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Cartoon Bank Overhaul: Ben Bass Blogs On Who Broke the Bank

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Pollux writes:

All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward. So the saying goes, and The New Yorker’s Cartoon Bank has changed, but it has not grown. The changes made, as of October 6, 2009, to the Cartoon Bank have unfortunately set it back in terms of usability, accuracy, and reliability.

Ben Bass has written a cogent analysis of the overhaul, and its effect on what used to be a dependable storehouse of New Yorker cartoons and covers.

It’s not just about searching easily for your favorite dog and desert island cartoons. As Bass writes, “the removal of popularity search also adversely affects the artists themselves, who get commissions on each sale.”

For my part, I’ve experienced difficulties finding such simple things as Robert Crumb’s famous 1994 cover that depicted his version of Eustace Tilley.

I type in “Robert Crumb” and get results that include cartoons and covers drawn by artists whose first name is Robert (e.g. Robert Tallon, Robert Kraus). But no Robert Crumb cover. And I did what everyone else will soon do: find an alternate way of looking for New Yorker artists’ work.

Is every change to the Cartoon Bank a move backward? No. The site has a clean, intuitive design with “Refine Search” engines that simply need to be fine-tuned.

We’d be interested in what Emdashes readers have to say about this issue. Please post your feedback!

Update: As of November 11, 2009, some changes were made to the site, which include enhanced navigation, new framing options, a preview tool for customized products, and a canvas print option for covers.

Also by Ben Bass: a recent write-up on The New Yorker Festival and Avenue Queue, a special 2007 Festival report.


My main complaint about the new cartoonbank.com is when you search for all the cartoons by a particular cartoonist, they all come up as thumbnails on a grid. But when you click on the first thumbnail and then want to proceed to the next one (by clicking on ‘next’), the site will not take you to the second thumbnail on the grid. It will take you to a cartoon by a completely different artist.

Hi Amy, I didn’t realize it also did that. Thanks for posting! Hopefully they can get these issues fixed.

I’ve been doing a lot of searches on the Cartoon Bank recently, and so far, find the Amazon-like “Refine Search” function more laborious and less intuitive than I’d like. I also see some improvements from the previous version, and I’d like to spend some more time on the site trying out things and weigh in again. I also observe that they’re calling it a beta launch, and have a link to this little note on the top right corner of the homepage:
The Cartoon Bank’s New Look

On October 6, we implemented some sweeping changes to the look, feel, and functionality of The Cartoon Bank.

If you’re a loyal user, you’re bound to notice some improvements, including a wider array of frames to choose from, a new canvas option for cover prints, and improved search capability and category navigation. Plus, we’ll soon be adding custom cartoon mugs to our lineup of products, so you’ll have even more daily opportunities for laughs.

Take a few minutes to explore our new look. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

E-Cards and “My Album”

We know that many of you miss sending our free Cartoon E-Cards and using the handy “My Album” tool to organize your cartoon choices on the old site. We miss them, too, and want you to know you haven’t seen the last of those features. Our e-cards functionality will be offered again shortly, and we’re also working hard to bring back a version of “My Album” so you can once again save batches of cartoons for later use. Stay tuned!

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