The Comics Journal continues its Know Your New Yorker Cartoonist series with Arnie Levin. Others in the series: Roz Chast and Lee Lorenz.
Two recent additions to our Cartoon Library:
Above is a 1949 Dell paperback by the late great Whitney Darrow, Jr.,who died in 1999 at age 89. He began contributing to The New Yorker in 1933. I have a special affection for Mr. Darrow — my entry into The New Yorker way back in 1977 began with him executing one of my ideas (“Nothing will ever happen to you.”). I had a close encounter with him once at a New Yorker event thrown on West 14th Street in Manhattan at a place called Nell’s. Unfortunately, the music was so overwhelming it would’ve been impossible for us to have a conversation, so, in the best cartoonist fashion we stood with our backs to the wall, and watched the party.
Hold It, Florence! contains some material from two of Darrow’s cartoon collections, Please Pass the Hostess, and You’re Sitting on My Eyelashes! as well as some cartoons never before collected in book form.
And below is Strictly Doctors (Pocket Books, 1963) by another late great New Yorker cartoonist, Mischa Richter, who died at age 90 in 2001. He began contributing to The New Yorker in 1942. (I was thrilled when, in 1999, Mr. Richter agreed to an interview for my biography of Peter Arno).
Thurber fans will certainly enjoy the cover and content of the upcoming Big New Yorker Book of Dogs now posted online at your favorite mega-bookseller site. The 416 page hardcover book is due October 30, 2012 (Random House).
The online description reads, in part:
This copious collection, beautifully illustrated in full color, features articles, fiction, humor, poems, cartoons, cover art, drafts, and drawings from the magazine’s archives. The roster of contributors includes John Cheever, Susan Orlean, Roddy Doyle, Ian Frazier, Arthur Miller, John Updike, Roald Dahl, E. B. White, A. J. Liebling, Alexandra Fuller, Jerome Groopman, Jeffrey Toobin, Richard Russo, T. Coraghessan Boyle, Ogden Nash, Donald Barthelme, Jonathan Lethem, Mark Strand, Anne Sexton, and Cathleen Schine. Complete with a Foreword by Malcolm Gladwell and a new essay by Adam Gopnik on the immortal canines of James Thurber, this gorgeous keepsake is a gift to dog lovers everywhere from the greatest magazine in the world.
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.
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.
From New Yorker Cartoon Editor, Robert Mankoff’s blog on newyorker.com, July 11, 2012, “I Liked the Kitty”
From Slate, July 12, 2012, this post by Aisha Harris and David Haglund,
From The Comics Journal, July 11, 2012, Michael Dean reports on the sudden closing, and future of New York’s Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA): “MoCCA Aims for Improved Location: Closure Not Permanent”