Thursday, November 26, 2009

Birthday Girl: The Queen of Cartoons

The work of Roz Chast is one of the things that makes me very, very happy. Her scratchy little people, with their hopeless clothes, questionable posture, and ongoing existential dilemmas, are reminders to me that a certain strain of America continues, one nearly subsumed by mass media and Walmart. Bright, puzzled, well-intended, of a kind likely to subscribe to The New Yorker but not to show up at the more experimental first nights or daunting restaurants profiled therein, they are in some ways the stateside cartoon counterparts of the characters who populate the world of Alan Bennett. Let's just say I identify with their constant surprise at what the universe throws at them.

Roz aside (and why aren't there more Rozes in the world, and what can we do to encourage them?), it's a fierce, fierce birthday day, kids - she shares her celebrations with an intimidating array that runs from Her Imperial Majesty Maria Feodorovna, last Dowager Empress of all the Russias (and her niece, the signficantly mousier Maud of Norway) to Her Imperial Majesty, Miss Tina Turner. Also in the running: Supreme fifth wheel Jean Terrell, delightfully oleaginous belter Robert Goulet, and Lindbergh-baby ultrabaddy Bruno Hauptmann.


  1. i must confess i find just a little of the tribulations of roz's characters to go a long way - perhaps it's their general attire and they could do something with their hair - for heaven's sake they are being drawn!

    call me old fashioned, but i find the supple body of spirou's in well fitted red uniform with a black band on the side of his trousers so much more soothing for my eyes - there's someone who made an effort before posing for his portrait !

  2. I like her cartoons so much that I used to clip them from the New Yorker until my file became ridiculously bulky.

  3. In my early times in Oman, I think I saw her "cute" cartoons in some corner of the newspaper...though I now doubt whether they were hers or someone else's...

  4. Ah, M. Fellini, I suspect you may be a Continental - an excellent thing to be, of course, but one likely to make you prone to be more or less immune to the very American charms of Miss Chast. Although I have to say (having had I regret to say, had to look him up), that Spirou's pretty cute.

    I doubt, Bobby, that even the steal-anything local press ever picked up on Roz, although the success of her work has meant a lot of much lesser imitators. From what I've seen, it's mostly Brit cartoons that get pirated here; that and "Dilbert"....

    And MJ - I knew I loved you for more reason than one...