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Cartoon Culture

New Yorker Cartoon

(Published in The New Yorker August 4, 2008. Drawing by Michael Crawford.)

  • FP

    Is that supposed to be the real actual cartoon Mickey Mouse, or a guy in a suit? Why is a waiter wearing the suit? Is this a joke about Mickey Mouse and Disney, or a joke about the humorously lofty aspirations of a waiter, who just happens to be wearing a Mickey suit? How did he smuggle the Mickey suit out of Disneyland? Or is this supposed to be a restaurant in Disneyland? Are the patrons surprised because the guy is wearing a mouse suit, or because he wants to be a director? Can you get cheeseburgers in a place like that? Or is it one of those restaurants where you never even heard of anything on the menu?

  • Ron

    Like many new yorker cartoons this one is over my head. Is this supposed to be Mickey himself or a guy in a Mickey costume? In either case why is he waiting tables? Someone explain this to me. I honestly don’t get it.

  • Jones

    Man, that “I want to direct” joke is OLD. I remember Mad making that joke side by side with jabs at Spiro Agnew.

  • Jorge Garrido

    I don’t get it.

    Oh, and the line is “…but what i really want to do is direct.” You gotta have the ellipses, as if he just finished describing what he does NOW. it looks, reads, and sounds funnier. They used completely the wrong conjunction for this cartoon, and ruined the word music of the line.

    Having the quote start with an uncapitalized word is optional.

  • FP
  • David Cuny

    Wow, tough crowd.

    1. All actors, before becoming famous, worked as waiters.
    2. All actors want to be directors.

    Would a caption like “Before Mickey became a famous Disney star?” have helped?

  • Wes Riojas

    “Wow, tough crowd.”

    No, the cartoon is unclear. It’s confusing. It only made sense when I read Jorge Garrido’s comment.

    It’s a bad cartoon when you need blog comments to understand the joke.

  • Yep, my first read was, “Mickey is an actor, like all actors he wants to aspire to directing… not necessarily sticking to what he’s good at.” I thought it was pretty funny.

  • yeti

    Most of the comics I see in the papers go over my head because I’m not a courtier who’s supposed to know everything. This sorta thing happens all the time and it’s a shame to have to do any research to get a joke, but it’s not the cartoonists fault that they didn’t take all the informed persons to their refrence in the world into consideration. I don’t think this much of a “card tricks in the dark” instance at all.

  • Tommy

    If that’s supposed to be the real Mickey Mouse from the cartoons and no a guy in a suit, that’s the worst drawing of him I’ve ever seen and we’ve all seen tons of horrible drawings of Mickey.

    But no matter what: New Yorker cartoonists don’t seem to even try. I’d rather read Garfield.

  • Ouch. Well, I still think it could happen someday. Stay positive Mickey!

  • You think this is sad!
    Donald Duck is washing dishes at Outback.
    Bugs Bunny is driving a cab in the Bronx.
    And the less said about Speedy Gonzalez’s job in East L.A., the better.

  • …and, ultimately I want to be a cartoonist.

    Keep at it. Perhaps someday you’ll be one.

  • Matthew Sharp

    “…so I said to Walt, you can stick your contract, I’m going with Ubbe and Carl. Well, we all make mistakes…”


    “Hypocrisy, that’s what I call it! I mean, the Duck turns up on set without any pants, but they don’t fire him, do they?”

  • ridgecity

    This is Mickey working as a waiter before getting famous. That’s why I answer all waiter jobs instead of going to castings!

  • Dock Miles

    Interesting how many folks commenting on this one went back for second helpings of Obtuse. I’m sure they would all turn down gigs drawing for the New Yorker because it’s just too darned highbrow.

    Also, the “bad drawing of Mickey” notion is bizarre — as long as you recognize who it’s supposed to be, why can’t the cartoonist draw the character in his own style? Making too-exact renditions of Mickey is what gets you noticed by the thousand-eyed legal department at MegaDisney Inc.

  • Awesome. The New Yorker consistently creates some of the best strips around. I wonder their process is?

  • J Hobart B

    “Also, the ‘bad drawing of Mickey’ notion is bizarre — as long as you recognize who it’s supposed to be, why can’t the cartoonist draw the character in his own style?”

    I think the issue is just that the drawing looks more like the costumes from the Disney parks than the character from the cartoons. It obscures the point of the cartoon, because it’s unclear whether it’s a guy in a Mickey costume or Mickey himself.

    If he had drawn the character looking even a LITTLE more like an authentic Mickey from the films, it would be apparent what the joke was supposed to be instead of being so confusing.

    Of course, it only takes a couple seconds of thought to figure out that it only really makes sense one way, but when you’re only working with one panel and you’re (ostensibly) trying to make the reader laugh, you really need to make it read as quickly and clearly as possible.

  • Richard

    Anybody else thinking of Seinfeld?

    “I liked the kitty”.

  • Dock Miles

    >I think the issue is just that the drawing looks more like the costumes from the Disney parks than the character from the cartoons.

    That’s a good point. It may indeed indicate the cartoon is too convoluted (it’s an underemployed actor in a suit but we’re supposed to make the connection to the real Mickey, which is a jump too far).

    I wonder if anxiety about Disney harrumphs had anything to do with this? See the recent example of ripping off Jack Kirby and the subsequent bad press. These are bad times to be putting iconic images in New Yorker cartoons.