Photos of Interest: George Booth Event at the Society of Illustrators; Interview of Interest: Tom Toro; Lecture of Interest: Karasik & Newgarden; Brendan Loper’s Town Square; Book of Interest: Peter Kuper

Photos of Interest: George Booth Event at The Society of Illustrators

As visitors to this site know, there’s an exhibit of work by George Booth at The Society of Illustrators. The show is a real treat.  Last night Mr. Booth was on stage in front of a packed house, telling stories and answering questions. Here are some photos, courtesy of Liza Donnelly.

Above, left – right: George Booth; Jeremy Nguyen (hat, green glasses), David Borchart (green sweater); Bob Eckstein (with pen & paper).

Below,  left – right: Seth Fleishman (back to camera), Drew Dernavich, Corey Pandolph; Sam Gross, Maria Scrivan.

Below: the scene at The Society.  On stage: Sarah Booth, George Booth, and J.J. Sedelmaier, who curated the exhibit.

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Interview of Interest: Tom Toro

From Fiction Writers Review, November 7, 2017, “Setting the Tone: An Interview with Tom Toro”

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Lecture of Interest: Karasik & Newgarden

___________________________________________________________________________________  Brendan Loper’s Town Square

From the Lititiz Record Express,  November 8, 2017,  “Drawing attention to Lititiz: New Yorker cartoon causes mixed reactions”— this piece on a recent New Yorker “Daily” cartoon by Brendan Loper

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Book of Interest: Peter Kuper

Coming in June, 2018 from University Press of Mississippi, Conversations: Peter Kuper (Conversations With Comic Artists Series).

From the publisher:

Along with two dozen images, this volume features ten lively, informative interviews with Kuper. The book also includes a quartet of revealing interviews with underground comix legends R. Crumb and Vaughn Bodé, Mad magazine publisher William Gaines, and Jack Kirby, co-creator of mainstream superheroes from the Avengers to the Fantastic Four. These were conducted by Kuper and fellow artist Seth Tobocman in the early 1970s, when they were teenagers. 

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The Spill Talks Mirror Balls and Tracking Porcupines with Seth Fleishman

I took notice when Seth Fleishman’s first cartoon, uniformed cows standing over a table,  appeared in the New Yorker in the issue of April 4, 2016 (it appears below).  Sometimes a new cartoonist’s work (the drawing itself and/or the caption) will appear slightly awkward (my first New Yorker drawing fits both those categories), but Mr. Fleishman’s work seemed like it was already there, as if he’d been around for awhile.  Further Fleishman appearances in the magazine only confirmed that feeling.

So who is this guy?  He told me recently that he’s been asked several times by colleagues, “Where did you come from?”  The answer is that he was born and bred in north-western New Jersey, and by age 14 aspired to be, in his words, “either a musician, a cartoonist, or an impressionist.” Music won out for awhile.  In 2011 he launched GratefulGuitarLessons.com and three years later wrote and produced “I Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore” by the Snake Oil Willie Band. The song peaked at #2 on the Billboard Comedy chart. But before all that he submitted one batch of drawings to The New Yorker in 1994 (a drawing from that batch appears below).  None were accepted. He did not submit again until 2014.

 

In January of 2016 he sold his first drawing to the New Yorker (more on that later) and has been submitting ever since.  If you head over to the New Yorker‘s Cartoon Bank, you’ll find he has been published two dozen times as of now, an excellent batting average. I finally met Mr. Fleishman at the big George Booth opening at the Society of Illustrators, and while we chatted it occurred to me that further discussion (via email) should be Spilled.  And so…

 

Michael Maslin: I know you were too young to have frequented Studio 54, but looking at your New Yorker work, two of the two dozen published thus far are “Saturday Night Fever” related. Is there something you’d like to share with us, vis a vie your interest in  mirror balls, disco, and/or Tony Manero (John Travolta’s character in the film)?

Seth Fleishman: What a fun opening question! I love classic disco and R&B from the 70s. I love the Bee Gees. I love Barry White. When they bought the first one, I still had more disco ball ideas in me, so I submitted more. When they bought the second one, I figured I’d just keep going until they stopped buying them. There actually is a third one, but it hasn’t run yet, and it’s my favorite one of the trilogy. Hopefully it runs at some point. I confess I sent a few more after that, but sanity prevailed. I got no more OKs on the subject, and moved on. That’s why there are editors.

MM: When we first spoke you mentioned that Charles Barsotti came to mind as one New Yorker artist who, let’s say, was of importance to you before you became familiar with other New Yorker cartoonists.   Am I remembering that right? If not, please clarify.  What I’m getting around to is the question you mentioned you’ve heard before: “Where did you come from (artistically)?”  Can you talk a little about early influences (comics, cartoons, or whatever)?

SF: I was familiar with New Yorker cartoons at an early age. My mother turned me on to Booth, Thurber, Addams, plus Ronald Searle and others. I also liked the Sunday newspaper comics — Peanuts, Hagar The Horrible, Beetle Bailey, Ziggy, etc.

When I took on New Yorker cartooning, I didn’t want to be influenced. I wanted my own voice.  Bruce Eric Kaplan was an inspiration in that regard — the boldness in the originality of his visual style. The closest I came to falling under anyone’s spell was Charles Barsotti. No one would say my stuff looks like Barsotti, but there were things I saw in his work that appealed to me. It’s all so charming.

After I found my style, I began to notice and learn from cartoonists with whom I felt a connection — Otto Soglow, Chon Day, Mischa Richter, Bob Mankoff, Arnie Levin, to name a few.  I also like a lot of European cartoonists: Sempe, Bosc, Jules Stauber, Miroslav Bartak,  Pawel Kuczynski, as well as Argentinian cartoonist Guillermo Mordillo.  I’m a blind fool with broken hands compared to all of those names, but I drew inspiration from them all.

MM: As mentioned in my intro, music has loomed large in your life. I’ve found that there are at minimum, two camps of cartoonists: one camp listens to music while they work on their drawings, and the other doesn’t (a third camp blends silence with music, and a fourth camp listens to the radio…there are probably a hundred other camps).  Which camp are you in, if you are in one, and if you do listen to music while working on your batch, can you name names, or types of music you listen to.

 SF: When working on ideas, silence. When drawing, music. If not music, silence. Mostly Italian Baroque and Italian Renaissance instrumental music. Vivaldi, Marcello, Manfredini, Capirola (lute), Dalza (lute), Biber. Some Spanish Baroque vihuela music. Occasionally some Chinese guzheng. If it has words, it’s in a language I don’t speak. Russian Sacred Music, for example. There is a set called The Divine Wisdom of St. Sofia by The Choir of the Suzdal Holy Virgin’s Protecting Veil that is incredibly beautiful. 

MM: Wow. I was expecting maybe the Grateful Dead.  Interesting that if you listen to music with words, it’s in a language you don’t speak.  Is that because you don’t want to get caught up in lyrics? Or something else?

SF: Words are distracting, but if sung in a foreign language, they are effectively instrumental. Just sounds. I do love the Grateful Dead– ‘Dark Star’ is not totally out of the question. But doing all those video lessons, dissecting, demystifying, and explaining their music in granular detail has changed my relationship with them as a listener. Maybe that’s the price I pay. I love the work, but I can’t really listen to them as a regular civilian anymore. And anyway, I truly fell in love with Vivaldi once I heard his music performed by Rachel Podger. That led me into early Venetian music in general, and that’s a rabbit hole from which I have yet to emerge. I also play renaissance lute. 

MM: Looking at your work, it’s clear you’re happiest working caption-less. Are you thinking caption-less when you work, or is that just how the work turns out more often than not?

 SF: As a general rule, the less I say the better. In the words of the Psalmist, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.”  Also, the people I draw don’t have mouths. They don’t even have chins or jaws. So it’s virtually impossible for them to say anything.  Seriously, the captionless stuff is what got the OKs. It came as a very pleasant surprise to me. I am happiest working captionless. It’s perfect. I give all the credit to Bob Mankoff. He just kept picking the captionless stuff, and a certain type at that. I learned who I am as a cartoonist by the selections he made. It is a particular way of thinking. It’s all visual. It’s a certain way of associating. And I love it.

MM: Not many of our colleagues have pursued captionless work. In modern times, John O’Brien, of course, and Nurit Karlin, Steinberg…and earlier, Otto Soglow and Sam Cobean among not too many others.  So you’re working captionless and graphically you’re using areas of black ink like nobody’s business. I’m thinking specifically of the vampire with a flashlight. Here the area of black ink is essential.  Anything you want to say about this drawing?  

SF: It was my first OK. I hadn’t yet figured out how important black was going to be for me when I drew it. About half of that batch still had greys. In some strange way, this cartoon was, if you’ll pardon the pun, a beacon for me. It heralded the importance of black. It was my first lesson learned from getting an OK. It was actually a revelation, and I committed to black then and there.

When people think of the classic New Yorker cartoon style, maybe they imagine rich, grey washes. But there have always been black and white practitioners, some of whom I’ve already mentioned — Barsotti, BEK, Soglow, etc. I think it works well for those who fall on the more abstract, iconographic end of the drawing spectrum. There are a few other things I hadn’t figured out yet that make the drawing less than ideal, but it was my first sale so who cares? 

  MM:Emily Flake told the Spill she bakes pies and has spent time at a firing range.  Is there something in your week that takes you outside of your work space? Something away from thinking about cartoons/music?

SF: Here’s something interesting — my wife Cheryl and I are fairly adept at porcupine tracking. They are present in our area, and we go out on weekends looking for them, and we often find them. If I had a spirit animal, it would be the porcupine. 

Below: The cartoonist and his wife tracking porcupines

During the week, my only purely social interaction is a weekly breakfast at the Branchville Grille with a regular group of friends. Branchville is a sleepy little town. One of our group is a beautiful 85-year-old gentleman named Sandy, who was a corpsman in the Marine Corps in Korea. It’s really something to be around special people like that. Other than that, during the week it’s work, work, work.

MM: And once you’ve tracked the porcupines, then what?

SF: Cheryl is a nature photographer, so she’ll take pictures [an example is below]. Other than that, we just observe and spend a little time with them. I’m not ashamed to say Cheryl and I both consider porcupines and many other creatures to be our friends. As far as we’re concerned, when we’re out in the woods or wetlands, we’re spending time with friends.

MM: If there’s a typical beginning to your work day (work on drawings that is) what is that day like? (Jack Ziegler told me he would begin his work day by sitting with the New York Times, then head off to his drawing board.  Danny Shanahan mostly begins by writing ideas down. Others just start drawing).  

SF:I work on ideas in the early morning, while my mind is still groggy. If the ideas are flowing, I keep at it until it peters out. If nothing’s shaking, I don’t press it. I give it a little time, then move on. I’m not constantly thinking about ideas. I used to do that, but I don’t anymore. Once the coffee has kicked in, I can start drawing.

MM: Your work is also appearing in Esquire these days. And, unless I’m mistaken, it utilizes color.   Is working for Esquire different than working for The New Yorker?  

SF: It’s very different. Esquire is filled with graphic design. Using color helps the drawings pop in that environment. It also fits the vibrant spirit of the magazine. Esquire has a distinct aesthetic. I try to visually and topically compliment that. Three of my cartoons appear per issue (monthly), linked by a theme, under the heading “Spot On by Seth Fleishman.” The November issue was “Spot On: Cinema.”  Each cartoon was a riff on a classic cinematic moment. That adds a layer of difficulty for me creatively, but it’s a fun challenge.

Below: a recent Fleishman Esquire cartoon

MM: Many cartoonists have something else going on with their work besides submitting to The New Yorker and whatever other publications they contribute to.  Some do children’s books, or they work on graphic novels, or mass media projects (television)… anything like that going on with you? 

SF: Not at the moment. Which is fine! I have plenty to do.

— I asked Mr. Fleishman if he would send an example of what his work looks like before it’s in the finished state you see published, and he sent this delightful sketch.

MM: Even more than mirror balls, I see that chickens show up a lot in your New Yorker drawings. Care to comment? 

SF: I have a simple rule: when in doubt, draw chickens. I’m typically an idea-first guy, but I’ll use other methods if necessary. One such method is to just start drawing without thinking. Trouble is, when I do that, nine times out of ten I draw a chicken! I’ve had many, many chicken drawings rejected. I don’t care. Have some more chickens! 

I live in a somewhat rural area. We still have working farms around here. I relate to animals. Chickens are humble, awkward looking little creatures. They have a certain charm to them. They are easy to draw. Who can explain it? I just like chickens. 

 

 

Chris Ware’s Observer New Review Cover; Garrett Price’s Election Day New Yorker Cover Sketch

Chris Ware’s Observer New Review Cover

From The Guardian, “Grow Up by Chris Ware: Exclusive Cover Art for The Observer New Review”

Mr. Ware has contributed nearly two dozen covers to the New Yorker.

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Garrett Price’s Election Day New Yorker Cover Sketch

From Attempted Bloggery, “The Art of the Polling Place: Garrett Price Proposed New Yorker Cover Art”

— yet another example of Attempted Bloggery bringing the obscure to light.  

Here’s Garrett Price’s entry on the Spill’s A-Z:

Garrett Price ( Pictured above. Source: Esquire Cartoon Album, 1957) Born, 1897, Bucyrus, Kansas. Died, April, 1979, Norwalk, Conn. Collection: Drawing Room Only / A Book of Cartoons (Coward -McCann, 1946). New Yorker work: 1925 -1974.

 

The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of November 13, 2017

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

Surprise, surprise — two non-political New Yorker covers in a row. Last week was John Cuneo‘s wonderful big falling leaf; this week, in a debut appearance, Jenny Kroik gives us a lovely bookstore scene (it’s titled “At the Strand” but really it could be almost any bookstore). You can read about her cover here.

Before wading in to the magazine’s cartoons (there are only eight in the issue, so it will be an abbreviated wade this week), two graphic pieces in the front of the magazine caught my eye. One’s an illustration, and the other an ad. Bendik Kaltenborns Coney Island illustration on page 16 is a whole lot of fun. Perhaps I’m already getting a little wistful about summer past, but I think it’s more the playfulness of the piece. Besides, I’m glad summer is over.

The other piece (the ad) is for an exhibit of work by Henry Martin Gasser, an artist I never heard of until this morning. I’m posting the ad here in the hope the advertiser won’t mind. Lovely work, judging by this one piece shown. Having just looked him up, I was delighted to find he was born in Newark, New Jersey. A fellow Jerseyite!

Okay, now into and onto the magazine’s cartoons and cartoonists. Oh wait, first let me check and see if Rea Irvin’s classic Talk of The Town masthead has been returned to its rightful place. Nope. Darn. Sigh.  If it was back in place, you’d certainly recognize it. It would look exactly like this:

This issue’s first cartoon appears on page 30.  Ben Schwartz gives us a family in a car, drawn head on through the windshield (geez, this is sounding like an accident report). You have to be familiar with the game “I Spy” to get at the humor in the caption, but you don’t need to be familiar with divorce to fully appreciate the uncomfortable situation. I like car drawings, and in particular, like it when a cartoonist takes on this scenario (that is, the challenge of drawing head-on into a car, or the reverse, drawing from the back seat looking forward). Charles Addams, who loved cars, and loved drawing cars, did several of these kinds of drawings. Here’s one:

In the next drawing, five pages after Mr. Schwartz’s, Emily Flake mixes religion with pizza. Understanding this drawing may also require you to seek out, via your search box, the Temptation of Christ (no joke!, or yes joke?). In Ms. Flake’s drawing, Jesus finds himself in a situation many of us have found ourselves in: seeing doughnuts* in a box, and debating whether or not to partake. I found, in my just completed research of the Temptations (not these Temptations) that one of the them was hedonism (hunger/satisfaction), so doughnuts as a temptation really does work here.

*[correction: in an earlier post I referred to the food in the box as pizza.  On my screen the object on the boxtop looks exactly like a pizza.  I stand corrected. My thanks to the corrector!]

On the way to the next cartoon, on page 45, we pass a “Sketchbook” by Roz Chast. It is, as Tina Brown would say, “text driven” with some drawings of children in party hats surrounding the text. Not a cartoon, but something that really does look to be out of a sketchbook.

On page 45 is an offering from Amy Hwang. A clothing store scene (babies clothing, to be more precise). The store is woefully low on inventory. Good luck to the proprietors!

Four pages later, following a double page photograph, is a Harry Bliss drawing. Talking pets in a jam (talking pets in jam might be funny too, I think). You may need to search for “Tang Dynasty Urn” to understand the severity of the pooch and kitty’s situation.

Five pages later, Liana Finck takes us into outer space with a drawing I have notched in my brain as memorable. Well drawn, amusing, and beautifully placed on the page.  What more could we ask for. (I note it’s the second footwear drawing in recent times. Carolita Johnson had one back in September).

Another five pages brings us to newbie Maddie Dai‘s drawing of an icky hairbrush (I say “icky” because I’m not a fan of snakes). You may or may not have to go to your search box to look up Medusa to refresh your graphic memory. Oh heck, despite my not wanting to see more snakes, here’s a version, in marble, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, from 1630.

And yet another five pages later (hey, is this a pattern, this five pages apart thing?) is a Glen Le Lievre drawing, and amazingly(!) the first politically tinged cartoon of the issue. Why politically-tinged?  There’s the the word “subpoena” in the caption plus the background appearance of the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol Building (sans the Statue of Freedom, shown below).  Both structures are handled in light wash, and looking a little ghost-like.

Eight pages later (so much for the five pages pattern) is a Frank Cotham castle. It’s the last drawing of the issue (not counting those in the Caption Contest). Mr. Cotham’s drawing is allowed generous space on the page. The fellow speaking (a King) has done a major renovation on his property, leaving just a safe space (the castle’s redoubt) in case there’s big trouble. I like the outfit his visitor is wearing as well as the vaguely 1960-ish architecture of the new addition. 

and that’s that. See you next Monday for the issue of November 20th. It being the issue closest to Thanksgiving (on the 23rd), I’m really hoping for a turkey cartoon to appear somewhere in the issue, or on the cover.

Until then, here’s  some food for thought — a drawing of mine published in the December 8, 2014 New Yorker.

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q&A of Interest: The New Yorker’s Cartoon Editor, Emma Allen; Fave Photos of the Day: Edward Sorel at The Society of Illustrators; Thurber Obits and More Soglow From Attempted Bloggery; PR: Chast

Q&A of Interest: The New Yorker’s Cartoon Editor, Emma Allen

From Yale Alumni Magazine, Nov/Dec 2017, “She Got Her Start By Giving Bad Advice” — a fun Q&A with Emma Allen, the New Yorker‘s cartoon editor.

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Fave Photos of the Day: Edward Sorel

Here’s Edward Sorel lecturing yesterday at The Society of Illustrators for an Association of American Editorial Cartoonists event.  (photos courtesy of Liza Donnelly)

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Thurber Obits and More Soglow From Attempted Bloggery

Attempted Bloggery has posted yet another obscure Otto Soglow piece as well as a trio of Thurber obits from November of 1961 (one of them includes the above 1943 photo, by Helen Taylor). See it all here.

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…from 99U“Roz Chast: From Free Fall to Full Time Cartoonist”

 

 

Advertising Work by New Yorker Cartoonists, Pt. 22: John Held, Jr.; More Booth!

Advertising Work by New Yorker Cartoonists, Pt. 22: John Held, Jr.

I know, I know… you woke up this morning wondering if John Held, Jr., who became famous for his drawings of flappers in and on the cover of the pre-Luce Life ever did advertising work.  Well courtesy of Warren Bernard‘s detective work, we have some examples of Mr. Held’s commercial work. My thanks to Mr. Bernard for sharing his findings with Ink Spill.

New Yorker readers who have dipped into the magazine’s cartoon anthologies or looked through ancient issues would certainly have come across Mr. Held’s work — but it wasn’t the style that brought him fame. His New Yorker work looks like this:

  Harold Ross, the New Yorker‘s founder and first editor (who met Held in high school when they both worked on the school newspaper,The Red and Black)  wanted Held in his new magazine, but he didn’t want Held’s famous flapper style work. According to Thomas Kunkel, in his magnificent biography of Ross, Genius in Disguise:

“Ross and [Rea] Irvin eschewed his [Held’s] overexposed flappers, instead publishing his contemporary twists on the Gay Nineties woodcuts Ross had loved as a boy.”

So what you see here are examples of Held’s non-New Yorker style. The Ovington Gift Shop ad was published during the heart of the Roaring 20s (1926), and the others were published in 1929 — the year that ended so badly.

Here’s John Held, Jr.’s entry on the Spill’s A-Z:

John Held, Jr. (Pictured above. Source: Sketchbook of American Humorists, 1938) Born, January 10, 1889, Salt Lake City, Utah. Died, 1958, Belmar, New Jersey. New Yorker work: April 11, 1925 – Sept. 17, 1932.

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More Booth!

Mike Lynch and Jane Mattimoe have posted pieces about the wonderful George Booth exhibit at The Society of Illustrators.  The exhibit, as you can see in the poster, is up now and will run through the end of this year. Do not miss!