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Rejected by The New Yorker: Box Brown’s Spurned Single-Panel Cartoons

What does it take to get your cartoon published in the New Yorker? Box Brown, creator of the webcomics Bellen! and Everything Dies, has been trying to crack the code. Last summer, after Hark! A Vagrant cartoonist Kate Beaton became the first webcomics creator to have a cartoon published in the New Yorker, webcartoonist Brown posted a Bellen! comic about his gnawing jealousy over Beaton’s well-deserved success, and assuaged his envy by submitting his own comics to the esteemed culture magazine.

It has not been going well. Fortunately, while we won’t yet be seeing his comics in the pages of the New Yorker, Brown has decided to share each newly rejected comic — which he describes as “officially recognized by the New Yorker as not good” — on his Tumblr blog, aptly titled Rejected by the New Yorker.What Rejected by the New Yorker drives home is just how difficult it is to define what makes a great New Yorker cartoon. Brown tends to favor understated, black-and-white artwork, and he has a keen eye for human foibles. That distinct style shines through all of his failed submissions, but you can see him casting about, trying on new kinds of jokes, looking for that perfect mix of absurd and droll.

Even if he never wins the approval of Eustace Tilley, Brown has plenty of comics to keep him busy. He recently founded Retrofit Comics, which publishes alternative floppy comics, and Blank Slate Books is releasing his apocalyptic graphic novel The Survivalist in December.

[Rejected by the New Yorker]

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