Hand vs. Head: The Cartoon Genius of Ronald Searle
The individual elements in this cover, from the slyly contented cat to the splendidly rococo desserts, are all graphic comic charmers in and of themselves. It all works even before we “get” the idea, which, in this case, I don’t completely. For myself, as a “head” cartoonist, the idea on this cover is actually somewhat confusing. Thought balloons in cartoons like this usually represent desire. Fair enough, the cat wants a fish. But does he desire a fish instead of these lovingly drawn desserts? Hmm. Then why does the cat have that slight smile running across his face? If this were just a simply drawn “head” cartoon, by someone like me, it wouldn’t merit much attention, but because it came from the outrageously talented hand of Ronald Searle, we remain transfixed and as contented as that cat.
- Cartoon Editor Bob Mankoff on cartoonist Ronald Searle (1920-2011). For more on the difference between a “hand” and a “head” cartoonist, and a selection
of Searle’s New Yorker cartoons: http://nyr.kr/wxRBlD