1. They are each rooster-blocking the other, so moustache guy is trying to reason with drag guy, wanting him to go away so he can make some time with the drunk/drugged/unconscious lady. I think I find it a little creepy.

  2. My first impression was that this was a “Wonderland” fantasy setup, with the White Rabbit, Alice, and the Mad Hatter, but the latter being in drag seems to spoil that idea entirely..
    P.S. I agree with Singapore Bill on the “creepy” element, but I’m not sure Arno was really implying that she was under the influence. She appears to be waiting patiently (for them to decide who is going to leave), just like Arno likes to portray his expectant floozies.

  3. Leaving aside the three main characters – whose motives, behaviour, expectations &c, plus what humour is to be derived from them, are all a bit of a mystery to me – there’s a bit of creepiness going on at the right of the frame. Uniform Balding Guy seems to be leering and leaning over a startled and worried-looking young lady – who is leaning back as if to escape his unwanted ministrations – while another shocked-looking person is observing all this.

    Going off on a bit of a tangent, in the last few weeks in the UK we have had a TV drama about the 1960s Profumo affair in which a government minister was found to be having sex/ an affair with a teenager who had also slept with a Russian naval attache, and then lied in Parliament about it. Powerful older men and these attractive young women met up at various house parties, of which this cartoon seems like an exaggerated version. The ramifications of all this brought down the Macmillan government.

    The man who facilitated these gatherings and meetings was Stephen Ward, a society osteopath, Bohemian libertine and budding artist who apparently was also working with MI5 (the security service) to compromise Ivanov. Due to the scandal, elements of the government, the police and the judiciary establishment determined to “get” Ward, and he was unjustifiably convicted of being a pimp and living off immoral earnings (which he said he didn’t do). Seeing the trashing of his reputation and no way out, he committed suicide. A journalist at the time who knew Ward (his paper had him under contract) and had had him to stay in his house and was given one of his suicide notes presented a documentary last night about all this: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000dt9j for more on that.

    The chap playing Ward in the TV drama is James Norton, TV’s Grantchester vicar and a rumoured future James Bond.

  4. Could it be that they are trying too hard to win the attention of this woman?

    The phrase is generally used to calm things down when there is an impasse and a fight is about to break out. They both had the same idea to dressed foolishly to impress/amuse the same woman, and that’s why they’re mad at each other…their thunder is being stolen by the other guy. However, the phrase could be taken another way as she doesn’t really seem to be paying either of them any mind. Getting angry with each other isn’t getting them anywhere, and neither are their silly costumes.

    I dunno’.

  5. @Kilby: I was thinking rather that the two men were going as Alice and the white rabbit. It doesn’t get them anywhere because it’s childish/unpractical: the young ladies are comfy around them instead of flirtatious.

  6. And where the heck are they? Are the people on the side standing around at a party, or seated as at a theater or outdoor movie showing? And the hillside where our central characters are lolling, is that sort of still part of the party, or have they departed.

  7. @ Mitch4 – I think it’s a big party at a (large) private home, and these three have scurried off behind the bushes for a little bit of illicit fun.

  8. Is it possible that this is a political cartoon, and the three are intended to be specific actual people? Wikipedia isn’t particularly helpful…

  9. A Peter Arno (The New Yorker) probably from the 1940s or early 1950s. It was a different time and sometimes women were just “objects of desire”. Rich businessmen with very WASP names at a rich persons costume party argue about who is ck blocking who.
    Ancient and not politically correct by “modern” standards.

  10. Hmm…. I just read yesterday in my Intro to the 6th Pogo volume someone quoting another about cartooning “Good artwork can cover for weak writing, and strong writing can cover for weak writing”.

    I think this is a case of good artwork covering for weak writing. Two rich businessmen in silly costumes at a masquerade ball are vying for the attention of a comely attendendee and it’s at a pointless impasse. … that’s the joke…. as such it’s not really funny and doesn’t seem to have any point. That’s weak (or uninspired) writing. But the artwork of absolutely silliness of the mustachioed guy in a fluffy bunny outfit and the pure hatred of the bald guy in the frilly little girls outfit seething with a cigarette covers for it.

    That’s the joke: two rich guys in silly cosutmes vieiing for the attention of an indifferent woman and looking ridiculous while doing so.

  11. Part of the joke is these flatulents addressing each other by last name, like very proper gentlemen, despite that each is hoping for a highly improper situation. They’d maintain this fake propriety with the young ladies. One, after presenting jewelry, leaned in with obviously lurid intent to say “And now, Miss Smith, I wonder if I might take a small liberty.”

    Arno’s girls are usually — not always, but usually — implied to be eager gold diggers. And they too are oddly formal, saying “Mister Grenville” or whatever as moves are made. A favorite had a girl in evening gown receiving a necklace and saying something like, “I really prefer older men. Younger men are so broke.”

    Once in a great while Arno would present a lecherous older woman. He had one at a baseball game, leering at the bench, as the manager said “Sometimes we sell them, lady. But only to other teams.” Another, looking like a horny Margaret Dumont, cornered a nervous little man at a party to ask “Whose little husband are you?”

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