293 Cartoons That Were Too Dumb, Too Dark, or Too Naughty for The New Yorker

Rescued by Matthew Diffee

Workman. 323 pp. Paperback, $13.95

‘The Best of the Rejection Collection: 293 Cartoons That Were Too Dumb, Too Dark, or Too Naughty for The New Yorker’ edited by Matthew Diffee (WORKMAN)

Robert Mankoff, the cartoon editor at the New Yorker, insists that if it were left to him alone, some of the cartoons that wound up in “The Best of the Rejection Collection” would have made it into the esteemed publication. But “others at the magazine have better judgment, more scruples, and greater respectability than I do,” he writes in a forward to this uproarious volume. The rejected cartoons were “rescued” by New Yorker cartoonist Matthew Diffee, who outlines 10 possible reasons editors turned up their noses , among them: too dumb, too dirty, too weird, too difficult to get — and, indeed, a few are impossible to understand.

But many are laugh-out-loud funny, combining the wit of the New Yorker with the gutter-view of Larry Flynt. What makes this book so pleasurable is that the quips are raunchy but the drawings are in the recognizable styles of Roz Chast, David Sipress, Leo Cullum, Gahan Wilson, William Haefeli and more than three dozen other New Yorker contributors; there’s also an amusing Q&A with each cartoonist.

“This collection,” Mankoff explains, “is yet more proof that bad taste and humor are not strange bedfellows but intimate partners whose down-and-dirty doings often delight us against our better judgment, our scruples, and our politically respectable attitudes.”

Steven Levingston