The Monday Tilley Watch

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

 

 

Expecting something political on the July 31st cover it was a surprise when Javier Mariscal‘s water’s edge pastoral popped up on my screen (I’m looking at the digital version of the magazine; I’ll look at the print version when it arrives. Two different experiences). My first thought: if James Stevenson had worked in stained glass, this might be the result. Here’s an example of what I was thinking (a Stevenson cover from October 1975, and Mr. Mariscal’s on the new issue):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A note before heading into the issue: I have a habit of not looking at the cartoonists listed on the Table of Contents — I look at everything else on the TOC, but want to be completely surprised by the cartoons as I page through. I see on the TOC that Bruce McCall has a Shouts & Murmurs piece — things are already interesting.  On my way to “The Talk of The Town”  I stopped to examine the illustration on page 8 by Henning Wagenbreth. Glad I stopped — enjoyable illustration, and, bonus: the name Henning Wagenbreth is now a new favorite name.

Moving on: a quick look at the Talk masthead —  it’s still the revamped version brought in a few months back. I ask the power(s) that be to reconsider and bring back Coke Classic (i.e., Rea Irvin’s masterpiece masthead  — shown directly below — that led off Talk from January 30, 1926 through May 15, 2017). 

It should be noted (and maybe I did note it once on this site): Tom Bachtell is the contemporary artist behind the drawing appearing on the opening Talk page and many of the others sprinkled through the rest of Talk, but the small spots that look like this:

are by the late great Otto Soglow (fondly remembered by many for his creation,  “The Little King”). Mr. Soglow supplied the Talk spot drawings in earlier times (pre-Lee Lorenz years as Art Editor).   We are lucky his work is still appearing here some forty-two years after his death.

And now, finally to the cartoons: the first is by Sara Lautman, whose first New Yorker drawing appeared in March of last year. If the search function on the digital edition is correct, this is her 6th New Yorker appearance. A few pages later is a David Sipress drawing.  Mr. Sipress’s active line is immediately recognizable, as is the New York City subway setting (the subway has been in the news quite a lot, with the Mayor of NYC taking a well -publicized ride just yesterday). Next is a drawing by Paul Karasik (whose new book, How to Read Nancy was mentioned here last time, so I’m mentioning it again). In Mr. Karasik’s drawing, Grant Wood’s American Gothic farmer returns to the New Yorker.  During Charles Addams’ long run at The New Yorker he had a lot of fun with Mr. Wood’s pitchfork-wielding farmer, as well as at least one of the other folks at the bar in Mr. Karasik’s drawing.

Here’s Addams working with the American Gothic duo– this from The Charles Addams’ Mother Goose.

And here’s a link to another.

And here’s Addams with a roomful of recognizable subjects, including Mona Lisa

But I, uh, digress…so back to the issue at hand. Opposite Mr. Karasik’s barflies is a timely drawing by Liza Donnelly featuring colluding ice cubes. As with Roz Chast’s drawing from the last issue, I like the way this drawing has been placed on the page.  Today’s New York Times carries the headline “‘I Did Not Collude,’ Kushner Plans to Tell Senate Investigators” — hmmm

Several pages later we come to another well-placed/sized drawing — this one’s by Harry Bliss. As noted on yesterday’s Spill, it’s “Shark Week” on The Discovery Channel. It’s also summertime. Mr. Bliss manages to celebrate both, as well as tipping his hat to lifeguards (a New Yorker colleague, John O’Brien, was a longtime lifeguard in Wildwood, New Jersey. I believe he’s the only New Yorker artist with those intersecting credentials). Next is a kangaroo cartoon (also well placed & sized) by Liana Finck (who was mentioned on the Spill yesterday for several reasons…both good). Here we have a drawing that, stylistically (and maybe even thematically) brings to mind a cross between Ed Arno and Arnie Levin, with even a dash of Bill Woodman tossed in to the mix.  In the end, of course, it’s pure Finck.

A Seth Fleishman Newton’s Cradle cocktail drawing follows Ms. Finck’s. Mr. Fleishman, like the aforementioned Ms. Lautman, started at The New Yorker in the early months of last year —  his generous use of black against white made (and make) his work easy to pick out in the crowd. A Roz Chast six-parter follows (Ms. Chast’s first New Yorker appearance was in 1978). I failed to mention last week that Ms. Chast has a new book coming out this Fall: Going Into Town: A Love Letter To New York.

A Paul Noth prison drawing is next (Mr. Noth’s first New Yorker appearance was in 2004)  — Mr. Noth has a book coming out as well — it’s not due until next year, but I’ll mention it here anyway.  Someone should do a collection of New Yorker prison cartoons. Three pages following Mr. Noth’s drawing is the very recognizable work of Drew Dernavich.  If you want to know a little more about how he works, visit Jane Mattimoe’s Case For Pencils post here.  Three more pages brings you to one of the newest kids on the block (first New Yorker appearance: November 14, 2016): Lars Kenseth. In this drawing, Mr. Kenseth meets King Arthur, sort of. For some reason I wanted the caption to have the word “sticky” in it, but “licked” comes close enough.

Two pages on we find a drawing by cat and elephant-lover, Danny Shanahan, who’s been contributing to The New Yorker for 30 years.  No one draws  elephants like Mr. Shanahan (he’s even had a New Yorker elephant cover).   

Another new kid, Ellis Rosen is up next (first New Yorker appearance: December 12, 2016). I like birds-in-flight cartoons. Carl Rose, Lee Lorenz, and a number of other colleagues have offered them up to us over the years.

On the opposite page from Mr. Ellis’s drawing is a drawing executed in the instantly recognizable  style of William Haefeli (first New Yorker appearance: 1998). The Spill’s archive is lucky enough to have one of Mr. Haefeli’s original New Yorker drawings.  Visitors who are shown the piece are usually surprised by its size (it’s quite small) and its complexity (his originals look even more complex in person than on the printed page or screen).

A few pages later, we have what looks like a Smith Bros. cough drop board meeting —  a bunch of bearded men courtesy of Carolita Johnson (first New Yorker appearance: 2003), followed by a cat and dog living room situation by Christopher Weyant (first New Yorker appearance: 1998; Mr. Weyant is the  illustrator of a recent childrens book, I Am (Not) Scared by Anna Kang).  I love the way Mr. Weyant draws cats (he joins the Well-drawn Cat Club; I won’t list all the members for fear of possibly leaving someone out).  Tom Toro’s next (first New Yorker appearance: 2010) with a rarity: a lethal-signage cartoon. Kudos to the author of Tiny Hands. 

Mr. Toro’s drawing is followed by a Liam Walsh cartoon featuring a smallish fish with a big appetite (Mr. Walsh’s first New Yorker appearance: 2011). I already mentioned Bill Woodman above, but I’ll mention him again. I see fishing cartoons and I think Woodman. For some examples check out his book, Fish and Moose News (published in 1980). 

 

Lastly, the newest of the newbies, Maggie Larson, whose first New Yorker drawing appeared in last week’s issue.  I can’t recall how many massage-related cartoons have been in The New Yorker. At least one, now (someone with a better database than mine please let me know of others).

 

And that’s that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funny Drawings Beautifully Drawn: An Ink Spill Interview with Bill Woodman

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I first met Bill Woodman, like I met so many New Yorker cartoonists in the late 1970s, in the Grand Ballroom of the Pierre Hotel on 5th Avenue during an anniversary party for the magazine. Those February shindigs were always done in style (a post WWII style, to be honest). A long table of food was set up near the entrance to the ballroom. Toque-wearing chefs manned the table. Off to the left was a temporary bar. The cartoonists could always be found clustered there; Jack Ziegler, the tallest among us, was the beacon we cartoonists headed towards. It was within this bar cluster I was introduced to Woodman. Not big on eye contact, he had a penchant for gazing out in the crowd, his eyes squinting, while he sputtered out a clipped sentence or two. He seemed comfortable letting the party noise do all the talking.

I was already a fan, having studied his work in the pages of The New Yorker. Woodman’s stood out for me as it seemed very much a part of the school of Thurber. That school included the likes of Dean Vietor, Arnie Levin, Charles Barsotti and George Booth. All share a line that seems effortlessly energetic, with Woodman’s line possibly tying with Vietor’s for most rambunctious. A New Yorker cartoonist colleague, Henry Martin, once said that certain cartoonists draw funny. Sam Gross speaking to me about Woodman just the other day put Woodman solidly in that category.  You look at his people, or animals and you’re more than halfway to loving the cartoon. Another New Yorker colleague, Peter Steiner, has said of Woodman’s work, “To me he’s one of the very best. Funny drawings beautifully drawn.”

I asked Jack Ziegler, the godfather of contemporary New Yorker cartoons and cartoonists, to weigh in on Woodman and here’s what he had to say:

Bill Woodman is a great cartoonist and one of the funniest “draw-ers” of all time, right up there with George Booth.  Back when we used to hang out together, he allowed me the privilege of looking over any number of the obsessive sketchbooks that were always within his easy reach, usually right there in one of the overlarge pockets  of his surplus Air Force overcoat.  They were filled with casual observations, preliminary ideas for cartoons, and reprimands to himself about why he wasn’t coming up with any good ideas on any particular day.  Each page was chock full of bits and pieces that were wry, engaging, and all just plain funny to look at.  I never had a better time looking at anything in my life.  Why The New Yorker didn’t use a ton more of his work over the years was a never-ending, mind-boggling mystery to me.

As Jack mentioned, we haven’t seen Woodman’s work in the New Yorker for over a dozen years, and more’s the pity (according to his website, he has retired).  I’m not much for ranking or categorizing cartoonists. Number of times published doesn’t necessarily translate into how brilliant one is as a cartoonist (there were one hundred and forty-five Woodman cartoons published in The New Yorker). It’s tempting though to say that Woodman’s work is right up there with Ziegler’s as part of an inspiring school of daffiness that we see still playing out in today’s New Yorker.

Looking around the internet recently I couldn’t find much about Woodman. His website offers this abbreviated bio:

Born in Bangor Maine in 1939. At the earliest possible opportunity he joined the navy and served on the SS Timmerman and in Germany. Upon discharge, he took the next bus to New York, knowing that that was the place to start his cartooning career. He says he didn’t know how bad he was so he began submitting his work.

In 1962, he sold his first cartoon to Saturday Review. He worked a variety of day jobs until making his first sale to The New Yorker in 1975 to which he has contributed to this day. In addition he has appeared in Playboy, National Lampoon, Audobon. The New York Times, Gourmet Magazine and Barrons to name a few. He has published a collection of his own work: “Fish and Moose News”

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As we approach Woodman’s 80th birthday it seemed now was as good a time as any to get a few more clipped sentences out of him.

 

The following is taken from two taped interviews. A fellow cartoonist, Mike Lynch, agreed to ask Mr. Woodman my initial set of questions while visiting at Woodman’s studio in Maine [Woodman doesn’t do email]. Mike was in the company of New Yorker cartoonist John Klossner as he posed my questions.   My hearty thanks to Mike for taping and transcribing Woodman’s responses and for facilitating the interview. Following-up on that interview, I phoned Mr. Woodman and we chatted for awhile.

 

Michael Maslin: You made your publishing debut in the pages of The Saturday Review in 1962, but  it took you a little while to break into The New Yorker – not until the end of 1975.  Were you sending work to the New Yorker all those years in between?

Bill Woodman: I was submitting pretty regularly. I had another (paying) job, you know? I was at CBS Television from 1967 to 1970. I was doing Speedball lettering charts for Nielsen Ratings. A bunch of guys were doing that. But I would cartoon at night.

MM:  You were one of the first, along with Jack Ziegler, to be brought into the magazine by Lee Lorenz (who was fairly new to the position of Art Editor, having taken over from his predecessor James Geraghty in 1973). Did it seem to you that you were part of something new at the The New Yorker – that a new kind of cartoon was being welcomed at the magazine? (the word “unconventional” comes to mind).

BW: No. Not really. I drew what would sell. (Laughs.)

MM: Did you want to be a single panel cartoonist from the get go?

BW: Yes, I thought so. My parents got the Saturday Evening Post and Colliers and the newspaper. My Uncle Vinny introduced me to Addams and The New Yorker. I was about 10 or 12 years old

MM: I noticed, looking through your New Yorker work, that captionless drawings show up a lot. Your first three drawings were captionless, as are many of your classics (for example: the man reading on a hammock between two trees, the 27th Annual Hunters’ breakfast). Do you believe, as Charles Addams did, that the ideal drawing is captionless?

BW: Can be. But I wouldn’t limit it.

MM: Having been born in Bangor, Maine, it’s not surprising that hunters, bears, and of course, moose show up from time-to-time in your drawings. Are you drawing from some outdoorsy experiences in Maine, or are these situations just percolating through you because you’re a Mainer?

BW: Anything that will sell, you know? I’m trying to make a buck. But — seriously — the horrors of this world seem to dictate (that is, the news, etc.), and I’d like to lighten it up a bit.”

MM: Can you talk a little about how you became a cartoonist?  Whose work did you admire?

BW: I read all of the comic strips in the paper. So far as illustrators, I liked Remington.

MM: You’re the only cartoonist who’s ever said to me that Remington was an inspiration.

BW: Yeah, when I was a kid –- I was like twelve or thirteen years old, we had a public library there in Bangor, Maine –- and at the top of the stairs there used to be a big portrait of an Indian, and it was by Frederick Remington. I always thought it was pretty impressive.

 

remingtons-sign-of-friendship-1909Left: An early Woodman inspiration: Frederic Remington’s  “Sign of Friendship” which hung for 42 years in the Bangor Public Library.

 

 

 

 

I had an uncle who was in the antique book business, and he had a book on him –- it was dated back in the 1890s. It was all out west, cowboys, calvary, Indians, and all that stuff– pretty good.

MM: I’ve looked at some of Remington’s work and what struck me about it which seems to carry through to your work is the energy in a lot of his drawings and paintings.

BW: Yeah — it’s spontaneous stuff, when you look at it.

MM: A lot people think of your work as spontaneous.

BW: Some of it, I guess. I don’t know. Yeah, probably — it’s doodling.

MM: I don’t know if you remember this, but when Saul Steinberg died, the New York Times headline, on the front page was “Saul Steinberg, Epic Doodler, Dies at 84”

BW: Oh man – he was so clever.

MM: Was the New Yorker the object for you when you decided you wanted to be a single panel cartoonist?

BW: I was just trying to survive. I went to art school for a little bit. I was trying illustration.

MM: So the New Yorker wasn’t the goal – it just came along?

BW: Yeah, I mean when I started selling cartoons I realized, obviously, that was the epitome — the top shelf.

woodman-nov-10-1975Left: Woodman’s debut in The New Yorker, November 10, 1975.

 

MM: Did you do what a lot of people did back in the 70s, do the rounds, go to Playboy and the others.

BW: I showed up, yeah. I did that quite awhile. Probably not as much as a lot of others. But yeah, I did it diligently for awhile……hey, I enjoyed that piece you did about tracking down [James] Thurber in Mike’s [Mike Lynch] Raconteur.

MM: Oh thanks. Well, Thurber was my god.

BW: Oh yeah, I can understand that. He was a genius, whatever.

MM: When you went in to the New Yorker office back in the mid 1970s, who did you run into?

BW: All good memories. They were all there – Sam [Gross], Sidney [Harris], Peter Porges, Boris Drucker, Mort Gerberg.

cartoonists-in-princeton-1985

Bill Woodman, upper right corner,  among the cartoonists gathered for an exhibit in Princeton, NJ, November 1985. Among those pictured are (bottom row, left to right): Arnie Levin, Stuart Leeds, Henry Martin, Ed Arno (just over Henry’s shoulder), Bernie Schoenbaum, Charles Sauers. Second row, beginning with the bearded fellow.  Don Orehek, Al Ross, Mort Gerberg, Alex Noel Watson, and Lonni Sue Johnson. The very scattered back row: Sam Gross (in profile), man in profile right behind Sam:unidentified, distinguished looking fellow gazing down: unidentified, Arnold Roth (looking like he’s singing), Peter Porges (looking at Sam Gross), Boris Drucker (in profile, right behind Porges looking away from Porges.  Don’t know who the partially obscured fellow is directly behind Boris, George Booth, Michael Maslin (partially obscured), John Jonik, and Woodman.   (Photo by Cliff Moore)

 

MM: I want to ask you about your sketchbooks. Jack Ziegler has said that “[he] never had a better time looking at anything in [his] life.”

BW: At a point I was doing sketchbooks. [Now] I carry a piece of paper, folded, in my shirt pocket. I write lists. Mostly things I should do. Go to the store. Those kinds of things. Sometimes I write an idea….Now I just doodle all over the place.

MM: There are a lot of people who aspire to doodle as well as you.

BW: I doodle everyday. It’s a disease.   I keep thinking I’m gonna start up again.

MM: Well I wish you would.

BW: I gotta get back to it.

MM: Your website says you’re retired, but we also see on the site that you’re painting up a storm.  I have a hunch you still draw cartoons.  True?
BW: Yes. Sure. Me and my buddies [Lynch and Klossner] are working on some great stuff. Wish you were here! (Laughs.)

 

woodman-signature

 

Ink Spill will return with more on Bill Woodman in October when he celebrates his 80th birthday.  Again, my thanks to Mike Lynch, John Klossner, and, of course, Bill Woodman. 

To see more of  Mr. Woodman’s work, including his  plein air paintings,  please visit his website.

 

 

 

 

New Yorker Editor on “Where the Readers Are”; More Spills with Woodman & BEK

David-RFrom The Guardian, this interesting interview with The New Yorker‘s current editor, David Remnick. A former New Yorker editor, Tina Brown, chimes in as well.  [photo: Laura Barisonzi]

note: in the paragraph excerpted below  you’ll notice the mention of “Gadd” cartoons. The word should be “gag”

It would be wrong to see the circulation success as the triumph of seriousness. “The formula of the New Yorker is too complicated to just be called serious … you’re reading a 10,000-word piece on the war in Sudan and speckled within it are Gadd cartoons about talking dogs and desert islands,” he says. “It’s a magical formula.”

 

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More Spills Icon Edited

 

 

 

 

 

 

An exhibition of Bill Woodman’s Cartoons and Paintings in Portland, Maine

Bruce Eric Kaplan to speak in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Society of Illustrators Exhibits Work by 45 New Yorker Artists

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As promised a few days ago, below is a list of New Yorker artists whose work appears in an upcoming exhibit at The Society of Illustrators. The artists included span the entire history of The New Yorker, beginning with early masters, Helen Hokinson, Peter Arno and Gluyas Williams right up through many of today’s most exciting and incredibly funny contributors.

 

 

Ed Arno, Peter Arno, Charles Barsotti, David Borchart, John Caldwell, Roz Chast, Richard Cline, Joe Dator, Drew Dernavich, Matthew Diffee, Liza Donnelly, Bob Eckstein, Dana Fradon, Felipe Galindo, Sam Gross, Larry Hat, Helen Hokinson, Zachary Kanin, Nurit Karlin, Farley Katz, Robert Leighton, Bob Mankoff, Marisa Marchetto, Michael Maslin, Richard McCallister, Warren Miller, Roxie Munro, Paul Noth, John O’Brien, Danny Shanahan, Michael Shaw, Barbara Shermund, Barbara Smaller, Edward Sorel, Peter Steiner, Mick Stevens, Julia Suits, P.C.Vey, Liam Walsh, Kim Warp, Robert Weber, Christopher Weyant, Gluyas Williams, Bill Woodman, Jack Ziegler

 

Society of Illustrators Exhibits New Yorker Cartoonists’ Cartoon Collection

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On the Society of Illustrators October 2013 calender of exhibits: “The Collection of Michael Maslin and Liza Donnelly” — the exhibit runs from October 29 through December 21. (above: a Jack Ziegler drawing that appeared in The New Yorker July 28, 1980)

Here’s the event listing on the Society’s site:

Michael Maslin and Liza Donnelly, long-time contributors to The New Yorker Magazine, are also huge fans of the magazine’s cartoons, past and present.  For over thirty years they have been collecting cartoons by New Yorker artists any way they can (gifts, ebay purchases, auctions, and as trades with their contemporaries).  This exhibit represents the decades-long obsession with works by such cartoon luminaries from the magazine’s past as James Thurber, Gluyas Williams, and Helen Hokinson and present: Jack Ziegler, Roz Chast, Bob Mankoff, Mick Stevens, Drew Dernavich, Zachary Kanin, Barbara Smaller.

 

A Lecture and Reception will be held on October 30th to celebrate the opening of the exhibit.

 

Note: the exhibit, on display on the third floor Hall of Fame Gallery, consists of original work by approximately 40 New Yorker cartoonists, some of whom are tagged below.  A full list will eventually appear on Ink Spill.