Size cartoons

From the latest issue of the New Yorker (for 4/26 & 5/3 2021), two cartoons (by Benjamin Schwartz and Zach Kanin) that qualify the magazine to be, not only the Technology Issue, but also the Size Issue: body size in the Schwartz, penis size in the Kanin.

Ahab and the whale. The Schwartz is a drawing for the weeks’ cartoon caption contest, showing Ahab and the whale, Moby-Dick, at the supermarket (Ahab and the whale is a cartoon meme frequently appearing on this blog; links on my Page on comic conventions).

(#1) This isn’t bad as a wordless cartoon, with a cute but gigantic whale looming over a decidedly anxious Ahab

Notes on size. In fact, the whale in #1 is, in proportion to Ahab and to the everyday fixtures in the cartoon, only about one-tenth the size of an actual blue whale: the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is the largest known animal, with the largest specimens being on the order of 100 feet in length. So Schwartz’s adorable creature is unrealistically small. But then it’s pushing a grocery cart in a supermarket, right behind a peglegged whaling captain (with his own cart), so I suppose we can forgive Schwartz for taking some other liberties with realism. Some things are different in CartoonWorld.

[Amendment on 4/24. As Robert Coren notes in a comment, Moby-Dick was not a blue whale, but a sperm whale, the species hunted for whale oil. Not as big as the blue whale, but still huge. From Wikipedia:

The sperm whale or cachalot (Physeter macrocephalus) is the largest of the toothed whales and the largest toothed predator.

… Mature males average 16 metres (52 ft) in length but some may reach 20.7 metres (68 ft)


Then, looking ahead to Kanin’s cartoon, I note that, in line with its body size, the blue whale has the largest penis of any animal, averaging in length from about 8 ft. to a bit under 10 ft., but quite thin (information from Wikipedia‘s entry on the blue whale penis). [Added 4/24. Sperm whale penises are apparently nearly as long.] Since Moby-Dick’s dick is longer than Ahab is tall, Ahab might feel anxious over what he would see as a threat to his masculinity (not to mention his physical safety).

The penis-exposure machine. A kind of masculine nightmare version of the airport scanner machine. The Kanin cartoon:

(#2) American size anxiety

Background: the scanner. From Wikipedia:

A full-body scanner is a device that detects objects on or inside a person’s body for security screening purposes, without physically removing clothes or making physical contact.

Background: penis size. One large studyBritish Journal of Urology International, “Am I normal? A systematic review and construction of nomograms for flaccid and erect penis length and circumference in up to 15 521 men” by David Veale, Sarah Miles, Sally Bramley, Gordon Muir,  John Hodsoll, published 12/8/14. According to this study, the average length of a flaccid penis is 3.61 inches, while the average length of an erect penis is 5.16 inches.

These figures are quite a bit lower than what American men believe to be average dick sizes, so that since these men tend to associate dick size with power and masculinity, there’s plenty of free-floating anxiety on their part about the size of their own penises. As above.

(There’s a Page on this blog with links to my postings about penis size.)



3 Responses to “Size cartoons”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    Minor nitpick: Moby-Dick was a sperm whale. So, not as big as a blue whale, but still a whole lot bigger than the one depicted in #1.

  2. Cetacean in aisle 3! The caption finalists | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] on this blog, in the 4/23/21 posting “Size cartoons”, about a Benjamin Schwartz drawing for the New Yorker cartoon caption […]

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