Cartoons have been an essential feature of The New Yorker since the magazine's founding, in 1925, lovingly devoured by readers, clipped, collected, shared, and remembered. Viewed together - as they can be here, for the first time ever - they form a comic chronicle of American life and times, eight decades of vibrant, concise, and up-to-the-moment commentary on subjects ranging from the mundane to the magnificent. And let's face it - they're hilarious.
This collection, organized by decade and introduced by some of the magazine's most distinguished writers, showcases the work of the hundreds of talented artists who have contributed to the magazine during its eighty-year history. From the early cartoon of Peter Amo, George Price, and Charles Addams to the cutting edge work of Alex Gregory, Matthew Diffee, and Bruce Eric Kaplan (with stops along the way for the genius of Charles Barsotti, Roz Chast, Jack Ziegler, George Booth, and many, many others), the art collected here forms, as David Remnick puts it in his Foreword, "the longest-running popular comic genre in American life."
Over 2000 cartoons are published in the book, and over 70 000 cartoons are published on the DVD in convenient PDF format.
If you were to spend five seconds looking at every cartoon on the DVD consecutively and continuously (ignoring loading times for each cartoon), you would laugh away over four full days, lose weight and tone the abdominal muscles. Perhaps that is a damned good reason to buy this book.
Most of the humour in this book transcends political boundaries and there is plenty to amuse the non-American reader, such as myself.
The volume is not exactly a pocket book, so there is no danger of snorting loudly on the bus and getting looks of disgust from one's fellow passengers. In fact, you are more likely to get a hernia carrying this oversized volume around, but it is well worth having on your bookshelf anyway. This large red volume will stand out to anyone, the New Yorker logo will attract people to the book like bees to a flower.
Whilst I think I have just about read every cartoon in the book, I have barely scratched the surface with the cartoons on the DVD that accompanies the book.
The DVD is conveniently laid out year by year, and if one chooses to, one can search the DVD for your favourite artist, and search the cartoons by that artist (over 1100 for Charles Addams alone).
An invaluable collection? Maybe.
Indispensible? Probably not
Fun? Undoubtedly - and well worth buying.
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