Loser's Guide to Life
I saw a cartoon from Punch recently in a collection from the 1860s. A train guard is opening the external door to a compartment in one of the old corridorless trains, I believe, and there is a whole lot of smoke wafting out.
GUARD: SOME ONE BEEN SMOKING, I THINK?
PASSENGER: WHAT! SMOKING? THAT'S VERY REPREHENSIBLE. PERHAPS IT WAS THE CLERICAL GENTLEMAN WHO HAS JUST GOT OUT OF THE NEXT COMPARTMENT.
And sure enough there is a clerical gentleman walking away on the platform among the baggage carriers and other people, with their bags, dead pheasants, fishing rods and so on. A great deal of draughtsmanship and cross-hatching and detail for such a meager gag, you might think, but I suppose they were after bigger game than the simple “gag” back then. It's really an interesting drawing that happens to have a little joke at the centre. Modern cartoons are the opposite: the whole point is the gag and the drawing should be subservient to it. In fact, most modern cartoons are completely incomprehensible if you take away the caption. Nay, more—there are now only three or four indispensable cartoon drawings which can be variously suited to all the possible captions that you could have. Usually two people looking at each other. Or one person facing the viewer while a fat pet animal eats pizza or something.
Labels: Old Humour