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What’s up with all the desert island cartoons?

Bruce Handy talks to New Yorker comic editor Bob Mankoff for Vanity Fair about the ever numerous desert-island cartoons that have been generated over the decades:

As the magazine’s cartoon editor, do you feel you have to set a higher bar for desert-island cartoons?

Oh yeah, there’s always a sliding scale. Desert-island cartoons are like lightbulb jokes. It’s not like you can use them up. They can act like kudzu-they can take over everything. Sort of like animal cartoons can, because they’re easy and natural to do. There once was an issue in 1959 in which Jim Garaghty, who was the cartoon editor at the time, said, “O.K., enough animal cartoons.” So they ran all animal cartoons in a 1959 issue. And nobody noticed.

Community Comments

#1 Guy Badeaux
May/26/2012
@ 3:38 pm

Rates for gag cartoons were determined in the past by the space they occupied when published. Thus the unusual amount of desert island, mountain climbing and skyscrapers gags!

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