New York

Vincent DiGerlando


Photography is a medium that attracts too many would-be artists and not enough cartoonists. Duane Michals is the only example that springs to mind of someone who has seen the potential the medium has for cartoons. Like the best cartoonists, Michals is able to cross over from funny to sober. His photographs have wit, but also a loneliness and melancholy that are as importantly human in their way as Saul Steinberg’s philosophizing is in its way. Vincent DiGerlando’s photographs aren’t that good—not yet, anyway—but they are cartoons of the sort one might find in the pages of the New Yorker. DiGerlando has the same deadpan sense of humor that Steig and Booth and Ziegler have.

In Portrait of Ralph and the Holy Family, next to a painting of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph appears Ralph, pudgy, curly-haired, and upside down. The unaccountable wackiness of this image is appealing, as is the ghoulishness of Bleeding Gun or Desperate Meal. In the latter a balding man hunches, fork in hand, over a bowl of hair. In the former, what issues from the barrel of the pistol is a little cloud of ketchup. A ketchup bottle stands guiltily in the corner of the frame. A good cartoon works on us the way the punchline of a joke does. It’s both a surprise and a revelation. It’s not what we expected, yet it makes perfect sense. The confusion DiGerlando creates in Bleeding Gun—between murder weapon and murder victim, smoke and blood, blood and ketchup—stays just one step ahead of our expectations, the way a well-timed gag should. The photograph is a visual comedy of errors that goes on just long enough to amuse us.

Colin L. Westerbeck, Jr.