I Approach my topic—the development of the modern Japanese political cartoon—with some trepidation. Humor is a fragile product that can easily be damaged by academic scrutiny. As Evelyn Waugh once remarked, analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog—much is learned but in the end the frog is dead. Waugh was right. Most analyses of humor cannot be read for amusement. On the other hand, why should they be? If Shakespeare scholars are not expected to write in iambic pentameter, why should students of humor be expected to keep their readers in stitches? As the editor of the International Journal of Humor Studies recently told a reporter, “We are not in the business of being funny” (New York Times, 19 December 2000).
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Copyright © The Association for Asian Studies, Inc. 2001