As Prospect’s cartoon editor, I have the task of sifting through the many cartoons that we receive each month, before the editor makes a final choice of the ten or so we publish in the magazine. (And we always welcome cartoon submissions: email cartoons at prospect-magazine.co.uk). It is, as you’d expect, a fun job, involving a lot of laughing, something which cannot be said about the chore of sorting through the articles that we are sent. I often find that the cartoons en masse capture the Zeitgeist, highlighting the subjects that people are thinking about the most. At the moment, it seems to be carbon emissions, obesity and Facebook.
At the same time, there are the perennial topics for cartoons, or cliches if you prefer. But, while cliches and good writing do not mix, a hackneyed setting is no bar to a funny cartoon. In fact, the cliche often adds to the humour, with the joke lying in the updating of the familiar setting to recent events. Mostly for my own amusement, I’ve compiled a list of the top cartoon cliches, illustrated by some of the best cliched cartoons Prospect has published over the years. (Thanks to all the cartoonists involved for letting me use their work.)
The runners-up are: 20. Confessionals. 19. Medieval sieges. 18. “Back in 5 minutes” signs. 17. Adam and Eve. 16. Cavemen. 15. Fairy tales (especially the three bears, the three little pigs and Rapunzel). 14. Business meetings. 13. Ordering in a restaurant. 12. Witch hunts. 11. Hell.
And so, without further ado, here are Prospect’s top 10 cartoon cliches.
10. The Grim Reaper by Benita Epstein
“Is there a Mrs Grim Reaper?”
9. Job interviews by Marc Tyler Nobleman