Max:  The fashion issue has arrived, Simon.

Simon:  Let’s straighten our cravats before reviewing this week’s cartoons.

 

 

1 of 13: “Improbable Footwear” by Carolita Johnson

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Simon:  Since this is the fashion issue, it is fitting that the first cartoon is about stylish footwear. Carolita Johnson’s simple and direct drawing is paired with a snappy caption that lands beautifully on the word “comfy”.

Max:  This cartoon resonated with me because of the many shoe conversations I’ve had with my female work colleagues. The dictates of fashion are often contrary to comfort – especially when it comes to women’s shoes. The exaggeration of the multi-buckled towering heels on the fashionista contrasts wonderfully with the sensible shoes of her companion.

Simon:  These shoes look like something out of a Kiss member’s closet. It’s a little surprising though that the woman isn’t wearing any other outrageous fashion accessories. Still, I give this one a 4.

Max:  Yes, I also looked around for some bling or a tasteful tattoo. Nonetheless, I thought this cartoon jump started the fashion issue with a 5.

For more on Carolita Johnson, check out carolitajohnson.squarespace.com

 

2 of 13: “Social Misgivings” by Tom Chitty

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Max: Mr. Chitty is next with a cartoon satirizing the traditional gift of wine. In this case, however, our guests seem to have some trepidation about the ensuing evening.

Simon:  The caption turns on “limited expectations”, a nice turn of phrase. I thought the recipient of the wine looked appropriately nonplussed, but I’m not sure what to make of his partner’s gesture or expression—a little hard to read, not unlike the framed picture behind the couple.

Max:  Mr. Chitty’s avant garde drawing style didn’t do this cartoon any favors. First of all, it looks like the visiting couple is handing over a bottle of ketchup. Secondly, the recipient of the wine is the hippest looking of the bunch. The other three look as if their highest expectations might be a rousing game of canasta. I give this one a 3, mostly on of the strength of the well-phrased caption.

Simon:  The drawing is acceptable, but I agree that the humor lies in the caption, and I also give it a 3.

For more on Tom Chitty, check out drawnbytom.com

 

3 of 13: “A Modest Proposal” by David Sipress

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Simon:  Next is a David Sipress cartoon that depicts a young couple’s ennui and the woman’s proposal to mix things up a bit. The caption is a line I’d never heard before.

Max:  This is the atom bomb of announcements from the man’s wife. I must say I don’t agree this is a young couple – they appear not only middle-aged, but long married as well. Yes, it’s an excellent caption heightened by the psychological distance between this couple. She literally couldn’t be further away! I give this a 4.

Simon:  You’re right, they look older than the typical couple contemplating procreation. Still, a very funny line. I give it 4.

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

 

4 of 13: “Courtroom Motion” by Charlie Hankin

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Max:  We have a courtroom drama in the next cartoon as rendered by Mr. Hankin. It appears the defense attorney offers a rather unusual line of argument in this case. How persuasive do you think it’ll be, Simon?

Simon:  It’s an interesting and imaginative drawing and concept, but the attorney appears to be floating rather than leaping into the air. Given the fairly lengthy caption, I suppose you are to assume that he is leaping on the word “this”, but I would like to see more indications of movement or action in this drawing, perhaps by a little more strain in his arms or face. Did any of that bother you, Max?

Max:  Yes, it did. I initially assumed the defense attorney was, in fact, levitating! Mr. Hankin is a strong artist, but other than the fluttering tie I found it hard to believe in this toe touch. It’s not my place to suggest, but perhaps little “Whoosh” lines to indicate movement? It’s nicely drawn, not a bad line, I give this a 3.

Simon:  As you know, Max, I have been inside many courtrooms, normally as the defendant or sometimes as the accused, so I am particularly critical of courtroom cartoons. I’ve never seen a judge’s bench quite like the one depicted, and the flag is not well-rendered. I’ve also never seen an attorney remove his jacket in court, other than in “Inherit the Wind”, although I understand the image is cleaner without the jacket. Again, I agree with your rating of a 3.

For more on Charlie Hankin, check out charliehankin.com

 

5 of 13: “Home, Forever” by Bruce Eric Kaplan

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Simon:  Next is a Bruce Eric Kaplan cartoon, and once again, we find people who are essentially isolated from the world. In this case, they are acknowledging that they are in not just for the night but apparently for the rest of their lives.

Max:  Well, here we go down the rather well-worn path of impossible parking. The exaggeration, of course, is that this is a chronic condition, so give up. This is tough sell for me with the wildly popular new transit alternatives like Uber. I didn’t find this terribly convincing, although I can understand why they wouldn’t want to lose a good parking place.

Simon:  It’s a typical BEK cartoon, which I enjoy, but I don’t think it’s better than a 3.

Max:  I think I’ve reached my limit with parking cartoons for 2017. I always have high expectations for BEK, but the meter ran out on this one. I give it a 2.

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

 

6 of 13: “Heavenly Pajamas” by Roz Chast

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Max: Ms. Chast brings us a gentleman wearing “cargo pajamas” while appearing to float on a sea of small, fluffy clouds. Did you find that disconcerting, Simon?

Simon:  I did. Why she chose to put this individual amongst the clouds is a mystery to me. And the odd assortment of things she’s decided to put in the cargo pants seems completely random while mildly humorous. But on the whole, the gag did not work for me.

Max:  I was perplexed as well. My only insight is that perhaps the “formula that will save the world” is that which transports this gentleman into the ether. I, however, was left back on Earth by this one, so I give it a 2.

Simon:  I also have to give it a 2.

For more on Roz Chast, check out rozchast.com

 

7 of 13: “Endearing Poseurs” by Liana Finck

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Simon:  Next is a Liana Finck cartoon with no caption and an interesting take on funny photos.

Max:  I think this is an outstanding cartoon. The drawing is absolutely crisp and and rendered in such a way that every aspect of it is instantly grasped. It tells an story in one nanosecond – all without a caption.

Simon:  I agree, and as you know I’m not much of a fan of her art, but this one works. It has a retro feel to it, including the old-fashioned camera with the shoulder strap and the concept of putting one’s head through a hole in a novelty cardboard image. I’m giving this a high 4.

Max:  This cartoon is utterly charming and has a timeless element to it. I’m going all the way and giving it a 6.

For more on Liana Finck, check out newyorker.com/contributors/liana-finck

 

8 of 13: “Driving Miss Daisy Crazy” by Emily Flake

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Max:  Multi-panel cartoons are becoming a little more common these days in The New Yorker. Ms. Flake illustrates second thoughts about riding with this quartet of Uber drivers. For those who might be scratching their heads a bit, it helps to know the following: when you arrange for an Uber ride, a photo of the driver pops up on your smart phone before they arrive.

Simon:  This is a cartoon for our times. Each of the four panels has funny, solid ideas and appropriate images.

Max:  Yes, it started off with the laugh-out-loud premise that this was the guy to whom the ridee lost her virginity. It then manages to progress through increasingly outlandish variations on the theme until ending with confusion over a Tinder app dating photo. I give this one a 5.

Simon:  I also enjoyed it, although I suspect that young women might appreciate it on a whole different level. I also give this a 5.

For more on Emily Flake, check out emilyflake.com

 

9 of 13: “E.T.: Forget Home” by Curtis Edwards

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Simon:  Next is a cartoon by a relative newcomer, Curtis Edwards, and one that plays on the classic movie “E.T.”. What do you make of this one, Max?

Max:  It’s an auspicious debut here for Mr. Edwards – I believe it’s the first time he’s been in The New Yorker this year. I think the drawing is expertly rendered in a sort of comic book style. In terms of the gag, it was just okay. I was a little distracted by how wildly unattractive the pimply faced teenage E.T. was compared to his cuter little counterpart in the original movie.

Simon:  This cartoon has a MAD magazine parody quality to it, and the drawing lacks focus, in that the title is above the characters, the sullen E.T. is in the foreground, and in the lower left there are phrases. Not to be too harsh on this newcomer, I give the cartoon a 3.

Max:  I was confused about the text regarding phoning home. Was this something that E. Teen was just thinking about but not verbalizing? A little odd to me; on the other hand though I thought the composition was fairly strong. I give it a 3 as well.

For more on Curtis Edwards, check out curtiscurtiscurtis.com

 

10 of 13: “Make Coach Happy” by Will McPhail

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Max: Mr. McPhail provides a nice watercolor sports scene set in a huddle of professional football players…but what’s going on here, Simon?

Simon:  Good question. I have never seen a football coach, professional or otherwise, in the middle of a huddle down on his knees. Perhaps because Mr. McPhail is an Englishman, he is not entirely familiar with how these things work. The art is fine, with the focus on the coach, but the gag didn’t work for me.

Max:  I’m still wondering exactly what this means. The coach on bended knee is proposing to the entire team, not just an individual player. And what’s in the ring box? A nice engagement ring? It doesn’t look bulky enough for a Super Bowl ring. I’m a little lost. I must give it a 2 in spite of the expert execution.

Simon:  Initially I didn’t even see the ring box or understand he was proposing. I guess the gag somehow turns on the inappropriateness of a coach proposing to a player. Nice drawing, weak gag—I give it a 2.

For more on Will McPhail, check out willmcphail.com

 

11 of 13: “No Love for Accordions” by Edward Steed

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Simon:  Edward Steed is back with a cartoon that seems to float right off the page. Interesting composition with all the white space and the caption in a balloon, which makes sense given that the gag turns on what hit the ground.

Max:  Creating distance by not bothering to show the entire balloon was a fine artistic choice. With Mr. Steed‘s compositions, he often makes you look twice. In this case, I dreaded what I’d find at the bottom of the page. A splattered former passenger?

Simon:  If you look more closely you’ll see it’s a smashed accordion, which is why the gentleman has his hands in that position. That poor maligned musical instrument has been the butt of many a joke, along with the banjo and bagpipes. Perhaps someday we’ll see a trio featuring those instruments.

Max:  Ah, thank you for pointing that out, Simon. There is a downside to examining these cartoons on a cell phone. Now I can just make out the tiny squashed keyboard smashed on the ground. Also, I enjoyed the beseeching attitude of the fellow with the beard and the funny little bowler hat. I give this one a 5.

Simon:  You were assuming the worst with Mr. Steed by thinking that a passenger ended up on the ground rather than a mere accordion. I give this a 5 as well.

Max:  But I wouldn’t put it past Mr. Steed to chuck someone out of a hot air balloon.

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

 

12 of 13: “Beans, Beans, Beans” by P.C. Vey

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Max:  Mr. Vey conveys angst in his cartoon about this nicely attired couple. The woman has obviously hit some kind of psychic wall and decides to ameliorate her unease by tucking into a Cosco-sized tin of beans.

Simon:  There’s a lot to like about this cartoon. A large tin of beans itself is funny. I also like that he included the woman’s briefcase, indicating that she is a professional just like her mate. And even though it’s a two-sentence caption, I thought it served the gag well.

Max:  As I look more closely at the drawing, the double lock on the front door and perspective into the kitchen indicate an urban apartment or condo. This couple is at home. I suspect more in her day has gone wrong. She looks ready for an Uber to Bellevue. I give it a 4.

Simon:  This one tickled me. I give it a 5.

For more on P.C. Vey, check out pcvey.com

 

13 of 13: “Thiiings” by Sara Lautman

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Simon:  The last cartoon is by Sara Lautman. This fellow is selling things, and not just things but “thiiings”.

Max:  Yes, it’s a veritable explosion of things. This composition is a riot of interesting and dynamic shapes vying for attention. Even the tiny balloon rising in the air above the carnival demands attention. Simon, tell me what you think about this caption.

Simon:  I think it’s a way of saying “I’ve got junkie crap for sale”. It’s being honest about his typical carnival merchandise. The movement of this cartoon is great. Just about everybody is on the move, and the objects also suggest movement, including the flag, roller coaster, and the balloon you noted. It’s an odd caption, but I like the drawing, so I give it 4.

Max:  I agree that the caption means convert your hard-earned dollars into twinkling trinkets, a mood made possible by the carnival’s dazzle. An OK caption, but the vibrancy of this drawing earns it a 4.

For more on Sara Lautman, check out saralautman.com