December 05, 1988 12:00 PM

Cartoons by George Price

“I’m not anti-anything, except anti-muttonhead,” Price once said, but his New Yorker cartoons for the last 58 years have shown either that he has a wider mean streak than he is aware of or that there are an awful lot of muttonheads around. Maybe both. A lot of the 363 panels collected in this retrospective might be seen as anti-working class, focusing on Price’s familiar theme of a frazzled couple in a horrendously dumpy apartment. One wife, setting an alarm clock for a husband about to get into bed, says, “At what hour tomorrow do you wish to resume your humdrum existence?” There is often an odd nobility to these cartoon couples, though, and as Alistair Cooke notes in a deft introduction, Price grew up in New Jersey among working-class people: “He marveled at their dumb ingenuity, their mad energy or affable sloth, their offhand fatalism before broken pumps or terminally ill husbands.” Moreover, Price has maintained a remarkably consistent level of inventiveness and sense of the contemporary. In a semifeminist panel that appeared in 1971, for instance, a little old lady is about to pummel a man in a bar as he says, “Madam, please! What I distinctly said was that I could lick any man in the house.” (Beaufort, $24.95)

You May Like