Cartoon critics Phil Witte and Rex Hesner look behind gags to debate what makes a cartoon tick. This week our intrepid critics take a look at football.
The annual journey to the Super Bowl is underway in packed stadiums filled with roaring fans. For the masses, however, the temple of their fevered partisanship is at home in front of a television. Millions of otherwise sane folk shout and groan at the flickering images before them. It’s madness…it’s football season.
The game itself is a stark, complex warfare played out on a dazzling green field. Those watching remotely are immersed in vivid displays augmented with instant replays and analytical overlays. The riveting display is so engaging, the warfare sometimes enters the home itself as shown in George Price’s opening season gem.
Published in 1988, the scene depicts a bygone era of analog TV—note the bent antennas–and home fur-nishings now associated with thrift store donations.
New Yorker cartoonists created an entire humor genre based on the perceived marital gulf over football watching. Frank Cotham takes a gentler approach–one of curiosity instead of hostility.
The artist contrasts the orderly arrangement of the wife’s side of the living room to her boorish husband’s rapidly growing heaps of beer bottles and cans.
How many have witnessed William Haefeli’s pointed standoff? The long-suffering wife can’t take it anymore and issues an ultimatum. Undeterred, her husband passionately argues to have it both ways.
The next cartoon in this sequence features an only-in-the-New Yorker hyper-intellectual caption mashup of psychology, philosophy, and sociology. Not surprisingly, this classic comes from the restless comedic mind of former New Yorker Cartoon Editor, Bob Mankoff.
Completing this sequence, a couple sits next to each other for the final game—the Super Bowl. Even the least curious tunes in for this cultural touchstone. The wife in David Sipress’ season-culminating satire asks a devastating question.
We move on to examine the peculiar trappings of fandom in the home. Paul Noth left no trademark item behind—including the “Cheesehead” headwear—to create this interior paean to Wisconsin’s Green Bay Packers.
Although talking during a movie is generally frowned upon, ranting at the TV during a football game is almost required. Here, fans loudly question the depth of the coverage in David Sipress’ home viewing scene.
Of course, the televised content itself comes in for ridicule. Jack Ziegler has an acute ear for the absurdity of athlete interviews.
Drew Dernavich takes the end zone touchdown celebration to a new level.
Television advertisements—particularly those aired during the Super Bowl—often rival the game itself in terms of entertainment. Here are a group of imaginative storylines for the famous Clydesdale horse ads by Emily Flake.
Seekers of wisdom from a guru at the top of a mountain will do well to check the sports page first in this cartoon by Joe Dator. Note that the wise man is supplied with plenty of refreshments.
We come full circle in Harry Bliss’ reimagining of the Garden of Eden. Could paradise have been saved by Monday Night Football?