Towards a taxonomy of New Yorker cartoons

The New Yorker wouldn’t be The New Yorker without the cartoons. I rarely read all, or even half, of the articles (like many people I suspect) but without doubt every subscriber sees every cartoon.
And like many people I wonder what to do with the ever growing piles of magazines, so hard to throw out yet so impossible to return to when there’s another 50,000+ words waiting in the mailbox each week.
Call it Covid-desperation or inspiration, it occurred to me the other day that I might collect together some examples of one of my favourite recurrent themes: cavemen/women/prehistoric creatures reflecting on one or another timeless condition of existence.
Which led me to think about themes in cartoons generally. Think of how many times you find these scenes: couples at home, two people standing at a cocktail party, jogging or visiting the art gallery/museum, talking animals, furniture or appliances, parent to parent or parent to child or child to parent, between women, between men. There are specialized themes too: doctors and other professionals, magicians, prehistory (as mentioned), military, historical…
Which led me to consider going through my stacks of New Yorkers to test this hypothesis: that NYer cartoons can be meaningfully grouped or categorized.

Caption: An example of “self-referentiality” in New Yorker cartoons. Most cartoonists reflect on themselves and their art from from time to time. This example remarkably engages more directly with the reader than most, playing physically with the caption (requiring no small effort, one imagines, in terms of digital typesetting). I would have liked to see some other words/letters already missing from the caption or even some letters scooped up from the surrounding article!

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