Customer Review

46 of 55 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The good with the bad, November 26, 2006
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This review is from: The Rejection Collection: Cartoons You Never Saw, and Never Will See, in The New Yorker (Hardcover)
The cartoons in this book are mostly great, and I am very glad that Matthew Diffee decided to collect them between two covers for our benefit. However, what definitely weighs the book down are the interruptive cartoonist questionnaires which, although funny at times, reek of self-importance. As someone who takes great interest in cartoons and cartoonists, reading through the cartoonists' witticisms feels unnecessary even to me. One purchases a book of cartoons to see the cartoons, and the long Q&A sections that pepper the book simply destroy any sort of flow that it may have had. In general, cartoons which are funny individually become much funnier when looked at cumulatively (an idea that Stephen King hinted at in his introduction to one of the Far Side treasuries). Unfortunately, this book never allows itself to establish a one-after-another, hit-you-until-you're-down rhythm, and it suffers for it.

My advice to Mr. Diffee is to attempt to publish a second volume, 3rd, and 4th, etc., but without the cumbersome stoppages every three pages. There are clearly enough wonderful rejected cartoons out there to merit these volumes, and continuing to publish them is a fantastic idea, but the cartoonists' egos should be left at the door. Being a cartoonist is about showing off your work, not yourself.

If, however, somebody decided to compile biographical pieces on and photographs of New Yorker cartoonists, and not market the book as a book of cartoons, the questionnaires used in this tome would be highly appropriate and informative in that type of setting. Maybe that's another idea. But the two shouldn't be combined, because the reader is left wanting either way, not getting enough cartoons or biographical stuff.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 15, 2013 5:26:35 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 15, 2013 6:15:54 PM PST
Sonechka says:
Ahem, you do not have to read the questionnaires. Just quickly turn the page and don't look (close your eyes while turning). "The cartoonists' egos should be left at the door." What is the source of this imperative? "Being a cartoonist is about showing off your work, not yourself." Are you sure? Source? "... but the two [biographical pieces and cartoons] shouldn't be combined." Another imperative. Source? "The reader is left wanting either way..." Speak for yourself, John. There is not a thing wrong with having an opinion -- I am simply mystified by the impersonal authority with which you make these pronouncements. Did you enjoy the cartoons at all? The book seems to have put you in a very sour mood. Art books about Rembrandt, Goya, Monet, Klee, Dali and so on usually include some biography, some remarks made by the artist, some photos of the artist, as well as reproductions of work by the artist. Are not cartoonists artists? I remain sceptically yours, Sonechka
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D. Low
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