“Better Pictures”

Never a day goes by that I don’t wonder at the trek the New Yorker cartoon has made in its ninety-three years; how it began, how it developed, and what it has become. For those with the time and energy (and either a complete collection of the magazine, access to a library with bound copies, or a subscription to the magazine allowing you access to its archives) the graphic evidence is available in the pages of the magazine’s issues, beginning with the very first in February of 1925, and carrying through to the latest issue on the newsstand and/or on whatever electronic device you use.

The how it began part is well documented, especially in Thomas Kunkel’s great biography of Harold Ross, Genius in Disguise, and in a number of other books (among them, Lee Lorenz’s Art of The New Yorker , and Ross,The New Yorker and Me,  by Jane Grant, Ross’s first wife and co-founder of the magazine; heck, I’ll throw in my Arno biography too — I spend much of it describing how the art department and the art developed). These books and others fill in the history, providing atmosphere, personalities — you know: the who, what, where, whys, and whens.

A favorite title is shown above.  Dale Kramer’s Ross and The New Yorker, published in 1951 (it had an earlier incarnation, in part, in the pages of Harper’s in 1943, with a co-author, George R. Clark). Mr. Kramer had the luxury of working in a time period when all of the major players of the magazine were around (Helen Hokinson perished in plane crash in 1949 just a couple of the years before the book came out; Ross died in the year the book was published). If you read Harrison Kinney’s The Thurber Letters, you’ll find a good deal of correspondence from Thurber to Kramer, guiding and correcting him. After reading the manuscript, Thurber told E.B. White he thought Kramer’s  writing was “undistinguished” but he didn’t “vehemently” disagree with anything in it.

What is always of interest (to me) in accounts of the magazine’s beginnings is the how the development of the New Yorker cartoon is handled. I think Kramer does a good job describing the earliest days, of what Ross was looking for, or not wanting (echoing the oft-quoted “he didn’t know what he wanted, but he knew what he didn’t want”), of Rea Irvin’s invaluable part in the art’s development.

I’m forever struck by Ross’s care for the art and artists — how important a part of the magazine it and they were to him.  In any of the books I’ve mentioned here, you’ll find a variation of the passage below laying out just how much Ross cared.  It is that care that was the foundation of the magazine’s art. That’s how this began, with great care, and an appreciation for the art, most especially the cartoons.  

Here’s Kramer on Ross and the magazine’s art:

Ross’s major contribution to “art” — the designation given to cartoons, spot drawings, illustrations, caricatures, and cover paintings — was the same curiosity and fierce demand for accuracy that was helping to bring the text into focus. He queried constantly, “Where am I in this picture?” The reader, he maintained, ought to be at a definite vantage point. He should be watching an action or overhearing a conversation.

Or Ross would ask, “Who’s talking?” Sometimes the artist was requested to open the speaker’s mouth wider. Ross was dealing, of course, with the people and the objects in the drawings, rather than craftsmanship. By demanding that the characters be plain to him, and seen from a particular vantage point, he naturally got better craftsmanship. The artists discovered, with some reluctance since they often had to do a drawing over and over again, that Ross’s demands, put into artistic sense by Irvin — along with Irvin’s own suggestions — resulted in better pictures.

To those who have admired the art of the New Yorker, “better pictures” might seem an understatement, but it’ll do just fine. Better pictures was something to shoot for, and I believe most of the devoted would agree, something attained. 

 

 

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch, The (double) New Yorker Issue of July 9 & 16, 2018

A dog in a flotation device on a very watery cover for a double issue in early-to-mid July. The artist Mark Ulriksen talks about his creation here.  My eye wants me to believe that Mr. Ulriksen’s doggie is floating in the air above the surface of marbeilized water.

A delayed Monday Tilley Watch as the digital issue has not yet turned over to July 9th & 16th (it’s still stuck on the issue of July 2nd). The Monday Watch came about because I thought it might be fun taking a look at the cartoons in situ. Without the digital issue today, that’s not possible (my print version won’t arrive for a few more days).

I can see all the cartoons on the newyorker.com slideshow, but for me, that’s less appealing than seeing how they reside on the magazine’s pages. I also love seeing what else is going on in the issue, graphically (such as: has Rea Irvin’s iconic Talk masthead returned yet…you know, things like that).

— So long then, until I have access to the magazine, in one version or another. 

…the latest issue appeared online late Monday afternoon. 

Twelve cartoons in the issue.  Here’re the cartoonists:

Bruce Kaplan’s caption caught my eye this week, as well as his somewhat complex drawing.  Also catching my eye: the number of illustrations (drawings and photographs). There are eighteen with four of them full page (and one of those actually a page-and-a-half).

Usually I don’t mention the cartoon caption page, but I do like Joe Dator’s kites offered up this week. It has a Jack Ziegler feel to it. Perhaps Mr. Dator will reveal his caption (if there was one) once the contest is settled.

Of special note: a nice Charles Addams piece by the cartoonist, Paul Karasik (it appears under the “Sketchbook” heading).

For more on the issue’s cartoons check out the Cartoon Companion at week’s end.

Extra special note: Rea Irvin’s classic masthead is still missing. Here’s what it looks like:

— See you when the next new issue is out, July 16th…seems like a long way off!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Too Darn Hot; Fave Photos of the Day: Chast & Wertz…Shanahan, Toro & Ziegler

Here’s a Liza Donnelly classic cartoon from The New Yorker issue of August 7, 1995:

And a favorite Charles Addams cover:

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Fave Photos of the Day: Roz Chast & Julia Wertz…Shanahan, Toro & Ziegler

Julia Wertz (on the left) and Roz Chast appeared at The New York Public Library last Thursday to discuss their work. I love that Ms. Chast is looking at a projected childhood photo of herself.  (photo courtesy of Marcie Jacobs-Cole). 

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And just last night up in Bennington, Vermont, Jessica Ziegler, the daughter of the late Jack Ziegler moderated a talk with Danny Shanahan and Tom Toro.  The photo below from an interesting article posted today by Mike Peterson on his Comic Strip of the Day. Mr. Shanahan is on the far left, Mr. Toro, center, and Ms. Ziegler far right.

 

 

 

 

The Tilley Watch Online, June 25-29, 2018; On Attempted Bloggery: More Getz

The Daily Cartoon was all Trump all the time this week (whether directly or indirectly).  The contributing cartoonists: Pia Guerra, Michael Shaw, Brendan Loper, Pat Byrnes, and Bob Eckstein

Over on the Daily Shouts, the contributing New Yorker cartoonists included Liana Finck, Emily Flake, and Tim Hamilton.

You can see all the work above and more by going here.

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More Getz

Stephen Nadler’s Attempted Bloggery zeroes in on some more work by the late great New Yorker cover artist, Arthur Getz.  Read it all here!

Fave Photo of the Day: Woodman, Klossner, Lynch & Jacobson; Cartoon Companion’s Latest Look at New New Yorker Cartoons

From an article in Village Soup, June 29, 2018, “Trio Brings Lobster Therapy to Camden” — the photo below.  Clockwise from top right:  Bill Woodman, Mike Lynch, John Klossner, and David Jacobson.  Photo by Olivia Tasker.

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Cartoon Companion’s Latest Look at New New Yorker Cartoons

It’s Friday, which means the Cartoon Companion‘s Max and Simon are back with their rated takes on the current crop of New Yorker cartoons. Roz Chast’s hot dog cart (that isn’t really selling hot dogs) gets the CC’s Top Toon award. Read it all here.

Happy 92nd Birthday, George Booth!; Maine Cartoonists on the Radio: Woodman, Lynch, Klossner & Jacobson

Here’s to Mr. Booth, a Spill Hall of Famer. Happy 92nd Birthday!

 Mr. Booth’s entry on the Spill‘s A-Z:

Born June 28, 1926, Cainesville, MO. New Yorker work: 1969 – . Key collections: Think Good Thoughts About A Pussycat (Dodd, Mead, 1975), Rehearsal’s Off! (Dodd, Mead, 1976), Omnibooth: The Best of George Booth ( Congdon & Weed, 1984), The Essential George Booth, Compiled and Edited by Lee Lorenz ( Workman, 1998).

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Maine Cartoonists on the Radio

On Maine’s NPR station today, Bill Woodman (one of his cartoons appears above),  Mike Lynch, John Klossner and David Jacobson discuss cartooning in Maine. 

Mr. Woodman’s website.

Mike Lynch’s website.

John Klossner’s website.

David Jacobson’s website.

Their book: