Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Got an hour or two to kill?

We have a new book that is guaranteed to make time stand still for you. It's The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker and - like salted peanuts - ya can't stop at just one. Edited by Robert Mankoff and covering 80 years of work from some of the most brilliant cartoonists ever, this book will completely suck you in. You might tell yourself you're just going to look at one or two, just flip through a couple of pages, and the next thing you know a couple of hours have gone by.
The New Yorker cartoons are something special because they are almost always one panel, with a very short caption. Therefore, the cartoonist has to distill the idea (the joke) down into it's pure essence. The thing that I have found most striking in going through this retrospective is how timeless these cartoons are, and how universal the themes are: marriage, parenting, business, finances and sports. In fact, there's something mildly depressing in the fact that the troubles and crises that the cartoonists were poking fun at 40, 60, 80 years ago are still firmly in place today.
And just on the offchance that reading the cartoons themselves doesn't use up enough of your time, the book also comes with two CDs that contain all 68,647 cartoons that were published in the pages of The New Yorker. You can search for cartoons by your favorite artist, the year you were born, or a particular subject matter. For instance, the first disc (1925-1965) contains 25 library-related cartoons. You can print them off. You can email them to friends. You can hassle your coworkers to come "take a look at this one, it's really good".
2008 was a grim year. Start 2009 off with a chuckle.

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