Get to know the droll wit of Bruce Kaplan
Sunday, August 15,
No One You Know: A Collection of
by Bruce Eric Kaplan. Simon & Schuster. 189 pages.
Readers of the New Yorker will
instantly recognize cartoons signed "BEK," each initial
framed by its own rectangle. Though Bruce Eric Kaplan's work
has been appearing weekly in the magazine since 1991, his
clear black lines and droll wit are already distinctly New
The small, empty-circle eyes may be
straight out of Harold Gray's "Little Orphan Annie," but the
strong-willed characters, odd juxtapositions, and
matter-of-fact absurdities make Kaplan heir to New Yorker
greats Peter Arno, James Thurber, and William Steig.
A cat frowns at a dog who sits on
the floor, reading, his back against the couch. Looking up
from his book, the dog retorts, "Of course I understand it.
It's just some Grisham potboiler." Or, her hands gesturing
for emphasis, one five-year old complains to another: "And
then, as soon as I had carved out my niche, they went and
had another kid." In another panel, a wife stands with one
hand on her hip and points declaratively with the other. To
her obviously defeated husband, she asserts, "If Neil
Simon's going to keep writing them, we're going to keep
Simon liked this cartoon so much
that he wrote the book's introduction, and Jerry Seinfeld so
admired Kaplan's work as a writer for "Seinfeld" that he
contributed a blurb to the cover. Add my endorsement to
theirs: "No One You Know" presents a wry artist worth
getting to know.
Nel is a visiting instructor of English at the College