What a bear does in the woods

The New Yorker is the holy grail for panel gags.  Extremely talented cartoonists slave for years to get their gags into the New Yorker.  They have the highest standards in the cartooning world.

And then sometimes they run mysterious items such as this:

Okay, I get that it’s the woods.  It’s a grove of maple trees, with their syrup taps.  I get that there is a bear in the woods.  I get that the bear is holding a plate of pancakes.  I get that the bear is removing some of the syrup from one of the trees for his pancakes.  I understand that there is humor, somewhere, in this situation.

What I don’t get is the look on the bear’s face.  The bear is glancing to his back, as though he is expecting trouble, as though he expects the tree’s owner to jump out and arrest him for stealing syrup.

I’m sorry, that’s just one angle too many.  A bear with a plate of pancakes?  Funny.  A bear getting syrup out of a tree for his pancakes?  Funny.  A bear anxious about getting syrup out of a tree for his pancakes?  You lost me.  Why should the bear care if someone is going to catch him stealing syrup?  He’s a bear.  He’s even a tough bear, you can tell by the way he’s squinting, as if to say “yeah, you just try and stop me, sucka.”  Maybe it’s the squinty eyes that ruins it for me.  If he was looking around guiltily, I can kind of see how that would be funny.  But this?  I’m sorry.

Why couldn’t it just be a bear going about his business, getting syrup for his pancakes like you or I would get it out of the refridgerator?  That’s pretty funny.  But the element of criminal activity makes no sense.  It doesn’t add to the joke, it muddies it.


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this cartoon would have made a good illustration for my Bourne v Long Kiss piece. hit counter html code