Gag cartoons

Today’s Zippy:

On the desert island theme:

A man on a deserted island is also a hugely popular image for gag cartoons, the island being conventionally depicted as just a few yards across with a single palm tree. (link)

On gag cartoons in general:

A gag cartoon (aka panel cartoon or gag panel) is most often a single-panel cartoon, usually including a hand-lettered or typeset caption beneath the drawing. A pantomime cartoon carries no caption. In some cases, dialogue may appear in speech balloons, following the common convention of comic strips.

As the name implies—”gag” being a show business term for a comedic idea—these cartoons are most often intended to provoke laughter. Popular magazines that have featured gag cartoons include Punch, The New Yorker and Playboy.

… There are some well-established themes which recur regularly in gag cartoons. These themes are often adapted to suit the context of the cartoon. Popular themes include: desert, desert island,  talking animals, take me to your leader. (link)

For a dog-in-a-bar cartoon, a panel by the great gag cartoonist Leo Cullum (from the New Yorker, 8/11/97):

And one in which the dog does the talking (not published in the New Yorker, but it’s in its cartoon bank):

Here’s a desert-island Cullum (in the New Yorker of 7/28/08), one of many he drew:

Some words on Cullum, who died on October 23, 2010, from William Grimes’s obit in the NYT:

Leo Cullum, a cartoonist whose blustering businessmen, clueless doctors, venal lawyers and all-too-human dogs and cats amused readers of The New Yorker for the past 33 years, died on Saturday in Los Angeles.

Mr. Cullum, a TWA pilot for more than 30 years, was a classic gag cartoonist whose visual absurdities were underlined, in most cases, by a caption reeled in from deep left field. “I love the convenience, but the roaming charges are killing me,” a buffalo says, holding a cellphone up to its ear. “Your red and white blood cells are normal,” a doctor tells his patient. “I’m worried about your rosé cells.” [the doctor-patient theme]

Mr. Cullum seemed to have a particular affinity for the animal kingdom. His comic sympathies extended well beyond dogs, cats and mice to embrace birds — “When I first met your mother, she was bathed in moonlight,” a father owl tells his children — and even extended to the humbler representatives of the fish family. “Some will love you, son, and some will hate you,” an anchovy tells his child. “It’s always been that way with anchovies.”

On this blog, I’ve posted Cullum’s “We need to talk” cartoon (on the caveman theme, from the New Yorker of 12/25/95) here, and described this “self-deprecation” cartoon (on the corporate boardroom theme, from the New Yorker of 12/18/00) here:

7 Responses to “Gag cartoons”

  1. Death at play « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] figure of the Grim Reaper is one of stock subjects of gag cartoons; as I said in a discussion of a Bob Mankoff Reaper cartoon: The cartoon depends on all sorts of […]

  2. In the comics « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] are three gag cartoons from my recent gleanings. First, a New Yorker cartoon by Jack Ziegler (one of many cartoons on the […]

  3. subtexting « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] Leo Cullum cartoon from the New Yorker a while back, passed on by Christina Zable on […]

  4. Peter Davis Says:

    I believe there must be many extremely funny single panel gag cartoons that don’t end up in the New Yorker

  5. Peter Davis Says:

    Hello Arnold: I would like to see a cartoon calendar to compete with the New Yorker’s version.

  6. eggs over easily | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] And then there’s a cartoon in the style of New Yorker cartoonist Leo Cullum: […]

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