Light, urbane, and frequently silly, this cartoon collaboration between actor Martin and the New Yorker’s Bliss combines the former’s dry wit and the latter’s whimsical drawing style. Started as a series of ideas batted back and forth between the duo—a working process charmingly lampooned in a few drawings scattered throughout—the book’s one-page cartoons hit typical New Yorker themes. That means wry animals (one sloth saying to another, “I wish I had your energy”), dog gags (one canine begs on the street with a sign reading “I have no thumbs”), and referencing artists from Van Gogh to Rauschenberg, with word play that feels like the start of an improv comedy sketch (under the label “Really Popular Mechanics,” a woman asks two men in overalls, “Can you both sing at Jody’s bar mitzvah?”). Martin and Bliss stay up-to-date in their humor, and some cartoons land as cheekily pointed, as with one of a farm stand selling “square tomatoes” and “blue pumpkins” next to a Monsanto facility. This refreshing tonic of a collection feels perfect for flipping through on a Sunday after an especially trying crossword puzzle. Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM & Holly McGhee, Pippin. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
"Surreal, silly, satirical and, at times, oddly moving"
The Washington Post
"A sweetly goofy team effort by the king of slapstick and the lauded cartoonist."
"A witty cartoon collection that’s the result of two different comedic minds."
Parade, "These 10 New Books From the Biggest and Brightest Celebrities Will Be Holiday Must-Reads"
The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.
Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.
A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.