it a 3.

For more on Liana Finck, check out


7 of 19: “Action, Reaction, Drink” by Seth Fleishman

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Simon:  The next cartoon is by Seth Fleishman. It features an interesting variation of the executive desk toy. Quite a bold illustration, don’t you think, Max?

Max:  Clearly this Newton’s Cradle is aimed towards cocktail time.

Simon:  I like the color, and the olive spear is dramatic, and of course he has no caption. It’s an interesting image, not all that hilarious, but it merits a solid 4.

Max:  I think this cartoon will be hung in many a home bar. I give this a 5.

For more on Seth Fleishman, check out


8 of 19: “Tech Talk” by Roz Chast

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Max:  Roz Chast has our next cartoon entitled, “Hello Patty!”, and it’s a full six-panel graphic strip, and highly autobiographical.

Simon: This one presents kind of an interesting conundrum for us at the Cartoon Companion, because we normally judge cartoons based on the illustration and humor. This one is not intended to be a knee-slapper. It’s more along the lines of her poignant work about her parents, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?”. I think I enjoy her longer-form work more than her single-panel work. I’m going to give this a high 4.

Max:  Yes and I agree, this direction is much more fruitful than her latest spate of three tombstones. I give it a 4.

For more on Roz Chast, check out


9 of 19: “A Room of One’s Own” by Paul Noth

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Simon:  Next up is a Paul Noth cartoon, featuring two inmates in prison. By the way, I checked the Cartoon Cliché list and amazingly, prisoners are not on that list. There have been dozens if not hundreds of New Yorker cartoons set in a jail cell. This one plays on AirBnB, a pretty easy target.

Max:  Combining AirBnB with this cell is clever. I suspect it’s similar to the experience of many an AirBnB goer, especially in urban areas, finding their room is a tiny, cell-like spare room or even a closet. This one’s on the mark.

Simon:  As I said, an easy target, a cliché setting, but a good gag. I give it a 4.

Max:  I give this a 5.

For more on Paul Noth, check out


10 of 19: “Emergency Entertainment” by Drew Dernavich

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Max:  This Drew Dernavich cartoon provides us with another take on the busker character, this time with a captive audience in the emergency room.

Simon:  Drew Dernavich has executed some interesting illustrations. I think he’s strongest when the images are simple. Here, there are a lot of people, but you can’t see their facial expressions.

Max:  I think this is one of his funnier compositions. This performer’s audience are all hunched forward, probably killing time reading a month-old news magazine. I thought it was funny, I give it a 4.

Simon:  I was less amused. I give it a 3.

For more on Drew Dernavich, check out


11 of 19: “Doesn’t Give a Lick” by Lars Kenseth

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Simon:  Lars Kenseth has set his cartoon in medieval times, so I’m sure it warms the cockles of your heart, Max. It’s a fun illustration and a pretty good gag.

Max:  This is my favorite Lars Kenseth illustration. Indeed, the half-timbered house in the background does provide a nice setting. I’ll have to confess, it took me a moment to figure out what happened to Phil.

Simon: I think Phil licked the sword and moved on, perhaps to other swords.

Max:  The way I took it is that there’s a hole right in front of the two speakers. and I believe Phil disappeared straight down into a not so enjoyable place rather than become king of Britain.

Simon:  I have a completely different interpretation. I think that’s a puddle to the left of the stone, and the idea was that Phil licked the sword, making it unpalatable for anyone else to touch it, like someone licking a slice of pizza to prevent anyone else from eating it.

Max:  Oh, I see, yes, that’s a very reasonable interpretation. At any rate, it was a nice illustration and gag, so I give this a 3.

Simon:  I’ll go up to a 4.

For more on Lars Kenseth, check out


12 of 19: “Tusked Tabby” by Danny Shanahan

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Max:  Back to elephants here, this time at the hands of Mr. Shanahan, and we’ve got a bit of a tussle over the latest prey speared on the tusk on the elephant on the right. Looks like a poor little house tabby.

Simon:  This was quite amusing and very simple and direct—a little sick perhaps, but funny as hell. As a cat lover, did you find it disturbing, Max?

Max:  This is the funniest cartoon to this point, and I give it a 5.

Simon:  This is my first 5 for this issue.

For more on Danny Shanhan, check out


13 of 19: “Virtual Geese” by Ellis Rosen

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Simon:  Next up is a cartoon by Ellis Rosen featuring a couple of geese, one wearing virtual reality goggles. This is a switcheroo or reverse-type cartoon. Did you like this one, Max?

Max:  I did. Having just tested one of these devices a couple of weeks ago myself, I can understand the amazement on the part of the lead goose. I thought it was a nice take on that and in fact, this might be the first virtual reality cartoon we’ve seen this year.

Simon:  The first this year but certainly not the first in the magazine. It’s a simple gag. I’ll give it a 3.

Max:  I share the amazement of the goose having tested this and maybe I’ll add this to my electronic gear. Based on that, I’ll give it a 4.

For more on Ellis Rosen, check out


14 of 19: “Good Grounds” by William Haefeli

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Max:  Mr. Haefeli has yet another cartoon for us. Here, the aggrieved partner confesses to another couple her marital issues.

Simon:  This cartoon is basically a sitcom line, and one in which the speaker knows that she is delivering the punch line, so that downgrades it in my view. The illustration is really wonderful. Look at the body language of all three individuals, the way the speaker is gripping the strap of her purse and how the other woman is reaching out to comfort her. It’s really terrific.

Max:  Yes, as always, the artwork is compelling, but of course here at Cartoon Companion, we have to look beyond the artwork and to the gag, and we’ve seen so many variations on this that I will give this a 3.

Simon:  Yes, I must agree, a 3.

For more on William Haefeli, check out


15 of 19: “Conspiracy of Beards” by Carolita Johnson

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Simon:  Next is a Carolita Johnson cartoon featuring men with beards, playing on Alcoholics Anonymous. What struck me is that the three guys on the left look pretty much identical. And why are they all wearing suits?

Max:  Not only suits, but also extremely long, fluffy beards. The two gentlemen on the right look like the Smith Brothers cough drop box illustration.

Simon: Sure, the big beards are the whole point of the cartoon. I would have preferred more individuality in depicting the men, how they’re dressed, how old they are, what type of hairstyle they have. Except for the bald guy, they all look pretty much the same. Maybe that was the look she wanted, but I think it would have been more interesting if there were greater variation.

Max:  There’s no doubt that being hirsute is au courant. Nonetheless, I didn’t find this compelling, so I give this a 3.

Simon:  I give it a low 3.

For more on Carolita Johnson, check out


16 of 19: “Hypocritical Kitty” by Chris Weyant

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Max:  Mr. Weyant has a pet cartoon in which the dog of the couple accuses the cat of political hypocrisy.

Simon:  I’m a fan of Chris Weyant, and this cartoon is a solid effort by him. It combines political commentary with the dog-versus-cat paradigm. There’s no question that the cat is the Republican or perhaps the Libertarian between the two household pets. They seem to be more informed than many voters.

Max:  Yes, this is a classic tug between liberals and conservatives, and I think the dog won this argument. I give it a 5.

Simon:  I agree. This is the top cartoon in my view, and I give it a 5. The Mystery New Yorker Cartoonist agrees with our high estimation of this cartoon.

Mystery New Yorker Cartoonist:  This cartoon would have been funnier drawn by Sam Gross or George Booth or someone who drew less scary or more charming pets as these two are almost snarling, but Chris Weyant’s cartoon is the most professional with the funniest line in this week’s issue. 4.

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17 of 19: “Letter Drop” by Tom Toro

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Simon:  Next up is a cartoon by Tom Toro, and it’s certainly a bold cartoon that says it all with a dropped S.

Max:  Yes. This is a very clear illustration.

Simon:  This is a good example of how an illustration and a gag line work together. Without this drawing, there would be no humor. The drawing makes the joke. That aside, the cartoon is good but nothing special. I give it a 4.

Max:  The same for me, 4.

For more on Tom Toro, check out


18 of 19: “Piggy Fishy” by Liam Francis Walsh

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Max:  Mr. Walsh gives us a cartoon in which it appears the poor fish is quintupled hooked. The fish itself has a rather funny take on this. What do you think, Simon?

Simon:  It’s certainly an imaginative idea. I’m surprised that the fish has the gag line.

Max:  The illustration is terrific. Look at the complexity of trying to realistically convey all of these five fishing rods bending at the same time. That part was very well done. Interesting but not that funny. It’s not even a punch line—maybe more of a punch thought. I give it a 3.

Simon:  Well said. I also give it a 3.

For more on Liam Francis Walsh, check out


19 of 19: “Stress Test” by Maggie Larson

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Simon:  Our last cartoon is by Maggie Larson, who has done only a couple of cartoons for The New Yorker. This one features a masseuse and a customer, and apparently the only area that really needs massaging is the area that is out of reach, because it’s his face. Is that your take on this?

Max:  I guess. I don’t know. I’m not a aficionado of massages, so I’m a little at a loss as to how this one works.

Simon:  That’s the only explanation I can come up with, and it’s not all that funny. I also think the drawing is odd. The perspective is off and the figures are kind of lumpy, especially the legs of the guy lying down. I give this one a 2.

Max:  Yes, unfortunately, I have to agree. She made an auspicious debut a few weeks ago, but this one is not particularly artful or funny, so I give it a 2 as well.

Simon:  All right, that wraps up this week’s cartoon ratings.

For more on Maggie Larson, check out