Fave Photo of the Day: Woodman, Klossner, Lynch & Jacobson; Cartoon Companion’s Latest Look at New New Yorker Cartoons

From an article in Village Soup, June 29, 2018, “Trio Brings Lobster Therapy to Camden” — the photo below.  Clockwise from top right:  Bill Woodman, Mike Lynch, John Klossner, and David Jacobson.  Photo by Olivia Tasker.

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Cartoon Companion’s Latest Look at New New Yorker Cartoons

It’s Friday, which means the Cartoon Companion‘s Max and Simon are back with their rated takes on the current crop of New Yorker cartoons. Roz Chast’s hot dog cart (that isn’t really selling hot dogs) gets the CC’s Top Toon award. Read it all here.

Happy 92nd Birthday, George Booth!; Maine Cartoonists on the Radio: Woodman, Lynch, Klossner & Jacobson

Here’s to Mr. Booth, a Spill Hall of Famer. Happy 92nd Birthday!

 Mr. Booth’s entry on the Spill‘s A-Z:

Born June 28, 1926, Cainesville, MO. New Yorker work: 1969 – . Key collections: Think Good Thoughts About A Pussycat (Dodd, Mead, 1975), Rehearsal’s Off! (Dodd, Mead, 1976), Omnibooth: The Best of George Booth ( Congdon & Weed, 1984), The Essential George Booth, Compiled and Edited by Lee Lorenz ( Workman, 1998).

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Maine Cartoonists on the Radio

On Maine’s NPR station today, Bill Woodman (one of his cartoons appears above),  Mike Lynch, John Klossner and David Jacobson discuss cartooning in Maine. 

Mr. Woodman’s website.

Mike Lynch’s website.

John Klossner’s website.

David Jacobson’s website.

Their book:

The Wednesday Tilley Watch: Roz Chast, Julia Wertz in New York; Edward Koren, Danny Shanahan, Tom Toro, & Co. in Bennington, Vermont

A day of reminders on the Spill:

If you’re in or around Manhattan today, Roz Chast (above, far right) and Julia Wertz (far left) are in conversation at the New York Public Library this evening at 6:30. All the info here.

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Edward Koren, Danny Shanahan, Tom Toro in Vermont

And if you’re somewhere in the vicinity of Bennington this Saturday it’s New Yorker cartoons and cartoonists practically all day long at Southern Vermont College. A highlight of the day: Jessica Ziegler, daughter of the late very great New Yorker cartoonist, Jack Ziegler, will moderate a panel consisting of New Yorker cartoon god, Edward Koren (above left),veteran New Yorker cartoonist Danny Shanahan (above, middle), and the fab Tom Toro (above, right).  You’ll find other New Yorker cartoonists attending events as well.  Info here.

“A Search For Work ‘Funny, Beautiful, and True'”

In its final issue of 1992 the New Yorker published a remarkable piece, “Remembering Mr. Shawn”; thirty-three contributors recalling the late editor of the New Yorker who had passed away earlier in the month (one of them, Edward Koren, provided a drawing). I’ve read and re-read the piece a number of times and always come away with something by one of the contributors I’d missed before. But one recollection stuck from my first reading. Lee Lorenz, who served as Art Editor of the magazine from 1973 through 1997 (his title morphed to Cartoon Editor in the last five years of that span) wrote, in part, of his weekly art meetings with Mr. Shawn:

In a letter he [Shawn] wrote to me after he left the magazine he referred to these meetings as a search for work that was ‘funny, beautiful, and true.’ By “true” he meant not just true in its perception of the human condition but true to each artist’s vision.

I think Mr. Lorenz framed it perfectly.  When I think of “the New Yorker cartoon” as a distinct subset of American cartooning, and why it’s recognized as such, it’s due to the magazine’s long history of supporting its cartoonists and their work.

Of course there is and always has been disagreement over what is funny, and what is beautiful (and lately, more than ever, what is true).  For the four decades I’ve contributed to the New Yorker I’ve heard it said, at times, all along the way, that the cartoons aren’t as funny, or aren’t as good, as they used to be. I heard it said in the late 1970s, when I began contributing, and I hear it today.  Here’s a snippet from an article that popped up in my Google search just the other week:

Is the New Yorker magazine on the skids, or is it my brain that has lost whatever sharpness it may have had? I re-subscribed to the magazine a few months ago, and I seem to have detected a lower quality in its cartoons, which have always been its main attraction for persons of questionable intelligence, such as me.

What quality is, is also, of course, debatable. For every person who finds a particular New Yorker cartoon awful there’s another who finds it a work of genius (want to see for yourself? Go to the comments under any New Yorker cartoon posted on the magazine’s Facebook page).

Overlooked in all this public qualifying of what is funny, beautiful and true is the simple transaction between the artists and their editors: cartoonists do what we do as well as we can do it and send it to the magazine — the editors buy it or they don’t. The beauty of the New Yorker cartoon world is that cartoonists draw what they want. They are not assigned ideas by the editors. This total freedom allows the readership to see the work the cartoonists believe is funny, beautiful and true (i.e., their vision). It’s the not-so-secret formula for the now 93 year old success of the New Yorker cartoon.

Above: The inaugural issue of The New Yorker, cover by Rea Irvin; William Shawn, the magazine’s second editor; Lee Lorenz.  Photograph of Mr. Shawn by James Stevenson.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue of July 2, 2018

  Link here to read what Barry Blitt had to say about his tied-in to the headlines cover (shown above).

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One of these days I’m going to gather all the New Yorker covers that’ve incorporated the Statue of Liberty. For now, I took a look back to see when Lady Liberty first appeared on a New Yorker cover. Surprisingly, it took awhile to show up what with the the magazine being, in those earliest of issues, so New York City-centric. Its debut was on the Sue Williams cover of September 7, 1929:

 The Statue’s next appearance was on the cover of June 24, 1939, when artist Leonard Dove incorporated it humorously:

It wasn’t until the end of WW2 that the statue appeared again — in the issue dated the week the war ended with Japan’s surrender. Alan Dunn shows us a troop ship arriving home in New York Harbor; soldiers are sticking their heads out of portholes, looking to see Lady Liberty way off in the distance, her silhouette just barely decipherable. Graphically speaking, in this instance less is powerfully more.

And now on to the current issue, close to seventy-three years later.  From the Dept. of Just Sayin’:  21 illustrations this week, 3 of them full pages. Just 10 cartoons (plus one full page by Ed Steed).

Noting two of the ten this week: Roz Chast makes excellent use of one of the cartoonist’s handiest tools: the hot dog cart. In this case it’s floss being sold not franks. What I really like about Ms. Chast’s cartoon is that it falls into the wonderful New Yorker cartoon vein of being both surprising and highly relatable. It delivers on Peter Arno’s definition of a good cartoon: a drawing that deals a one-two punch.  If the Spill handed out ribbons like they do over on the Cartoon Companion site, this cartoon would be awarded one. The Spill does, however, applaud.

The other cartoon noted is by Seth Fleishman.  Bulls driving racing cars at Pamplona, with the lead car driven by a person.  A lovely drawing. I believe there are at least two Charles Addams cartoons with a moose driving a car, but bulls driving cars is a rarity. One somewhat closer to Mr. Fleishman’s that comes readily to mind (forgive me) is a drawing of mine from the ancient times. It appeared in The New Yorker, March 7, 1989 — technically, those are steer.

 

For the record, your honor, here’s the list of cartoonists in the issue (the aforementioned Mr. Steed’s page is listed higher up on the Table of Contents):

Lastly, here’s Rea Irvin’s iconic masthead from The New Yorker.  It disappeared in May of 2017, bafflingly replaced by a redrawn version. For more on this, go here.

— See you next week

  

 

  

 

 

 

The Making Of A Magazine: A Potted History

Mention The New Yorker and it’s highly likely the image, or one of the first images, that pops into one’s mind is of Rea Irvin’s Eustace Tilley, the magazine’s mascot.  He appeared on the inaugural issue of the magazine dated February 21, 1925, and on every anniversary issue until Tina Brown broke the streak in 1994 by publishing R. Crumb’s Elvis Tilley. 

Those fond of New Yorker history may know that the magazine was nearly killed after just four months of publication; barely anyone was reading it, and what advertising there was was drying up.  The magazine’s founder and editor, Harold Ross, seeing a need to fill space on the inside cover, summoned one of his writers, Corey Ford, to discuss the problem.  Ford described the moment in his memoir, The Time Of Laughter:

In his impulsive way, he called me into his office and began jangling coins and pacing the floor.  Could I do a series of promotion ads to fill the goddamn inside cover? Rea Irvin thought I might burlesque those house organ brochures about publishing a magazine.  Have the first one by tomorrow? Done and done. God bless you.

The result was a twenty part series called The Making of a Magazine.  The first one ran in the August 8 issue:

You’ll notice the illustration, by Johan Bull, shows a little top hatted fellow, who is identified as “Our Mr. Tilley.” We have to wait until the second in a series (the issue of August 15th) to learn his full name: “… Mr. Eustace Tilley.” Tilley was to be the readers tour guide through Ford’s twenty installments, pointing out the various departments needed to turn out The New Yorker.

More from Corey Ford:

The New Yorker‘s man-of-all-work, who personally supervised all these departments, was Mr. Eustace Tilley. (“Tilley” was the name of a maiden aunt, and I chose “Eustace” because it sounded euphonious.) In Johan Bull’s illustrations, he appeared as a silk-hat dude, with morning coat and striped trousers and a monocle, based on the figure in Rea Irvin’s anniversary cover. In time Irvin’s creation became known as Eustace Tilley…

The series ended in the issue of January 2, 1926.  The cover, by Rea Irvin, bore Tilley himself (a coincidence?) coming ala a cuckoo bird, through the clock’s double doors.

In that final installment, Ford ends with this reveal:

In the very same year, bound copies of The Making Of A Magazine appeared. The Spill archive is not fortunate enough to have one (shown at the top of this post is a charming small — 4″ x 6″ — promotional paper version gifted to the Spill ), so I’m showing a scan from AbeBooks, where a copy can be had, signed by Ford, for $1,000.00. 

Now if you don’t want to spring for that copy, or the few others listed at lesser prices ($750.00 – $375.00), you can, believe it or not,  buy a modern copy (shown below) on AbeBooks for $7.57. You’ll notice this issue is part of a series, “Forgotten Books” and the book is by “Author Unknown”  — hmmm, do we laugh or cry, or sniff, Tilley-like?  

Below: Johan Bull’s last Tilley in the last of the series: