Max:  A pleasant autumnal scene graces the cover.

Simon:  He needs a bigger rake.

 

1 of 13: “Woodland Manners” by Kaamran Hafeez

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Simon:  Our first cartoon is by Kaamran Hafeez. The artwork is excellent, but the humor is too obvious for a New Yorker cartoon.

Max:  Right, the cartoon is in the “cute” category, in fact, one I’d expect to see in a publication such as Scholastic Magazine. I agree this was a programming gaffe on the part of the editor.

Simon:  My views exactly. I give this a 2.

Max:  We both admire Mr. Hafeez’s consistently high-caliber artwork, but this one missed completely for me. I give it a 2 as well.

For more on Kaamran Hafeez, check out kaamranhafeez.com

 

2 of 13: “The Haberdasher’s Imagination” by Zachary Kanin

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Max:  Speaking of editorial programming, I found Mr. Kanin’s sartorial-themed cartoon a little out of season. Aren’t we too deep into fall to swelter on a subway platform, Simon?

Simon:  True, but one can certainly imagine walking on a sweltering New York summer day in a suit. That is a ripe subject for cartooning, and I am surprised no one has thought of it before Mr. Kanin did. So he gets credit for addressing this comedic situation.

Max:  Yes, the idea of having this haberdasher extol a sodden suit on a grubby subway platform is a funny conceit. I give this one a 4.

Simon:  Once again, we are in agreement, Max. A 4 for me as well.

For more on Zachary Kanin, check out newyorker.com/contributors/zachary-kanin

 

3 of 13: “Timber!” by Paul Noth

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Simon:  Next is a Paul Noth cartoon set in a bar. It features an unlikely pairing, namely, a lumberjack and a mobster.

Max:  There’s a conspiracy in this budding bromance. The mobster’s rhetorical riddle is aimed at enlisting the lumberjack to conspire in witness suppression.

Simon:  Yes, this is a case of potential jury tampering in the extreme. This cartoon offers another unexplored comic situation, and is well drawn, as Paul Noth’s cartoons always are. I give this a 4.

Max:  This cartoon inspires the observer to imagine executing such a complex hit. An interesting concept and artfully composed – I give this a 5.

For more on Paul Noth, check out paulnoth.com

 

4 of 13: “Instructions Optional” by Edward Steed

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Max:  Our next cartoon features the madcap scratchings of Mr. Steed. Incongruously, we note a well-groomed, middle-aged couple waiting expectantly for their little bundle of joy.

Simon:  Indeed, and they seemed remarkably out of place for a Steed cartoon. That sweater vest was probably purchased at Selfridge’s. There’s a lot to look at in this simple drawing. First, as you noted, the upstanding couple. Second, the box that the new baby came in and particularly the pleasant illustration on the box and the cruddy prints within. And, of course, finally, the actual product, which is decidedly not as advertised.

Max:  It appears the couple may be having buyer’s remorse. The package falsely advertises a toddler in a sweet bowtie; however, what’s emerged is a creature straight from Steed’s seventh ring of hell. It’s chaos on day one for this new family unit. I give this a 5.

Simon:  The cartoon plays on the concept of wishing that children arrived with instructions. Here, the child has in fact come with instructions, but they’ve been torn to shreds by this little monster. I give this a high 5.

For more on Edward Steed, check out newyorker.com/contributors/edward-steed

 

5 of 13: “Distracted Camping” by Julia Suits

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Simon:  Next is a cartoon by Julius Suits, who we’ve seen quite a bit of lately. These cowboys aren’t lonesome because they’ve got their cell phones.

Max:  Under the spacious skies these cowboys are totally engrossed in their Twitter feeds. A nice touch by referring to the whittler as “Rusty”.

Simon:  Yes, he’s whittling instead of twittering. It’s a beautiful composition and a well-worded caption. I give this a 5.

Max:  Ms. Suits is insightful of the cell phone’s contagious distractedness, even as the heavens stretch out above these cowpokes. A fine caption as well, I give this a 5.

For more on Julia Suits, check out juliasuits.net/cartoons 

 

6 of 13: “Car Repair Shop Drama” by Ellis Rosen

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Max: Mr. Rosen presents a cartoon that looks like the start of a graphic novel. We’ve got the mechanic discovering something utterly mysterious about this woman’s car.

Simon:  Yes, a graphic novel or perhaps a still from a film noir movie. The drawing is done with great precision, as we come to expect from Mr. Rosen. The gag seems a bit forced. I also found the light emanating from under the hood unnecessary.

Max:  I reveled in the atmospherics and find your “film noir” comment apropos. One could argue the “mysterious plot device” is a bit forced, but I found it congruent with the artwork. It’s a nice departure from your typical New Yorker cartoon, I give it a 4.

Simon:  I agree it’s imaginative, but I didn’t find it all that funny. I give it a 3.

For more on Ellis Rosen, check out ellisrosen.tumblr.com

 

7 of 13: “Checkmates” by Amy Kurzweil

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Simon:  Next is cartoon by Amy Kurzweil. Chess boards have appeared quite a few times in New Yorker cartoons. This one is a seasonal variation. The chess pieces appear to be ready to knock on doors and pick up some treats.

Max:  The programming is right on time as Halloween is tonight. I like how the various pieces have dressed up as their opposing color: the black horse is now the white king, the white pawn the black queen, etc. I’m uncertain, however, as to the meaning of the various hand gestures employed by the pieces. How about you, Simon?

Simon:  That also struck me as odd. Why do these chess pieces have arms and hands at all? To knock on doors perhaps? The other issue I have is that the pieces, as you noted, are dressed as other chess pieces. When I think of Halloween costumes, I don’t think of someone dressing up as something similar to that person. This is more like a costume party among chess pieces. Maybe I’m getting too technical here, but the gag doesn’t quite make sense. Those problems require me to downgrade this to a 2.

Max:  I suspect I’m missing something and hope a perceptive reader – or Ms. Kurzweil – could enlighten us. The drawing and concept are solid, but there is some confusion around the interactions among the chess pieces. I give this a 3, but reserve the right to revise upward.

For more on Amy Kurtzweil, check out amykurzweil.com

 

8 of 13: “Art As Is” by Roz Chast

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Max:  Roz Chast is next with her artwork sale, but this artwork is strictly bargain bin. Employing her trademark grouping of three, which was your favorite Simon?

Simon:  That’s easy; the last one was an out-of-the-ballpark hit for me. I like that the letters in “love” have been rearranged to spell the name of a species of rodent. This artwork clearly sells by the pound. Each of the items is funny in its own way.

Max:  Agreed, all three were strong. The “squiggles in the wrong place” is a delicious send-up of Modern Art and “Ooops” is priceless for the botched LOVE poster. I believe the middle one is a take-off on the “Weary Willie”, a creation of the famous circus clown, Emmett Kelly. I award this a 5.

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Simon:  Yes, each of these is a winner. I also give it a 5.

For more on Roz Chast, check out rozchast.com

 

9 of 13: “Out But Not About” by Sara Lautman

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Simon:  Next is a cartoon by Sarah Lautman set in a dramatically barren landscape with an odd, tube-shaped object criss-crossing it. At the end is a couple who are not on the same page.

Max:  It seems a daunting task to translate the expression “just got out of a long thing” onto the printed page. I think Ms. Lautman did a fine job of bringing such a vague euphemism to life. My only qualm concerns the central character; on a smart phone, the man’s mouth almost connects to a dot on the cheek giving the impression of a wide smile.

Simon:  I also had to squint at the character on the left, and I wasn’t even sure of the character’s gender. The facial expression could have been much stronger, given the wonderful landscape. So the focus of the graphic is somewhat disappointing. That downgrades it for me to a 3.

Max:  Under a magnifying glass the main speaker has an small, sheepish smile and appropriate body language. I appreciate the execution of such a difficult concept, I give it a 4.

For more on Sara Lautman, check out saralautman.com 

 

10 of 13: “Kitties 2, People 0” by Amy Hwang

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Max:  Ms. Hwang is next with a gentle cat cartoon in which one laments the lack human interaction that day. As the owner of a couple cats, they seem fairly uninterested in humans outside of meal times.

Simon:  Last week Amy Hwang’s cartoon featured an executioner, but this week the pendulum has swung the other way, and now we have two kitties. I wouldn’t mind something in between. This one is too cute for my taste.

Max:  I realize the parallel with introverts, who could go for weeks avoiding human interactions. Ms. Hwang has had quite a string of excellent cartoons of late, but I found this one a tad tepid. I give it a 2.

Simon:  I was disappointed. I also give this a 2.

For more on Amy Hwang, check out amyhwang.com 

 

11 of 13: “The 10 Commandments Explained” by Mick Stevens

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Simon:  Next is a cartoon by our interviewee of the week, Mick Stevens. We have the familiar figure of Moses coming down from Mount Sinai, and he’s holding a question-and-answer session as he brings the law to the people.

Max:  These burning question have been on people‘s minds for thousands of years. A very important one in answered – chocolate’s OK in moderation! I appreciate the idea of the “press secretary” approach to discussing the detailed implications of these new commandments.

Simon:  This is basically an anachronism type cartoon that also relies on contrasting high and low thought, but it’s so absurd that it rates a solid 4.

Max:  Moses hosting a Q&A press gaggle? Nice gag. I give this a 4 as well.

For more on Mick Stevens, check out mickstevens.com

12 of 13: “A Match.com Made in Heaven” by Emily Flake

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Max:  Ms. Flake sets her cartoon at the altar. We’re ready to seal the deal and the preacher asks a very contemporary question of the congregation.

Simon:  What I like most about this cartoon is the choice of words: “suspects”, “algorithm”, and “flawed”. They are so jarring compared to the usual words spoken by the preacher.

Max:  The online lingo is precise in this era of the aggressive hacking. The composition nicely juxtaposes a sweet couple about to confirm their devotion with the suspicion their attraction might have been mis-engineered by the insidious inner workings of the Internet. Funny stuff, I give it a 4.

Simon:  Well-said, Max. I also give it a 4.

For more on Emily Flake, check out emilyflake.com

 

13 of 13: “Slip Out the Door” by Jason Adam Katzenstein

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Simon:  Finally is a Jason Adam Katzenstein cartoon of a guy with one foot out the door, but he may not make it to the hallway. Did you like it?

Max:  Not bad. Here we simultaneously play out two classic scenarios: a man dramatically leaving his girlfriend with suitcase in hand, and the same man falling prey to the familiar slapstick prop – a banana peel.

Simon:  A couple of things bothered me about the illustration. First, the woman’s expression seems to be fairly blank. I’d like to get a sense of what she’s thinking as she observes her boyfriend leaving. Does she notice the banana peel? Is she upset that he’s leaving? Is she prepared to laugh at his pending pratfall? And the title is much too large for a fairly small drawing. Did any of that bother you, Max?

Max:  No, the title size was okay, and I interpreted the woman’s expression to read she’s trying her best to keep a straight face. The banana peel is there because she placed it in anticipation of her erstwhile boyfriend’s stormy departure. Devilish! She can’t wait to see the result. I give it a 3.

Simon:  I give it a 3 as well.

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