What’s your favorite Dry Bones cartoon? Ask any English-speaker who came to this country after the mid-1970s and you’ll no doubt get an answer. Is it the one about sniffing cottage cheese? Getting a wintertime buzz from your kerosene neft heater? Measuring your apartment size by counting the balata floor tiles?
For over four decades, cartoonist Yaakov “Dry Bones” Kirschen has been commenting on Israeli absurdities, from the small ironies of daily life to the major geopolitical SNAFUs.
Recently, Kirschen took a break from current events for a look back with a new book entitled Young and Innocent: The Way We Were, a collection of classic Dry Bones cartoons originally published in The Jerusalem Post, where he started his career in Israel in 1973.
During the week, Dry Bones occupied a unique four-box layout on the newspaper’s back page. For the weekend edition, the cartoon was given a full-page layout where one of its most popular recurring themes was “You Know You’ve Been Here Too Long When…”
The book harks back to a time when beating hyper-inflation by staying in overdraft was a way of life, toilet paper was akin to sandpaper, and no kitchen faucet was complete without a plastic nozzle.
The logic in any of these things will be difficult for the older generation to explain to the younger one, but there’s sure to be some shared laughs along the way.
According to the entry in the US National Cartoonists Society directory, Kirschen is “another Brooklyn boy.”
After graduating from Queens College in 1961, he began working for the Norcross greeting card company, writing and drawing the newly popular “gag” greeting cards.
Fired for “loud and jocular behavior,” he began freelancing for Cracked magazine, and the moved on to doing cartoons for Playboy.
In 1971, he moved with his family to Israel, changed his first name from Jerry to Yaakov, and in 1973 began drawing the daily editorial strip known as Dry Bones, a reference to the end-of-days vision of biblical prophet Ezekiel.
Since then, his award-winning Dry Bones cartoons have been internationally syndicated, reprinted in the New York Times, Time magazine, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal and other major publications.
The Dry Bones story has been covered by CBS, CNN, Forbes and many others.
Young and Innocent: The Way We Were is available from Amazon.