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Eustace Tilley, Meet Brad

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The New Yorker cartoon has been a cultural barometer -- for a certain urban set, anyway -- since the Roaring Twenties. So what of the sudden spate of frankly gay-themed drawings appearing in the magazine of late? (And we do mean late: Didn't everyone else pick up on the whole gay thing five or ten years ago?) Last week, the magazine ran a William Haefeli drawing of two men, one on bended knee, the other saying, "I'm sorry, Jim. I love you, but I hate Vermont." In December, a Marisa Acocella cartoon showed two buff boys in a supermarket, one of them patiently explaining to a little old lady, "No, we are not twins." A few weeks before, Haefeli -- this seems to have become his beat -- depicted two guys shopping for beds over the caption "I still say we should get a queen-size mattress -- despite all the obvious jokes it will invite among the sales staff." Says cartoon editor Bob Mankoff, "Ten years ago, running any gay cartoon might have seemed radical. But the gay sensibility has become a part of mainstream culture. It would seem almost forced to ignore this entire area." No complaints so far, says Mankoff. And even though there's still a whiff of Brooks Brothers orthodoxy at The New Yorker, he hasn't had to turn down any of Haefeli's ideas. "He's a paragon of taste," says Mankoff. "As I hope we are."


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