Max:  Just eight cartoons in this issue, Simon.

Simon:  And yet we live in such funny times.


1 of 8: “Divorce, American Style” by Benjamin Schwartz

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Simon:  Our first cartoon is by Dr. Ben Schwartz, and it presents a scene of domestic turmoil that takes place in a car. A precocious child in the backseat makes an unsettling observation.

Max:  An unsettling observation and a deeply unhappy one. I have to confess I didn’t find this cartoon funny. In fact, I thought it was grim.

Simon:  Grim indeed. Why is this cartoon in The New Yorker? Unless the magazine’s cartoons are heading in a different direction, cartoons must be funny or at least amusing. This is an unhappy scene, and putting adult words in the mouth of a child does not make this funnier. The artwork is great, but there’s no gag in this gag. I give it a 2.

Max:  I suspect this cartoon is better served in a therapy manual about divorce. I give this a 2.

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2 of 8: “Christ’s Final Dilemma” by Emily Flake

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Max:  Emily Flake is next with a turn-of-the-millennium cartoon about the next-to-last temptation of Christ. Given that I’m a few hours away from lunch, I’m salivating myself.

Simon:  This is another cartoon that it was created by combining the sacred and profane, as well as of having an anachronistic bent, so it’s a fairly conventional cartoon in that sense. The gag is good. Did the bouffant hairdo on Jesus confound you, Max?

Max:  No, I was too distracted by his tiny Trump-like hands. I found it amusing that the temptations of pizza are on par with temptations of the flesh. I give this one a 3.

Simon:  Perhaps you are looking at this cartoon on a phone rather than a larger format device, but the box contains doughnuts, even though it’s shaped like a pizza box. I like the the lips forming an “O” in anticipation. I give this a 3 as well.

Max:  Ah, yes, that’s not a pepperoni pizza, it’s a box of Crispy Cremes. Tempting indeed!

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3 of 8: “The Youngest Clothes Category” by Amy Hwang

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Simon:  Next is an Amy Hwang cartoon. This is another one of her gentle cartoons featuring two saleswomen.

Max:  I enjoyed the composition featuring the tiny hanging clothes on the wall and in the window – it’s a cute scene. This is one of the few cartoons in The New Yorker that would fall into the category of adorable. And not a bad gag about realizing there is no younger demographic to babies.

Simon:  Certain aspects of the art bothered me. You notice that the shop window is drawn in perspective, but the countertop is not for some odd reason. The wash is uneven. And the clothing displays are bare bone. The gag is better than the art. I give it a 3.

Max:  The perspective was good enough for me, and the overall tenor of the cartoon was quite sweet. I’ll go with a 3 as well.

For more on Amy Hwang, check out


4 of 8: “Cool Cat” by Harry Bliss

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Max:  After an absence of some weeks, Harry Bliss is back with one of his classic dog and cat cartoons. Tell me, Simon, why is the cat always the schemer and the dog the patsy?

Simon:  I think dogs are by nature earnest, sincere, and loyal. You can’t trust a cat in my book. I was hoping that this long caption in a balloon would reach a humorous climax, but I was disappointed.

Max:  I agree, I think ending the caption at “Just get on the kid’s skateboard and keep moving” would have gotten more bang from the gag. I do like how the cat convinces the dog that a supposedly priceless urn was destroyed before persuading the dog he’s gotta run. Sure, that leaves the wily cat the undisputed center of familial attention. So like a cat.

Simon:  Once more, Max, we are in agreement. I give this a 3. As you know, no way did that dog leap up on that console. The cat did it.

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5 of 8: “Space Heels” by Liana Finck

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Simon:  Next is a cartoon by Ms. Finck. It’s a dramatic rendering with a commentary on women’s footwear.

Max:  We stretch time and space for this gag and it’s worth it. Though lacking first-hand knowledge, I’m aware that high heels are essentially impossible footwear. Apparently, only weightlessness can make those citadels of foot pain comfortable.

Simon:  Yes, style before comfort every time. It’s an imaginative gag. I give this a 4.

Max:  This is a gag that’s gone beyond the ends of the earth and our funniest one this issue. I give it a 4 as well.

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6 of 8: “Hair Care Gone Awry” by Maddie Dai

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Max:  Simon, I don’t know about you, but this Maddie Dai cartoon of Medusa’s hairbrush gives me the creeps.

Simon:  Me too, Max. I wanted to kick that hairbrush right into the a compost bin. We’ve seen a lot of Medusa cartoons, so this is not a particularly original concept. My favorite one, by the way, did not appear in The New Yorker. It’s a cartoon by Dan Piraro that shows Medusa at a nude beach, but we won’t get into that.

Max:  I imagine many readers may find this drawing a bit of a turnoff. The drawing is fine, with its ornate hairbrush and serpentine creatures diving among the bristles like miniature Loch Ness monsters. I give it a 3.

Simon:  If snakes can be split ends, then the drawing is accurate. I give this cartoon a 3 as well.

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7 of 8: “Autumn Frolic” by Glen Le Lievre

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Simon:  Next is a cartoon by Glen Le Lievre, someone we haven’t seen much of, with a commentary on the current political situation and the subpoenas dropping like autumn leaves.

Max:  This cartoon is a hit with me. The political timing is perfect, and the joy is apparent on the faces of these soon-to-be-incarcerated politicos as they take that last wild leap of autumn. The artwork is gorgeous with the gauzy Washington Monument and Capitol building in the background.

Simon:  My only criticism of the artwork is that the two running figures have a little bit of the Sunday funnies quality to them. I note that the cartoonist follows Jack Ziegler’s device of putting titles in boxes. It’s a good gag, and I look forward to seeing more of Mr. Le Lievre’s work. I give this a 4.

Max:  I think this is an outstanding cartoon, and the exuberance is amusing. It’s absolutely in tune with the news of the day, I give it a 5.

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8 of 8: “The Redoubt Stays” by Frank Cotham

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Max:  Mr. Cotham returns to us with a split-personality dwelling – part modern and part medieval. I think this King is having fun explaining to a local yeoman what he’s done with the place.

Simon:  Great wording: “take refuge in the redoubt”. The image is a visual mashup, comical even without the caption. And the guard with the spear is a nice detail.

Max:  The ornamental bushes, the DirecTV antenna, and the glassed-in patio indicate a modern – if tasteless – makeover. All in the shadow of an ancient castle keep. This is my kind of cartoon; I give it a 5.

Simon:  Yes, this is my favorite of the issue. I also give it a 5.

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