According to Bob Mankoff, who has published cartoons for The New Yorker since 1977, humor is both a creative and a cognitive process.
With 90 years of New Yorker cartoons, you can learn a lot about evolving political and social history patterns while laughing.
The New Yorker’s cartoons are frequently cited as readers’ favorite aspect of the reading experience. They are a trademark of the journal, being ironic and nuanced in their humor.
But what makes the New Yorker cartoons special?
Before we delve into the illustrative world, let’s first explain what makes a good cartoon.
The catchy world of cartoons
To be good, a cartoon must have an original storyline and plot. It doesn’t matter if your cartoon is a comedy (Dexter’s Laboratory, I just love that show) or a more serious show (Death Note); a storyline is required.
An excellent storyline for a comedy must be distinctive and bizarre, something no one has ever seen before.
A cartoon’s humor is essentially in the middle of key aspects. Bad jokes frequently make the cartoon dull and stupid. Especially when the cartoon is purportedly a comedy.
Cartoons with anecdotes are some of the best forms of cartoons, since if a cartoon is too serious with no humor; it becomes a continual roller coaster, which is bad.
Let’s talk about design for a moment!
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Every cartoon has its own style or flair that makes it unique to look, as with most New Yorker cartoons.
Now, a cartoon does not have the same art style or design as every other illustration to succeed.
Most cartoons have unique art styles that make them unique and interesting.
Although there are many other aspects of cartoons like animations and story, as New Yorker cartoons are not animated or episodic, we won’t discuss these features.
Ok, now that you know what makes a good cartoon, let’s find out what makes New Yorker cartons different.
Shout-out to the New Yorker
It’s a regular occurrence in some households: grabbing the latest edition of the New Yorker, skipping right past the essays, and going straight for the good stuff: the cartoons.
At least that’s what I do!
The iconic cartoons are alternatively whimsical, beautiful, and tragic—and often amusing. They are usually a single panel, with or without a caption, each one a world unto itself.
The emphasis on new and shifting trends represents our time’s historical, political, and social upheavals.
Indeed, New Yorker cartoons are so essential to our understanding of history and politics that, in 1995, the New Yorker Cartoon Collection was sent to educators throughout the US as part of The New Yorker in the Schools program.
New Yorker cartoons have persisted because they were welcomed and treated as a respected art form. William Shawn, the publication’s Editor-in-Chief for 35 years starting in 1952, explained,
“A cartoon that is likely to endure is one that is drawn well and comments on life and social changes that may last a long time. When a person observes society accurately, truthfully, and satirically, the work will have lasting value.”
Shawn’s objective grew to include accurately and truly observing society. When Shawn took over as Editor-in-Chief, he “made one significant change in the magazine, shifting the tone from flippancy to something more serious.”
He stated that this was done to reflect a “new awareness” among writers and readers.
“If our cartoons are less topical today, it may be because we are less topical today, or because we have a less fixed or stable social background,” Shawn noted.
Readers can now travel back in time (or at least through the 90 years represented in the New Yorker archives) to view the cartoons that continue to make people laugh as well as those that reflect wider societal ideals that are changing.
The magazine and its artists persevere and provide much-needed levity.
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