If you're like me, the kind of person who does stuff, you will inevitably face rejection. For some people, that rejection comes in the form of an official rejection slip or a coldly spoken "no thank-you" for others it's a slap across the face or a splashed mojito in same. (For at least one of my Texan friends, it's a restraining order), but for cartoonists at The New Yorker, rejection comes in the form of silence. It's not getting a phone call on Thursday. Let me tell you all about it
Each of the forty or fifty regular cartoonists at The New Yorker has the recommended task of coming up with ten cartoons a week. Yep, ten every week. We bring this batch of ten ideas into the NYer offices or fax them in from afar every Tuesday. Bob Mankoff, our cartoon editor, looks them over and selects a stack to present to David Remnick, the Editor of the magazine. This happens on Wednesday in the art meeting where an undisclosed process, which may or may not include the use of darts, results in the decision of which fifteen to twenty gags will be purchased that week. On Thursday, a lucky few cartoonists get a phone call to tell them that they sold one of their ten. The rest of us get rejected.
The Rejection Collection: Cartoons You Never Saw and Never Will See in The New Yorker puts together some of the best of those rejects. I accepted them for the book because they're funny but most of them were rejected from the NYer for good reason. I mean it is a fancy pants literary magazine we're talking about here -- with an award-winning history of high-end wit and journalism. Some of these cartoons would stand out in its pages like a lobster among puppies.
I'd like to show you now a few cartoons from the book along with the probable reason why they would be considered inappropriate for The New Yorker:
Reason Number One: Too Sexually Explicit
The NYer is by no means prudish, but there is a line and many of these cartoons cross it. (like Carl Lewis being chased by bees.)
Here's a good example by David Sipress.
"Hello... tech support?"
Reason Number Four: Too Scatological.
There's a reason why you've never seen The New Yorker Book of Poop Jokes
Here's a classy one by Pat Byrnes:
Reason Number Eighteen: Too Dumb.
The thought is that cartoons of this type would offend the sensibilities of the NYer readership which ranges from big city intellectuals to small town intellectuals. But I say, nothing makes an intellectual laugh like a good dumb joke. (See, now you have to laugh at the dumb ones or people might think you aren't an intellectual and don't we all want to be intellectuals? You bet yer butt we do.)
Here's a wonderfully dumb one from Pete Mueller, a true intellectual.
Reason Number Sixty-Two: Coarse Language
Some things are better left unsaid.
This cartoon comes from, who else, Sam Gross.
Well there you have it --three more reasons why this book won't be on Oprah.
That's it for this one, but don't forget to check out our Rejection Collection Caption Contest here, and keep an eye out for the next one. We'll hear what Mankoff himself has to say about all this.