Max: Bruce Eric Kaplan favors us with a cover featuring the small screen and an even smaller screen.
Simon: Well, he has the television credits to pull it off.
To Our Readers: The Cartoon Bank does not currently include links to this week’s cartoons. We’ll fix this as soon as possible. Apologies! Max and Simon
1 of 11: “The Helpful Herd” by T.S. McCoy
Simon: The first cartoon is by T.S. McCoy, a cartoonist who I think has had only one other cartoon in The New Yorker. I believe she is a British cartoonist; I’ve seen her cartoons in other publications. Anyway, she gives us a herd of buffalo roaming a hospital room.
Max: This concept is a nice twist on the latest mental health kick – therapy animals. Here you have the improbable case of therapy buffaloes wandering willy-nilly throughout the ward, instead of attending to the emotionally needy.
Simon: This is a cartoon made easy, in the sense that it simply takes a popular concept, in this case the therapy pet, and puts it in an incongruous setting. That approach to cartoon gags has a mechanical feel to it. The drawing is so-so. I give this a 2.
Max: Though the drawing wasn’t particularly artful, I did think the therapy animal gag was decent. In addition, the cartoonist did an acceptable job of creating the roaming herd effect. I give this one a 3.
For more on T.S. McCoy, check out facebook.com/The-Surreal-McCoy
2 of 11: “Farewell to Summer” by David Sipress
Max: Mr. Sipress has rendered a phalanx of financial Masters of the Universe in a farewell formation to the summer. Did you like this one, Simon?
Simon: It’s an amusing and gentle jab at Wall Street types and the denizens of the Hamptons — a very New Yorker cartoon. In a recent Ink Spill posting, Mr. Sipress described this cartoon as “totally silly”, but I think it’s fun, especially how the guys are lined up.
Max: Silly or not, this cartoon creates a vivid image in the mind – particularly the neckties fluttering like flags as the last, sweet moments of summer expire. I also thought he managed to evoke the Hamptons of yore with just a few pen strokes. I give this one a 4.
Simon: I like it, but it’s a bit contrived for my taste, and the long title doesn’t help. I give this a high 3.
For more on David Sipress, check out facebook.com/david.sipress
3 of 11: “Gave Up” by Will McPhail
Simon: Next is a Will McPhail cartoon that, like the cover, features a television screen, as well as someone who apparently has simply given up.
Max: A timely cartoon as we’ve seen in the media lately. Celebrity women are stepping forward to push back against body shaming. In fact, Pink gave a speech along these lines in last night’s VMA awards. I also can’t help but note the disapproving crossed arms of her roommate, who stills adheres to the conforming expectations in our more glamorous urban areas.
Simon: This woman has not only taken up drinking and smoking but also eating ice cream from a bowl perched on her stomach. I think the caption is a play on being between jobs right now, although I’m not sure. The speaker is aware that she saying a punchline, and that requires me to drop my score to a 3.
Max: Reasons generally tend to be temporary: “Oh, I had a bad day, that’s why I’m binging on a small bowl of Haagen Dazs.” This woman, however, feels overwhelmed and has completely given up. I think the artwork is outstanding, I award this cartoon a 5.
For more on Will McPhail, check out willmcphail.com
4 of 11: “Crime Doesn’t Pay Interns Either” by Peter Kuper
Max: Mr. Kuper has chosen for his theme one of the more famous cartoon clichés — that of the Mafioso. In this case, the punchline is quick and to the point. What did you think, Simon?
Simon: I always enjoy Peter Kuper’s art. Here, the characters seem to have stepped out of the 1950s—the pinstriped Mafia don with his cigar and the collegiate youngster sporting a crew cut. It’s an anachronistic image, leaning rather heavily on stereotypes. While the unpaid internship has been a topic of cartoons in the past, I think this is a particularly good effort.
Max: Though possibly a throwback gangster setting, I couldn’t help but wonder about the framed diploma hanging on the rear wall. From which august university might it be – and in what discipline? Any ideas, Simon?
Simon: I suspect it’s a management degree from Trump University. I give this a high 4.
Max: I give it a 4 as well.
Simon: And the Mystery New Yorker cartoonist, in a farewell post, also liked this one.
Mystery New Yorker Cartoonist: Peter Kuper has done a lot of work for MAD magazine and a trillion other things … his resume would exceed everyone else’s cartoon credits in the magazine, and that’s not so much a knock on them but I’m trying to illustrate his place in the field. So it’s no surprise his was this week’s strongest cartoon. It may be guilty of some dated clichés in the drawing, but the line is so right-on and better than the rest of the crop. A 4.
For more on Peter Kuper, check out peterkuper.com
5 of 11: “On Phone in Restaurant – Oblivious” by Avi Steinberg
Simon: Next is a cartoon by Avi Steinberg, whose work is not often seen in the magazine. The customer seems to be a little unsure of the situation he finds himself in.
Max: This cartoon points out the declining civility in the age of cell phones. I am partial to these kinds of observations in this era of personal electronics. I’m astonished at how rudely people on cell phones behave in a wide range of social situations.
Simon: I’m in total agreement with you there, Max. My only question about this cartoon is why the speaker seems to be almost anxious or frightened by the appearance of the waiter. A look of annoyance would be more in line with the caption. Nevertheless, it’s a funny concept. I give a 4.
Max: I did notice the wide open eyes, which typically denotes fright or outrage. Regardless, I give it a 4 in these socially perilous times.
For more on Avi Steinberg, check out newyorker.com/contributors/avi-steinberg
6 of 11: “Beanie Genie” by Farley Katz
Max: Farley Katz has a Jack-and-the-beanstalk themed cartoon about a bean genie. In this case, however, there is a caveat regarding the three wishes. What did you think of the restrictive clause on this magical contract, Simon?
Simon: Not exactly Jack and the beanstalk, Max, although magic beans are the focus. This is a weird little cartoon that doesn’t register as a hit for me. Absurd, yes, but funny?
Max: The humor in this cartoon lies in imagining what a bean-related wish might entail. Perhaps cornering the market on soybean futures, or perhaps ownership of the world’s supply of refried beans?
Simon: I suppose it’s inspired to have a genie pop out of something as humble as a can of beans, as opposed to a magic lamp. I note that the woman’s face is placed very close to the bean, to bring them together, which feels a bit forced. It’s a 3. Incidentally, Mr. Katz and several other New Yorker cartoonists are featured in the latest issue of American Bystander, a new humor magazine that has attracted some fine comedic talent.
Max: I give this a 4 — the mind boggles at all the bean-related possibilities out there.
For more on Farley Katz, check out farleykatz.com
7 of 11: “Uncaged Desires” by Liana Finck
Simon: Next is a Liana Finck cartoon set presumably in a zoo. A lion is talking candidly about what freedom means to him. Did you like this one, Max?
Max: It‘s straightforward in characteristic Liana Finck fashion. What’s effective for me is the side view of the cage wall between the lion and the antelope. Clearly the lion can see what he wants but can’t get. Having just returned from the savanna, where they are no such walls, I can tell you nothing brings greater joy to a lion’s day than tucking into a succulent beast.
Simon: Well, I’ll have to content myself with National Geographic specials, Max. But you point out the one element that I found troublesome, namely, the dividing cage. Why can’t Ms. Finck simply draw in perspective, which would eliminate about three quarters of the lines she has drawn. Yes, the bars would be close together, but they would not look like long strands of hair.
Max: The perspective didn‘t bother me; in fact, I thought she solved the issue with two different planes of iron bars reasonably well. I also noted the antelope’s relaxed posture of non-alarm. I give this a 3.
Simon: 2. Next.
For more on Liana Finck, check out newyorker.com/contributors/liana-finck
8 of 11: “Endless Chatter Is Near” by Carolita Johnson
Max: Ms. Johnson brings us the end-is-near guy, this time to warn a woman waiting out a subway delay of a chatty fellow. There was something odd about this cartoon from a graphics perspective; I wonder if you had the same thought, Simon.
Simon: I’m not sure I follow, Max, but I think Carolita Johnson’s style is an effective combination of illustration and cartooning. It’s not hyperrealistic, but it shows real care in the drafting. The end-is-near guy is, of course, a common cartoon trope, but I’ve never seen anything like this take on it.
Max: The couple appears to be standing outside on the sidewalk instead of below ground on a subway platform. I think that was the artist’s intention. I can make out the familiar white tiles, which could also resemble bricks in a building. Mainly, it’s the line between the two of them that indicates a sidewalk to me. And isn’t the woman a bit warmly dressed for late summer? Ms. Johnson is a fine artist. I’d be interested in getting her opinion on this question. I give this a 3.
Simon: Those are interesting observations, Max. I assumed that they are on the sidewalk, which is where you typically find the end-is-near guy traipsing. And they appear to be standing in front of bricks rather than the white tiles of a subway station. But I like the cartoon enough to give it a 4.
For more on Carolita Johnson, check out carolitajohnson.squarespace.com
9 of 11: “Weapons of Mass Hilarity” by Edward Steed
Simon: Ed Steed’s cartoon is a little more complicated than we usually see from him. A lot is going on here, Max.
Max: Yes, indeed! That tyrant certainly has his sights set on creating the world‘s largest intercontinental ballistic ping pong weapon. His only problem is finding a human delivery system large enough to wield it.
Simon: I had to look a couple of times to comprehend that the object in the distance is a giant ping pong ball. The premise is certainly absurd. I give him credit for being imaginative, although it took a lot of drawing to get the gag across. I give it a 4.
Max: In addition to being wildly imaginative, we’re reminded that North America might be the target of such a ping pong missile, given the rising tensions with North Korea – the capital of which, Pyongyang, is nearly an anagram for ping pong. I give it a 5.
For more on Edward Steed, check out newyorker.com/contributors/edward-steed
10 of 11: “Expelliaramus!” by Jason Adam Katzenstein
Max: Mr. Katzenstein has a cauldron bubbling, bubbling, toiling and troubling under the spell of a youthful witch-in-training.
Simon: This cartoon may have been inspired by the Harry Potter craze. A lot of kids really took to that series of books and possibly even jumped a grade level by reading them. It’s a nicely rendered cartoon with the parents almost in complete gray in the background, allowing the eye to focus instead on the child and cauldron. It’s a little on the cute side for The New Yorker though.
Max: But not too cute; note the edgy “666” and a sort of devilish pentagram on the girl’s Book of Spells. The devil made me score this one a 4.
Simon: I’m with you there, Max— a 4.
For more on Jason Adam Katzenstein, check out jasonkatzenstein.tumblr.com
11 of 11: “Sock Hero” by Maggie Larson
Simon: The final cartoon is by Maggie Larson. The premise—yet another lost sock cartoon—is an eye-roller, but the rendering is excellent. Did you like the drawing, Max?
Max: Yes, and I thought she was brave to take on the lost sock theme. It was a creative stroke to choose the heroic approach.
Simon: Still, it has a Mad magazine parody quality to it. I give it a 3.
Max: I’ll see your 3 and raise it one to a 4. Incidentally, do you think that quarter on the right is found change or a necessary coin to operate the dryer?
Simon: Ms. Larson must be a city dweller. That is clearly a coin for the laundromat. These New Yorker cartoonists can’t afford a place that has an actual washer and dryer.
For more on Maggie Larson, check out maggiejanelarson.com/cartoons/