An old hand, and two young hands

In the latest (12/21) New Yorker, two cartoons that especially caught my eye: one by a very old hand in the business, George Booth (now 94); the other by two young women (roughly 30), Sophie Lucido Johnson and Sammi Skolmoski (both of whom are writers as well as artists). The Booth is an absurd literalization of the idiom (put the) cart before the horse. The SLJ/SS is wryly funny as it stands, but gains immeasurably if you know about a particular children’s book.

Booth, carts, and horses. The cartoon, including reactions from a Booth dog:


The horse, with enormous hooves firmly planted on the ground, seems decidedly alarmed. And then the passerby appears to be assuming, preposterously, that the cart before the horse is some kind of accident or lapse of attention. (Compare: “Excuse me, sir, have you noticed that your child is all eyes?”)

From Wikipedia:

The expression cart before the horse is an idiom or proverb used to suggest something is done contrary to a convention or culturally expected order or relationship. A cart is a vehicle which is ordinarily pulled by a horse, so to put the cart before the horse is an analogy for doing things in the wrong order.

But in the phrase cart before the horse itself things are not merely in the wrong order, as if you’d served dessert before the main course, but in an impossibly wrong order: if the cart is literally before the horse (as in Booth’s cartoon), the purpose of pairing cart with horse is utterly defeated.

As an idiom, however, the phrase is understood only figuratively, with the muted ‘wrong order’ understanding. No cart impedes the efforts of any horse; it’s just an analogy.

As for Booth and his cartoons, there’s a page on these on this blog.

Genuine hunger, or eating out of boredom. The SS/SJL cartoon:

“Are you sure you’re very hungry? Or are you maybe just eating because you’re bored?” (#2)

Caterpillars are by nature voracious; they’re storing up food for their metamorphosis. In the cartoon, however, the caterpillar speaker opts instead for a shallow analysis of motive. That’s funny as it stands.

But that is not just any very hungry caterpillar. That’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the title character of the 1969 children’s picture book (about metamophosis), designed, illustrated, and written by Eric Carle. Carle’s caterpillar:


(More on the Carle in a section of my 7/27/15 posting “Bacteriological picture books”.)

SLJ and SS haven’t appeared on this blog, so a few words about them.

The “about” section from Sophia Lucido Johnson’s website begins:

Sophie is a cartoonist and writer who lives in Chicago.
Here’s a collection of Sophie’s published writing.
Here’re her cartoons slash comics.
Here’s stuff about the book she wrote.

(with links to each of these, plus other links as well).

And the “about” section of Sammi Skolmoski’s website tells us that she’s a writer/artist who currently lives and works in Chicago; and that she teaches courses at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

I note that both view their writing as of equal significance to their artwork.

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