Cartoon critics Phil Witte and Rex Hesner look behind the gags to debate what makes a cartoon tick. This week our intrepid critics take a look at accounting cartoons.
Accountants get a bad rap for exhibiting humorless personalities. But, according to our cartoonists, nothing could be further from the truth. What a fun bunch!
Leo Cullum, a favorite cartoonist of ours, traces one of the varied paths to a satisfying career in the numbers game.
When it comes to juggling the books, some accountants are legends in the industry. They are the objects of gossip and envy—some land in the corner office and others in a corner cell. Cartooning legend Jack Ziegler captures that high-wire act in a posh bar setting.
No shrinking violets; our CPAs know how to party. When it comes to comedy, they’ve got your number, according to Drew Dernavich.
Accounting is a venerable profession going back to the days of ancient Egypt. Cuneiform calculations on papyrus still exist—probably to undervalue the pyramids for tax purposes. Sam Gross depicts an evolving tribe of bean counters in the pre-historic past.
Cartoonists often juxtapose incongruous elements to drive their humor. Little Red Riding Hood’s concern takes an actuarial turn in Christopher Weyant’s fairy tale sendup.
Robin Hood is the exemplar of an altruist: one who defunds the rich to help the downtrodden. Unfortunately, he’s blissfully unaware of the tax consequences. Pat Byrnes shows that moment of sober realization, with the accountant in jacket and tie and Mr. Hood in his customary forest regalia.
Tax accounting practices appear cut and dried—almost bloodless—to outsiders. On the other hand, its practitioners see the creative imagination required to navigate the ever-shifting sands of a labyrinthian tax code. Matthew Diffee’s haughty auditor, in his de rigueur short sleeve white shirt with pens in the pocket, seems reluctant to share his professional insights with a skeptical audience.
Corporate accountants become blasé about handling large amounts of money. Missing a few hundred thousand here or there is just “a rounding error.” Occasionally, though, David Sipress shows a big number might get their fiscal attention.
Many of us speak with an accountant once a year during tax season. Most items are straightforward, but a few fall into the dreaded “gray area” of tax code interpretation. One wrong entry, and the IRS will be making your acquaintance. And if the mistake is egregious enough, as Bob Mankoff suggests, things could get quite serious indeed.
Leave it to fan-favorite Roz Chast to come up with a wild exaggeration of the accountancy business. Her mash-up of storefront concepts, suggestive of the louche areas of Amsterdam, would trigger anxiety for any self-respecting CPA.
Even accountants must show up for life’s ultimate audit: the meeting with Saint Peter at the pearly gates. P.C. Vey employs this common cartoon cliché to capture an accountant’s nightmare.