Joseph Farris: 1924 – 2015

Posted on 29th January 2015 in News

Joe FarrisJoe Farris, who began contributing to The New Yorker in 1957, died this morning according to a notice posted by his daughter on Facebook.

JF May 18, 19957

Born in 1924, in Newark, NJ, Joe was a longtime Connecticut resident. In his early days he was a student of another Connecticut cartoonist, the great Richard Taylor.  Joe contributed close to 300 cartoons to the magazine, including two covers. A collection of his work,  Just A Cog In The Wheel was published in 1989, and an earlier collection, UFO — Ho Ho was published in 1968.  His most recent book, A Soldier’s Sketchbook: From the Frontlines of World War II, was published in 2011 to excellent reviews.

Joe was a cartoonist’s cartoonist, able to deliver captionless cartoons, sometimes multi panelled, as well as cartoons of the moment, wrapping them up in a style that was his and his alone.



Above: his first drawing in The New Yorker, May 18, 1957. Left: his 1989 collection.



JF 11:9:92












Left: from The New Yorker November 11, 1992

Eustace Tilley Bids Adieu, Again

Posted on 26th January 2015 in News

Eustace 2Eustace Tilley (via Bruce McCall) bids adieu to Times Square on the cover of this week’s New Yorker.  The magazine begins work in its new headquarters at 1 World Trade this week.








The New Yorker’s top-hatted mascot bid goodbye once before, back in August of 1937, when Otto Soglow gave us Tilley, not in a Cadillac, but in the back of a  Victoria, and embarking from The Plaza Hotel, not Times Square.   Back then,  Tilley was substituting for E.B. White, who had decided on taking a leave of absence from New York & The New Yorker.  The drawing appeared at the bottom of White’s farewell Talk of The Town piece.  A tearful Thurber dog follows close by the rear wheel. Eustace tips his hat to two waving women in black, holding muffs: Peter Arno’s Whoops Sisters.


White's goodbye

Tom Toro on NPR’s “My Big Break”

Posted on 26th January 2015 in News

tom-final-1657-1e23aac5773a5b446c00fc32d090c99e4a131217-s300-c85“How’d A Cartoonist Sell His First Drawing? It Only Took 610 Tries”

Hear Tom Toro on NPR’s “My Big Break”

Books of Interest

Posted on 23rd January 2015 in News


Following in the footsteps of The 40s: The Story of a Decade comes The 50s: The Story of a Decade (Both edited by Henry Finder, both published by Random House). No cover image available. The book will be out in September.   If the 50s is anything like the 40s, we can expect classic New Yorker fiction, nonfiction and assessments of the decade by contemporary New Yorker contributors.  Can’t wait for the other collections in what now appears to be a series, especially the The 20s and 30s.


Coming in November by way of W.W. Norton & Company, is a must-read from  Thomas Vinciguerra:  Cast of Characters: Wolcott Gibbs, E.B. White, James Thurber and the Golden Age of The New Yorker (Cover image not available yet).  The last we heard from Mr. Vinciguerra he brought us Backward Ran Sentences: The Best of Wolcott Gibbs From The New Yorker. 


Ink Spill will update information on these books as it becomes available

Did Arno Write Thurber?

Posted on 21st January 2015 in News

Arno Workbooks a  A lot of material accumulates when you’ve been researching a subject for fifteen years. In my case, much of it was placed in a ramshackle assortment of black binders pictured here.  There was also a binder [not pictured] labeled “Next” that contained a very very  long checklist of things that needed looking into. The more I uncovered about Arno, the more I needed to discover. Over time, as the checklist dwindled, I was left with a handful (maybe two) of  unresolved questions. Some will likely never be resolved, but  I was certain that one question in particular could be answered by a visit to the Beinecke Library at Arno’s alma mater, Yale University (Arno didn’t graduate, but spent a busy freshman year there).


By visiting the Beinecke I could finally answer the question of whether Arno wrote James Thurber. Back in the late 1950s Thurber reached out to his fellow New Yorker contributors  while putting together his memoir, The Years With Ross. I’d discovered years ago that the Beinecke holds Thurber’s papers from that project, including a file located in Box 2 that contains all the correspondence between Thurber and his colleagues.  Did Arno write Thurber? I could wait to find out, and I did. Over the past few years I decided to save this last field trip for when my Arno biography had sold — a celebratory final run.


A couple of days ago, sitting a large table in the Beinecke’s well guarded reading room, I was handed Box 2.  The correspondence folder inside was so thick it took up two-thirds of the box (the other third contained a folder of fan mail to Thurber); clearly, this was going to take awhile — a fun while. After two hours, after reading letters from Thurber to E.B. White and Katharine White, and their letters in response, and rounds of letters between Thurber and St. Clair McKelway, William Shawn, and Wolcott Gibbs, etc., etc., I found a letter from Thurber to Charles Addams.  Thurber mentioned that he’d written Arno several times and never heard back.  I realized, then and there, I wasn’t going to find a letter from Arno in this mountain of correspondence.


It fit an Arno trait I’d discovered to be mostly true: as an adult, he wasn’t much of a letter writer. Heck, I’d even been forewarned some years ago when I found a great little privately printed book of biographies, Faces & Facts by a fellow named Willis Birchman. Birchman (a caricaturist more than a biographer) allowed one page per subject, plus a page for a self-portrait.  The first biography in the book is Arno’s, and it contains a sentence highly relevant to this blog post:

Arno never opens his mail.

Interview: Joe Dator

Posted on 20th January 2015 in News

jdFrom It’s Nice That, January 20, 2015, “Brilliant New Yorker cartoonist Joe Dator talks about his life and work”

Joe Dator’s website

Joe Dator’s New Yorker work (via the magazine’s Cartoon Bank website)

New Yorker Cartoonists Respond

Posted on 15th January 2015 in News

LDBob Mankoff’s blog this week, “Pour Charlie”  features a number of New Yorker cartoonists cartoon responses to last week’s events in Paris.

Home is Where the Top Hat Is: The New Yorker Moves

Posted on 13th January 2015 in News

For nearly ninety years, The New Yorker magazine has called mid-town Manhattan home, until this month, when it moves south on the island of Manhattan to 1 World Trade Center. Below is a handy map showing when & where the magazine has been since 1925.

NYer moves (a)


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Regan Arts to Publish Maslin Peter Arno Biography, Mad At Something

Posted on 9th January 2015 in News



I’m pleased to announce that  Mad At Something, my biography of the late and very great New Yorker cartoonist, Peter Arno will be published by Regan Arts.


Arno is one of the pillars of The New Yorkers earliest days, a group that includes Harold Ross, E.B. White, Katharine White, and James Thurber.  Ross, the magazine’s founder and first editor called Arno “our pathfinder artist”  and “the greatest artist in the world.”  It is indeed the case that Arno’s work for the magazine raised the graphic bar so high that “New Yorker cartoon” became synonymous with excellence in the field.

The idea for an Arno biography began back in 1999 in true cartoonist fashion: as an A-Ha! moment as I was driving in the vicinity of Arno’s home just outside of Manhattan; I realized that he had never been the subject of a biography.  Since that moment I’ve spent the past fifteen years researching and writing about his life.

Mad At Something is not just an examination of Arno’s life and work, it is also an exploration of the birth and development of the New Yorker cartoon, as well as the magazine’s fabled art department, and its artists. One of the many wonderful things about being a New Yorker cartoonist is the opportunity it’s afforded me to meet other New Yorker cartoonists.  Since beginning the biography I’ve reached out to my colleagues asking them to share their thoughts on Arno’s work. The list includes Arno contemporaries such as William Steig, Syd Hoff, Robert Weber, Frank Modell, Eldon Dedini,  Ed Fisher, through post-Arno contributors such as Jack Ziegler, Roz Chast, Peter Steiner,  Bruce Eric Kaplan and Edward Sorel.  I am especially pleased that the book’s curtain closer is composed of their contributions.

Mad At Something will be published in 2016.




New Yorker Cartoon Editor Responds to Charlie Hebdo Attack

Posted on 8th January 2015 in News

BobLinks below to televised appearances by The New Yorker’s Cartoon Editor, Bob Mankoff in response to the Charlie Hebdo attack:

The Wall Street Journal’s  The News Hub.

The CBS Evening News


And from The UK’s Independent: cartoons by cartoonists from around the world  responding to the attack


The New York Times profiles the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists who lost their lives


From MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow Daily, Jan 8, 2015, here’s a short video of Michael Shaw’s appearance.