The second Rejection Collection is very similar to the first in that it is a wonderfully funny collection of cartoons that didn’t make it into the New Yorker magazine for various (and obvious) reasons. There are a few returning artists, and a few new artists featured, and one is bound to like quite a few of them. This makes it, cartoon-wise, a wonderful look at what cartoonists and editors think shouldn’t be published, and it’s hilarious.
My problem with this second volume is in the more “book” part. There is a questionnaire filled out by each cartoonist, and unlike the first book, where such a paper was very open-ended and allowed for a lot of creativity, this one seems more locked down and contrived. This is ironically (I used the word correctly here, just watch) because it is trying to do the opposite. In trying to intentionally create an open-ended and interesting form, the result is a form that makes the authors’ humor seem forced. Only those who really break all of the form’s rules are very entertaining to read. Only a few are complete duds, and in general they are a bit of fun. They also tend to provide a less-insightful look at the cartoonist, in my opinion. I guess the form had to be different, because some of the artists return, but I do wish that it was more like the original.
That being said, there are certainly some funny and informative moments in the book, and the paper and humor are of a high-enough quality that I don’t feel ripped off. I’d say if you came for the cartoons, the book is great, but if you came to get a closer look at the minds of some of the New Yorker cartoonists, some heavier considerations might be weighed, and the first collection might be better. It’ll take longer to read than the first, and it’s certainly funny, but I just don’t think it’s quite as good.
I love cartoons of all types. While many people express dislike for the standard newspaper cartoons that are everywhere, I love them. But I also like cartoons featured in other places, like online or in magazines. And while I do appreciate the family-friendly, I’m not really a fan of censoring cartoonists. Which is where the Rejection Collection comes in.
Here is a collection of wonderful cartoons that couldn’t appear in the New Yorker magazine for various reasons. Most of them are wondrously funny, and those that I personally don’t like will definitely be enjoyed by others. And since most of these cartoonists do work for the New Yorker, the jokes that might be distasteful are presented in at least an appropriate and (almost) intelligent manner.
Accompanying the cartoons is a collection of forms filled out by the various artists to represent themselves. These forms are somewhat tedious, but in many cases you get to find out fascinating and funny things. In other cases it’s clearly a joke, but at least you find out the cartoonist’s sense of humor. Occasionally there is one who unfortunately takes it seriously (I would if the New Yorker sent me a questionnaire), and these can be skipped. The drawing and answers in this portion really make the book, in my opinion, as otherwise it would just be a collection of mostly obscene jokes done by New Yorker cartoonists. And while there is a market for that thing (I would buy it if I had a lot of money laying around, while I’d buy this with just a little more money than I currently have, as my copy was a gift). The cartoons are fun though quite fast, and the only thing that makes this a book and not a collection of cartoons are the forms.
This book is a wonderful insight into both the heads of cartoonists and what will and will not get published. It is hilarious and well drawn. The execution is what one would expect from the New Yorker: excellent.