The single-panel cartoons peppering the pages of The New Yorker are renowned for timely wit and laugh-out-loud captions. And while creating a winning cartoon is notoriously difficult—just ask anyone who has brainstormed for the magazine’s weekly caption-writing contest—most contributing cartoonists have developed a good feel for what cartoon editor Robert Mankoff is after. Even so, they often miss the mark. By a lot. Cartoonist Matthew Diffee, who has been published more than 200 times in The New Yorker, helped Workman Publishing gather up some of the most spectacular failures for The Best of the Rejection Collection, out this week.
There’s no set criteria for what makes a New Yorker cartoon, Diffee explains, but most are 86ed for being one (or more) of the following: too lowbrow, too politically incorrect, too dark, too weird, too political, too difficult to get, too dumb, too bad, or too dirty. “This collection is yet more proof that bad taste and humor are not strange bedfellows but intimate partners whose down-and-dirty doings often delight us against our better judgment, our scruples, and our politically respectable attitudes,” he writes. Without further ado, meet a selection of the progeny of that intimate partnership. If your sensibility or taste are offended, well, welcome to Mankoff’s daily hell.