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 introverts.
Lockdown … social distance … shelter-in-place. These terms cause the extroverts among us to quail, “Will this ever end?” For another group, however, those concepts are gifts from heaven: the introverts.
You’ve seen them at social gatherings; when all around is merriment and tinkling laughter, they’re gripping a drink in terror. Jack Ziegler perfectly captures that party anxiety with his shy guest’s fifteen-foot-high thought balloon.
Of course, one doesn’t progress through adulthood without developing some coping abilities. Oftentimes, a life partner of the opposite temperament will provide coaching for uncomfortable social situations. The results sometimes vary, as Harry Bliss illustrates in his cocktail party setting.
As Mick Stevens points out, even the most reclusive of mild-mannered men can undergo a Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation when behind a computer keyboard.
In the opening months of 2020, introverts endured the final, awkward social encounters of the year. James Stevenson anticipates the stay-at-home trend by over thirty years.
… and then, the coronavirus crisis was upon us. Social engagements slid off the calendar in record numbers. Not all couples were displeased, as shown in Bruce Kaplan’s backyard cartoon.
Introverts were released from the bondage of dragging to work in don’t-notice-me outfits and avoiding social chitchat. As office buildings closed, new norms were established in houses and apartments across the country. During work hours, comfort over fashion ruled in home offices as presaged by Amy Hwang.
Even during after-work evening hours, introverted couples savor their “me” time. P. C. Vey constructs a scene of parallel isolation with this subdued couple sharing the same room.
Routine is important, whether at home or at the office. Frank Cotham recognizes this need in a housebound introvert and constructs a believable scenario. Note the room’s barrenness and uninviting banister to “downstairs”.
Liquor stores around the nation report record sales during the pandemic restrictions. Our neat and well-behaved homebody has worked her way deep into both book and bottle this evening. The details in Charlie Hankin’s cartoon—framed artwork, arranged furnishings, erect posture of the reader—all visually attest to her orderliness.
Equally orderly, this discriminating reader has an imagined relationship with his authors and expresses it out loud. It’s also easy to imagine long, one-way conversations between the book lover and the contented doggie by the fire. Harry Bliss’s character doesn’t get out much, nor does he care.
Taken to an extreme, this recluse self-isolates for an entire season versus the usual fourteen days. Charles Barsotti’s elegant drawing style elicits equal measures of humor and pathos.
We conclude with Jody Zellman’s believable setting of a room in which a meeting is imminent. Once we read the sign, however, we know this one will never be attended. Why would introverts voluntarily leave the comforts of home to pour out their souls for a gathering of strangers? No awkward get-togethers, no boisterous restaurants, no fake bonding by the coffee machine at work—a triumph for the introverts.