Max:  I’m looking at the cover and thinking of Brooklyn.

Simon:  It’s the Oakland of the East Coast.

 

1 of 12: “Dinner for Two” by Barbara Smaller

View this cartoon as made available by The New Yorker Cartoon Bank.

Simon:  The first cartoon is by Barbara Smaller. It has as its theme the relationship between men and women and how they communicate with each other, which is always a source of humor.

Max:  Yes, it’s the inexhaustible wellspring of humor, especially at The New Yorker. In this case, Ms. Smaller makes a distinction between caring or just being a good listener. Simon, what’s the difference?

Simon:  Sorry, Max I wasn’t listening. It’s a well-trod road she’s traveling, so I don’t give her points for originality. It’s a typical understated The New Yorker cartoon. I want to comment a little bit about the art. First, I notice that there is only one occupied table, o perhaps these are early diners or else the restaurant received a sanitation inspection rating of B. My point is that there’s nothing on either side of the couple contributes to the cartoon, so the drawing could have been reduced in size. It’s a function of Ms. Smaller’s preference for medium-depth depictions.

Max:  As we’ve commented previously, Ms. Smaller likes to show her characters at full height and integrated into their surroundings. I think it’s effective to isolate the couple without the distraction of nearby diners or bustling wait staff. Nonetheless, for such a welltrodden comedic path, I thought this effort a bit on the tepid side. I give it a 3.

Simon:  I also give it a 3.

For more on Barbara Smaller, check out condenaststore.com/Barbara-Smaller

2 of 12: “Just Showin’ Off” by Christian Lowe

View this cartoon as made available by The New Yorker Cartoon Bank.

Max:  Simon, we have a cartoonist who is new to us this year by the name of Christian Lowe. In this cartoon he features a pair of enormous thugs – one of whom is being abraded for showing off about his recent whack job.

Simon:  No one likes a hotdogging hitman. This is the second cartoon in recent issues that features a gangster clubbing someone to death and dragging him through an alley. You’ll remember of course the Ed Steed cartoon with that theme, which featured his original use of red. This one is not nearly so gruesome – note the clean-looking bat. The caption lands nicely on the word quote “disrespectful.”

Max:  Clearly the thuggish mentor is coming from a kinder, gentler place. The cartoon triggers off a mental video of the bat flip. I think it’s a strong outing for Mr. Lowe; the caption sets up and delivers nicely. I’ll go to bat for this one and give it a 4.

Simon:  The art is quite effective, and the gag is timely given the baseball season. I’ll be somewhat generous with the new guy and award a 4.

For more on Christian Lowe, check out condenaststore.com/art/christian+lowe 

3 of 12: “Up, Up, and…Uh-oh!” by Jason Adam Katzenstein

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Simon:  Next is a Jason Adam Katzenstein cartoon that is a diptych. I really like the art, which makes this cartoon work.

Max:  Yes, the agony and ecstasy from Rapunzel’s point of view are clearly emblazoned on her face as Icarus waxes and wanes. I imagine the landing was a bit gruesome.

Simon:  It’s a before-and-after cartoon. And I really like that he does not show Icarus; that’s left to your imagination. Not to get too caught up in the logic here, but if Icarus is climbing down her hair, isn’t he further away from the sun, not nearer.

Max:  Well, I’m not much a stickler for the logic in a single panel cartoon. I can visualize the updraft of Rapunzel’s lengthy mane as Icarus zooms by the castle; similarly, I can also imagine the tangled tresses have lost their loft as he cratered in. Her expressions are wonderfully done, I give this a 5.

Simon:  It’s a high 4 for me.

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

4 of 12: “Problem Solved” by Jon Adams

Apologies! This cartoon is not available on the Cartoon Bank or the Condé Nast Store. We’ll add it if it becomes available.

Max:  Simon, I wonder if you had the same reaction upon viewing this cartoon? I initially thought this was a Will McPhail piece because of the hyper-realism of the artwork.

Simon:  Absolutely, Max. I had to look at the signature before I realized the cartoon is by a new cartoonists at The New Yorker, John Adams. His art isn’t quite as focused as Will McPhail’s. I wasn’t sure if the dark wash is supposed to represent smoke because it appears throughout much of the drawing. Did that bother you at all, Max?

Max:  No, I was transfixed by the flickering flames of the fitted sheets. Nicely done. We all understand that folding fitted sheets is one of the most complex and trying of all household tasks. This gag proposes a tempting – and terminal — solution. I’m also trying to understand the relationship between these two people…roommates? a couple perhaps? The room doesn’t give any hint. I thought the drawing was terrific, but the gag is somewhat of a mis-fire. I’ll give it a 3.

Simon:  I assumed it is two women who share a bed. I I thought the gag was just okay. It takes things to an extreme, which is a pretty simple way of creating a cartoon. I also note that the nonspeaking character’s expression is fairly intense for a New Yorker cartoon, but maybe Emma Allen is less strict about facial compressions compared to Mr. Mankoff. I give it a 3.

For more on Jon Adams, check out citycyclops.com/info.php

 

5 of 12: “By Jove, It’s Indeed Louder” by Avi Steinberg

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Simon:  Avi Steinberg offers a medical examination cartoon, which is of course a common theme in cartoons. Is this one a hit, Max?

Max:  Yes, it’s always amusing to see a pompous doctor skewered by a line like this one. The physician in this cartoon reminded me of the character actor, Wilfred Brimley. I would trust him to pull off this caption.

Simon:  It’s set up nicely by the first sentence. It’s an unexpected joke, and a nice drawing. I give this a solid 4.

Max:  A deft handling of the gag and caption, I give this a 4 as well.

For more on Avi Steinberg, check out newyorker.com/contributors/avi-steinberg

 

6 of 12: “Failed Sanctions” by Lars Kenseth

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Max:  Next up is a cartoon by Mr. Kenseth depicting a trio of swimmers who’ve circled their aquatic wagons against a surrounding shark menace. Sounds like commentary on a contemporary international situation, eh, Simon?

Simon:  Clearly, sanctions is the word of the day. What I like most about this cartoon is that little piece of broken wood that the speaker is holding. It’s just as effective as sanctions are against belligerent nations. The drawing is effective, regardless of how you feel about Lars’ lozenge people.

Max:  Lozenge people or not, our swimmers are exhibiting true terror in the face of their failed sanctions. I give this one a 3.

Simon:  I’ll see your 3 and up it to a 4.

For more on Lars Kenseth, check out patreon.com/larskenseth

 

7 of 12: “Salt Solution” by Paul Noth

View this cartoon as made available by The New Yorker Cartoon Bank.

Simon:  Next is a Paul Noth cartoon with just a hint of color and a solid slap at artisanal salt.

Max:  I believe we’re looking at an overpriced bottle of fleur de sel or some other exotic salt that tastes like…well, regular old table salt to me. We have our classic mountaintop guru cliché at work here. Does he provide enlightenment to the hiker, Simon?

Simon:  I was certainly enlightened. And $32 is a bargain compared to a lot of courses you could take to lead to enlightenment. This is an imaginative cartoon in a familiar setting. I give this one a 5.

Max:  The beams of enlightenment didn’t penetrate as deeply into my consciousness as yours,  Simon; nevertheless, it’s artfully composed and I appreciated the subtle shade of the sea salt bottle. A 4 from me.

For more on Paul Noth, check out paulnoth.com

 

8 of 12: “Sack Race” by Farley Katz

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Max:  Mr. Katz is up next with an unusual marathon involves multiple bags of groceries. Simon, do you find yourself in this situation often?

Simon:  No, because I am not a New York City dweller. This is clearly a cartoon for people who can’t rely on a parking lot, probably because they don’t even own a car. So they have traipse to Zabar’s and buy whatever they can carry home. And my guess is the marathon isn’t over until you climb three or four flights of stairs.

Max:  As a recent returnee to city dwelling, I experienced this exact scenario today! One has to very carefully assess one’s purchases to allow for one trip. From that point of view, this cartoon scenario struck me as rather insightful and funny. The blood is only now returning to my fingers from the multiple plastic sacks I lugged around today. I give this one a 4.

Simon:  It’s an okay gag, but certainly not one with universal appeal. I give this a 3.

For more on Farley Katz, check out farleykatz.com

 

9 of 12: “Survival Guide” by Tom Chitty

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Simon:  Next is a Tom Chitty triptych. It offers defensive measures for people-averse party-goers.

Max:  We have our progression of three jokes, always hoping the third one is the best. I liked the concept, but thought these gags were a little bit off in terms of an introvert’s guide to surviving a party. Hiding under the coats just seems odd and improbable.

Simon:  That’s the progression from possible to unlikely to virtually impossible. You don’t encounter punchbowl often these days, which adds to the unexpected element and makes the third option even more implausible. His approach worked for me. I give it a high 3.

Max:  Mr. Chitty has had a good run of positive reviews from us lately, but this one missed the mark for me. I’m not getting that connection to an introvert’s social anxiety. I give this a 2.

For more on Tom Chitty, check out drawnbytom.com

 

10 of 12: “Arrrhetc.” by Emily Flake

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Max:  Ms. Flake has a pirate-themed cartoon in which we learn a new word, “Piratesplain”, an interesting twist on “mansplaining”.

Simon:  We’ve seen a number of cartoons about that subject, so this is not a new cartoon subject. I thought the caption was a bit clunky.

Max:  Perhaps, but seeing the words, “piratesplaining sea shanties” arrayed together was sheer cartoon poetry! I also enjoyed the pirate stumping off while downing the last dregs of rotgut rum after thinking he delivered a brilliant exegesis on sea chanties. Arrggggh, 4.

Simon:  I was a little puzzled about the locale. I suppose it’s set in a tavern or perhaps a street. It doesn’t really matter. Not bad, but I don’t need to see more pirate or mansplaining cartoons for awhile. I give it a 3.

Max:  There can never be enough pirate cartoons.

For more on Emily Flake, check out emilyflake.com

 

11 of 12: “So Close and Yet So Far” by Bruce Eric Kaplan

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Simon:  Next is a Bruce Eric Kaplan cartoon. He has been a mainstay of the magazine for quite some time. I think this is a great caption, possibly because I’ve always lived near a nice area but never in a nice area.

Max:  This is a devastating pronouncement from the realtor. I might add the condescending realtor is a recurring character in New Yorker cartoons, resembling a stock character from commedia dell’arte. The quest for a more desirable apartment is endless in any large city, especially New York. But “just a ten-minute walk to much nicer apartments”, ouch!

Simon:  I also like the look on the woman’s patient face as she considers this apartment and its location location location. I give this one a 5.

Max:  Clearly the last apartment they viewed was a less desirable 15 minutes from much nicer apartments. I give this cartoon a 4.

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

 

12 of 12: “Corporate Decision” by Teresa Burns Parkhurst

Unfortunately, this cartoon is not available on the Cartoon Bank or the Condé Nast Store. Someone’s asleep at the wheel.

Max:  Ms. Parkhurst graces the pages of The New Yorker for the first time. In this cartoon she carries “groupthink” to its logical extreme as they conduct formal voting on insanely trivial matters.

Simon:  Ms. Parkhurst (she signs her cartoons “Burns”) presents a nonbusiness topic for this business meeting. Everyone’s expression is great, particularly the unfortunate employee who is the subject of this discussion. One thing that seems odd is that the conference table is quite short.

Max:  Simon, this is a classic small conference room ubiquitous in larger corporations. And this meeting in not an assemblage of the Masters of the Universe. In attitude, attire, and topic, I would guess this is a routine internal meeting of a small department at the bottom of the corporate pyramid. The woman conducting the meeting has recently attended one of those interminable leadership forums that espouse empowerment. I’m impressed with the artistic style, and think the gag is fairly sturdy. I give this a 4.

Simon:  I wonder whether the cartoon would have been funnier in a more formal setting, but that’s the cartoonist’s choice. I will go with a low 4. Incidentally, although this is a debut in The New Yorker, her cartoons appear fairly often in WSJ, Barron’s, HBR, and, I understand, MAD.

For more on Teresa Burns Parkhurst, check out linkedin.com/in/teresa-burns-parkhurst