The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of October 23, 2017

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

This week’s cover (by R. Kikuo Johnson, who we learn from the Contributors page teaches cartooning at the Rhode Island School of Design) is of robots on their way to wherever robots go to. One has an on-the-go cup of coffee(?) while another carries an old-fashioned lunch box.  When I was a little kid, I was slightly fascinated by the lunchbox a neighbor (his name was Joe) carried to and from his factory job everyday. I sometimes wondered what was in his lunchbox and whether he had the same lunch everyday. Anyway, back to the cover. I thought seeing all the technology, it was going to be a Technology Issue, but no… it’s the Money Issue. The semi-Tilley on the Table of Contents alerts us to the theme:

Anyone who reads Ink Spill can probably guess that Tilley tampering (see yesterday’s Spill) will be duly noted here. Other examples :

Now on to the issue’s cartoons, and it doesn’t take long at all to find one. A nicely placed Tom Cheney drawing appears on page 4 directly following the end of the magazine’s Table of Contents.  I like that the magazine does this every so often and not all the time.  It’s a fun surprise.  Mr. Cheney takes one of the cartoonist’s most reliable  characters, death, to an artist’s studio. Artists studios, and artists, were very popular in years past, especially in the James Geraghty era (the New Yorker’s art editor from 1939 through 1973). Many of the best were gathered in The New Yorker Album of Art & Artists (New York Graphic Society, 1970).

There’ve been several other art-themed collections since (shown above: The New Yorker Book of Art Cartoons (Bloomberg, 2005), and The Museum of Modern Art Book of Cartoons (Museum of Modern Art, 2008 — a custom production), but the 1970 collection  is the mother ship, containing some of the most famous art cartoons in the magazine’s canon. 

Moving through the front of the magazine, I really like the beautiful photograph of a cow (in an ad for Louis Roederer) on page 15. What can I say? I love cows (to look at, admire, and occasionally pat on the head).

David Borchart has the second drawing of the issue. Age, of course, comes up most every time (heck, every time) there are Galapagos tortoises involved. Charles Addams (and there it is: an Addams reference and it’s only the second drawing of the issue) did several (I can remember three) — here’s one. Mr. Borchart delivers a caption that many can relate to, and just as many have probably heard said, or said.  As usual with his work, it’s beautifully drawn. The elder tortoises look kind’ve happy.

I don’t usually comment on the illustrations but I do really like the cup of coffee by Golden Cosmos on page 40. Six pages later we have an Amy Hwang  Jack and the Beanstalk drawing.  A more complicated drawing than we’re used to seeing from Ms. Hwang. I like the beanbag chairs — I picture them in color for some reason: left to right:  baby blue, brown, and rust colored.  Two pages later another keeper from BEK (Bruce Eric Kaplan). I’m reminded here of the late James Stevenson’s barely disguised textbook political satire.

On the very next page is a Mike Twohy cornucopia drawing. Cornucopia drawings aren’t as plentiful (haha?) as artist drawings once were, but they showed up from time-to-time, sometimes on the cover. Here’s a beauty by Arnie Levin from 1978 (and how convenient it is that it’s a baseball themed cover in this heavy-duty baseball time of year).

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Mr. Twohy’s cartoon, referring to a certain mega-online shopping site, is concerned with way more than baseballs. Eight pages later is a darkish Ed Steed drawing. His fishnet roller coaster recalls Lou Myers’s style (a snippet from a 1969 Myers United Airlines ad below left. On the right, a portion of Mr. Steed’s drawing). 

Three pages later a dog walk in the park drawing from the long-time Wildwood, New Jersey lifeguard (retd), John O’Brien. As mentioned in the last Monday Tilley Watch, Mr. O’Brien excels at captionless drawings (to my mind the hardest to do; Charles Addams told Dick Cavett captionless drawings were his personal favorites). Mr. O’Brien’s drawing is placed perfectly on the page.

Four pages later, newbie Maddie Dai returns with, yes, an Addamsy situation. If it seems like there are a lot of references to Mr. Addams in these posts it might be because his work — well over a thousand cartoons published in The New Yorker — touched on so many situations favored-by-cartoonists, especially, of course in his case, dark side situations. Of the notes I received from former New Yorker Art editor, Lee Lorenz during my years of his tenure (he was editor from 1973 – 1997;  I began receiving notes from him in 1977) at least three-quarters of them said, “Sorry — Addams already did this.” 

Three pages following Ms. Dai’s drawing is a Julia Suits be careful what you say out thereit just might get you in trouble drawing. On the very next page is an oddity that’s now appeared for the second issue in a row (wait, does that mean it’s not an oddity anymore): a collaborative drawing by Kaamran Hafeez and Al Batt. Mr. Hafeez is responsible for the drawing itself. The setting is that old New Yorker cartoon chestnut: a  business meeting.

Three pages later, a drawing by Farley Katz, a cartoonist who always shakes things up somehow.  I like the complexity of the drawing – the stethoscope connecting both doctors with the patient —  but I’m unsure who the “we” is in this case. Even on a very large screen it appears both women’s mouths are open, suggesting that they are both speaking.  Someone write in please and clarify.

Three more pages and we find Batman, beginning his memoir, recalling his childhood.  Nice drawing by Zach Kanin. I like how he’s shown us the Wayne family portrait over the mantel.  When I see a New Yorker Batman cartoon I immediately recall this 1989 classic by Danny Shanahan:

Three pages following Mr. Kanin’s Batman is the the second sidewalk Liana Finck drawing in two issues.  The beginning of a sidewalk series perhaps?  I like the little birds on the sidewalk. 

Alice Cheng, another newbie (her first New Yorker cartoon appeared in February of this year) is next with a salmon swimming upstream drawing. I love that this is here as it gives me an opportunity to recall the great 1998 Bill Woodman bears and salmon cartoon shown below.  Look at this drawing! Lovely, funny. This is what the late very great Jack Ziegler had to say about Mr. Woodman: “Bill Woodman is a great cartoonist and one of the funniest “draw-ers” of all time, right up there with George Booth.” 

 

Three pages later, a drawing of mine. I believe it’s the first time that I’ve had Uncle Sam in a New Yorker drawing.  Four pages later is a not-quite-so-empty nest drawing by another newbie, Teresa Burns Parkhurst, who made her debut this month (not counting her caption contest appearance in September). I like the framed items on the wall, including the coffee mug, or mugs(?). On the very next page is what at first appears to be a doorman at an exclusive club situation.  But as it’s a Peter Vey drawing, it’s not, of course — it’s a writer needs to escape drawing. Nice stanchions!

The next to last drawing in the issue belongs to Avi Steinberg. A man at a diner counter encounters a teeny coffee cup.  As in an earlier drawing not long ago — not by Mr. Steinberg (I don’t think), I wonder about the level of the counter top in relation to the customer.  It’s either a very low counter, or a very tall customer. One wonders too if the customer is just walking by the counter and has remarked on the little cup of coffee.  There’s no indication of seating, so he isn’t about to sit; there are, however, items on the counter indicating customers might sit.  As I’ve said before, I like imagining a backstory. Good caption.

The final drawing in the issue (not counting the caption contest drawings) is by Carolita Johnson. A fortune teller!  As with Mr. Steinberg’s drawing, there’s some kind of perspective thing going on (with the door and the room) that caught my eye. You’ll see.

 — Back next Monday

 

 

 

Avi Steinberg

Carolita Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rea Irvin’s Talk of The Town Town Masthead: “A Mere Reassuring Blur”

I’m devoting today’s Spill to Rea Irvin’s long-running Talk of The Town masthead —  the one that appeared for 92 years, before being replaced this past May by a redrawn effort.   Tune out if you wish — at least I’m not talking about the two dots that sometime appear below certain cartoons.

I happened upon this passage about the Irvin masthead  (shown above) in Brendan Gill’s must-read memoir, Here At The New Yorker.  I haven’t read a better description. We pick up just after Gill has discussed Eustace Tilley:

“The drawing at the head of “Talk’ is in some ways ways more mysterious even than the cover and deserves examination.  The dandy is shown at the left-hand side of the drawing; he is in profile, wearing a high stock, with a monocle on on a ribbon screwed into his left eye. He is engaged in writing a missive of some length with a grotesquely exaggerated quill pen.  On the right-hand side of the drawing, full-face to the viewer, perches a plump black owl, roguishly winking.  Between the dandy and the owl rise some peculiar skyscrapers, topped by cupolas unlike any any to be seen in New York.  Rays of sunlight, or perhaps moonlight (for the owl’s unwinking eye is wide-open), stream from behind the skyscrapers.  Dandy, owl, and sky-scrapers are drawn along a single notched, curving line, under and over which float a number of wheels with sawtoothed  rims. What is this incoherent jumble? Nobody alive any longer remembers, and it doesn’t matter. There the heading is, and every week we see it and yet take care not to see it.; it is a mere reassuring blur at the top of the page as we settle down to our reading of Notes and Comment. As such, it remains a continuing witness to the almost total confusion  of purpose manifested in those early days by Ross…”

The new masthead — and I have to stress it is new — appears below.

 

As I wrote on the Spill back in May when this new masthead was installed (the redesign first appeared in the issue of May 22, 2017),  Mr. Irvin’s charmingly imperfect scroll-like line has met a white-out brush.  His owl has been re-drawn, his buildings re-drawn too (with the inclusion of One World Trade Center in this new assortment).  Tilley himself has changed just a bit.  The designery horizontal line running over the drawing (added in the issue of February 21, 2000) remains.

Let’s compare and contrast the Irvin masthead with this new one, which we’ll call the Niemann version (after Christoph Niemann, who was hired to redraw the masthead), incorporating some of what Mr. Gill spoke of.  The 92 year old masthead segments below will always appear on the left (you’ll be able to tell the difference because of the slight amber color of the older version); the Niemann redrawn masthead segments are to the right. 

Brendan Gill: “The dandy is shown at the left hand side…he is engaged at writing a missive of some length”

The dandy remains in Niemann’s version, although he’s lost many of the character lines in his hair, on his jacket and even his face. The white dots on his lapel have disappeared. His body has narrowed as well.  Tilley’s new face is smoother — not yet approaching the cartoony Tilley look the magazine has incorporated on its various online features, as seen here:

 

Brendan Gill: The “plump owl”:

The Irvin owl as been replaced by a slimmed down version and losing some of the woodcut-esque lines around its face. It somewhat resembles a rubber stamp.

Brendan Gill: The “peculiar skyscrapers topped by cupolas unlike any to be seen in New York”:

The new skyscrapers (seen on the right) are no longer peculiar; they are now a generic skyline, identifiable as Manhattan’s only by the addition of the World Trade Center, which, if we’re going to get technical (and I wish we wouldn’t) would rise far above its neighboring buildings. The cupolas are gone, as is the spacing of the buildings. The new buildings are huddled together. The building to the far left in the new version looks somewhat like Pisa’s Leaning Tower, except it’s not leaning. Irvin’s buildings had breathing space — something city dwellers cherish.

 

Brendan Gill: “Rays of sunlight, or perhaps moonlight…stream from behind the skyscrapers”

 In the 92 year old version, each of Irvin’s rays can be seen as an actual drawn line, with imperfections, even a blob or two of ink just above the owl. In the new version (on the right) the beautiful symmetry of the streaming lines has been off-set by the disappearance of a line shown behind the owl’s head. The hand-drawn quality of the lines has disappeared, replaced by perfect spear-like lines, each one just like the other.

 

Brendan Gill: The “single notched curvy line”:

The curvy line has completely lost its notches. The bare line in the new version seems drawn by a chiseled felt tip marker. Its end on the right  just tapers off. Irvin’s 92 year old version ends with a mysterious irregular line, that runs thin to thick, ending with what looks like the bumper at the end of a subway line. It’s quite beautiful in its own peculiar way.

Brendan Gill: “…a number of wheels with sawtoothed rims”

The wheels remain, yet they have been re-drawn. (Irvin’s on the left, Niemann’s on the right). Note how Irvin’s scroll has lost its flair as well as a couple of tiny scratchy lines just to the left of Tilley’s elbow.

The cleaned up wheels, shown in the screen grab below right are puzzling.  In the Irvin drawing on the left, we see what look like the artist’s expressions of the moment — stray pen marks around the small circle floating off to the right.  I’m a fan of imperfection.

 

And there we have it. Irvin’s “reassuring blur” has been transformed into something far less blurry, featuring crisp lines, a defined skyline with at least one identifiable building in it, and an 86ing of character lines.  Rea Irvin created a masthead drawing with charm, mystery, and grace.  It’s a pity that it no longer “remains a continuing witness to the almost total confusion of purpose manifested in those early days by Ross…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fave Book Cover (and Book) of the Week: Buzzi & Steinberg; A New Yorker State of Mind Looks at the Issue of August 25th 1928

Fave Book Cover (and Book) of the Week: Buzzi & Steinberg

Liza Donnelly recently traveled to the west coast of Italy  where she was presented with an award from the  Museo della Satira d della Caricatura. She returned home with a box of cartoon books published over there.  Among them was the book above, Aldo Buzzi & Saul Steinberg: Un’ Amicizia Tra Letteratura, Arte E Cibo (Credito Valtellinese, 2015)The book’s cover shows Steinberg at the wheel with Mr. Buzzi in the back seat.  The photo is dated 1960. It’s a terrific little book (7″ x 10″) packed with photos of Steinberg and company, as well as a lot of the master’s drawings, constructions, and illustrated letters. 

On first seeing the book, I couldn’t help but think of this photo of another iconic artist in a car. Those are Bob Dylan’s feet sticking out of the Rolls Royce.

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New Yorker State of Mind/ Reading Every Issue of The New Yorker: the August 25th, 1928 New Yorker

I’m bowled over by the amount of effort put into every New Yorker State of Mind post.   Read it here

Podcast of Interest: Liza Donnelly with Susan Orlean & Sarah Thyre; Update: MAD Panelists at “Satire and the City” Cartoon Festival; Latest New Yorker Cartoons Rated; New Animated Addams Family Planned; Karasik Lectures; The Tilley Watch Online

Podcast of Interest: Liza Donnelly with Susan Orlean and Sarah Thyre

Liza Donnelly visits writer, Susan Orlean and actress, Sarah ThyreHear it here.

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Update: MAD Panelists at “Satire and the City” Cartoon Festival

As promised in yesterday’s post about the upcoming Association of American Editorial Cartoonists “Satire and the City” Cartoon Festival, here are the MAD magazine panelists scheduled to appear:

John Ficarra, Senior VP & Executive Editor, a MAD staffer since 1980, co-editor (with Nick Meglin) 1985-2004, editor-in-chief 2004-present

Joe Raiola and Charlie Kadau, Senior Editors, MAD staffers since 1985

Al Jaffee, MAD contributor since 1955, creator of the Fold-In and Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions, Guiness World Record holder, “Longest Career as a Comic Artist”

Moderator, Sam Viviano, VP—Art & Design, MAD contributor since 1981, art director 1999-present.

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Latest New Yorker Cartoons Rated

 Cartoon Companion’s Max and Simon had their work cut for them this week with nearly two dozen cartoons to inspect and examine. Among the dissected: a literary plumbing problem, Tinder behavior, Nambia located, and a Frankensteinian moment.   Read it all here.

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New Animated Addams Family Planned

According to this report the creepy and kooky and altogether ooky “Addams Family” will return to delight us.

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Karasik Lectures
How to Read Nancy co-author Paul Karasik will talk cartoons this October 25th. Details here.
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The Tilley Watch Online
I was at a table of New Yorker cartoonists some months back when the conversation turned to the future of the print magazine.  Someone asked me what I thought and I (jokingly) said, “Two years left at most”  — it was a rock in a pond moment; my table mates eyes grew wide, their bodies shifted anxiously.  I don’t really think print is close to dead, and I don’t really believe the print version of The New Yorker will cease in two years, but I do believe that online is where the action increasingly is.  With that said, it only makes sense that the Spill pays closer attention to the New Yorker‘s online non-print features that involve — or sometimes involve — its cartoonists: The Cartoon Lounge, The Daily Cartoon, Daily Shouts and other features (video, podcasts, etc.).  Not all of these features will be noted daily.  Fickleness rules here.
 
And so off we go …
 
Video segments of last weekend’s New Yorker Festival have been posted on newyorker.com.  Of interest: the magazine’s cartoon editor, Emma Allen spoke with Kumail Nanjiani
 
And here’s a clip of Andy Borowitz doing some stand-up (Mr. Borowitz isn’t a cartoonist, but his work seems, at times, ever-so-close to captionville — that’s a compliment).  
 
Daily Shouts: Recent posts include Farley Katz on pumpkins and Lars Kenseth on Roomba Error Codes. See the pieces here
 
Daily Cartoon: Recent posts include the aforementioned Mr. Kenseth, Mick Stevens and Peter Kuper.  See a slide show of over a dozen recent Daily Cartoons here.
 
 
 
 
 

Edward Sorel, Christopher Weyant, Kim Warp, and Liza Donnelly to Appear at “Satire and The City” Political Cartoon Festival

The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists convenes at Hofstra University in the earliest days of November for several days of panel discussions and interviews.  Edward Sorel will be interviewed by Signe Wilkinson;  on another day,  Liza Donnelly will moderate a discussion with  New Yorker cartoonists Christopher Weyant and Kim Warp.   There will also be a panel discussion with MAD magazine cartoonists (but I’m not sure yet who they are). 

Here’s a link to the schedule.

Tom Cheney Pencilled; Bob Eckstein in The Daily News; Two New New Yorker Cartoonists Added to the A-Z

Tom Cheney is in the spotlight this week on  Jane Mattimoe’s wonderful Case for Pencils blog.  Read it here!

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Bob Eckstein in The NY Daily News

Bob Eckstein is filling in for the the Daily News‘s regular op-ed cartoonist, Bill Bramhall, who’s on vacation for a couple of weeks.  See Mr. Eckstein’s work here.

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Two New New Yorker Cartoonists Added to the Spill’s A-Z

The Spill will mount a spirited attempt to keep track of the Emma Allen era new cartoon contributors. So far, there are five, including  Joseph Dottino and Sophia Wiedeman, whose first drawings were published in the New Yorker this week. Their names have been added to Ink Spill‘s New Yorker Cartoonists A-Z.

The other Emma Allen era cartoonists, thus far (these are cartoonists whose work has appeared in the print edition of The New Yorker):

Sharon Levy (first appearance, July 10/17 2017)

Jacob Samuel  (July 28, 2017)

Curtis Edwards (September 25, 2017)

If this information is incorrect or incomplete, please email me.