Cartoonist Paul Karasik takes us behind the image

Cartoonist Paul Karasik will display a series of New Yorker cartoons and deconstruct them at Islanders Write. — Photo by Ivy Ashe/The Vineyard Gazette; Courtesy Paul Karasik

West Tisbury resident Paul Karasik, lecturer, author, and New Yorker cartoonist, will take his audience behind the cartoon scene for a look at how — and why — cartoons work at 2 pm, Monday, August 14, at the “Islanders Write” (IW) conference at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury.

The event, sponsored by The MV Times and Arts & Ideas magazine, is part of the all-day conference on the art, craft, and business of writing. Complete details are available at

Mr. Karasik’s work has been regularly published in the New Yorker magazine for more than a decade. At IW, Mr. Karasik will display a series of New Yorker cartoons and deconstruct them, which sounds dangerous but is actually interesting and often humorous. Deconstruction is a backstage view of how the cartoon is put together, all the inner workings.

“Despite E.B. White’s famous saying, ‘Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog; few are interested and the frog dies,’ my goal is to explain how a cartoon is funny, how it works its magic on the reader,” he said.

Noting that cartoons come in several varieties, from gag cartoons (“sort of a nudge in the ribs”) to satirical work on weighty subjects, Mr. Karasik said that cartooning has a respected place in journalism, with a rich history of holding politicians and public figures to account.

While opining that “President Trump is serving up a three-course meal for cartooning,” Mr. Karasik notes that with the demise of print newspapers, the New Yorker is one of the last great outlets for cartoons.

“We get a lot of our satirical commentary from late-night TV hosts now in the digital age,” he said.

And to encourage budding cartoonists, the whimsical Mr. Karasik promises some tips for his audience on how to succeed at the New Yorker’s popular cartoon contest for readers.