New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff asks cartoonist Michael Maslin, and the results are two by James Thurber, a man who created many perfect cartoons. Although one of the picks is one of Thurber’s best known, we’d like to spotlight the above, along with Maslin’s analysis — of course, analyzing any humor — especially New Yorker cartoons — is like programming your Garage Band to the sound of one hand clapping….but sometimes you have to try:
The woman is classic Thurber, but look closely at the hippopotamus: at its eye and its eyebrow, at the curve of the mouth. What is that expression? There’s no answer. And so you look again, and again. I’ve been looking for thirty-five years.
The caption is short and uncomplicated, and Thurber didn’t try for a “funny” name for the doctor. And other than his name, all that’s left of Dr. Millmoss is the pipe, the shoe, and the hat. Try covering them up with your finger. The drawing works O.K. without them, but with them it’s a masterpiece.
No one could replicate this level of perfection…it’s innate.
Personally, we enjoyed this cartoon of Maslin’s:
Our analysis? Pretty simple: cute animals doing something funny. Gets us every time.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.