The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of October 30, 2017

The Monday Tilley Watch is a meandering take on the cartoons in the current issue of The New Yorker.

We are definitely in the Halloween mode in the new issue, and it all begins with Carter Goodrich’s cover; a scary clown looking remarkably similar to our current president peers out from the woods.  For some reason my thoughts drifted back to what I believe was the first appearance of the Donald on the cover way way back in 1992; the Robert Risko high-kickin’ chorus line cover was on the 13th issue of Ms. Brown’s tenure.

Skipping through GOAT (Goings On About Town), and, sigh, the redrawn Rea Irvin Talk of the Town masthead,  we come to page 18, and the first cartoon of the issue.  Zach Kanin is back with what at first might seem like a Halloween themed drawing, what with the full-face ski hats, but it’s not Halloween-related — it’s a pizza crime cartoon. Not the first pizza drawing in the magazine (for instance: who could forget Gahan Wilson’s 1997 classic), but possibly the first incorporating a stick-up using bank robbery terminology.  My one microscopic quibble with the drawing is not with the drawing at all, but the proximity of the Otto Soglow spot drawing just above it.  I’m firmly in the camp of letting the New Yorker‘s cartoons have plenty of breathing room. 

 Roz Chast’s gingerbread man drawing, appearing five pages after Mr. Kanin’s, is an example of plenty of breathing room.  A Danny Shanahan carrot cake man two issues ago, and now a gingerbread man.  Somebody should really do a book of pastry people cartoons.

Nine pages following Ms. Chast’s couch-bound confection (with a Trump illustration appearing along the way) is an Amy Hwang drawing that, at first glance, appears to be Halloween-related. But, like Mr. Kanin’s, it’s not a Halloween drawing (although I’ve seen situations like this set up in front yards of homes at this time of year). A buff executioner stands beside a rope-less(?) guillotine. Five pages later is a Will McPhail drawing with its figures in silhouette (guillotine, silhouette…what an issue).  Lovely night sky, Mr. McPhail. On the very next page is another William’s drawing (William Haefeli).  I should mention that all of the drawings, from Ms. Chast’s on, have been beautifully placed on the page. Mr. Haefeli delivers a principal’s office cartoon drawn in his trademark style. This drawing might even have more going on than the usual Haefeli contribution. I found myself enlarging the cartoon on my computer screen to see what was on the cartoon computer screen and what was going on out in the cartoon hallway.

Three pages later is a Julia Suits drawing that causes us (or maybe just me) to imagine another cartoon within her cartoon.  A fellow at a very long bar is thinking about a woman who’s walked into his wet cement. That’s what I was imagining — the walking into the wet cement scene.

On the very next page is — yay! — a Halloween cartoon, courtesy of one of our modern anchor cartoonists, Joe Dator.  Mr. Dator’s “last-minute” parade drawing made me think about the now famous Greenwich Village mega-parade, wherein gazillions of costumed folks gather together.  Mr. Dator’s less populated parade is appealing. Four pages later, a drawing by one of the most recognizable stylists in recent times, Seth Fleishman. Looking slightly Spy vs Spy in this drawing (it’s the hat, I think, plus the mash-up of black & white figures) Mr. Fleishman dips into mobsterville  — the fish wrapped in newspaper). 

On the very next page is a Drew Panckeri drawing of a reclined and relaxed member of the armed forces on his bed speaking with what I imagine is a counterpart from an adversarial country. I find the fellow’s coat interesting — it looks a bit like an Eisenhower jacket, but it’s not quite short enough. Several objects in the room caused me to linger on this drawing for awhile: the lava lamp, the large model (?) of a rocket, and the framed piece which looks as if it might be based on James Montgomery Flagg’s 1917 “I Want You poster (itself based on New Yorker cartoonist Alfred Leete‘s earlier work, shown below far right). The fellow in Mr. Panckeri’s  frame is definitely pointing at the viewer, but his clothing looks more carny than country.  

 

Fourteen pages later (following a photo essay) is a Bruce Eric Kaplan drawing of a woman in bed. As usual with Mr. Kaplan, a winning caption. Opposite Mr. Kaplan’s drawing is a wonderful bookend to Mr. Dator’s parade drawing (it being the Halloween issue): witches standing at a boiling cauldron.  This is a lovely drawing, with an Edward Gorey-ish feel to it.

Ten pages later is the last drawing of the issue (not counting the caption contest work on the last page).  It’s a Paul Noth word play drawing.  I see people at a table with the mention of wine and I cannot not think of James Thurber’s 1937 oft-reprinted classic drawing.

I can’t leave this week’s issue without a Charles Addams shout-out. If you have a moment, seek out his covers and drawings.  With Addams it was Halloween all year long. 

Til next Monday… 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harold Ross’s Caption Contest

Judge cover 7:19:24

 

 

Less than a year before Harold Ross published the very first issue of his brainchild, The New Yorker, he briefly edited a well-established humor magazine, Judge.  I recently bought a copy of the Ross period Judge to see what I could see (it’s the issue of July 19, 1924).

it was odd, but of course not unexpected,  to see in tiny type across the bottom of the inside cover,  “Harold W. Ross, Vice-Pres.” Unexpected was the cartoon caption contest that filled the rest of the page,  “Judge’s Fifty-Fifty Contest No. 59.”

Judge contest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “fifty-fifty” refers to the cartoon’s caption having two parts, with two individuals speaking. The first part of the caption is given — it’s up to the reader to provide the second part.  New Yorker cartoon aficionados might recall that two part captions (sometimes referred to as “he-she”) were the go-to single panel cartoon format in the major humor publications of the day. That isn’t to say they were the only format.  Captionless cartoons appeared as did New Yorker style single captions. As Judge’s caption contest reflects the format of its day, using the he-she caption,  the current New Yorker caption contest reflects its time, asking of the readership to supply a single caption, with no lead in line.

Flipping further through this issue of Judge I came upon a good number of future New Yorker cartoonists: Milt Gross, Gardner Rea, Paul Reilly, Frank Hanley, Tousey,  Walter J. Enright, Crawford Young, John Held, Jr., and Alfred Leete.  Mr Leete and Mr. Rea would appear in the inaugural issue of the New Yorker in February of 1925. Paul Reilly would contribute twice to the New Yorker in 1925. Tousey just once in November of 1926. Mr. Enright just once in 1927. Mr. Gross just once in 1929. Mr. Hanley contributed six cartoons in the New Yorker’s first year, but none thereafter. Only Mr. Rea would go on to have a long career at The New Yorker (his last contribution appeared in 1965). Below is his “he-she” drawing from this issue of Judge (actually, it’s really she-he as the “Grim Lady” speaks first).

Gardner Rea 1924_Judge

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s entirely clear, after looking through Judge a time or three that Ross sponged-up the best of the publication (as he did with other humor magazines, including Punch and Life) imagining what kind of magazine he wanted, and what kind he didn’t want.

Mystery Cartoonist found!; Cartoonography

With the help of colleagues Mike Lynch, Brian Moore and Rick Marschall, I was able to identify the mystery New Yorker cartoonist mentioned in the February 21st Ink Spill post.  His name is Alfred Leete.  His bio appears in numerous places as he was  famous for a poster he designed in 1914 (if you go to his bio you’ll see the poster and its history).  Here’s a bio of Leete.

 

In February of 2008 newyorker.com ran 28 written posts and 20 autobiographical drawings I called Cartoonography.  While the written posts remain on The New Yorker’s site, the drawings no longer do.  For the sake of completion, I’ve brought them to Ink Spill where they can now be seen on my Bio page.