Wednesday, January 19, 2005

New Yorker State of Mind

ny.gifFor Hanukkah, Karen gave me The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker. Complete? Is that possible? Sure, the book is large and weighs only slightly less than a middle-schooler’s backpack, but it would have to be 5 times larger to include all the cartoons from the 80 year history of the magazine. However, inside the book is a set of two CD’s containing all 68,647 cartoons! I trust that the number is accurate, but I haven’t counted yet.

In fact, reading through the book was easy, but the concept of browsing through the entire CD is a bit overwhelming. If I read 20 cartoons every single day, I can finish in just under nine and a half years. Meanwhile, the New Yorker goes on, so Karen will have to buy me the 10 year supplement when I’m 60.And by then my failing eyesight and feeble mind will make it slower going.

For now, while I’m still spry, the CD’s are great because you can search by date, artist’s name or any of several key words that relate to a cartoon’s theme. They are in pdf format, though, so copying them and using them in a blog entry or Board of Directors report at work is not a simple task, which is as the New Yorker intended it. They are possessive about their intellectual property.

I’ve always been fond of the New Yorker cartoons. My mother had several cartoon collections, either “the best of” the New Yorker type or books of specific artists such as Peter Arno, who drew society people at cocktail parties, or Whitney Darrow, who drew all sorts of people. She had several book of Charles Addams cartoons, populated by odd characters, the most famous of which became the Addams Family. I guess I don’t really know if the books were bought by my mother or my father or by both together.

In any event, I ended up with them. I have read them all a few times each over the years. I learned a lot from them when I was young. They give some added context to the times the cartoons were drawn, revealing things about culture and history. They revealed a few other things too. New Yorker cartoons often contain cartoon nudity and sex. Since sources of visual information about such things were limited when I was a child (what with the scarcity of internet porn), those types of cartoons were of great interest to me then.

They became somewhat embarrassing a few years ago when my young daughter decided that New Yorker cartoon books were good bedtime entertainment. We had a lot of fun reading them together, especially the Addams books. In some of the others, though, I had to skip some pages or try to explain why that man was imagining that lady was naked.

The quality of the humor in the vast majority of the cartoons amazes me. There is so much wit there. A friend of mine at work also enjoys these cartoons and insists that we collaborate and submit some cartoons to the magazine. I’ll let you know if we come up with any that are worthy. Perhaps we’ll have some in the 10 year supplement edition when I’m 60 and can’t read them anymore.

Maybe when I get to that point, Allie will visit and read the cartoons to me at bedtime.

No comments: