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Very Semi-Serious: A Partially Thorough Portrait of New Yorker Cartoonists 

Wednesday, Nov 18 2015
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To most Americans, The New Yorkeris a magazine they choose not to flip through in waiting rooms, but to a much smaller subset of the population, it's the source of some of the best single-panel cartoons of the past century. (Even better thanThe Family Circus, if you can imagine that.) Leah Wolchok's documentaryVery Semi-Serious: A Partially Thorough Portrait of New Yorker Cartoonistsis a somewhat comedic look at some but not all of the people who've contributed cartoons over the years, as well as the magazine's cartoon editor Bob Mankoff. The recurring themes are of how to remain relevant in the modern world — Mankoff is dedicated to bringing in new and diverse voices that aren't just white men — as well as the role that humor plays in working through times of darkness and grief, exemplified by the magazine relocating to One World Trade Center. Although set in an insular culture,Very Semi-Seriousmakes the experiences of the struggling cartoonists universal to anyone who tries to do anything creative, especially how in spite of the glory that comes from having your cartoons published, it doesn't come close to being a career or even paying the rent. In that respect, it's kinda like a being a film critic, minus the "glory" part.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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