Welcome back Tilley; Paul Karasik on the 2011 Angouleme Comics Festival; Al Hirschfeld’s Pink Townhouse for sale

It’s great to see Eustace Tilley has returned to The New Yorker’s cover in  celebration of the magazine’s 86th birthday ( he made cameo appearances last year by way of Chris Ware, Adrian Tomine, Dan Clowes, and Ivan Brunetti ).  Click here to see “Tilley Over Time,” a piece contributed to The New Yorker’s blog in February of 2008 (above is the photo of my Tilley collection  that originally accompanied the New Yorker blog post — it no longer appears there).

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Paul Karasik blogs about this year’s Angouleme comics festival Read here

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Ink Spill sometimes wanders outside of The New Yorker cartoonist orbit…in this case for a story about the home of iconic illustrator, Al Hirschfeld:

Al Hirschfeld’s pink NYC townhouse is up for sale.  Read about it here. ( from Cartoon Brew, February 3, 2011, “Buy Al Hirschfeld’s Pink Manhattan Townhouse”)

Time Capsule

Staring me in the face as I sit at my desk is a wooden Cuban cigar box, stamped “Ramone Allones Trumps.” I began using it as a filing system back in the late 1970s when  I moved to Manhattan and began taking this whole business of becoming a New Yorker cartoonist very seriously.  Each week, on a 5×7” index card, I listed and numbered the cartoons I would bring up to the magazine’s offices on West 43rd Street.  The card system  began before I was accepted by The New Yorker and ended in the early 1980s  when it suddenly dawned on me that writing down the captions each week was pointless. The cigar box, jammed with these cards, has remained untouched all these years—it’s a time capsule documenting my early attempts to grab the golden ring.

For me, the card dated August 22nd, 1977  marked a major turning point.  Up til then I’d managed to sell zip, nada, nothing to The New Yorker.  But with the August 22nd card everything changed.  Among the fifteen drawings sent in that week were such curious captions (curious to me now) as caption #13, “I’ve been able to find mittens, but no Mickey” and caption #2, “Are you really buying the old Tony Curtis place?” But it was caption #10, “Nothing will ever happen to you” that The New Yorker bought and then  handed over to Whitney Darrow, Jr.  to draw up.  It was an odd moment, being accepted and rejected ( the editor rejected my drawing, but accepted the caption). It would take a number of months for the The New Yorker to finally “OK” one of my drawings and run it under my own name.

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