Max:  Look who else just got ejected from the friendly skies.

Simon:  Jeff Sessions certainly looks in charge of keeping the aisles clear of former FBI riffraff.

 

 

1 of 15: “I Have Something to Tell You” by Jason Adam Katzenstein

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Simon:  First up is a Jason Katzenstein cartoon. It features a couple where the woman is being candid with her date by telling him she has parents, as opposed to, I guess, children or a communicable disease.

Max:  This is a variant on the classic confession scene, but featuring a parental twist. I thought the drawing skillfully evoked the intimacy of the situation. One almost expected an ellipsis near the end of the caption to draw out the suspense.

Simon:  It is well-drawn and the punchline lands well on the final word, but this seems to me like a tossed-off line more than a gag worthy of a New Yorker cartoon.

Max:  Yes, the gag didn’t measure up to the drawing. The “parents” punchline didn’t work for me, I give it a 2.

Simon:  I think it’s good enough for a low 3, but I generally agree with your assessment.

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

 

2 of 15: “Uh-oh” by Jason Patterson

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Max:  We have an outdoor adventure cartoon next featuring a raft full of unsuspecting adventurers about to go over the falls. Mr. Patterson takes us to the brink of riparian disaster with this dramatic composition.

Simon:  We have seen the over-the-falls cartoon before. It may even be an unofficial cliché. The line is classic understated New Yorker cartoon material. The gag was just okay I thought.

Max:  Oh, I thought the gag flowed well as the tour guide calmly understates the impending catastrophe. The drawing is well-conceived. I give this cartoon a 4.

Simon:  I give it a 3, and while I agree this is a decent cartoon, I question the wisdom of the leader standing up in a raft under any circumstances. Of course, it’s to draw attention to the speaker. Anyway, it’s just an okay gag.

For more on Jason Patterson, check out condenaststore.com/Jason-Patterson

 

3 of 15: “Emptiness Syndrome” by Will McPhail

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Simon:  Next is a very imaginative William McPhail cartoon. First it’s an overhead shot, which you seldom see in New Yorker cartoons. Plus, the idea of a character naked in bed talking to the “Loveless Void” is both sad and funny.

Max:  The point of view and artistic execution are impressive. And his electronic devices – social replacements? – sit forlornly by the abandoned side of the bed.

Simon:  I would think that a technophile like you would be practically salivating over this cartoon, Max.

Max:  Well, there’s an Finnish music group, MFG38, that put out an electronica cut called “Remnants of a Loveless Void”–an unlikely homage; nonetheless, I give this a 5.

Simon:  I’m left speechless by your musical knowledge. I claim only to be an expert on cartoons.

Max:  Google had to scour the far reaches of globe to unearth this musical exotica.

Simon:  Well, Romeo Void, I give this one a solid 4.

For more on Will McPhail, check out willmcphail.com

 

4 of 15: “Yodelayheehoo” by J.C. Duffy

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Max:  Mr. Duffy has created an enormous negative space, lit by a distant sun, to emphasize the isolation of our dining yodeler. What did you think, Simon?

Simon:  This was a funny gag and a very effectively drawn cartoon. The image is stark and lonely, as it should be. I stay clear of yodelers and hope never to dine with one.

Max:  As do I. The gag seems a trifle silly to me, I give it a 3.

Simon:  Silly but effective in my view. That setting sun in the upper right corner is a nice touch, almost like a little asterisk in the cartoon. I give this a mid-level 4. Which leads us to our Mystery New Yorker Cartoonist:

Mystery New Yorker Cartoonist:  This well-written caption reminded me of Jack Handey’s Deep Thoughts and the best in a rather uninspiring issue. (Jason Patterson, Cheng and Charlie Hankin had nice drawings. But none in the issue registered very high on the Laugh-O-Meter.) I give this Duffy cartoon a low 4.

For more on J.C. Duffy, check out jcduffy.com

 

5 of 15: “Hood Mentor” by Emily Flake

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Simon:  Next up is an Emily Flake cartoon featuring our old friends, the gangsters. This is the type of gangster cartoon common in The New Yorker where the mafioso addresses another character in a very un-gangster-like manner. Did you like this one, Max?

Max:  I did. I thought the crime boss showed real concern over the ergonomics of a trunk dump.

Simon:  It’s not bad, but I don’t think it really broke new ground, and the drawing is just so-so. I also would have chosen another word besides “fellas”. Maybe “boys”? That’s a quibble though.

Max:  What compassion for his young hoodlums in training! “…the knees, fellas…”. Good stuff.

Simon:  Another quibble is the white shirts on these two guys. They don’t really look like hitmen — more like mafia interns perhaps. I give this a 3.

Max:  Or could they be Mormon missionaries gone wrong? A 4 from me.

For more on Emily Flake, check out emilyflake.com

 

6 of 15: “Tactile Squad” by P.S. Mueller

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Max:  Mr. Mueller returns with his bizarre brand of drawing and humor.

Simon:  Yes, Mr. Miller does odd work. Both his gags and his art style are strange but generally well-matched. This certainly is an odd one. I do like the woman sticking her hand in the potted plant, as well as the woman peering through the doorway looking for new things to stroke.

Max:  That agent crouched on the floor is utterly absorbed in his cat ruffling. Is he an agent of the Tactile Squad?

Simon:  I think these are probably free agents. I give this one a 4.

Max:  Perhaps a step too far over the boundary of the bizarre, a 3.

For more on P.S. Mueller, check out www.psmueller.com

 

7 of 15: “At a Snail’s Pace” by Amy Hwang

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Simon:  Next up is an Amy Hwang cartoon, one of her best. This is a great gag, very simple, no caption, and very imaginative.

Max:  Could we be witnessing snails in lugubrious love?

Simon:  I didn’t take the snails to be lovers. I think it’s just one snail checking out the other snail at the doorstep for safety reasons, just as every New Yorker knows to look through the peephole before letting anyone in. I give this a New York 5.

Max:  Yes, quite beguiling – especially the twin antenna poking out from the door holes. A 5 as well. I still think the snail in the hallway is hoping for a romantic evening. Yuck!

Simon:  Amy gave credit on Facebook to Colin Stokes for suggesting two eyestalks rather than one through the peephole–an inspired improvement, Mr. Stokes.

For more on Amy Hwang, check out  amyhwang.com

 

8 of 15: “Bad Vibes” by Drew Dernavich

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Max:  Mr. Dernavich provides a complicated tableau of absorbed coffee shop squatters. Somehow the baristas have detected a subtle mood of disenchantment in the room.

Simon:  It’s an excellent drawing, but the gag didn’t really do much for me. What about you, Max?

Max:  This is an astute commentary on the self-absorbed bubbles we create when tuned into the social media on our phones and laptops. Airports and coffee houses are temples of this isolating practice – conversations are rare. These folks look this way all day. How did the baristas pick up on the low morale?

Simon:  Yes, it’s an interesting comment and imaginative, but I just didn’t find it all that funny. I give it a low 3.

Max:  This cartoon captured a contemporary human condition for me, I give it a 4. Oh, a special shout-out to the figure on the couch reading an actual book.

For more on Drew Dernavich, check out drewdernavich.com

 

9 of 15: “Our Routine” by Bruce Eric Kaplan

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Simon:  Bruce Eric Kaplan appears once again in the pages of The New Yorker, and this family is very much aware of how insufferable their routine is. I’ll bet you can guess what my criticism of this cartoon is, Max.

Max:  Yes, the speaker is fully aware he’s making a funny comment.

Simon:  If not funny, then at least aware of being insufferable. Probably a bit of both. That’s never really my favorite kind of cartoon. Everyone in this family, including the dog, is quite pleased with their routine and expressing how they feel about it to what may be a total stranger.

Max:  I like how Mr. Kaplan called out the family’s smugness. I give it a 3.

Simon:  It’s a fine drawing, but not my cup of tea. I give it a low 3.

For more on Bruce Eric Kaplan, check out bruceerickaplan.com

 

10 of 15: “Rolling Heads” by David Sipress

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Max:  Mr. Sipress brings us a timely political cartoon, the same week President Trump controversially fired FBI Director Comey. What do you think, Simon?

Simon:  No question that it’s a political and timely cartoon, in a time when heads will roll and continue to roll in the current administration. Here the heads are on pikes, which is a pretty disgusting image. This might be the type of cartoon that Frank Cotham could do some interesting drawing with. What do you think, Max?

Max:  Sure, we’ve got the barbarian king on the throne, a Frank Cotham staple. And in those medieval times, I find it interesting the king is noted for infrastructure…what infrastructure? Moats, drawbridges, ditches?

Simon:  I think this is the second consecutive cartoon by Sipress that references the political situation and places it in the context of medieval times. You recall his last cartoon featured people being thrown from the castle ramparts.

Max:  Well, we’re expecting another round of body-tossing from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I give it a 4.

Simon:  I’m going to give it a 3 because the target is so damn easy.

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

 

11 of 15: “Masks” by Roz Chast

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Simon:  Roz Chast is up next with an intriguing cartoon. The tragedy and comedy masks apparently are viewing the same program or movie and come away with two very different ideas.

Max:  Yes, the tragedy mask absorbed the drama for its own sake. The comedy mask, on the other hand, simply identified an opportunity to mine the show for potential standup comedy bits, i.e., “Material”. I confess it took me a moment to divine.

Simon:  I can’t help but think that Roz Chast’s own melancholic tale of her parents’ decline and passing have been fuel for some of her cartoons, including of course her book. So it’s kind of a poignant cartoon as well. I give this a solid 4.

Max:  I took this cartoon somewhat differently in thinking we’re all riveted by the comedy/tragedy occurring in the Oval Office. An entire brigade of comedians, writers, commentators, and of course, Saturday Night Live, is keenly observing the careening President as a rich motherlode of material. I like it all right, I give it a 3.

For more on Roz Chast, check out rozchast.com

 

12 of 15: “Trophy Wall” by Alice Cheng

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Max:  Alice Cheng, a relative newcomer to the cartooning ranks of The New Yorker, bravely brings us a no-caption image of a proud woodcutter surrounded by his trophies. What did you think of this one, Simon?

Simon:  This is a variation of an image we’ve seen in The New Yorker of the elderly rich guy sitting in his trophy room filled with heads of African animals mounted on the wall. I think that replacing that character with a lumberjack and the wood grains of the trees he has felled was clever and a powerful image.

Max:  I agree, it doesn’t go against my grain to give this one a 5.

Simon:  I give this one a high 4, and I agree it’s a fine cartoon.

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

 

13 of 15: “A Mazing Race” by John O’Brien

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Simon:  John O’Brien graces the pages for second straight week. This time we have another subway cartoon. We seem to have quite a few cartoons featuring subway commuters and vermin. These rats have found some entertainment in the cracks. Looks like they’ve wandering through a maze.

Max:  The theme of this cartoon is a bit of a reverse. Instead of anonymous commuters on the eternal treadmill, we see rats fruitlessly navigating life’s maze.

Simon:  I think as an image it’s quite arresting, but did you find this one funny? I didn’t.

Max:  Funny? No, but I have to say his work achieves a monumentality and fine art quality that’s striking. I give this one a 4.

Simon:  I know what you mean about his artwork. It seems otherworldly or uncanny. Still, I can’t give this cartoon any higher than a 3.

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

 

14 of 15: “Squabbling” by Charlie Hankin

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Max:  We’re in the kitchen with Mr. Hankin, where we have pigeons as chefs.

Simon:  I like the drawing, but it’s a bit jokey, don’t you think, Max?

Max:  Yes, it tends toward jokebook territory rather than The New Yorker. Pigeons are a perennial urban nuisance and their banter doesn’t quite rise to the level of irony or sophistication one expects in these glossy pages.

Simon:  Yes, it’s too on-the-nose. By the way, what you make of that food preparation on the cutting board that they appear to be referring to?

Max:  Contents of discarded fast-food containers with an exterior Panko breading. I give it a 3.

Simon:  How appetizing. I also give it a 3.

For more on Charlie Hankin, check out charliehankin.com

 

15 of 15: “Placebo” by Amy Kurtzweil

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Simon:  Our final cartoon is another Amy Kurtzweil offering with a common cartoon theme, namely, the doctor writing a prescription for a patient. The gag is okay, but the drawing looks amateurish to me. The figures are just awkward, and that really bothered me.

Max:  Yes, the drawing lacks the graceful lines of our illustrator cartoonists like Will McPhail, Harry Bliss, and others. Nonetheless, we are forgiving here at Cartoon Companion as long as the gag is strong. Unfortunately for me, this was one placebo gag too many.

Simon:  I agree. This is not a strong ending to this issue. I give this a 2.

Max:  I give it a 3. It’s not bad, but the placebo field is crowded and this one didn’t stand out.

For more on Amy Kurtzweil, check out amykurzweil.com