DI Halloween

In the 10/26 daily cartoon by Ellis Rosen on the New Yorker site, Halloween comes to two guys on a Desert Island:

(#1) In real life, trick-or-treaters sometimes appear at a house unexpectedly, causing the residents to scramble to find some candy, or something, to give them — now, relocate this mundane scene to a cartoon-memic Desert Island

Pretty much anything that a cartoonist transports from real life to the DI situation is going to be deeply absurd: Where, on a tiny bit of beach in the middle of a tropical ocean, would some candy be stashed, especially without the castaways knowing about it? And how did a boat of trick-or-treaters find their way to the island? (Why, in fact, would they go to such trouble for such a slight chance of reward?)

But then every Desert Island is a theatre of the absurd.

So much for the basics. Now to branch off in several directions.

Two guys under a palm tree. Two male castaways, both barefoot, battered, and disheveled, both with wild hair and overgrown beards. That and a single guy of this description are the most common DI inhabitants. Occasionally, a mixed-sex couple. Three people seem to be too many for the limited space. And cartoon marooning seems to affect a single woman or a pair of women extremely rarely, if at all; it’s mostly a guy thing.

Ellis Rosen’s two men are, unusually, sharply distinguished: L guy with curly blond hair, R guy with spiky dark hair. Cartoonists are given to modeling (some of) their characters on people they know (including themselves), and that might be true here. Here’s Rosen’s self portrait:

(#2) Lose the glasses and put him out in the sun and salt air without grooming supplies for, oh, a month, and you’ve got someone a lot like R guy in #1; but R guy could just be generic castaway guy (L guy is something else, however)

From his site:

Ellis Rosen is a cartoonist, writer and illustrator living in Brooklyn, NY. His work appears regularly in The New Yorker, as well as The New York Times, MAD Magazine, The Washington Post, Wired, The Paris Review, Late Night with Seth Meyers and AirMail. He has also done several comics for the Daily Shouts section on TheNewYorker.com. He is the co-editor for the upcoming cartoon anthology: Send Help! Read his weekly cartoon series, Junk Drawer at GoComics.com.

Ah, the forthcoming anthology, a collection of desert island cartoons (from various sources), edited by Rosen and fellow New Yorker cartoonist Jon Adams (scheduled for release on 11/9):


Connections. Looking at Ellis Rosen’s Twitter page, I came across his links to stories about the attempted censorship of Lev Rosen’s young adult novel Jack of Hearts (and other parts). Well, Rosen is a very common name, so I thought nothing of its recurrence here, but as a gay man I was certainly intrigued by the tale of Jack of Hearts (and other parts). The publisher’s copy for it:

Jack has a lot of sex — and he’s not ashamed of it. While he’s sometimes ostracized, and gossip constantly rages about his sex life, Jack always believes that “it could be worse.”

(#4) Book cover: focus on content

But then, the worse unexpectedly strikes: When Jack starts writing a teen sex advice column for an online site, he begins to receive creepy and threatening love letters that attempt to force Jack to curb his sexuality and personality. Now it’s up to Jack and his best friends to uncover the stalker — before their love becomes dangerous.

(#5) Book cover: focus on visuals

Ground-breaking and page-turning, Jack of Hearts (and other parts) celebrates the freedom to be oneself, especially in the face of adversity.

The sex advice for teens is frank, direct, raw, detailed — also cheerful and humane. Worth publishing on its own. It’s also most of what conservative and religious-based critics object to so furiously.

So I looked at the Lev AC Rosen / L. C. Rosen site:

Lev Rosen writes books for people of all ages, most recently Camp [a young adult novel] … His next book, Lavender House [an adult historical mystery], will be released fall of 2022. He lives in NYC with his husband and a very small cat.

… [also] two middle-grade books: Woundabout (illustrated by his brother, Ellis Rosen), and The Memory Wall. And [the] young adult [novel] Jack of Hearts (and other parts)

So: (no surprise) openly gay — but also Ellis’s brother. Everything’s connected to everything else.

2 Responses to “DI Halloween”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    On Facebook:

    Joel B Levin: Interestingly, in the email newsletter (the New Yorker humor newsletter) that featured this cartoon, the second cartoon was from another category you often post about, the psychiatrist meme – here the doc and patient are both jack-o-lanterns.

    Arnold Zwicky: Not *so* much of a surprise. Those two memes are especially open-ended, allowing all sorts of content to be imported into them.

  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    The marooned-cartoons book has now arrived, and the “About the Editors” page at the end of the book makes it clear that the L guy in #1 is Adams, the R guy Rosen.

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