Checking In: Liza Donnelly Talks Live-Drawing For CBS News

 

Veteran New Yorker cartoonist, Liza Donnelly was at New York’s Museum of Natural History yesterday afternoon on assignment for CBS News, live-drawing-reporting what she saw as crowds gathered there to watch the eclipse. She talks about the experience and shows some of the results here.

As the CBS Resident Cartoonist she roams and live-draws, here, there and wherever.  A recent drawing of hers in The New Yorker  [shown at the end of this post] prompted my checking in with her, for the record. 

Immediate full disclosure: Liza Donnelly and I are not just New Yorker cartoonist colleagues, we are also wife and husband. Checking in with her might seem a cute conceit, but as you’ll see, she’s a cartoonist on the go; I actually do need to check in with her several times a week to be reminded of where she’s going and what she’s doing. 

Below: A Donnelly drawing of eclipse-watchers at The Museum of Natural History

Michael Maslin: In the intro I refer to you as a “cartoonist on the go” …is that accurate? If it is, can you talk about what that means?

Liza Donnelly: Yes, that’s true. Although it sounds like “cartoonist” is my main identity. I’m also “writer on the go,” “public speaker on the go,” “illustrator on the go,” “author on the go,” “wife on the go,” “mother on the go…” I’ve been with the New Yorker for decades, but because of the nature of the business, I have had to do a lot of other things as well. Since starting at The New Yorker, I have cleaned stalls at a stable, worked in a bookstore, I was a teacher briefly (kindergarten and college age, simultaneously). Now, I am Resident Cartoonist at CBS News— as well as drawing cartoons for The New Yorker. I think I have finally found the perfect combination.

MM: Let’s stick, for now, with the Resident Cartoonist at CBS News. I’ve seen you on the set of CBS This Morning, live-drawing (as shown in the above photo), but you also live-draw outside of the studio.  What’s one favorite assignment, so far? 

LD:  I really loved being at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last year, drawing all the people, workers and speakers. Maybe the best so far was being sent to Washington to spend a day live drawing the White House press room, reporters and a press conference [a drawing from that experience appears below]. We’ve (my producer and the CBS This Morning team) have been making videos and I have been teaching myself animation to use for my work with them, doing political cartoons.

MM: You grew up minutes from the White House, and in the earliest moments of your professional career, had thoughts about  becoming a political cartoonist. Now, in 2017, you find yourself in The White House, drawing the President of the United States for CBS News. I imagine you must’ve had somewhat of an out of body moment there.

LD: Going to the White House as an editorial cartoonist to draw what I experienced was such a dream come true….although I never could have dreamt of it. It was an honor and it was thrilling. I am a political junkie and have great admiration for the press. When I was little, I wanted to be a political cartoonist in part because I grew up during Watergate, the Civil Rights marches, the women’s movement, and so many horrible assassinations. I wanted to help and I felt the only way I could would be through my ability to draw.

MM: I’ve seen you on CBS This Morning, standing in their “green room” drawing the program’s guests on your tablet — it’s obviously such a different experience than most cartoonists have, at home, sitting at their drawing boards. Can you describe what it’s like working live, surrounded by all the hub-bub of television news? (below: Ms. Donnelly live-drawing on the CBS This Morning set.  Photo by CBS correspondent, Jeff Glor)

LD: I love it! Watching the action of putting a news show on the air is fascinating to me. Not only the camera people and producers coming and going, but how the news is written, the subtleties of delivery, word choices etc. Meeting people in the green room is both exhilarating and nerve wracking–some big celebs come through and I am often star struck. I have to steal myself to extend my hand and say hello. But I don’t mind drawing under this pressure, sometimes I simply fade into the woodwork and don’t get noticed. It’s almost calming for me to be slightly on the outside of something that’s happening, and recording it with my pen. I have found this repeatedly no matter where I am live-drawing–the Oscars, the DNC, the White House. If people notice me, and start asking me questions about what I’m doing, then I get somewhat flustered. But I manage!

MM: When you wear your public speaking hat you often travel far afield from the New York City/Metropolitan area. Can you mention just one place you’ve visited and talk briefly about your experience there.

 LD: The furthest afield I traveled for a speaking invitation was Singapore, where I gave a talk, MC-ed and live-drew a conference for a bank.  When I got there, the room they gave me was high up in a hotel which had a great view of the city. The next day the view was totally gone because of the smog!  

I also traveled to New Delhi for a live-drawing gig for the Hindustan Times annual conference. What I loved about drawing people in India–and not just the conference, but outside in New Delhi– is the colors they wear. The conference had mostly male speakers (most conferences do, unless it’s about gender!), and I know from experience, drawing men speaking at conferences involves using a lot of black and dark blue for suits, and some color for ties. In India, men and women often sport very colorful clothes, and beautiful fabrics. I drew a very famous yogi at the conference — he had so much fabric and hair everywhere– it was in some ways a challenge because his body shape was not discernible.  I just had to draw fabric and hair and put in his distinctive eyes and nose, and get a feel for his movement and hand gestures. 

I did not meet him, but when I returned to the states, his people got in touch with me to thank me and let me know how happy he was with the drawing. People love to be drawn, I have observed.  For me, it’s all about capturing a feeling for what I am seeing, so that my viewers can experience it close to the way I experienced it.

Below: Ms. Donnelly’s latest drawing in the New Yorker.

Ms. Donnelly’s entry on the Spill’s A-Z:

 

Liza Donnelly  Born, Washington, D.C. New Yorker work: 1982 – .

Key book: Funny Ladies: The New Yorker’s Greatest Women Cartoonists and Their Cartoons (Prometheus, 2005). Edited:  Sex & Sensibility: Ten Women Examine the Lunacy of Modern Love…in 200 Cartoons ( Twelve, 2008). Co-authored with Michael Maslin: Husbands & Wives ( Ballantine 1995), Call Me When You Reach Nirvana ( Andrew & McMeel, 1995), Cartoon Marriage ( with Michael Maslin) (Random House, 2009), When Do They Serve the Wine?( Chronicle, 2010). Women On Men (Narrative Library, 2013). Donnelly also wrote and illustrated a popular series of dinosaur books for children ( Dinosaur Day, Dinosaur Beach, Dinosaur Halloween, etc.) all published by Scholastic.  She is the CBS News Resident Cartoonist. Website: http://www.lizadonnelly.com

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch

The Monday Tilley Watch is a meandering take on the cartoons in the current issue of The New Yorker.

The week begins with the eclipse eclipsing political news, if only for a moment. Good luck with that, eclipse.  As noted here last week the cover of the new issue (dated August 28, 2017) has received more notice than usual.  Read about it, and two covers from different publications, here. This is the first New Yorker cover for David Plunkert (it says so right on the  Contributors page in the issue. How did we ever manage before Tina Brown instituted a Contributors page many moons ago. Wait –don’t answer that.  It’s a rhetorical question).

I will briefly derail to mention that I often return to the contributors page that accompanied the very first Cartoon Issue (December 15, 1997). It wasn’t identified as the Contributors page — it simply said “Cartoonists” but you get the idea. It’s handy for tidbits of information not found elsewhere. A sample:

Back on track now and breezing through the front of the current issue.  After pausing, briefly, to stare blankly at the rejiggered Rea Irvin Talk of The Town masthead (sorry — this is very much a dog worrying a bone thing with me), we see several graphic eclipse references (one by the late great Otto Soglow, the other by the contemporary illustrator, Tom Bachtell).  I have to admit I was fooled into thinking that the Goings On About Town full page photo of the fellow very obviously pointing skyward was also an eclipse thing, but after reading the text, I was set straight.

Now to the issue’s cartoons.  Getting ahead of things, I noticed that the first three out of four drawings are death-or-injury related. An unannounced theme issue, perhaps? (Don’t answer that either.  It’s another rhetorical question).  I also noticed that the first cartoon didn’t appear until page 45. I don’t keep track of when the first cartoon appears in every issue (and I won’t start now, or should I?) but it’s noticeable. That first cartoon is a kitty drawing by David Borchart, whose first New Yorker drawing appeared nearly ten years ago (September 24, 2007).  Here’s an interesting piece about Mr. Borchart on Jane Mattimoe’s Case For Pencils blog. 

A few pages later a rats-and- sauna drawing by Will McPhail (first New Yorker appearance: 2014). I can almost guarantee that this scenario has never appeared in the magazine before. It’s a caption-less drawing, yet the rat to the extreme left appears to be speaking. Just idle rat chat I guess. I had to look up the spoon used by the third rat in from the left. My search tells me it’s a ladle used to pour water over hot rocks to produce even more steam. I was unaware that hot rocks figured into manhole covers. You live, you learn. 

A couple of pages later we come to a beautifully placed Roz Chast drawing (Ms. Chast’s first New Yorker cartoon appeared in 1978). I’m a fan of Ms. Chast’s summertime drawings (and covers).  On the very next page is a Liam Walsh drawing (his first New Yorker drawing appeared in July of 2011) —  the third of the aforementioned death-or-injury related cartoons (the other two: Mr. Borchart’s elderly kitty, and Ms. Chast’s lottery winner).  There are an awful lot of caskets in this cubicle-related drawing. Someone should really do a book of cubicle cartoons (Harry Bliss authored a book of death cartoons, Death By Laughter, back in 2008).

Next up is an Ed Steed drawing (his first New Yorker cartoon appeared in 2013).  Mr. Steed recently had a run of death-or-injury related cartoons, but here the subject is Romantic Poets (that’s the title of the drawing).  I’m wondering (still) if the couple in bed are in one of those laboratories where people’s dreams, sex lives (etc.) are monitored. The large observation-like window suggests as much.  I like Mr. Steed’s sensitive lettering in this drawing.  Three pages following Mr.Steed’s drawing is newcomer, Maddie Dai (first New Yorker drawing appeared this past June). I wonder how many dentist offices will hang reprints of this cartoon.  The drawing seems firmly rooted in the school of Kanin (Zach Kanin), which was itself in the school of Addams (Charles Addams). Blue ribbon lineage. 

Three pages later is a Julia Suits drawing featuring crocs. (Ms. Suits first New Yorker cartoon appeared in 2006). I’ve a passing familiarity with crocs (in other words, I’ve seen them worn) but the use of “hosed off” caused me to go to Google for a refresher course. This passage in the article cleared things up for me, hosing off-wise:

“The shoes’ original home was Boulder, Colo. The early Crocs customer was probably a Pacific Northwesterner who liked to boat or garden…”

Next up is an eye-catching cartoon by David Sipress (first New Yorker cartoon: 1998).  I’m a sucker for animated luggage cartoons. I’m surprised that only one other person in the area — that fellow with a suitcase nearest the animated luggage — acknowledged the luggage was alive.  Following Mr. Sipress’s cartoon is another caption-less cartoon with a character who is speaking. In this case, the speaker is likely reading out loud from Stories About Crumbs (I would definitely buy that book). Someone should really do a book of park bench cartoons.  (P.C Vey is the artist here. His first New Yorker cartoon appeared in 1993). A broken-record aside: this is another well-placed cartoon. It’s so great seeing cartoons sit on the page as they should.

Five pages later is the familiar boxed drawing style of Harry Bliss (first New Yorker appearance: 1998).  This drawing requires some familiarity with Scooby-Doo

Five pages later is a Barbara Smaller drawing with,  as you might have expected for this late August issue of The New Yorker, a back-to-school reference. Ms. Smaller’s first New Yorker appearance was in 1996. Following Ms. Smaller’s cartoon is a Carolita Johnson cartoon. Of interest:  this 2015 Case For Pencils post about Ms. Johnson’s tools of the trade.

On the following page is the last drawing of the issue (not counting the Cartoon Caption Contest drawings appearing on the very last page). I can’t think of a better way to end the issue than with   a truffle-related cartoon by Joe Dator (his first New Yorker appearance: 2006).  I really do not want to get into “liking” certain drawings but since the die was recently cast when I liked a Bruce Kaplan drawing,  I’ll admit this drawing registered quite high on my inner laugh-o-meter.  For evaluations and ratings of every drawing in every issue I recommend going over to Cartoon Companion. They usually post their ratings for each new issue by the end of the week. I’ll say this about Mr. Dator’s work: for me, he is representative of that wonderful continuum of New Yorker artists who have their very particular world.  Think of George Price, or Richard Taylor, or Syd Hoff or Jack Ziegler.  I’m not suggesting that Mr. Dator’s sense of humor is similar to these artists (although you might be tempted to compare the senses);  I’m suggesting that he, like those artists, is as successful in providing us with a world of his own.  Good stuff.

 

 

 

 

Advertising Work by New Yorker Cartoonists, Part 12: Gluyas Williams

According to Genius in Disguise , Thomas Kunkel’s must-read biography of The New Yorker’s founder and first editor, Harold Ross, Gluyas Williams “was the artistic equivalent of E.B. White, in that to Ross (and to thousands of fans) he simply could do no wrong.”

In that same book (pp. 333-335) there’s a fun section about Ross’s “secret” project: running Mr. William’s Wedding series (16 drawings) all at once in the magazine. It appeared in the issue of June 5, 1948.

Note: All of the scans (except for the Absolut Vodka campaign)  in this on-going series of ads by New Yorker cartoonists are courtesy of SPX’s Executive Director, Warren Bernard.  

 

 

 

 

 

Dates of ads: Log Cabin Syrup, 1934; GE, 1941; Texaco, 1942; McCreery & Co., 1926; Bristol Brass, 1945. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Williams’s entry on the Spill’s A-Z:

Gluyas Williams (photo above) Born, San Francisco, 1888. Died, Boston, Mass., 1982. One of the pillars of Harold Ross’s stable of artists, and one of Ross’s favorite cartoonists. His beautiful full page drawings were a regular feature in the magazine. Mr. Williams illustrated a number of Robert Benchley’s collections, providing the cover art as well as illustrations. NYer work: March 13, 1926 – Aug 25, 1951. Key collections: The Gluyas Williams Book ( Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1929), The Gluyas Williams Gallery (Harper, 1956). Website: http://www.gluyaswilliams.com/

Ellis Rosen Pencilled; Latest Karasik Graphic Report

Ellis Rosen Pencilled

Jane Mattimoe’s Case For Pencils blog is back with the spotlight on Ellis Rosen, whose first New Yorker cartoon appeared in the issue of December 12, 2016.  Link here for the piece.

 

 

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Karasik’s Latest Gazette Graphic Report

From Paul Karasik’s blog, August 18, 2017,  this Graphic Report: Alley’s General Store.  Link here to see & read.

Mr. Karasik’s first New Yorker cartoon appeared in 1999.

 

 

Latest New Yorker Cartoons Rated; Paul Noth’s Game; Next Week’s NYer Cover Revealed

Latest New Yorker Cartoons Rated

The Cartoon Companion boys are back with their 1 – 6 ratings of the drawings appearing in the issue of August 21st.  Work assessed includes a well-appointed tator tot, and an interesting game of hopscotch. Read it all here.

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Paul Noth’s Game

Due in early October, is Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates — written by Paul Noth Read all about it here

 

 

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Next Week’s NYer Cover Revealed

The cover for next week’s New Yorker has been released early (usually we see it in the wee hours of Monday morn).  It’s getting a lot of attention.  Read about it here on Michael Cavna’s Washington Post Comic Riffs blog.

 

 

 

Advertising work by New Yorker Cartoonists, Part 11: Richard Decker

In Part 11 of ad work by New Yorker cartoonists, we see a sample by Richard Decker, probably one of the lesser known well-published New Yorker contributors. He contributed over 900 cartoons in 38 years.  His Philadelphia Bulletin ads ran full-page in magazine (carrying as you see in one example , the notice “(Advertisement)” lest it be confused with one of the magazine’s drawings).

Dates of ads: Noilly Prat, 1948: Sir Walter Raleigh, 1945; Philadelphia Bulletin, 1949, 1952.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Decker’s too brief entry on the Spill’s A-Z:

Richard Decker (pictured above) Born, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,  May 6, 1907. Died, November 1, 1988. New Yorker work, 1931 – 1969, over 900 drawings, and four covers.