Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Well, There's Your Problem."

1980, first edition, from Pantheon
Edward Koren
"Well, There's Your Problem."
Original price $8.95, purchase price unknown
Good condition hardcover with torn dustjacket

For 50 years, Koren has been a cartoonist for The New Yorker, along with a few other jobs, like art professor.  This doesn't really surprise me, because one, New Yorker contributors often work there for decades, as we've seen; and two, there's something very lovable about these furry yet prickly creatures he creates, the humans as well as the monsters and birds.  And these are not clearly three distinct species in his world anyway.  Monsters eagerly play the late '70s swinging singles scene, while long-haired and sometimes bearded humans glower and sulk. 

Perhaps the most famous cartoon in this collection-- I saw it in a Sociology textbook-- is that of a wife bringing in an anniversary cake, celebrating not only the wonderful years together, but the so-so and the rotten.  The cartoon that made me laugh out loud hard this time was of a woman's contagious depression affecting the entire household.  Koren acknowledges darker emotions, including destructive rages, but he also shows a world of acceptance-- the father praising the little girl's painting, the spouses and lovers praising their partners to friends, the hostess who's pleased to have a living-room-ful of monsters.  And meanwhile the birds make their social rounds.

The title quote comes from a cartoon where a mechanic finds a smiling monster under the hood.  It seems at once a very obvious but a very difficult problem to solve.  And it's one of many bizarre yet relatable moments in this amiable, fuzzy world.

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