Opus 32:

1. Jeff MacNelly, Gone Too Soon (7/26)

2. Pertinent and Impertinent: Reviews of Three Books (7/26)

1. Jeff MacNelly, Gone Too Soon. MacNelly was a giant talent. He was
six-foot-five-inches tall, to begin with--large enough in any
neighborhood. And his ability as an editorial cartoonist more than
matched his physical stature.
     As Steve Benson (Arizona Republic) said, "His work was devastatingly
humorous and incredibly brilliant in its rendering.  He was one of
the few remaining sequoias, and the rest of us were nestled in the
grove below.  A bad day for Jeff would be the best day for anyone
     When Jeff MacNelly died--too soon at the age of 52--early in the
morning on Thursday, June 8, the news flashed quickly through
cyberspace to his colleagues in the editorial cartooning fraternity.
Most were shocked.  We all knew he was being treated for lymphoma,
but since his editorial cartoons and the comic strip Shoe continued
appearing as regularly as always, we assumed he was getting better.
Or, at least, not getting worse.
     The continuing appearance of the MacNelly signature, however, was
more an indication of his prodigious capacity for cartooning than the
state of his health. For four years recently (1993-97), MacNelly had
been producing his daily comic strip Shoe, his thrice-weekly
editorial cartoon for the Chicago Tribune, a daily panel cartoon
based upon reader submissions (Pluggers), and a weekly illustration
for Dave Barry's humor column.
     And he matched the quantity with quality. MacNelly was without
question the best editorial cartoonist of his generation, the
acknowledged maestro of the medium.
     Winner of both the Pulitzer (thrice, 1972, 1978, 1985) and the
Reuben (twice, 1978, 1979, the latter for Shoe), MacNelly, who left
college before getting a degree, could have inspired a generation of
college drop-outs; instead, he inspired a generation of editorial
cartoonists.  Typically, he pooh-poohed this notion, saying that if
there are MacNelly clones out there, then he is a clone of Pat
Oliphant or Paul Conrad.  
     More Oliphant than Conrad, I'd say: MacNelly's editorial cartoons
are funny, like Oliphant's. And like Oliphant's, they are also
pointed and therefore provocative. He made us laugh, but he also made
us think.  
     He joined the staff of the Richmond News-Leader in 1970, having
discovered that he could not live on the salary he was paid by a
twice-weekly community newspaper he'd left college to draw for the
previous year.  In 1977, he launched Shoe, a comic strip about a
flock of birds who produce a newspaper called The Treetops
Tribune-Tattler and crack wise about newspapering, politics, and
other social phenomena, thereby raising the bar for those who saw
MacNelly as an example.  Although he was not the first editorial
cartoonist to simultaneously produce a syndicated daily comic strip,
he was the first whose strip was a roaring success, eventually
reaching over one thousand client papers.  In the next decade,
several of his editorial colleagues also started comic strips.  
     MacNelly retired from the News-Leader in the summer of 1981 but,
missing the excitement of the political arena, took up the lance
again the following winter, producing three cartoons a week for the
Chicago Tribune.  By this time, he had such stature in the newspaper
world that he could do no wrong.
     Steve Kelley (editorial cartoonist at the San Diego Union-Tribune)
spoke for many of his fellow editorial cartoonists when he wrote:
"MacNelly attended the annual cartoonists' convention periodically,
and the rest of us, almost all grown men, acted the way adolescent
girls might if Brad Pitt happened into the room."
     Newspaper editors felt much the same way.  Howard A. Tyner of the
Chicago Tribune said: "Jeff was simply the most brilliant political
cartoonist of the time.  No one had an eye and a sense of humor like
his.  And he was as funny personally as he was in print."
     But his humor usually had a point, and in person, the point was
often self-deprecating.
     For a time shortly after joining the Chicago Tribune in 1982, he
lived in Chicago and walked from his apartment on the Near North Side
to the Tribune Tower, where he had an office on the 31st floor.  At
his height and with a shock of white hair and a lantern jaw, he was a
conspicuous figure.  Strangers often greeted him as they passed each
other on the sidewalk, but, according to MacNelly, these people were
mistaking him for someone else.  "Because of my gray hair and
glasses, they thought I was Phil Donahue," he said.  
     A impish prankster lurked in MacNelly's humor, too.  
     Once, as Michael Ramirez (Los Angeles Times) recalled, MacNelly had
his revenge upon Donahue.  "A guy spotted him on the street and
leaned out of his car and said, 'Phil, you are the biggest expletive
deleted I've ever seen.' In response, MacNelly sounded off every bad
word he would think of so the people standing around would go home
thinking that Donahue was a jerk."
     Former Washington Post editor Howard Simons realized that MacNelly
was first and foremost a humorist: "He is a standup comedian who has
sat down in ink."
     MacNelly was--by testimony on all sides--a modest and unassuming
man.  He was a celebrity and not comfortable with it; he had both
feet firmly planted in the ordinary world that we all live in.  
     When he won his first Pulitzer, he was informed while he was at home
mowing the lawn.  His response to the news: "This is the best excuse
I know of not to cut the grass."
     Many of today's editorial cartoonists can recall asking MacNelly for
advice when they first sought to join the ranks and being astonished
at his lengthy, hand-written replies.
     Ted Rall, responding on the Internet to news of MacNelly's death,
said: "Back in the mid-eighties, when I appeared in exactly zero
publications, Jeff wrote me a very kind and encouraging two-page,
single-spaced handwritten letter, which I still have and read from
time to time.  I couldn't believe that he took the time or the energy
to engage a nobody like me, especially given the difference in our
approaches to the art.  In person, Jeff was a really nice, very cool
guy.  He led a classy (if too short) life and set a very good example
to live up to."
     MacNelly encouraged newcomers and was always willing to pull up a
chair and shoot the bull with them.  Or with just about anyone.  
     Writing of the man who illustrated his column and who became a close
friend, Dave Barry said: "He was a guy who had zero pretentiousness,
a guy who never drew attention to himself except to make fun of
himself, a guy who could have run with the media elite, but was much
happier having a beer with his plumber."
     About his profession, MacNelly once said: "Political cartoonists
violate every rule of ethical journalism--they misquote, trifle with
the truth, make science fiction out of politics and sometimes should
be held for personal libel.  But when the smoke clears, the political
cartoonist has been getting closer to the truth than the guys who
write political opinions."  He also said that he knows many "great
editorial cartoonists who, if they couldn't draw, would be hired
     But MacNelly was not so much an assassin as he was a clear-eyed
observer of the human condition--particularly the condition displayed
by politicians.  Some of us think of politicians as craven power
brokers with self-interest as their chief motivation.  (I do.)  But
to MacNelly--judging from his cartoons--these political leaders are
merely bigger buffoons than most of us and therefore a greater
inspiration to laughter.  His cartoons suggested that our proper
response to these four-star bumblers should be the chastisement that
laughter inflicts rather than the ouster that the ballot box can
     After all, you can't defrock a naked emperor, and MacNelly showed
them naked often enough to make us familiar with the anatomy of
     And he knew exactly what he was doing.
     "The basis of effective humor in a political cartoon is ridicule,"
he once wrote.  "And ridicule is one of the most powerful and
effective nonviolent weapons we humans possess.  By subjecting the
self-righteous and the pompous to derisive ridicule, we bring them
down to earth with the rest of us where we can examine them on our
own terms.  It's even more fun when these guys have no sense of humor
about it all."
     Many editorial cartoonists subscribe to this as credo.  Comedy is
the time-honored Trojan Horse of editorial cartooning.  But
MacNelly's deployment of visual resources to this purpose was superb.
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     "I have always been awestruck by his artistry," Nick Anderson said,
"--the broad bush strokes accentuated by a symphony of fine pen
lines.  But that was only half of it.  His ideas were insightful,
funny, clever, and devastating.  He could point out the absurdities
and ironies of politics that many of us missed. . . .  But his
greatest strength was [in] his [visual] metaphors.  As a cartoonist,
I can attest that these are the most difficult to conceive.  It's
easier to fall back on word play or hackneyed images, but MacNelly
didn't resort to the path of least resistance.  His metaphors were
novel and enlightening.  They were so perfect, they would almost seem
obvious. But they weren't."
     It seemed to me that MacNelly's editorial cartoons just got better
and better over the last few years.  Not only were his metaphors more
inventive (and more appropriate to his message) than any of his
fellows', but he often seasoned his pictures with sight gags that
added yet another dimension to his comment.
     Clinton's impeachment, being ludicrous from start to finish--from
Moninsky to Newt--was a particularly rich vein of material for
MacNelly.  One of my favorites depicts the GOP elephant firing a
canon labeled "Impeachment." The canon fires with a massive "Bam!"
but the canon ball discharged is pebble-sized and it seems to merely
dribble out of the canon's muzzle and bounce (but only once).  As a
splendid embellishment on both the picture and the message, the
elephant is peering into a spyglass, suggesting that he believes his
canon is going to fire its missile a long, long distance.  But, of
course, it doesn't.  
     MacNelly could add little visual snippets of comic frivolity because
he was sufficiently detached as a humorist to be playful.  And he was
more humorist than crusader.  Pat Oliphant, in contrast, is angry,
outraged--never detached enough to see the purely comic in the
shenanigans of his targets.  Oliphant deploys humor as a weapon, an
assault weapon; for MacNelly, humor is the way of distancing himself
from what would otherwise be too tragic to countenance.  But if
MacNelly was detached, he was never disinterested: his comedy always
had a point with which he deflated pretension and revealed the
nakedness of the emperor.  
     MacNelly's metaphors were often cunningly contrived with more than
one working part. Here's a cartoon showing Big Tobacco as a cow with
its head in a guillotine.  The Congress, seated at the cow's side,
seems about to milk it but has a hand on a string that, if pulled,
would release the guillotine blade and behead Big Tobacco. "I wish
he'd make up his mind," says the cow to itself.
     His take on the Microsoft break-up--a hooded Medieval executioner
labeled the Feds, axe in one hand, the head of a beheaded
"Micro-goose" in the other, addresses the head: "We want you to lay
smaller eggs--and make 'em square, so they fit in the box."  The box
is an egg carton labeled Anti-trust.  Of course, the goose, beheaded,
won't be laying any more golden eggs at all.
     Although an admitted (and proud of it) conservative, MacNelly was
essentially just anti-establishment.  "I like to think I can call
them as I see them," he said.  "I don't make a conscious effort to
infuse my work with my particular philosophy."  And he found much of
the right wing rhetoric thoroughly hypocritical.
     A capsule summing up of his attitude can be found in Shoe for
January 3, 1997, in which the Perfesser at his cluttered desk muses:
"When I first started out in journalism, I was going to be a one-man
truth squad.  But as time went on, my hair turned gray--and so did
the truth."
     Shoe waxed philosophical more often in this last spring, it seemed
to me.  Here's Shoe and the Perfesser at a bar, the Perfesser reading
a newspaper:  "Says here you should make sure at least half your
assets are liquid."  Shoe says, "That's good advice."  And in the
last panel, in which the camera has pulled back to show the bartender
as well as the other two, Shoe says: "Jake, let's run a tab."
     That kind of philosophy.
     Shoe is being continued by Gary Brookins and MacNelly's long-time
assistant Chris Cassat.  Cassat joined MacNelly several years ago to
help MacNelly adapt to the computer age.  MacNelly sent his drawings
to Cassat in Colorado Springs, where Cassat manipulated the images
and polished them, transmitting them to MacNelly's syndicate
     Eventually, Shoe was constructed almost entirely of stored images, a
cutting-edge computer practice that alarmed purists throughout the
realm.  Presumably, the Brookins-Cassat continuation of the strip
will make liberal use of this warehouse of MacNelly-prompted art.  If
so, the circumstance is not without irony.  
     A year ago at the annual Reubens Weekend of the National Cartoonists
Society, MacNelly discussed his computer-assisted artistry.
     "I don't smear ink anymore," he said. "You can erase endlessly.
Also, there won't be a huge pile of paper for the IRS to tax someone
on when I'm gone. I have a device attached to my heart. When it
stops, it will throw the delete switch on my Macintosh and make all
my work disappear."
     MacNelly was joking, of course, about the delete switch. Brookins
and Cassat also inherited the Barry column illustration, but for
that--which does not employ repetitive imagery as much as a comic
strip--the computer will be of much less usefulness.
     But MacNelly's editorial cartoons, fresh with every governmental
outrage--fresh, in other words, daily (or, at least, three times a
week)--will not be continued by anyone.
     The efforts of Brookins and Cassat, however worthy, cannot disguise
the unhappy fact:  cartooning has lost one of its most accomplished
talents, a humorist who excelled in all its forms.  And no one can
replace MacNelly as an editorial cartoonist.  No one whose work I see
combines art and insight with the kind of comedic detachment that
makes for a certain kind of great editorial cartooning.
     Sadly, there are no recent collections of his masterworks--his
editorial cartoons.  Perhaps that will be remedied in some
retrospective publication.  MacNelly himself avoided such
reprintings, however, believing, probably, that editorial cartoons
were too timely and topical and therefore too ephemeral for the
permanence of book publication.  We are the poorer for this
conviction, but we can scarcely fault him for it.  Instead, we must
count ourselves lucky to have seen him in his prime.
     Still, I'll miss seeing MacNelly's drawings for Barry's column
(which were so often stand-alone hilarious), and his insights into
the political and human condition on the editorial page.  The
profession of editorial cartooning has suffered the greatest loss.
     "Our consolation," said Pat Oliphant, "must be that he was able to
achieve such an impressive array of successess in such a short time.
His name belongs forever in the pantheon of cartooning art, and his
work will inspire generations of young artists to come."

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2. Pertinent and Impertinent.  Turning, for a change, to books that
are mostly words with only a few pictures (and these, solely for
illustrative purposes), we find that a current crop examines in
gratifying detail editorial cartooning, comics fandom, and the
emergence of the modern magazine gag cartoon. All worth a look, so
here is ours.
     The state of the art of editorial cartooning these days is pretty
accurately portrayed in Graphic Opinions: Editorial Cartoonists and
Their Art (Popular Press, 278 6x9" pages; $24.95; phone 419-372-7865
or Bud Plant, 1-800-242-6642). In the mid-1990s, two academics, Jack
Colldeweih and Kalman Goldstein, discovered a mutual interest in
cartooning and set about surveying the contemporary landscape. With
the help of six colleagues across the country, they conducted
interviews with two dozen editorial cartoonists, all in their late
thirties or forties--the generation after Pat Oliphant, in other
words. And after Jeff MacNelly, too. From these interviews and other
sources, 4- to 6-page articles were written about each cartoonist,
rehearsing short biographies and then discussing their attitudes
towards their work and the world in which they function. Four
cartoons by each cartoonist complete each individual's chapter. Among
those represented are Steve Kelley, Signe Wilkinson, Jack Ohman, Joel
Pett, David Horsey, Mike Luckovich, Jeff Stahler, and Michael Ramirez
(to name a few).  Most of the interviews were conducted in 1994 and
1995; a couple, in 1997. And the book was published in 1998, so the
last three years of turmoil and angst are not covered. But the
turmoil and angst of the last three years has been largely the same
as it was the previous three years, so the book is still relevant.
     In introductory chapters and a conclusion, Colldeweih and Goldstein
put the interviews in historical perspective and summarize their, er,
"findings": "Editorial cartoonists have always been expected to meet
daily deadlines, and have something interesting to say and arresting
to look at. They have had to reconcile their individualistic and
distinctive viewpoints with their editors' more cautious definitions
of appropriate content. Now they are also pressured to be funny
rather than satiric, and expected to comment wittily on social and
cultural trends as well as political developments. . . .  And
increasingly they have to huff along beside the speeding chariots of
technological change. They are running, but running scared."
     The interviews, judging from the two or three I read with
cartoonists I interviewed myself in the last five years, fairly
represent the cartoonists--their careers and viewpoints; and the
full-page reproduction of their cartoons is entirely adequate.
Perhaps the most valuable aspect of the book for the comics scholar
is its extensive bibliography: each chapter ends with a list of
articles and books that the interviewer consulted. In short, this is
a raris avis indeed: a sympathetic and largely accurate book about
cartooning and cartoonists done by collegians, whose ivory tower
isolation from actual reality often renders them wholly unsuited for
examining any endeavor outside ivied walls. Colldeweih and Goldstein
prove distinctly exceptions to that sweeping generalization.  (But
it's "Steve" Greenberg, fellas; not "David" Greenberg.)
     Comic Book Culture: Fanboys and True Believers by Matthew J. Pustz
(University Press of Mississippi, 232 6x9" pages; paperback, $18)
will be a valuable book 500 years from now when we've all forgotten
what comics fandom was and who was in it and what made it run.  In
the meantime, those of us who are submerged in the culture will not
find much new or illuminating in this tome.  
     The book publishes Pustz's dissertation.  He was (and is) a comics
fan, who managed to convince his doctoral advisor that he should be
permitted to write a dissertation about the thing that most absorbed
him--namely, comic books and the people who read and collect them.
(This indulgence by doctoral advisors has resulted in an inordinate
amount of claptrap being generated in recent years.  I am waiting for
them to come to the realization that not every human endeavor is
worthy of scientific examination at the collegiate level.  I shall,
doubtless, wait in vain.)  
     What Pustz produced is a thorough not-to-say plodding examination of
phenomena we are all too aware of.  Reading it is a little like
watching someone do major surgery for a sprained pinky.  Everything
about comics fandom is taken out, examined, described, and catalogued
as if the writer were a zoologist recording his findings on the
planet Venus.  It's virtually all description; no analysis of any
     While comics fans may find nothing of interest herein (except their
own astonishment at how they are dissected under the microscope),
those outside the realm of funnybook fantasy will no doubt find the
descriptive rigor of Pustz's effort fascinating. And these, after
all, are the proper readers of this book: people who want to know
about fandom (us), not those of us already into it. For those not
into it, Pustz's book will surely be a revealing glimpse into a world
only a comparative few have ever inhabited.
     Hard on the heels of the 75th anniversary of the debut of The New
Yorker has come a spate of books about the magazine. Founded "in the
Jazz Age on champagne vapors" (as one wag put it) by a hobo
newspaperman named Harold Ross, The New Yorker is of interest in This
Corner because it blazed a trail to a new kind of single panel
cartoon--the single-speaker captioned cartoon. Until Ross's magazine
made this kind of cartoon popular, magazine cartoons were often
little more than illustrations vaguely connected to the witty
dialogues that ran beneath them in the manner of playscripts. About
Town: The New Yorker and the World It Made by Ben Yagoda (Scribner,
480 pp., $30) is a history of the magazine, and since Yagoda is the
first author to have unfettered access to the magazine's archives,
his book is loaded with "smoking guns" (as the dust jacket says).  Of
even greater interest to me (thwarted magazine editor that I am) is
Letters from the Editor: The New Yorker's Harold Ross (Modern
Library, 430 pp., $26.95) edited by Thomas Kunkel, who also wrote the
best biography of Ross, Genius In Disguise. Here we have the
eccentric but inspired Ross in person, letter-by-letter. And Ross
wrote down everything he thought about in connection with his
     But of greater interest to cartooners is likely to be Judith Yaross
Lee's Defining New Yorker Humor (University Press of Mississippi,
2000; 430 pp., $20). Concentrating on the first five years of the
magazine's publishing history, Lee describes the emergence of its
distinctive sensibility and comedic posture, almost issue-by-issue.
Much of the book is devoted to analysis of humorous writing, but
about a third of it is spent with cartoons.
     It is clear from this book and the other two that Ross knew that in
developing the single-speaker captioned cartoon, he was breaking
new--or, at least relatively unplowed--ground. But as usual, Ross was
unable to put into words precisely what he was striving for. He
called this new breed "idea drawings," by which he meant that the
comedic meaning of the words should depend upon understanding the
accompanying picture, and vice versa. He knew he didn't want the
traditional cartoon--which had been for decades devised by sending
humorous dialogues around to artists for them to make a picture that
set the scene for the recitation of the speeches. And Ross is clearer
about what he didn't want than what it was he wanted. Naturally: what
he wanted wasn't very much in evidence.
     Lee's forte lies in meticulously describing the magazine's contents
over the months that its distinctive character was evolving. She
correctly, I think, deduces The New Yorker's rhetorical posture as
consisting of sundry elements of "modernism":  the magazine rejected
any transcendent purpose in life or art, treating art as play and
taking an ironic stance of bemused and detached superiority.  And Lee
musters more than enough examples to support her contention. But when
she turns to cartoons and tries to analyze their humor, she stumbles,
betraying an astonishing myopia about the medium.
     Dissecting humor is always fatal to the joke, of course. But Lee
doesn't seem to understand the function of the pictures. Looking at
the relatively simple linework in a cartoon by Al Frueh, for
instance, she attempts to give the cartoonist's drawing style
thematic import. The cartoon depicts a passenger on a subway wiping
clean a window next to a sign that says "Please help us keep the
subway clean." Lee concludes that the "firm outlines and white spaces
reinforce the theme of tidiness." If that were true of this cartoon,
it would be equally true of any simply rendered cartoon whether its
"theme" were tidiness or not. Lee also assumes that the bucket the
passenger is holding is a "lunch bucket" when it is clearly a bucket
of water that he dips his cleaning rag into.  
     Later, she examines one of the imitation woodcut cartoons John Held,
Jr. produced for Ross (rather than repeating his more celebrated
round-headed cartoon sheiks and shebas that appeared in magazines
elsewhere).  Lee notes that Held "puts the rigid lines of the woodcut
to comic use. . . .  Arresting their motion makes the characters look
foolish."  Again, this analysis is equally true of all pictures: they
all "arrest" the motion of the persons depicted. Hence, as criticism,
her comment is so vacuous as to be without meaning.
     Her way of describing the verbal-visual blending that a cartoon
effects is to say that there is an "ironic relation" between word and
picture, scarcely precise enough for ordinary mortals to understand.
(Or maybe that's the scholarly point: be vague and mysterious.)
     As a reporter of fact, of history, Lee is very good indeed. But as
an interpreter of those facts, she often pushes an agenda too 1990s
for the 1920s. At one point, she thinks Barbara Shermund is an
advocate for homosexuality when all the cartoonist was doing was
poking fun at the female fashions of the day which sought to deny
such gender distinctions as breasts. Pointing to Alice Harvey's
cartoons in which it isn't clear which of the characters, a man and a
woman, is speaking, Lee concludes that Harvey's cartoons seek to
"equalize the sexes."
     Apart from this curious shortcoming, which seems to apply only to
cartoons and not to written humor, Lee's book is an exacting
discussion of the growth and development of one of this century's
most distinctive publications, definitely worth shelving with other
works that record the history of the medium.
     In yet another commemorative effusion for that shelf, we have The
New Yorker 75th Anniversary Cartoon Collection (Pocketbooks of Simon
and Schuster, 300 9x12" pages; $40), edited by the magazine's current
cartoon editor, cartoonist Bob Mankoff, who spends most of his
Introduction (which is dubbed "Foreword" on the book cover) making
fun of Introductions to books of cartoons, a cute cocktail party
maneuver, no doubt, but trite and tedious in Mankoff's hands.  
     He claims to have reviewed cartoons from the entire 75-year history
of the magazine, culling out "the creme de la creme of the creme de
la creme."  (See what I mean about "cute"? "Trite"?  "Tedious"?)  But
the result is a strange concoction indeed.
     Roz Chast is the most represented cartoonist with 24 cartoons.
Chast has unquestionably expanded the capacity of the medium with her
quirky, word-and-picture compositions, but her first cartoon in The
New Yorker was published in 1978, just 22 years ago, and however much
her inventive variations on the artform may contribute to its
evolution, I question whether she deserves such extravagant
representation in a so-called "anniversary" issue that applauds 75
years of cartoons.
     Particularly when we consider that The New Yorker cartoonists whose
distinctive work established the magazine's essential character in
the first two decades are scarcely present in these pages at all.
Peter Arno, Helen Hokinson, George Price, James Thurber, and Charles
Addams are the ones most closely associated with the history of the
magazine.  But others--Sam Cobean, Whitney Darrow Jr., Gluyas
Williams, John Held Jr., Rea Irvin, Carl Rose, Otto Soglow, William
Steig, and Alan Dunn--were also frequently published in the first
twenty-five to forty years of the magazine's history.
     Of these, only Addams makes it into a roll call of the
most-represented cartoonists (those with 13 or more cartoons in the
book): Addams is there 18 times.  But Arno, whose approach virtually
epitomized The New Yorker, has only 6 cartoons in this collection.
And Dunn, who had more cartoons published in the magazine than any
other cartoonist (1,915), has only two in this volume.  
     Hokinson, whose work appeared almost exclusively in the New Yorker,
has only three cartoons herein; Gluyas Williams, none.  Nada.  And
yet his work was so esteemed by editor Ross that he once treated a
Williams' cartoon series on a wedding as if it were a text article,
giving it 14 consecutive pages in the issue for June 5, 1948.  No
other New Yorker cartoonist ever achieved such a distinction.
     Of the 19 cartoonists with 13 or more cartoons in this book, 15 are
not represented in any of the previous "anniversary" collections (one
for the 25th in 1950; then collections embracing 1950-55 and
1955-65).  Only three more of the top 19 appeared in the 1955-65
anthology.  And only Addams appeared in the 25th anniversary book.
     Mankoff's selection is as myopic as most of the year-end,
decade-end, century-end, millennium-end celebrations we endured last
winter.  Posing as representative of three-quarters of a century, the
volume concentrates on the last quarter just as most of the other
similar exercises last year did.
     You find the same thing everywhere you look.  The short view, not
the long view.  It bespeaks, of course, that much bruited about gap
in the general knowledge of anyone under fifty.  Geezers like me have
scoffed at this shortfall for years.  And we're always witnessing
man-on-the-street interviews by Jay Leno in which the interviewees
are hilariously ignorant of the facts of history and geography.  
     But this is the Age of Popular Culture, in which anything older than
"last year" is too old to take notice of.  Sad, but, alas, true.
     Still, this collection belongs on the shelf of any library with
pretensions to historical comprehensiveness in cartooning.

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