Link here to see what Charles Barsotti, Joe Dator, Carolita Johnson, Mick Stevens, Liam Walsh, and Kim Warp have to say about their “A-Ha!” moment on the New Yorker‘s website this week (I’m guest blogging).
The brand new New Yorker (March 10, 2014) features what I believe to be an unprecedented single issue contribution by a cartoonist: a dozen pages, in color. The piece, by Roz Chast, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” is also the title of her forthcoming graphic memoir (coming in May from Bloomsbury USA. The cover appears to the left).
Link: Ms. Chast’s website
Bob Eckstein on Live-Drawing the Oscars; Liza Donnelly Live Tweet-Draws the Oscars; Barbara Smaller takes over the Daily Cartoon
Bob Eckstein will be live-drawing the Oscars for The New Yorker‘s website later on today. Link here for the magazine’s coverage. According to a Facebook post, he’ll also provide commentary.
I asked Bob to talk a little about the big night and here’s what he had to say:
I’m more excited than usual about tonight’s Oscars. This time I will be glued to the TV set with a Wacom tablet pen in one hand and a cocktail wienie in the other. My wife will be mingling and whispering in my ear what the vibe is at our friend’s fancy Oscars party and what everyone thinks of the dresses and selections. Our friend Carla, who is throwing the bash, is excited about being included in the piece and promised to save some food for me since I will be drawing non-stop.
How was I lucky enough to get this opportunity? I was lucky. And it’s a numbers game more than anything. I’ve been drawing and writing for The New York Times for over 30 years! I started with a page illustration in the magazine section when I was just a teenager. I’m not sure if I came up with the idea or someone else did but about five years ago it was suggested I draw the Super Bowl in real time. I think I pushed to just write jokes and skip the drawings. That seemed like more fun. And less work.
Anyhoo, that exposure lead to this job and otherwise I wouldn’t be drawing tonight but just stuffing my face with Oscar-shaped macaroons. You may ask, what do I know about movies. I watched most of the nominated pictures? I will say that for years I wrote, including reviews, for the Village Voice, Newsday and other publications. My wife and I met in art school where we were both film majors (and of course I studied film history).
As a DVD extra I’ll add that she won a student Emmy and absolutely hated my guts. I switched in my last year to an Illustration major. Twelve years later we ran into each other again at a mutual friend’s funeral. We were asked to curate the deceased friend’s retrospective together. And shortly afterwards we eloped to Iceland.
(above: Eckstein’s Oscar-wielding Tilley).
Link to Bob Eckstein’s website: bobeckstein.com
Link here to see Bob Eckstein’s New Yorker work on the magazine’s Cartoon Bank site.
This is third part of an Ink Spill series looking at newer New Yorker cartoonists. I asked three of the most recent additions to the magazine’s stable of artists to tell us a little about themselves and how it was they ended up at The New Yorker (previously we heard from Liana Finck and Edward Steed). The series wraps up with the newest of the trio: Charlie Hankin, whose first cartoon appeared in The New Yorker this past August (a Hankin cartoon from The New Yorker, October 14, 2014 appears below).
And now, here’s Charlie:
My interest in cartooning went through cycles. I did single-panel bits for my high school newspaper, and then nothing until a single installment of a graphic-novel/zine I drew in college. After school, I got deep into realist painting. I also started a comedy webseries called Good Cop Great Cop with my friend Matt Porter. Maybe the merging of art and comedy finally attracted me to cartooning for The New Yorker. Either way, it seemed like a good fit: both the webseries and my paintings have undertones of dry, quiet absurdity.
Since entering the fold, it’s been great to meet some of the big names in cartooning–Roz Chast, David Sipress, Sam Gross, and of course Bob [Mankoff]. Ben Schwartz and Liam Walsh have both given me guidance. And I dig around the archives for extra inspiration. Much older generations aside (Chas Addams, Peter Arno, et al.), I love Mick Stevens, Mike Twohy, Tom Cheney, Leo Cullum, Jack Ziegler, Danny Shanahan, and too many others to name.
To see Charlie Hankin’s New Yorker work, link here to The New Yorker‘s Cartoon Bank.
Link here to visit Charlie’s webseries, Good Cop Great Cop.
To visit his website, link here: charliehankin.com.
Photo: Sasha Arutyunova
And here’s part two of Ink Spill‘s look at some of the newest New Yorker cartoon contributors. If you saw the piece about Liana Finck the other day you’ll remember I’ve asked a trio of fresh faces to tell us a little about themselves and how it was they ended up at The New Yorker. Today we hear from Edward Steed, who hails from England (joining a stellar cast of our colleagues from across the Atlantic, including Alfred Leete*, who was in the very first issue of The New Yorker).
Mr. Steed’s first New Yorker appearance was in the issue dated March 4, 2013 (an example of his work is below. The cartoon appeared in The New Yorker September 16, 2013). Mr. Steed has graciously provided Ink Spill with a self portrait.
The floor is now all his:
I discovered New Yorker cartoons recently, just a couple of years ago. I saw them online and decided I would like to do that too. I hadn’t been interested in cartoons since I’d outgrown the stuff I looked at when I was young, but these were clearly different. I started writing down ideas straightaway.
When I had a bunch of what I thought were good ones I sent them in. Didn’t know about the Tuesday deadline or how the system worked, I just kept sending as many as I could come up with. I hadn’t really drawn cartoons since I was a child. I had no style. So I hoped to impress with quantity. I did that for a few months and heard nothing. Eventually, Bob Mankoff phoned and said he wanted to buy a few of them.
After that, I quit my job and went to New York (I’m from England). I bought the New Yorker magazine for the first time at the airport and read it on the plane, I liked it.
Went to the Tuesday meeting and met Bob and some of the other cartoonists. Everyone was great, very kind and welcoming. Karen Sneider took me to an art shop and explained what kinds of pens cartoonists are supposed to use. Sam Gross showed me round the cartoon section of the Strand bookshop.
& I’ve been drawing cartoons for the magazine fairly regularly since then.
See Edward Steed’s New Yorker work here on the magazine’s Cartoon Bank site.
*Additional reading: here’s Alfred Leete‘s entry on Ink Spill‘s “New Yorker Cartoonists A-Z”:
Alfred Leete (photo above) Born at Thorpe Church, Northamptonshire, England, August 28, 1882; Died in London, June 17, 1933. The son of a farmer, Leete had no formal art training. According to his obit in The Times of London, June 6. 1933: “…his work early showed a keen sense of humour and a bold technique, and was welcomed by the principal illustrated weekly papers and magazines.” NYer work: appeared in the very first issue of The New Yorker, February 21, 1925. Mr. Leete is uncredited in The New Yorker’s database (listed only as “unidentified”). As of February 27, 2013, he’s been identified (with the assistance of colleagues, Rick Marschall, Mike Lynch and Brian Moore). A website bio
Edward Koren has officially assumed title of Vermont’s Cartoonist Laureate. Here are some links about it:
The Daily Reporter, February 27, 2014, “Long-time cartoonist featured in New Yorker named VT cartoonist laureate” (with a link to the Vermont Public Radio piece).
Seven Days, February 26, 2014, “Edward Koren Becomes Cartoonist Laureate With Ceremony and Talk”
Burlington Free Press, February 25, 2014, “Koren selected as Vermont’s cartoonist laureate”
See some of Edward Koren’s New Yorker work here at the magazine’s Cartoon Bank site.
Thirty or forty years ago, a new cartoonist published in The New Yorker was about as rare as The New Yorker messing with its fabled Irvin typeface. That’s changed in recent years, as more and more cartoonists are embraced by the magazine. In the upcoming documentary film, Very Semi-Serious, Bob Mankoff, the New Yorker‘s current cartoon editor, says, “When I became cartoon editor I realized this was a plane that was gonna run out of fuel. Unless we interceded this was going to be the last generation of cartoonists doing this. I made it an open call. So now all you have to do is call and say I want to show you my cartoons.” The open call policy has resulted in a sometimes lively scene on Tuesday mornings in and around the Cartoonists Lounge, a small rectangular room just a few feet from Mr. Mankoff’s office. Aspiring cartoonists mingle with veteran contributors as well as more recently added contributors.
This week Ink Spill checks in with three of the newer cartoonists whose work has been published in the magazine. I’ve asked each to tell us a little about themselves and how it was they ended up at The New Yorker. First up is Liana Finck, whose first cartoon (below) appeared in The New Yorker exactly one year ago today, February 25, 2013.
Without further ado, here’s Liana:
My parents tell me that I started drawing when I was five months old. Drawing was the thing I loved to do, and it earned me praise; it was my ticket into the world. I needed a ticket, because when I was a kid I was an awkward weird-o who couldn’t make eye contact or talk loudly enough for people to hear, and who was brought to fear and trembling by the sound of blenders, vacuum cleaners. There was always a strong connection for me between making pictures and looking at them. I think I started to draw early because I was surrounded by pictures. My mom drew all the time, virtuosically and with joy–watching her draw was magic. Our house was also full of children’s books. I still read them: William Steig, Maurice Sendak, Maira Kalman. Those books still seem to me like the most sophisticated – and the most human – form of expression.
I’ve been under the spell of The New Yorker since I was twelve or fourteen. My family had donated to WNYC and received a year of the magazine as a free bonus gift. (They’ve been renewing their membership since then). One of my first New Yorker memories is of Saul Steinberg’s obituary. Something clicked when I looked at the pictures that accompanied it. I also remember looking at Roz Chast’s cartoons for the first time, and falling in love. I rediscovered Maira Kalman and William Steig, whom I had known from their children’s books. These drawings were the adult versions of the brilliant kids’ books illustrations that had always enchanted me.
The more streamlined, punch-liney, black and white New Yorker cartoons fascinated and daunted me. I was funny, and I was good at drawing, but my mind sprawled all over the place, ran in tangents. My life’s struggle has been to impose order on this chaos, and so I’ve always been attracted by precise art-forms in which every tiny piece matters. It seemed natural that I should try my hand at some cartoons. I tried, gave up, tried again. I sent a few cartoons to the New Yorker when I was sixteen. They were really bad. I don’t remember getting a rejection slip. I kept drawing them, but didn’t send any in again for a few years. I felt like I’d crossed a boundary that shouldn’t have been crossed.
In a drawing class I was taking Sophomore year at art college, in which we were allowed to choose our own projects, I hung fifty cartoons I’d made on the wall during my critique. Suddenly, the classroom emptied of students. I’m still trying to figure out what that was all about. Were the cartoons terrible? (Yes). Did the other kids hate New Yorker cartoons in general? (Yes). Was it disrespectful to make New Yorker cartoons for a drawing class? (Yes, but screw the academy). I felt like a presumptuous monster. I sent the cartoons to The New Yorker by mail. I got a rejection slip that time.
I came to The New Yorker’s office with a batch when I was twenty-four. The cartoonists in their waiting room were very nice. Bob Mankoff, the editor, was encouraging. He flipped through my cartoons and said, “Print these out bigger and bring them back.” I meant to, but I kept putting it off. I was afraid I’d misunderstood him somehow. I stayed away for two years.
I came back when I was twenty-six. This time, the stakes were less high than they’d seemed in the past. I was working on a graphic novel, and I felt anchored by it. I wasn’t as desperate to be ‘discovered’ as a cartoonist – I just wanted a reason to draw cartoons, and showing them at The New Yorker felt like an adventure. By coincidence, the day I went in, a film crew was shooting for a documentary about the New Yorker cartoons, and many of The New Yorker cartoonists were there, and a lot of prospective cartoonists. I had to wait for hours and got to know a bunch of people. I was happy. The gathering felt like a meeting of like-minded people, not a club I didn’t belong to. I decided to keep coming back every week. And I did.
Forcing myself to make ten cartoons every week has taught me how to fight various demons, including the big one: writer’s block. I’ve become a much stronger and saner graphic novelist, writer, human. I love the process of making New Yorker cartoons (especially the process of coming up with them. Free-drawing makes me feel completely alive), but I still feel self-conscious, like I’m trying to impersonate some witty, dapper New Yorker Cartoonist I have in my head. I’m missing something that I think other New Yorker cartoonists have: the ability to think objectively, translate an idea into a picture. I have something else, instead – a mind that makes surprising, organic leaps, and can’t do anything else. I used to think this was a failing, caused by the same thing that made me a weird-o when I was a kid, but I wonder now whether it’s just a way of thinking many people have: writers? Artists? Women?
I need to learn certain things from that idealized New Yorker cartoonist who lives in my head. How to be prolific rather than perfect. How to force myself to take a step back sometimes, as if this (being good, being noticed) weren’t the only thing that mattered to me. How to learn from my mistakes. By learning these things, I believe that I will finally learn how to acknowledge my real thoughts and feelings, survey them without falling in, and give them form, let them out.
Ms. Finck’s new book,
A Bintel Brief, will be released April 15th from Ecco Press.
An excerpt from Ms. Finck’s webcomic, “Diary of A Shadow” appears below. Click on it to enlarge.
(Photo of Ms. Finck: John Madere)
This delightful book was in Ink Spill’s mailbox this weekend: Gideon Amichay’s No, No, No, No, No, Yes — his story of breaking into The New Yorker, and beyond. Most anyone who’s had the dream of contributing art to the magazine will relate to Mr. Amichay’s story. The evolution of his New Yorker rejections is well chronicled and novel.
Mr. Amichay’s entry on Ink Spill‘s “New Yorker Cartoonists A-Z”:
Gideon Amichay ( photo above courtesy of Mr. Amichay) NYer work: January 16, 1995 – . Website: www.gideonamichay.com/