The New Yorker's Animated Cartoons

By 04/16/2008
The New Yorker's Animated Cartoons

Drawn from a roster of talent consisting of macabre Charles Addams (who later inspired the Addams Family) to cartographic Saul Steinberg, the tome of The New Yorker’s cartoons is the greatest American contribution to sketched, intellectual wit and irreverent socio-political commentary outside of Gafield minus Garfiield.

And the greatest contribution to The New Yorker’s cartoons, outside of Gawker’s fantastic but disappointingly short-lived fauxtoon column, are RingTales’ moving adaptations of the drawings, bringing the static sketches to simple, animated life.

In February 2007, the production company founded by Jim Cox and Michael Fry (you know, the two dudes behind Over the Hedge?) was awarded the “exclusive license to animate and distribute the New Yorker library of over 70,000 cartoons.” Originally produced with only iTunes in mind, over the past several months The New Yorker RingTales have quietly made their way onto YouTube.

A weekly delight of erudite cosmopolitans and suburban intellectuals, I understand wtf is going on in about…oh…55% of New Yorker cartoons, so it’s good to know Ringtales is sticking true to the originals and not making them any more accessible. You either get ’em or you don’t, but they’re quick enough where, either way, you don’t care. Watching 15 seconds of over-my-head esoterica beats labored explanations any minute of the day.

The crude movements and inelegant renderings also stay true to form. You don’t need the title card or the author bylines (which provide each short clip with a nice ending) to know Eustace Tilley was involved.

But while some cartoons lend well to animation (watching the legless frog in the above wheel his little self out of the kitchen is a delight), others should’ve just staid stationary. Like Marilyn Monroe, classics are better left alone.