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Funny Ladies: The New Yorker's Greatest Women Cartoonists And Their Cartoons Hardcover – October 3, 2005

3.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Business, golf and kids have all got their own cartoon spotlights via The New Yorker, so why not women? Instead of a cartoon collection, however, this is an exhaustive survey of the history of the few women cartoonists at the august magazine. Donnelly, a cartoonist herself, got access to the New Yorker's vast library of correspondence, so the book is full of in-depth accounts of spats between cartoonists such as Helen Hokinson and Barbara Shermund and legendary editors Harold Ross and Wallace Shawn. The result is a bonanza for those looking for raw material to analyze society's changing attitudes toward women and humor as reflected in the most highbrow of magazines. Where it comes up short, ironically, is the cartoons themselves, which are scattered throughout the book without identifying captions. Donnelly does offer insights into the careers of the early pioneers as they try to find material that suits them. A 20-year gap (1951–1972)during which almost no new women were introduced to the magazine speaks for itself, but woman are better represented today with such stars as Roz Chast and Marisa Acocella Marchetto. As history, Funny Ladies is essential, but it can't match the eloquence of the cartoons. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Cartoons constitute one of the New Yorker's greatest selling points, with Charles Addams' paranormal world sometimes followed on the next page by Jules Feiffer's social commentary. Donnelly, a cartoonist for the magazine for more than 20 years, chronicles the female cartoon contributors from the Jazz Baby and Bathtub Gin days satirized by such cartoonists as Helen Hokinson and Helen Harvey to the present. She provides social context, biographies, and, above all, analysis and interpretation of these women's work and relationships with their editors. Previously unpublished material from the magazine's archives complements an entertaining text already replete with representative examples from its pages, such as Mary Petty's drawing of ultrasophisticates drinking as one woman gossips, "She's not going to divorce him quite yet. She thinks he has another book in him"; and Donnelly's own wry commentary on chic New York rooftop parties, "O.K., everybody. Let's eat before the food gets dirty." This coffee-table book including extra photos, bibliography, endnotes and a foreword by Feiffer should attract social historians, both pros and hobbyists, like flies. Whitney Scott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 217 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (October 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591023440
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591023449
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 0.8 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,233,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. Kelly Wagner on May 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is not a cartoon collection, it's a history - but it does include cartoons by every one of the cartoonists mentioned. It slightly before the founding of The New Yorker, with how the magazine came to be, and how Ross's independent wife (her name was Jane Grant, and she didn't change it when she got married) was an influence on what he expected the readership of the magazine to be, and who he would accept as writers and illustrators.

Some of the highlights: learning more about Helen Hokinson, much of whose stuff is still funny; the sad fate of Mary Petty. There was a little too much about Donnelly herself in there, but I guess I can understand the impulse. This really did bring out some of the developments in the glass ceiling for particular kinds of women artists.

When one thinks about WW2, and women filling jobs that used to be men's, one thinks of Rosie the Riveter - until I read this book, it had not occurred to me that women also filled the men's jobs as cartoonists at The New Yorker! The section on the war era includes some of the funniest cartoons.

Of course Roz Chast is included in here - quite possibly my favorite contemporary cartoonist. I greatly enjoyed the details about how she got into cartooning, and seeing how changes in her own stages of life have made it into her cartoons.

I think the book as a whole is the same sort of mix as the magazine - interesting articles, punctuated by cartoons. So if you like the magazine, you should enjoy the book!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I have long been a fan of New Yorker cartoons, though mainly those printed before 1970. This book gives some wonderful history on the forgotten women cartoonists of the New Yorker, especially Helen Hokinson, Mary Petty, and Barbara Shermund and is worth buying for that and the cartoons alone. However, a huge chunk of the book is taken up with the author's own story and the work of numerous newer (and in my opinion, lesser) female cartooning talents. I recommend the book to any fan of classic New Yorker cartoons, but warn that approximately the last third of the book is concerned with latter day talents and their (often somewhat bizarre and off the wall) work.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Love the book but the KINDLE edition is full of flaws: spelling errors, faulty paragraph alignment and - worst of all - no links to the footnotes whose numbering is also off. I would have loved to follow up on some of her sources but the notes are simply not there. This is my first bad experience with a KINDLE book, though...
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Format: Hardcover
Sure, the New Yorker cartoon set a benchmark, but too many at once and they all kinda blur into one... The 'greatest' no doubt, but still not all that great - pix effete, etiolated and rather few in number, text excruciatingly, yawn-inducingly bland when not downright alarming. Donnelly can pen inanities like 'succumb to the easier road'* (the last chapter is the purest waffle). Why write continue ON rather than just plain ol' continue? Likewise outside OF, fine in colloquial use but not, where such an august journal is concerned, in print. And I do wish she could get her head around straitjacket. Strait = narrow (eg the Straits of Gibraltar) so a straitjacket's a mighty tight critter. Neither can Connelly spell Bretécher, the French Feiffer (four volumes in English between 1978 and 1985). But, most unforgivable of all, there's way too much of herself - there's even a pic ostensibly showing new cartoon editor Bob Mankoff that includes two other males, her cartoonist husband and peripheral writer Hendrik Herzberg, and guess who as lone extraneous female? Well I never! She should take a leaf out of the indefatigable (and self-effacing) Trina Robbins's book(s). Barbara Smaller has the best gags here - most of them, ironically, not illustrated - while the best artist by a country mile has to be Mary Kay Brown (a 200-page career retrospective came out last year) though you'd never guess that from the work on display here. Marisa Acocella Marchetto's also better known as a feisty strip cartoonist. Feist - it's not what the New Yorker is about. The brutal truth is that the non-political cartoon is passé. Sequential art has the firepower and the glory. Even the New Yorker first ran strips from 1931 (The Little King).Read more ›
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