Though he does other things, including illustrating children's books, Harry Bliss is likely best-known as a New Yorker cartoonist and, if he weren't, his cartoons would still be identifiable as "New Yorker style" because they don't rely on making you fall on the floor so much as creating a sense of "yeah, it's like that."
Some people hate New Yorker cartoons because "they aren't funny," but it's possible to enjoy "The Three Stooges" and to also find Jane Austen wickedly funny and it's also possible to have points on that spectrum that you prefer to skip over as "not funny."
Jane Austen is funny for the same reason Larry the Cable Guy is funny: They know the people they are making fun of. The major difference is that Larry the Cable Guy occasionally steps out of the self-deprecating redneck zone, at which point he stops being funny.
New Yorker cartoons are also self-deprecating, which is their appeal, and people who don't like them don't have to but should probably be cool about it, because there's a difference between not liking a joke because you don't like it and not liking a joke because you don't get it.
That difference being that it's possible to understand a joke without finding it particularly funny, but you should probably try to avoid that whole "removing all doubt" thing.
In any case, today's Bliss doesn't include a pie fight, but it does open us up to more than a simple "Ha Ha, Kids Are So Into Technology Today!" gag.
Not that he wasn't making that joke. He was, and it's a good New Yorkeresque gag. Yep, they sure are.
But combined with the "He Assumes Monet's Technique Was Unintentional" gag, it brings a whole lot more to the table, because that, too, is a level of someone not getting it which is humorous.
I happened to run into the theory that El Greco suffered from astigmatism at about 11 or 12, the same age where I was reading fantasy fiction and being exposed to metaphysical ideas like "What if what I see as green looks like red to you?"
The answer to which is "then you'd think that's what something green is supposed to look like, and so, if you drew some grass, it would look like what grass like to me."
Which is the same as what Professor Stuart Anstis said, which is that "even if El Greco were astigmatic, he would have adapted to it, and his figures, whether drawn from memory or life, would have had normal proportions. His elongations were an artistic expression, not a visual symptom."
Thus proving that college professors are as perceptive as 11 year olds.
The issue with Monet is a little more nuanced since, given his cataracts, he could be reproducing on his canvas what he sees in life, knowing full well the difference between a water lily seen close up and one seen at a distance.
The real gag here is the assumption that the near-perfection technology offers is undeniably desireable, which leads us into the Uncanny Valley, that weirdly unsettling techno-world in which CGI movies like "The Polar Express" become creepy and unpleasant.
It's not necessarily a "kid" thing and not all kids are so rigidly constructed.
I had several volunteers among my kid-reporters to review an exhibit of Fauvists currently at the Denver Art Museum, but chose an 11-year-old with an eclectic list of interests including sci-fi and history, and was delighted at the painting he singled out:
I like that you can almost tell what she is thinking, and that the colors aren’t ones any other type of artist would have chosen.
I don't know if "scenes" is an acceptable term to encapsulate both landscapes and still lifes, but it worked for me, and, more to the point, I liked the fact that he so embraced the Fauvist pallette.
After all, there are some very good reasons to like Edward Hopper, but there are also some pretty unremarkable ones.
Maybe you have to have a lot of artists in your feed to get this, but I see a good number of postings of photorealistic pictures with exclamations of "This was done by hand!" and I understand the excitement if it is in the spirit of "Check out the technique that is possible!"
But it's often then revealed as a technical cheat, and, even if it isn't, there's a distinction between draftmanship and artistry, whether done by hand or on a machine.
And even when it does qualify as art, it goes back to my oft-expressed preference for Chagall over Dali: While I admire Dali's chops, I'd rather crawl onto Chagall's lap and have him tell me a story, just as, while I have read, studied and do greatly admire James Joyce, I love Ivan Turgenev.
The question is not whether an artist is "good" or "bad," but rather whether he wants to be admired, or to be loved.
Within the cartooning world, technology is a huge issue, starting with raptures over different nibs and papers and then extending both to the level of computer tech you use and then the specific programs and devices you embrace.
Some are resolutely Old School, cutting their own board and using dip pens, some are ecstatically hi-tech and never see actual ink, most are in between, all are eager to share and it can readily become more than you wanted to know on the topic.
However, what generally emerges is the desire to balance efficiency with good art, and I'm sure the conversations were just as intense when pre-mixed pigments became available to the horror of those who had always compounded their own.
Which brings us to Rina Piccolo, who has recently adopted the Cintiq for creating Tina's Groove and has posted an interesting explanation/discussion of the decision on her blog.
You should go read that, but stick around for a minute first to dig the colors: