Of Interest: Sara Lautman’s Maurice Sendak Origin Story; A Book Event: Carolita Johnson Talks Dogs With Liza Donnelly

Sara Lautman’s Maurice Sendak Origin Story

Read Sara Lautman‘s “What Haunted Maurice Sendak” here.

Ms. Lautman began contributing her cartoons to The New Yorker in March of 2016.

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Carolita Johnson Talks Dogs With Liza Donnelly

In celebration of Be The Person Your Dog Thinks You Are (released yesterday…illustrated by Liza Donnelly) Carolita Johnson (above right) will join Ms. Donnelly at Brooklyn’s Books Are Magic, to discuss…well, dogs! Friday, November 2, from 7:30-8:00. More info here.

Ms. Johnson began contributing her cartoons to The New Yorker in 2003.

Ms. Donnelly’s first New Yorker cartoon appeared in 1982.

A Second Look: Steinberg At The New Yorker

In the past week I’ve mentioned two New Yorker cartoon gods, Charles Addams and Edward Koren — here are a few thoughts on another: Saul Steinberg. I admit to not paying enough attention to Joel Smith’s Steinberg At The New Yorker when it came out in 2005. Perhaps, at the time, I was in the early stages of being Steinberged-out.  A traveling exhibit, Illuminations, followed on the heels of this book (I saw, but did not really see the show at the Morgan in Manhattan — it was too crowded; I was jostled every time I paused in front of a piece. I made a second pilgrimage when it traveled to Vassar College, a less crowded venue, far more condusive to examining and enjoying the work (on the back flap of Steinberg At The New Yorker, the author is noted as a curator at Vassar’s Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, where the exhibit was held). 

I left both exhibits feeling the opposite of how I felt seeing Steinberg’s big solo show at the Whitney in 1978.  In 1978 Steinberg, along with a handful of other New Yorker artists, owned the New Yorker cartoon world. I left the Whitney Steinberg exhibit feeling as if I was coming down from the mountaintop.  An inspiring day (followed by an inspiring intersection with the man himself).

Twenty-five years later, leaving the Vassar exhibit, a large fraction of the awe remained; the mathematical designs, the subject matter, his color pencil work; the way he drew colorful feathers on poultry, the way he used color as pulsating rays emanating from the emergency lights on police cars — all still caused a stir of appreciation.  But…seeing the work hanging on the gallery walls I was too aware of perfection, or my perception of Steinberg’s perfection. The perfection had worn me down.  The designs were too good, the work too beautiful, too creative. No particular piece in the exhibit disappointed, yet the show as a whole disappointed.

This afternoon, while standing in front of the Spill‘s cartoon library wall, I spotted Mr. Smith’s book and took it down. Why not give it another spin around the block. I opened to the back where each and every Steinberg New Yorker cover, from 1945- 2004, is laid out — there are nine to a page. The very first, in 1945 was followed nine years later in 1954.  I hadn’t remembered that — or had never processed it. Nine years between covers…hmmm, hard to believe.

Scanning the covers it dawned on me why I became burned out on the man’s art: I was reminded of a spur of the moment decision years ago while I was walking along 5th Avenue in midtown Manhattan: I ducked into Tiffany’s (for the first and possibly last time) to explore the fleet of display cases filled with so many perfect jewels. Looking now at all of these Steinberg covers, encased in a way, I felt much like I felt following my brief tour of Tiffany’s —  I wanted to be back out in our imperfect world.

Going through the rest of the book was a better time. Seeing familiar covers reproduced full page was a treat. This is how to see them, full size, one cover at a time — as originally experienced when they appeared on the magazine. When the covers were doubled up, facing each other across the gutter, I again found the work too rich to enjoy. Oddly enough I don’t have this problem looking at several Addams covers in a row, such as found in The World Of Charles Addams, or a string of covers by various artists such as you find in The New Yorker 1950-1955 Album, or the  essential Complete Covers From The New Yorker: 1925 – 1989. 

Is Steinberg At The New Yorker an essential anthology? Yes, of course.  Besides seeing so many familiar Steinberg drawings, there were many unfamiliar. But again, I preferred a single scoop –seeing a little of the work at one sitting, rather than sitting down with a banana split (sorry about that). I particularly enjoyed Ian Frazier’s Introduction.

As always with every cartoonist mentioned here on the Spill, I encourage looking at the various anthologies that came out during the artist’s lifetime. Here are some favorite Steinberg anthologies, all easily found online.

For further immersion, don’t forget Deirdre Bair’s hefty Saul Steinberg: A Biography:

 

 

 

 

Out Today! Be The Person Your Dog Thinks You Are

Out today from Flatiron, Be The Person Your Dog Thinks You Are, sold wherever books are sold. Profusely illustrated by Liza Donnelly.

Ms. Donnelly’s entry on the Spill’s A-Z:

Liza Donnelly (pictured above) Born, Washington, D.C. New Yorker work: 1982 – Key book: Funny Ladies: The New Yorker’s Greatest Women Cartoonists and Their Cartoons (Prometheus, 2005). Edited:  Sex & Sensibility: Ten Women Examine the Lunacy of Modern Love…in 200 Cartoons ((Twelve, 2008). Co-authored with Michael Maslin: Husbands & Wives (Ballantine 1995), Call Me When You Reach Nirvana ( Andrew & McMeel, 1995), Cartoon Marriage (with Michael Maslin) (Random House, 2009), When Do They Serve the Wine?( Chronicle, 2010). Women On Men (Narrative Library, 2013). Donnelly also wrote and illustrated a popular series of dinosaur books for children (Dinosaur Day, Dinosaur Beach, Dinosaur Halloween, etc.) all published by Scholastic.  She is the CBS News Resident Cartoonist.

 

The Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue Of October 29, 2018

It’s not a trick: this post about the October 29, 2018 New Yorker looks and feels and reads suspiciously like the Spill’s now defunct Monday Tilley Watch, but it’s not a Monday Tilley Watch…I think.

So often in the past 90+ years of The New Yorker ‘s existence, an issue dated October 29 (or 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, or 31) would bear a Halloween cover. Not this year, folks.  But who doesn’t like pastries.

Just for fun, here’s a cover submission of mine that combines pastries and Halloween — it was probably submitted, and definitely rejected, in the late 1980s or early 1990s:

 You’ll find more than twenty illustrations in this issue (not including the seven photographs accompanying the piece by Janet Malcolm). Four-and-a-half full pages are given over to illustration.  You’ll find ten cartoons. There’s a Halloween cartoon (by a modern Spill fave cartoonist, Seth Fleishman) squeezed in at the top of page 32.

If you’re a leaf-peeper, or just like leaves in general, you’re sure to fall for Joe Dator’s brilliant desert island drawing (on page 41). There have been, of course, other brilliant New Yorker cartoons in the not-so-distant past; two that I can’t resist mentioning whenever I have the chance:  Bob Eckstein’s 3-D Thanksgiving drawing and Robert Leighton’s Escher drawing. If you link to C-Span’s coverage of the recent Milford Readers & Writers Festival you’ll see a few more candidates by panelists, Christopher Weyant and David Borchart. This current drawing by Mr. Dator sits squarely in the Charles Addams branch of New Yorker cartooning (a branch notably climbed by P.C. Vey, Gahan Wilson, Zach Kanin…and Ed Steed, sort of). I would go as far as suggesting that if Mr. Addams was still with us, the magazine would’ve wanted to purchase Mr. Dator’s idea to hand over to Mr. Addams to execute. Yes, pun intended.  (Here’s a Spill piece about the magazine’s history of buying ideas).

For the record (your honor), here are the ten cartoonists in the issue:

 

— Finally, still in the Halloween spirit, here’s a Boo!

Below: the missing Rea Irvin iconic Talk masthead switched out for a re-drawn version early last year. Read about that here: