The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker

CompleteCartoonsNewYorker-covI acquired this phenomenally huge book in a sale earlier this fall and I paid only fifteen dollars for it. I have always liked the single-panel cartoons (often referred to as “gag cartoon”, in the likes of what you find in the series “For Dummies”, or in Herman or Bizarro, and, of course, in newspapers’ editorial cartoons) and the most iconic of those could be found in the magazine The New Yorker. So I was quite pleased with this acquisition. However, it is the type of nightstand book that you savour slowly and it took me a couple of months to go through its 655 pages and over 2,000 cartoons (about two weeks of actual reading). Unfortunately the used copy I purchased did not include the two CDs with all 68,647 cartoons ever published in the magazine (if so it would have taken me much more time to read!).

A New Yorker cartoon is usually made of one drawing (but sometimes of the sequence of two or three), plus a funny caption. Most of the time all the humour is in the caption… Here are some examples:


The cartoons are organized into the eight decades during which the magazine was published (from its founding in 1925 until the publication of the book in 2004) and each period is introduced by an essay by one of the magazine’s most distinguished writers: 1925-34 (introduction by Roger Angell), 1935-44 (Nancy Franklin), 1945-54 (Lillian Ross), 1955-64 (John Updike), 1965-74 (Calvin Trillin), 1975-84 (Ian Frazier), 1985-94 (Mark Singer) and 1995-2004 (Rebecca Mead). The book starts with an Editor’s Note by Robert Mankoff and a Forword by David Remnick, and concludes with an index of Artists.

In addition, for each era, you find a brief overview of a predominant theme (the depression, drinking, nudity, television, cars, the space program, slipper dogs, business culture, the internet and politics) as well as a brief profile (including a mini-portfolio) for a key cartoonist (Peter Arno, George Price, James Thurber, Charles Adams, William Steig, Saul Steinberg, George Booth, Jack Ziegler [about whom I’ve already talked], Roz Chast, and Bruce Eric Kaplan).

In a way, this book chronicles the history of the magazine, but also the history of the American society. Therefore, it is much more than just a funny reading as it provides great insights and understanding of the socio-politics of each era.

For me, the cartoons were funny most of the time (not LOL, but a chuckle or quiet giggle), but I also often didn’t get it (particularly the older ones — I guess culture change with time or the context was lost to us as sometimes you needed to be there to understand). However, I enjoyed reading this book immensely. If you have a chance, it is worth the time and therefore highly recommended. stars-3-5

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonBiblio MtlGoodreadsGoogleWikipediaWorldCat ]

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Pictorial chronicle

Today’s bounty

Today I took a day off at the library to go… visit another library! This afternoon, my wife and I went to the Atwater Library and Computer Center. Founded in 1828 as the Montreal Mechanics’ Institution (the first in continental British North America) to “educate workers for the emerging industries”, it is now registered as charity and acts as a community library, digital learning centre and meeting place. It is a private library but it is opened to everyone (for an annual membership fee of $35 — and, as they say, “[u]nlike municipal libraries, we don’t ask people to show ID documents or proof of their address”). Like all anglophone cultural institutions it relies mostly on donations and volunteer service. It receives over 100,000 visitors annually as it offers “courses and workshops to help young and old master technology in the digital age, (…) literary and educational events, financial literacy sessions, exhibitions on literature and history, (…) and much more.” The library is housed in a heritage building (built between 1818 and 1820) located in Westmount (1200 Atwater Ave., corner of Tupper St.). It is a beautiful place. The floor of the mezzanine is made of glass panels. It has a respectable collections of books and audio-visual documents (nearly 40,000 titles).

Our main reason to visit the library was its Annual Fall Books sale. The donations of documents that doesn’t make it to the library’s collection are sold to help raise funds. There’s a wide selection of new and used books, CDs, DVDs available at very reasonable prices (between $0.50 for paperbacks and $1 for hard covers, to a range of $5 to $20 for larger art books). There was a lot of interesting books, but I had to limit myself because most of them were rather voluminous. I found quite a bounty.

Today's Bounty

It purchased only two books but they were quite a find. First, I got The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker ($15, a huge book of 11.25 x 13.25 inches, 2 inches thick and weighting about six pounds!) which presents a collection of the editorial and comical illustrations published in the famous magazine since its founding in 1925 up to 2004 (date of publication of the book). I really love those cartoons and can’t wait to read that (although it’s quite heavy to manipulate)! [ Amazon / Biblio / Goodreads / WorldCat ]

Since I am currently writing about Books of Hours, it is quite serendipitous that the second book I purchased was The Belles Heures of Jean, Duke of Berry ($5). It offers colour reproductions (with commentary) of every folio of the beautiful devotional illuminated manuscript (now hosted in The Cloisters Collection of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art). It was commissioned around 1409 by Jean, duc de Berry to the Limbourg brothers just a few years before they also illustrated the more famous Très Riches Heures for the same patron. It is a very beautiful and amazing book. It will probably take me a while before going through it.  [ Amazon / Biblio / Goodreads / Wikipedia / WorldCat ]

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March, Book 1: Civil Rights history in comics

“Congressman John Lewis (GA-5) is an American icon, one of the key figures of the civil rights movement. His commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from an Alabama sharecropper’s farm to the halls of Congress, from a segregated schoolroom to the 1963 March on Washington, and from receiving beatings from state troopers to receiving the Medal of Freedom from the first African-American president.” (…)

March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement. Book One spans John Lewis’ youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall.”

(Text from the publisher’s website; see also the back cover)

Congressman John Lewis wanted to be a preacher. He grew up on his parents’ farm in rural Alabama taking care of the family chickens (to whom he was practising preaching!). The story starts in his congressional office as he is preparing to go assist at Obama’s inauguration. A black lady comes into the office with her children to show them up a place where history was made. Instead they meet with the Congressman himself who takes this opportunity to tell them a little about himself and the history of the civil rights movement. With the help of his uncle Otis and Martin Luther King, Jr., to whom he wrote a letter, he succeed to go to college in Nashville. There, he contributed to the Student Movement and, inspired by Gandhi’s nonviolent protest, took many actions to fight against segregation.

The storytelling is excellent and the art is pretty good. It is a superb idea to bring back to life Congressman Lewis‘ memories, such as his actions of civil disobedience, for a new generation to understand what the civil rights movement was all about. It is very educational and it is probably even more relevant today than when it was first published (considering the “Black Lives Matter” movement and the fact that I discovered this book through a CNN report about President Trump insulting Congressman Lewis, saying he was “all talk and no action” !).

All in all, it’s a nice way to teach the history of an important moment of our Western Civilization, but also an excellent occasion to talk about good moral values. The life of great role models like Congressman Lewis need to be recorded for the posterity, but not only in history books or museums but also as part of our popular culture. It’s a good reading for the Black History Month and I cannot recommend it more strongly.

March: Book One, by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. Marietta GA: Top Shelf Productions, August 2013. 128 pg., Softcover, 6.5″ x 9.5″, 14.95 US / $19.99 Can. ISBN: 978-1-60309-300-2. stars-3-5

For more information you can check the following websites:

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Weekly notable news [week 31]

Here are a few notable news & links that I came across this week:
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Non Sequitur: Monday, March 21, 2016 (The two-party detour)

Dilbert: Tuesday, March 22, 2016 (The Elbonian Religion)

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Funnies forever

Here (after the break) are a few notably funny comic strips that I found in the last few months…

Starting with Unshelved, the web comics about the staff (and patrons) of a rather dysfunctional library. I caught up on several months of strips to realize that artist Bill Barnes decided to take a break and was replaced by occasional contributor Chris Hallbeck. It doesn’t change anything. Here are a few of my favourites (believe it or not I’ve experienced many of those situations):

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Monday, January 26, 2015

Monday, October 5, 2015

Monday, March 28, 2016

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

And now a few more of various kind (I’m slowly catching up on my pile of funnies):

Between Friends: September 1, 2015 (I feels like that often)

Dilbert: Wednesday October 07, 2015: Computers Program Humans (It’s so dickian !)

Dilbert: Thursday October 15, 2015: Visualize Your Contribution To Society (Ah! Work !)

Rhymes with orange: Monday November 02, 2015 (the litany against idiocy)

Dog Eat Doug: Sunday January 03, 2016 (magical libraries)

Dilbert: Monday January 11, 2016: How Work Is Going (no comment…)

Bizarro: Saturday January 16, 2016 (historical truth)

Dilbert: Monday January 25, 2016: Doubling Percieved Lifespan (…)

Bizarro: Thursday February 11, 2016 (reminds me of “Vacances de Jésus & Bouddha” manga)

Stone Soup: Sunday February 14, 2016: (Thanks to my wife!)

Unshelved 11: Reads well with others

“Our very first full-color collection, document.write(“”); Reads Well With Others features stirring tales of library derring-do, often inspired by, and occasionally blatantly documenting, true stories from librarians around the world. In this volume you’ll find strips about: unattended children, creeps, staff trainings, website redesigns, reading levels, confidentiality, bookstores, coffee… and much more, including Conference Tips never seen on our site.”
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“It’s the same compact size as our last three collections, but this time around every strip is in full color!”

[ Text from the publisher’s website; the back cover is also a must-read ]

“Libraries provide access to information, entertainment, and the Internet. They are the backbone of democracy, sacred places where anyone can find answers to their questions. Unfortunately, people who come there for help behave just as badly they do everywhere else.”

In January Overdue Media released the eleventh compilation of the Unshelved web comics that chronicles the daily misadventures of Dewey and his co-workers at an American dysfunctional library. Reads well with others compiles the comics strips originally published on the website between April 1st 2013 and September 25th 2014, as well as the “Conference Tips” originally published in ALA CogNotes newspapers in June 2014, January 2014 and June 2014.

The Unshelved web comics is very dear to my heart despite the very average quality of the drawings (although it’s probably quite good for a web comics). The reason for that is quite simple: I work in a library myself and I can recognize in those strips situations I’ve found myself in so many times. Believe me, it’s much better to choose to laugh about it than go insane!

The quality of the strips is improving with each new volume, but unfortunately the novelty of the concept wear off so it’s not uproarious anymore. However it’s still quite funny and entertaining to read (maybe less if you don’t know well the library domain). Again, like the last couple of books, I deplore that they haven’t included the “Unshelved Book Club” pages, but at least now the book is 120 pages in full color. You can choose to read the comics for free online, but personally I prefer the convenience of having a real book in my hands (and it offers encouragements to the creators). This should be a mandatory reading for all library staff!

My top ten favourites strips for this volume: 2013-05-13, 2013-05-14, 2013-07-25, 2013-10-01, 2013-11-18, 2013-12-11, 2014-01-22, 2014-03-10, 2014-09-16, and…


Unshelved Vol. 11: Reads well with others, by Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes. Seattle, Overdue Media, January 2015. 22.5 x 17 x 1 cm, 120 pgs., $11.95 US / $15.95 CDN. ISBN-13: 978-1-937914-06-6. For readers of all ages.

For more information you can check the following websites:

You can also read my comments on the previous books:

Reads well with others © 2015 Overdue Media LLC. All rights reserved.

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Schulz’s Youth

You love Charles Schulz’s cartoon kids. Now it’s time to meet his teens!
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“Using the same wit and empathy that made his Peanuts cartoons popular worldwide. Charles Schulz turns his sights on the lives of teenagers. He finds the humor in teen attitudes toward spirituality, document.write(“”); family, dating, and life. All their youthful enthusiasm, exuberence, passion, flaws, and faibles are on display with the hilarious drawings and sharp insights that made Schulz the most influential cartoonist ever.”

“During the 1950s and 60s, while his work was exploding in popularity, Schulz created hundreds of these cartoons for Youth magazine and other publications. Here they are, including ones never before collected and unseen in decades. It’s a treasure trove for any true Schulz fan.” [ Text from the back cover ]

WARNING: May contains trace of “spoilers”! People allergic to any discussions of a plot element before having themselves become aware of it are strongly advised to take the necessary precautions for their safety and should avoid reading further.

For as long as I remember I have been a great fan of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts cartoons and wasn’t aware that he did anything else. So I was rather surprised when I stumble upon this book at the library. I borrowed it immediately and quickly ran through it with an avid curiosity. It made for an easy reading since it’s made of single-panel cartoons. I found the same irreverent wit as in the Charlie Brown series, but this time with teenagers as main characters. I guess that american teenagers haven’t changed much in the last five decades because it feels somewhat similar to modern cartoons like Zits. The drawings are very simple and, although accompanied by a caption, are able to convey complex ideas. In a way, it is much more difficult to do this successfully with a single-panel story than a four-panel one like for Charlie Brown. [opposite: page 89]

While reading the Peanuts cartoons I had already noticed that it often had religious themes, which I thought normal considering that the average american is much more outspoken and devout about his religion than the people I know and keep company with here in Quebec. I don’t know anyone who quotes scriptures in a conversation or an argument! However, this religious thematic is totally omnipresent in Young Pillars. I was annoyed by this at first, thinking that Schulz must have been quite a devout american. But I quickly realized that he was often putting a slightly cynical twist in his story, gently pointing out how excessive the religious belief can be in the average american daily life. And THAT I liked.

But this religious tone is no coincidence since the Young Pillars cartoon series was published in Youth magazine, which was a Warner Press publication aimed at teens in the Church of God, a Holiness religious movement headquartered in Anderson, Indiana (There are so many different sects, a.k.a denominations, in the Christian faith that it’s almost ridiculous!). The single panel series ran, first bi-weekly and later weekly, from January 1st 1956 until early 1965. This book also includes illustrations that Schulz did for the 22nd International Youth Fellowship convention, for Two-by-Fours (a short book by Kenneth F. Hall about the place of preschool-aged kids in the church published in 1965 by Warner Press) and for the monthly magazine Reach (1969). The book concludes with an article about Schulz’s Warner Press work. The Young Pillars cartoons were often reprinted in Youth magazine and syndicated to other publications. There were also compiled in various books: Young Pillars, Teen-Ager is Not a Disease, What Was Bugging Ol’ Pharaoh, Teen-agers Unite, I Take my Religion Seriously and, of course, Schulz’s Youth.

I enjoyed a lot this funny book and learned a lot more about Charles Monroe Schulz. So should you (particularly if you are a Peanuts‘ fan).

My other nine favourite cartoons (click to enlarge):
Pages 87, 113 & 126

Pages 129, 139 & 157

Pages 178, 185 & 242

Schulz’s Youth: The Creator of Peanuts Takes a Look at Teens, by Charles M. Schulz (Forword by Jerry Scott, writer of Zits). Thousand Oaks CA, About Comics, First printing May 2007. 6 x 6 x 5/8 in, 296 pg., $14,95 USD / $17.99 CAN. ISBN: 978-0-9753958-9-9. Suggested for readers of all ages.

For more information you can check the following websites:

Schulz’s Youth © 2007 About Comics. All cartoons © Warner Press, Anderson, IN. All rights reserved.

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