An anonymous critics has started a Shit My New Yorker Cartoons Tumblr, which parses the ineffable humor of New Yorker cartoons:

But again, the thing with the Fucking New Yorker is the PICTURES CAN’T BE FUNNY. Wouldn’t this be funnier with a grandmother texting her son from the back seat of a car, commenting on his driving? Or a broken-winged bird commenting on some flying, or even just make this dork in the office a real gross hoarder or something. The girl in this picture is pointless, as is the man. In a real single-panel cartoon, say by Larson or Kliban or Booth, or most by Gahan Wilson or Addams, both the pictures and the text matter. If the guy were drawn funny you wouldn’t even need a pointless lady staring at him.

Hey they can’t all be Peter Arno. Although the Anonymous Snarker is no hero, some of the issues raised are of craft interest.


  1. Wow. A very focused individual. And maybe studying to be a future New Yorker cartoonist.

    But is it cool to apparently scan every cartoon in each issue, post all of them and write a critique about each one?

  2. If each cartoon is being critiqued, then the scanned cartoon is being used for review purposes, which falls under Fair Use. Or at least that’s my understanding.

  3. I think this guy is dead on with his criticism, and it’s something that I’ve noticed in the past, myself. The “ironic wit” of the New Yorker is that its cartoons needn’t dabble in plebeian “visuals” that contribute to the humor. No, they only need to raise a dry chuckle as I sit in the train from Connecticut to Manhattan for my morning commute.

    In short, I’ve always found them pretentious and, for the most part, poorly illustrated.

  4. You know, I will amend that. They are not “poorly illustrated.” The draftsmanship is competent. It’s just that, as the artist said, the artwork serves only to set up the scene for the text. In Gary Larson’s work, the text illustration and text are intertwined to the point that each is completely interdependent on the other to achieve the full impact of the cartoon.

    The image of the cartoon above could just as easily be replaced with this simple phrase, and it would not diminish the “humor” in any way:

    Man at computer says to woman: “Those who can’t do, comment.”

  5. I get a laugh out of most New Yorker cartoons. I don’t know what’s eating at this guy. Like the man said: “Those who can do. Those who can’t, comment.”

  6. I agree with this guy that the drawings for the New Yorker caption contest are invariably more eyecatching than any of the regular cartoons in the issue, and that they never choose the funniest of the submitted captions as the winner. However, when it comes to the regular cartoons analyzed, I think this blogger’s ideas of what would be a funnier version of a given cartoon are often significantly less funny or easily parsed than what was actually published. He also appears to assume that any cartoon caption could automatically be made significantly funnier by shortening it–a theory which his own uninspired suggested sample edits demonstrate to be untrue.

    Also, since it seems to be impossible to comment directly on this New Yorker cartoon critique blog without first signing up for Tumblr, in case anyone wants to know, the New Yorker cartoonist who signs his work “Dd” is Drew Dernavich–one of the very cartoonists who’s been featured in at least two of the “Meet the New Yorker cartoonists” events that the anonymous blogger gripes about. (One of them was at the 2011 MoCCA Cartoon Art Festival.)

    And those mysterious outdoor poles whose function the blogger is so mystified by in a March 26th-issue cartoon involving smoking are metal pillars put up in the wake of 9/11 near the edge of the curb outside a number of New York City buildings (most notably in midtown, including on the block where the Times Square building that currently houses the New Yorker is located) in an attempt to prevent any hypothetical suicide car bombers from getting far enough up onto the curb to crash their vehicles into actual buildings, display windows, or crowds of people walking along the main expanse of the sidewalk. I’m not sure how or if that was somehow supposed to contribute to the intended humor of the joke, which didn’t seem particularly funny to me, either. But it does qualify as a perhaps unwitting example of the kind of New Yorker sight gag (if the fact that those metal pillars somewhat resemble those tall metal standing ashtrays/cigarette repositories you occasionally also see outdoors is meant to be part of the joke) whose effectiveness relies upon, among other things, the viewer’s presumed visual familiarity with certain places. A somewhat less abstruse example (since the outside of the current FBI building is often shown in establishing shots on TV shows involving the FBI–at least, it was on “The X-Files”) is an old New Yorker cartoon that appeared in the wake of “The Crying Game” and the revelations about J. Edgar Hoover’s occasional crossdressing. In the cartoon in question, the FBI building was identified by a placard describing it as “the Jaye Edgar Hoover Building”–an allusion to the fact that a crossdressing character in that film was played by an actor whose first name was listed in the credits with the gender-ambiguous spelling “Jaye.”