Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

April 13, 2012

Go, Read: Tom Hart On Criticizing New Yorker Cartoons

The cartoonist and educator Tom Hart writes about New Yorker cartoons generally and outs himself as the creator of a tumblr-based on-line effort to criticize various aspects of those cartoons. It's not a blog that I've followed past heading to it a few times when people have linked to it in that "whoa, what's going on here" way that doing something on the Internet sometimes generates. I may have linked to the site in "go, look" fashion once from CR.

I'll be looking at it again, for sure. I take Tom Hart seriously, always; I think he's a fine cartoonist and interesting thinker about cartoons. I look forward to engaging his ideas on the New Yorker cartoons as currently constituted.

I have to admit I'm a little puzzled by his assertion that this is something being talked about -- I believe he's telling the truth, it just hasn't been my experience. I talk to a lot of people on-line every day on various comics subjects, and I can't recall any serious, sustained (or unserious, unsustained) discussion of the New Yorker cartoons in years, maybe, beyond people very occasionally talking about placing work there. I just spent a big chunk of four days in Seattle having a lot of intense face-to-face discussions about all aspects of comics. Hell, I spent 20 minutes talking about Oni Press with someone that hasn't read a comic book since they were 11 years old. I had two conversations about Tom Hart's work. Outside of a brief discussion with Shannon Wheeler, the New Yorker never came up; it didn't come up at all during a similar trip to the Brooklyn Comics Fest in December. The only time the magazine has come up at all recently in my circle of pals was Eric Reynolds recommending a text article on LBJ in the April 2 issue, although I think someone may have asked me a couple of weeks ago about a Barry Blitt kids book.

I'm a subscriber to the magazine, so I do see the cartoons. I get the vague sense that they're in the middle of a transitional phase in terms of the kinds of cartoonists they're using and who's out there working and submitting, but that's about it. I know that my father and his friends complained about the cartoons they were seeing in the 1970s and 1980s, so I suspect there may be an element of that at work here, too. Institutions frequently compete with their own legacy, and it's usually the most recent stuff that gets bloodied in such exchanges. I welcome the chance to dig in, and perhaps this is a chance to.
posted 5:10 am PST | Permalink

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