New film on New Yorker Cartoonists: “Very Semi-Serious”

We’ve known that Leah Wolchok has been hard at work on her film about New Yorker cartoonists and thought this was an excellent time to check in with her (Ink Spill will revisit Very Semi-Serious in a matter of weeks).  We asked Leah to describe her film, and give us an idea of who’s in it (so far). Here’s what she had to say:

 

Very Semi-Serious is an offbeat meditation on humor, art and the genius of the single panel.  The film takes an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the 88-year old New Yorker and introduces the cartooning legends and hopefuls who create the iconic cartoons that have inspired, baffled—and occasionally pissed off—all of us for decades.

The film has been a labor of love and obsession for 6 ½ years. The film is supported by Tribeca Film Institute, IFP, the Pacific Pioneer Fund, Women Make Movies and BAVC. We are working closely with cartoon editor Bob Mankoff, and we’ve interviewed a dozen cartoonists, including Roz Chast, Michael Maslin, Liza Donnelly, Sam Gross, Mort Gerberg, Lee Lorenz, Matt Diffee, Drew Dernavich, Zach Kanin, Emily Flake, Liam Walsh and Liana Finck, who recently published her first cartoon in The New Yorker.  Next up is Bruce Eric Kaplan. 

We’ve also filmed scenes with Gahan Wilson, PC Vey, Sidney Harris, David Sipress, Mike Twohy, Joe Dator, Bob Eckstein, Robert Leighton, Farley Katz, Benjamin Schwartz, Carolita Johnson, Felippe Galindo, David Borchardt, Corey Pandolph, Paul Noth and Barbara Smaller.

Jack Ziegler and Andy Friedman both created original artwork for the film.

In a few weeks we are launching our website and trailer, featuring animation, interviews and never-before-seen footage from the New Yorker headquarters, cartoonists’ studios and inside the homes of caption contest devotees.  Plus a killer ping pong match between Bob Mankoff and Puzzlemaster Will Shortz.

Shanahan & Donnelly’s Online Cartoon Collection; Joe Farris Exhibition; Victoria Roberts Draws at NYC’s Strand Bookstore; Bruce Kaplan’s new show; Chast & Popeye; More Steinberg

 

From The Huffington Post, December 21, 2012,  this online only collection of cartoons by Danny Shanahan and Liza Donnelly for Moms Clean Air Force.

 

From CTpost. com, December 18, 2012, “New Yorker artist’s work on view in Bethel”

–This post on long time New Yorker contributor, Joe Farris

 

 

From the blog, East Village, December 19, 2012, “Victoria Roberts Sketches at The Strand”

 

From Deadline Hollywood, December 14, 2012, “HBO Orders Comedy Pilot From Bruce Eric Kaplan, Jason Reitman And Lorne Michaels”

 

From cartoonbrew, December 14, 2012, “Popeye Comics Get Cool” — ( with Roz Chast content).

 

 

 

 

 

MORE STEINBERG:

From The Stamford Advocate, December 20, 2012, “New Haven Biographer Examines Famed New Yorker Cartoonist” –This interview with Deirdre Bair, the author of Saul Steinberg: A Biography.

and:

From Pace University, this interview with Ms. Bair. “Prof. Denning Interviews Bestselling /Biographer Deidre Bair” (the interview must be downloaded).

and:

From The Observer, December 18, 2012, “The Life of The New Yorker’s Favorite Depressive is Drawn Out in New Bio”

 

 

 

 

 

Anatomy of The New Yorker’s Pig at the Complaint Department Cartoon

 

 

 

This week a familiar cartoon showed up on the The New Yorker’s last page as part of its continuing Caption Contest. The cartoon, of a pig at a complaint department, was drawn by Mick Stevens,  who has been contributing cartoons to The New Yorker for thirty four years .

 

Why was the cartoon familiar? Fans of the classic sitcom, Seinfeld, remember the episode “The Cartoon” (it aired January 29,1998) in which Elaine, inspired to submit a cartoon to The New Yorker, stays up all night working on cartoon ideas and finally comes up with the pig at the complaint department. (The New Yorker’s current cartoon editor, Bob Mankoff recently delved into the episode in great detail on his blog). In the episode, as Elaine hands her sketchbook to Jerry, we catch a glimpse of her pig cartoon.

 

So how did Elaine’s cartoon end up in this week’s New Yorker, some fourteen years after it appeared on television?

 

 

For clarity’s sake, Elaine’s cartoon – the one we see on her sketchpad, is not the cartoon in the current New Yorker. In an email conversation I asked Mick how he came to draw Elaine’s cartoon, and he wrote:

 

Bob [Mankoff] asked me to draw it up for a possible caption contest and/or use in his blog in reference to the Seinfeld episode.

 

I also asked Mick if he referenced Elaine’s cartoon, as there’s an undeniable similarity between the two.

 

I didn’t look at the Seinfeld cartoon first but it turned out to be similar.

 

Curious about the original cartoon that appears on Elaine’s sketchbook, I asked Bruce Eric Kaplan, the New Yorker cartoonist who wrote the Seinfeld episode, if he drew the cartoon we see on Elaine’s sketchpad.  I also asked if he still had the original – I thought it would be fun to post on Ink Spill.  Bruce replied in an email:

 

I didn’t draw it!

They asked me to but I didn’t want to.

Someone in the art department did it.

I don’t know who has it or if it still exists!

 

You might wonder why this flurry of detective work on my part about a brand new version of a fourteen year old drawing of a pig. Much like Elaine’s pig, I have a complaint.  A number of news stories that appeared following the publication of Mick’s version of Elaine’s cartoon,  such as appeared on Gawker and Yahoo News suggest that The New Yorker has “republished” Elaine’s cartoon. Hmmm, maybe I should write them a letter…

 

Dear Gawker and Yahoo News:

 

I really enjoy your sites – I’m a fan! – but Elaine is a fictional character who submitted her drawing to a fictional New Yorker.  The real New Yorker never published Elaine’s cartoon.

Regards,

Michael Maslin

 

Many other sites ( and there are many) tell us that Mick’s cartoon is “the same one” or in at least one case “the very same one” as seen in the Seinfeld episode.

Well, no, actually it isn’t.