In Search of…Al Kaufman, Pt.2

Back in December of 2009 I posted “In Search of…Al Kaufman” in an effort to find out more about the cartoonist.  Other than a few facts sprinkled in a short piece published by The Saturday Evening Post in 1961, and his magazine work in a number of publications I was hard pressed to find any information about Mr. Kaufman.  I didn’t even know what “Al” was short for.

One of the pleasures of Ink Spill is the challenge of filling in the gaps. After taking a number of runs at finding out what happened to Mr. Kaufman I finally located an obituary for him (as well as a self-portrait he’d contributed to an newspaper story back in 1961) through the online archives of a New Jersey newspaper. Here, finally, is Mr. Kaufman’s Ink Spill thumbnail bio:

Al Kaufman Born Alfred Kaufman, New York City, 1918. Died, age 59, May 1, 1977, Long Branch, New Jersey.  Kaufman studied at the City College of New York before moving to the Jersey shore in 1954. During WWII, he served in the Navy, stationed in the Philippines. He became a full-time professional cartoonist in 1946 ( while working as the manager of a grocery store, he practiced cartooning in his off-hours). A member of The National Cartoonists Guild and The International Cartoonists Society, he contributed to such magazines as The Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, The Ladies Home Journal, This Week, King Features Syndicate, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, Esquire, Look, and American Legion Magazine [ this information culled from two NJ newspapers:  The Daily Register, and The Red Bank Register as well as an article “They Make You Laugh: Al Kaufman,” The Saturday Evening Post, July 29, 1961]

New Yorker work:  ten drawings, December 13, 1947 through July 10, 1978

Pat Crow: “You Make It Good”

Pat Crow, a colleague at The New Yorker and a neighbor—he lived down the street —died last week at the age of seventy-one. Pat was the elder statesman among us local upstate New Yorkers, having made his way to The New Yorker in 1967.  In an 2001 interview with the Arkansas Gazette, Pat recalled that William Shawn hired him even though  “I think he didn’t know what to do with me.”  Pat went on to edit New Yorker contributors Andy Logan, Elizabeth Drew, Calvin Trillin, John McPhee, among many many others.

My wife and I came to know Pat a little more than twenty years ago through a serendipitous conversation in the parking lot of a local Quaker Meeting house. Pat’s then wife Elizabeth struck up a conversation with us, saying she’d heard we worked for The New Yorker, adding she’d worked there once, and that her husband, Pat, still did.  After a little more chit-chat we  realized we lived right down the street from each other, barely a five minute walk.

When those blurry days arrived at the time Tina Brown was transitioning from editing Vanity Fair to editing The New Yorker, Pat was fond of  informing us outliers of what he was hearing and seeing at the office.  I was once able to return the favor when a number of other of cartoonists were invited to the office to hear Tina share her thoughts about the cartoons. Tina told the assembled cartoonists she’d like to see, “Cutting edge cartoons — not fuzzy.”

Afterwards as I wandered The New Yorker’s hallways trying to find an exit, Pat pulled me into his office by the elbow, closing his door behind us.  John Bennett, another senior editor was also there. Pat wanted to know,  “What happened? What did she say?” It was as cloak-and-dagger as The New Yorker ever got for me, and, it was a whole lot of fun.

Pat  became our Deep Throat, passing along news he’d heard as part of Tina’s circle of senior editors. Before most of the world knew that Tina Brown had chosen an Ed Sorel drawing for the first cover of her refurbished New Yorker, my wife and I learned the news from Pat. Running into Ed around that time I mentioned the cover and Ed looked startled: “How’d you know that?!” But, of course, I couldn’t reveal my source (until now).

My few lengthy chats with Pat revealed a genteel man, full of mischief.  Whatever he had to say he said with a small smile.  He seemed amused by conversation, especially concerning anything having to do with the magazine.  He was a no-nonsense guy, usually but not always willing to cut to the chase.  Reading his lengthy 2001 interview with the Arkansas Gazette I was struck by the way he summed up  his approach to the work that came across his desk for thirty years at The New Yorker, saying simply, “You make it good.”

New Yorker lure is filled with tales of staff members passing each other in the magazine’s hallways for years with perhaps just a nod – sometimes a “hello.”  Over the years as my wife and I walked our dogs down the road past the hay fields that separate Pat’s home from ours, we’d see his olive green Suburu wagon coming our way.  Sometimes he’d pause and we’d chat for a moment; sometimes he’d cruise by and offer a wave. It seemed we were all holding up our end of an Upstate New Yorker tradition.

Read:  John McPhee on Pat Crow in the current issue of The New Yorker.

Cross Overs: Cartoonists on the Cover

It’s a rare breed now, but once upon a time New Yorker cartoonists who contributed covers to the magazine were the norm.  Rea Irvin, who everyone associates with the magazine’s mascot, Eustace Tilley, was the first cross-over New Yorker cover artist/cartoonist. Inotherwords, he did both covers and cartoons.  Al Frueh was the first to accomplish both: his was the magazine’s second cover and his cartoons appeared twice in the first issue.  ( Rea Irvin’s first cartoon didn’t appear until the issue of June 6th, 1925).  An even rarer subset of contributors includes the handful who’ve contributed covers, cartoons and written pieces ( Peter Arno, James Thurber, James Stevenson, Lou Myers, Lee Lorenz, Bob Mankoff and Roz Chast come readily to mind).

Up until 1992, when Tina Brown became editor the greater per centage of the year’s covers were executed by cartoonists. When Ms. Brown divided the Art Editor’s position in two, with a Cartoon Editor responsible for cartoons and an Art Editor  responsible for covers, the majority of covers began to be executed by illustrators,  graphic artists and in some cases, fine artists, such as Red Grooms, and more recently, Wayne Thiebaud.

Here’s a list of cartoonists who’ve contributed to both the outside and inside of the magazine (contemporary cartoonists who’ve continued to cross-over in  the most recent years are high-lighted in blue):

Charles Addams

Peter Arno

Niculae Asciu

Perry Barlow

Charles Barsotti

Ralph Barton

Ludwig Bemelmans

Abe Birnbaum

R.O. Blechman

Harry Bliss

George Booth

CEM (Charles E. Martin)

Roz Chast

Whitney Darrow, Jr.

Robert Day

James Daugherty (aka Jimmy-the-Ink)

Abner Dean

Richard Decker

Leonard Dove

Alan Dunn

Joseph Farris

Douglas Florian

Al Frueh

Arthur Getz

Alice Harvey

Helen Hokinson

Stan Hunt

Rea Irvin

Bruce Eric Kaplan

Edward Koren

Anatole Kovarsky

Robert Kraus

Arnie Levin

Lee Lorenz

Kenneth Mahood

Robert Mankoff

Reginald Marsh

Warren Miller

Frank Modell

Lou Myers

John O’Brien

Mary Petty

Garrett Price

George Price

Gardner Rea

Donald Reilly

Mischa Richter

Victoria Roberts

Carl Rose

Charles Saxon

Ronald Searle

J.J. Sempe

Danny Shanahan

Barbara Shermund

Stephanie Skalisky

Edward Sorel

William Steig

Saul Steinberg

James Stevenson

Anthony Taber

Richard Taylor

JamesThurber

Barney Tobey

Dean Vietor

Robert Weber

Gahan Wilson

Jack Ziegler

Jimmie-the-Ink

Recently while browsing through the Index of The Complete Book of Covers From The New Yorker 1925 -1989 my eye caught the following listing:

Jimmie-the-Ink; see Daugherty, James

As far as I know, James Daugherty is only one of two cartoonists whose cartoons have been published in The New Yorker using a “handle.” ( the other is the Illustrator and musician, Andy Friedman whose cartoons appear under the name Larry Hat). Cartoonists who worked under a pseudonym, such as Daniel Brustlein, whose cartoons were signed “Alain,”  are another story.

Daugherty, who died on February 21, 1974  (The New Yorker’s 50th anniversary) contributed nineteen cartoons to the magazine and two covers.  His New Yorker work was overshadowed by the fine art he produced for much of his life as well as his work in the Children’s Book field ( Daugherty received a Newberry in 1940 ). An online search produced this wonderful paper by Rebecca E. Lawton on Daugherty’s life and work.

Where to see his New Yorker work:

Besides the aforementioned Complete Covers of The New Yorker* you can see Daugherty’s two covers on The New Yorker’s Cartoon Bank site . Unfortunately none of his cartoons appear there. You can see all of his work (covers and cartoons) on Disc #8  of The Complete New Yorker, and see his cartoons on the discs that accompany The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker.

* The Complete Book of Covers From The New Yorker (Knopf, 1989) is out of print but available, for a somewhat hefty price from private dealers listed on the usual online sources, such as ABEBooks.com. and Amazon.com.

“What’s So Funny About Red?” Color Cartoons in The New Yorker


I’m  betting that a good number of The New Yorker’s readers (you know, those folks who go to the cartoons before looking at anything else in the magazine) have noticed something colorful going on with the cartoons.

Four out of the first five issues of the new year have  a color cartoon (the cartoons in the issue of January 24th are black & white, while the issue of January 31 has two color cartoons).

Any article that mentions color cartoons and The New Yorker in the same breath would be ridiculously remiss without including the famous line attributed to the magazine’s founder, Harold Ross.  When asked why The New Yorker didn’t run color cartoons, Ross was reported to have said, “What’s so funny about red?”  The magazine itself used this Rossism as a heading back in its 2007 Cartoon Issue when it ran five cartoons “testing the possibilities” of using red in cartoons.  And more recently, in October of 2010, The New Yorker’s current Cartoon Editor, Bob Mankoff,  taking part in a live online chat on the magazine’s website had this exchange with a questioner:

Q:  Do your artists feel limited by black and white?

A: I don’t think so. Everyone once in a while a cartoon demands color for the joke to be understood or better understood but for the most part color is a distraction. Harold Ross, the first editor of The New Yorker when asked why the cartoons didn’t use color answered ” What’s so funny about red?”


Color New Yorker cartoons were once such a rarity that The New York Times, in an article dated February 15, 1989, noted  William Steig’s four-page color contribution in the magazine’s 64th Anniversary issue.  Robert Gottlieb, the magazine’s editor at the time, told the Times,  ”Cartoons and maps are not suddenly going to be in Day-Glo.” Wouldn’t that have been something?   The Times noted that the last known use of color cartoons was in 1926, when it ran a two-page spread by Rea Irvin.  [Rea Irvin’s two page color spread,  The Maharajah of Puttyput Receives a Christmas Necktie From the Queen, actually ran in the issue of December 12, 1925]

The first use of color single panel cartoons  in The New Yorker occurred during the tenure of Gottlieb’s successor, Tina Brown.  In the March 21, 1994 special issue, The New Yorker Goes to the Movies, three color cartoons appeared, one each by Peter Steiner, Liza Donnelly, and J.B. Handelsman.