The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of March 26, 2018

The cat, or, uh, cover’s been outta the bag for several days now, so we can move right on to the cartoons in the issue. (I’ll mention Rea Irvin‘s missing masthead later on in this post).

Roz Chast has the first drawing (p.19). The setting of several folks lined up on a sofa hard up against a wall seems to belong to her.  It’s her signature, as much as George Booth’s guy-in-the bathtub scenario is his. 

Six pages later a Zach Kanin cozy-under-a-blanket-by-a-fire drawing (coincidentally, the action in the drawing is set on a sofa). The cartoon is anchored by the use of the word “breasts” in the caption.  A quick online search shows a modest number of New Yorker breast-related cartoons, with very few actually mentioning breasts in the caption. One that came readily to mind is this classic courtesy of Jack Ziegler from November of 1997.  

  Nine pages later, a fun Seth Fleishman drawing (captionless, of course. His specialty).  Succinct clean lines and ideas. The same could be said for the very next cartoonist: William Haefeli. Unlike Mr. Fleishman, he works with a caption. This particular drawing is textbook Haefeli. Even the inconsequential fruit in the bowl (in the foreground) is rendered as if it is essential to our grasp of the entire piece.

On the very next page is a grand drawing from Charlie Hankin, well-placed on the page. A crime scene by P.C. Vey is on the opposite page. I love how he’s drawn the victim. This compact set of drawings is one of my favorites in quite awhile (the set consisting of Fleishman, Haefeli, Hankin, and Vey).

Five pages later, the second New Yorker drawing from Bishakh Som, who delivers the magazine’s weekly subway drawing. Subway drawings are now certifiably the new crash test dummy drawings.  [a second subway drawing, by this cartoonist, appears as this weeks Caption Contest challenge] 

Fifteen pages later (following a photo spread) is a colorful and intricate drawing by Peter Kuper. An excellent piece of work. Five pages later, Carolita Johnson takes us to a concert hall. I like that she’s brought us somewhere we typically don’t go much (anymore) in New Yorker cartoons. Ms. Johnson’s handled the scene well, with the audience, drawn in grey, driving our focus to the sniffling quartet. I am curious about the tiny dash and “c”  appearing next to her signature:

Three pages later a well-drawn Tom Cheney cartoon (is there any other kind?).  NYC apartment seekers who don’t have money to burn will find this drawing especially hilarious. On the very next page, Emily Flake brings us a demographic not often seen in the magazine: senior citizens. It appears the fellow’s had enough and is taking a walk.  He can’t be planning on being away very long: he has no coat or jacket, and just one piece of luggage not much bigger than a bowling ball bag.

The last drawing in the issue (not counting those on the Caption Contest page) is by Edward Koren, who will, this May, celebrate his 56th year of contributing his drawings to The New Yorker.  No one draws birds like Mr. Koren, and, need I say it (sure, why not) — no one draws like Mr. Koren.

 Link here to see all of the drawings referenced in this issue.

And don’t forget to check out The Cartoon Companion (they usually post at week’s end) for their rated take on all the issue’s cartoons.

— See you next week

ps: Couldn’t help but notice that Rea Irvin’s iconic Talk of the Town masthead is still a-missin’.  There’s a substitute in its place.  This is what the real deal looks like:




Article of Interest: A Wave of New Yorker Cartoonists; Cartoon Companion Rates Latest Cartoons; The Attempted Bloggery E. Simms Campbell Fest Continues

Article of Interest: A Wave of New Yorker Cartoonists

Graham Techler’s article in Paste, March 1, 2018,  “The Exciting New Wave of New Yorker Cartoonists” spotlights eight cartoonists — all veteran newbies (meaning they are not among the very latest cartoonists appearing in the magazine), and a few cartoonists who’ve moved beyond the newbie classification (I’ve provided the year each began contributing to the magazine): Charlie Hankin (2013), Paul Noth (2004), Jason Adam Katzenstein (2014), Tom Toro (2010), Amy Hwang (2010), William McPhail (2014), Maddie Dai (2017), Emily Flake (2008).  For what it’s worth, the eight mentioned are among the 128 cartoonists that have debuted since 2004, the year of Mr. Noth’s first New Yorker cartoon. More a New Tsunami than a New Wave.

A couple of Spill footnotes on the below segment of Mr. Techler’s piece:

“They [the cartoons] were never actually bad (I mean, come on, each era of the magazine was represented by everyone from Peter Arno to James Thurber to Bruce Eric Kaplan—legend has it that the improved quality of the cartoons in the 1940s was attributed to office boy Truman Capote throwing away the ones he didn’t like); they were just perceived as a little out of touch with what the rest of the comedy world was embracing.”

First: “…legend has it that the improved quality of the cartoons in the 1940s was attributed to office boy Truman Capote throwing away the ones he didn’t like)”:

Perhaps it’s time to retire the myth that Mr. Capote was throwing away drawings he didn’t like.  Mr. Capote worked as a copy boy at the New Yorker for approximately two years in the early 1940s (he was hired sometime in 1942 and left the magazine sometime in 1944). One of his responsibilities was going through the unsolicited drawings in the slush pile looking for anything with promise. The drawings with some promise were then gone through by the art editor, James Geraghty.  If he found anything worthy he’d bring it along to the art meeting. If you go to page 73 of Gerald Clarke’s biography, Capote (Simon & Schuster, 1988), you’ll hear find this passage with Mr. Capote talking about the lost drawings:

 “Sometimes I would get the cartoons all messed up and confused.  Then I would just throw them into one of those holes and say to myself, ‘Well, I’ll straighten that out later.’ I managed somehow to to lose about seven hundred of them that way. I didn’t deliberately destroy them, and I don’t know how I lost track of them. But I did…”

Second: “they were just perceived as a little out of touch with what the rest of the comedy world was embracing.”

I’m not exactly sure what Mr. Techler means.  Which era or eras is he referring to?  A specific era? All eras?  When were they “perceived as a little out of touch” (and who was doing the perceiving?).

(If Mr. Techler wishes to clarify, The Spill will gladly post his remarks). 


Cartoon Companion Rates Latest Cartoons

If it’s Friday (and it is), then a brand new Cartoon Companion awaits. The CC boys “Max” and “Simon” have run their trusty fine tooth combs through the cartoons in the latest New Yorker. Read it here.


The Attempted Bloggery E. Simms Campbell Fest Continues

Stephen Nadler has posted a lot of interesting pieces in the last few days, including cartoons appearing in a small promotional Esquire booklet (or sampler); a bunch of work by Dorothy McKay, and of course more work by his current fest focus: E. Simms Campbell. Go look!

Here’s Ms. McKay’s entry on the Spill‘s A-Z:

Dorothy McKay ( Self portrait above from Meet the Artist, 1943; Photo from Cartoon Humor, 1938) Born c.1904, died June, 1974 New York City. New Yorker work: 1934 -1936.

Most Popular Instagrammed New Yorker Cartoons; Site of Continued Interest: A New Yorker State of Mind; A Reminder: Tomorrow is Nancy Night at The Society of Illustrators

The New Yorker‘s cartoon editor, Emma Allen presents Instagram’s most liked New Yorker cartoons of 2017 (by # of Instagram likes, of course). The list includes cartoons by (in no particular order here) : Farley Katz, Peter Kuper, Liana Finck, Paul Noth, Jeremy Nguyen, Roz Chast, Ben Schwartz, Kim Warp, Mort Gerberg, Emily Flake, Charlie Hankin, Alex Gregory, Maddie Dai, and Lars Kenseth. I believe these cartoons are a mix of work that appeared in the print version of the magazine or in the online only Daily cartoon slot.  See them here!  


Site of Continued Interest: A New Yorker State of Mind

Yet another fun & fascinating installment from this site. Read here.


A Reminder:  Karasik’s & Newgarden’s Nancy Night Tomorrow at the Society of Illustrators

All the info here

The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker issue of September 25, 2017

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

As this is the Style Issue I decided to tackle the issue while listening to Starring Fred Astaire, a set of songs recorded by Mr. Astaire between 1936 through 1940. What a great photograph. What style. What a great top hat.

And now to the issue:

In the habit of expecting some political commentary on the cover of the new issue, I paused to examine the cover art, wondering if president Trump’s face was hidden in the leaves (ala the hidden Beatles on the Rolling Stones album, Their Satanic Majesties Request cover).  No such luck.

It takes seconds, once past the cover, to get to the very first cartoon.  If it’s a theme issue, there’s an excellent chance the first cartoon will tie-in to the theme. Bingo!  The first drawing,  by Carolita Johnson, whose first New Yorker cartoon appeared in the issue of October 20, 2003, features Elton John-ish stage shoes. As is always the case, my mind associates what I’m seeing with what I’ve previously seen in the New Yorker, and the first thought was this fabulous Steinberg cover from May of  1993: 


Flipping through the Goings On About Time (or GOAT) section, page 28 stood out.  Why? It is a page completely devoid of graphics (no illustration, photographs, etc.). The layout is a throwback to what was once common place in the magazine. The only design element is the renovated Rea Irvin nervous horizontal line across the top (“renovated” in that it is slightly less nervous than his original lines).   Beautiful nonetheless. 

We don’t arrive at the next cartoon until page 40, where we’re greeted by Tom Chitty’s frankfurter-ish figures involved in the age-old scenario of a couple arriving at a home,  bringing a bottle of wine. Mr. Chitty’s first New Yorker appearance was in the issue of October 13, 2014. Nice use (essential use!) of the phrase “limited expectations” here. Four pages later is a David Sipress cartoon. I note that Mr. Sipress’s drawing and Mr. Chitty’s drawing share similar standard rectangular space on the lower left of their respective pages. The drawings have just enough breathing room on the page.  Mr. Sipress’s first New Yorker appearance: July 1998. Perhaps Mr. Sipress will someday give us a ten years later sequel to this drawing (it’s about a couple possibly about to explore the idea of whether or not to have children).  I’m curious if they had children and if they did, if it was the right decision for them. 

Eleven pages later we come to a Charlie Hankin courtroom scene (Mr. Hankin’s first New Yorker appearance: August 2013). The drawing is given some nice breathing room at the upper right hand corner of the page.  I love courtroom scenes (Perry Mason, and all that).  The Monday Tilley Watch, as I keep reminding visitors (and myself), is not an overtly critical column. However, with a nod to my friends over at Cartoon Companion, I occasionally find myself wanting to applaud a certain drawing. This week I applaud Mr. Hankin’s drawing. There’s a (James) Thurber, (Charles) Barsotti feel to it — and that is always a very good thing.

Mr. Hankin’s drawing is immediately followed by a BEK drawing (and we’re back to the lower left rectangular space).  I think of every issue of the magazine as having at least one anchor artist, and hopefully three or four. Mr. Kaplan is the definition of an anchor artist. Contributing since 1991, his work does not disappoint.

Three pages later, given a full page, is the now much talked about Hillary Clinton cover that would have been had she, well, you know.  Two pages later, a cartoon by another anchor cartoonist: Roz Chast (first New Yorker cartoon: 1978).  With cargo clothing as Ms. Chast’s focus (remember, this is the style issue) I cannot help but think of the late Leo Cullum’s classic drawing from the issue of August 17, 1998:


Sidenote: good spacing (breathing room) for Ms. Chast’s drawing.

On the very next page is a Liana Finck drawing (first New Yorker drawing: 2013). The subject is one of those “head-in-the-hole” props you see at carnivals.  Here’s an example I lifted off of (out of?) the internet:

Ms. Finck’s drawing has a decidedly Charles Addams quality to it (I was wondering if we could get through today’s Monday Tilley Watch without mentioning Addams).  I like that Ms. Finck’s cartoon camera has a strap. Three pages later is a well-placed Emily Flake drawing (first New Yorker drawing: 2008).  I’ve never used Uber or their app-minded competition (cabs I have used), but I gather what’s happenin’ here. I wonder if the clown is a reference to the current clown film (It) scaring the pants off of everyone, or is it just a generic scary clown thing. 

Turning the page we have a cartoon by newbie, Curtis Edwards. I spent time examining the “vintage” clothing in this drawing, it being the Style Issue and all.  Note to myself: E.T. looks kind’ve like a turtle. I will remember that next time I’m drawing a turtle, or E.T..  On the opposite page from Mr. Edward’s drawing is a Will McPhail cartoon (first New Yorker appearance: 2014). Mr. McPhail’s is a romance tinged football drawing. Again, my mental library of imagery takes me immediately to this 2003 New Yorker cover  by Harry Bliss:

Next up is a hot air balloon drawing by Ed Steed (first New Yorker cartoon: 2013). I know zero about hot air balloons — was only up in one once.   I’m deeply sorry the  bearded passenger had to toss his musical instrument out of the balloon’s passenger basket.  My first thought — a typical cartoonist’s mash-up thought —  was that I would’ve tossed the actual speech balloon, say perhaps in the vicinity of where a caption would ordinarily go, thus saving a perfectly good cartoon accordion, but hey, I wasn’t there — it wasn’t my call.

Fifteen pages later we come to a domestic bean-centered P. C. Vey drawing, nicely placed. Mr. Vey’s been contributing to the magazine since 1993.  I hate to admit it, and I don’t like recalling it, but I’ve seen even bigger cans of beans than the one Mr. Vey’s cartoon character is eating from. Five pages later is a Sara Lautman energetic carnival drawing.  Her first New Yorker cartoon appeared in March of last year.  The way Ms. Lautman uses the word “things” — it’s printed as “Thiiiings”  — makes the word vibrate.  

And that is that until next Monday. By the way, I have not abandoned my campaign to encourage the return of Rea Irvin’s long running iconic masthead to the Talk of The Town.  I leave you with a common chant of wisdom, commonly heard on sports fields:

“Don’t mess, don’t mess with the best…”

Here’s the best:







The Monday Tilley Watch








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


Are these the dog days of summer? According to Wikipedia, Sweden’s dog days are  bracketed by the dates July 22nd through August 23rd.  That seems reasonable for the United States as well.  My mental inventory of New Yorker covers from this time of year include a whole lot of beach scenes and summer in the city scenes, as well as covers depicting shore towns. This week’s New Yorker cover (a double issue, dated August 7 & 14) by Bob Staake (the artist responsible for this iconic cover) takes us underground in NYC.  The magazine has the NYC subway system on its mind — just last week we saw a David Sipress NYC subway cartoon, and in this very issue is a full page Sketchbook, “Subway Substitutes.”  Mr. Staake’s red hot cover brought to mind another red hot cover of just a few years back, at this exact same time of year (the aforementioned dog days): Mark Ulriksen’s cover of August 3, 2015.

The opposite of a red hot dog days of summer cover is (to my mind) this deeply moving New Yorker cover by Mary Petty, published 72 years ago this week in the summer of the last year of WWII, approximately midway between the close of the European theater and the close of the Pacific theater. A quiet, peaceful moment on a beach with a woman and her dog, while war continues to rage in the Pacific. 

Now on to the inside of the magazine:

I note as I turn to The Talk of The Town that my campaign to reinstate Rea Irvin’s classic Talk  masthead is not going well. The new one installed in May is still there. The Irvin masthead ran, barely untouched, for 91 years. This campaign, despite its odds of success, will press on. 

Joe Dator, who has been contributing to The New Yorker since August of 2006, leads things off with a zebra cartoon. I took a quick look back at some zebra New Yorker cartoons and found each and every one appealing.  This one by J.B. “Bud” Handelsman, caught my eye (published in November of 1992).


Next is a theater marquee drawing by Charlie Hankin (his first New Yorker appearance was in August of 2013).  Beautifully placed on the page. I’ve noticed (and noted) that many of the cartoons in the past few issues have been given more breathing space on the page. This is a very good thing.  Half a dozen pages later we come to a William Haefeli drawing (his last name rhymes with “safely”).  Last week I mentioned how super-detailed his original work is. Get out your magnifying glass. (Mr. Haefeli’s first New Yorker drawing appeared in 1998). 

A couple of pages later is a Frank Cotham drawing (first New Yorker drawing, 1993). As with Mr. Haefeli, Mr. Cotham’s style is instantly recognizable.  I’d add that his subject matter is also instantly recognizable, with cave people, heathens, and the like playing a big part in his world.  Part 1 of a fun interview with Mr. Cotham ran on Cartoon Companion just a few weeks ago — check it out.    A Liana Finck drawing follows Mr. Cotham. Ms. Finck’s first New Yorker cartoon appeared in February of 2013.  Ms. Finck shows us a cast cartoon —  like zebra cartoons, something we don’t see a whole lot of in the New Yorker. When I think of them, I’m happily reminded of this fabulous  Chon Day cartoon from  September of 1948:

A couple of pages later is a dog and businessman cartoon by Chris Weyant (first New Yorker cartoon, 1998)Ink Spillers may remember that it was just a few days ago we learned Mr. Weyant now has a weekly op-ed cartoon in The Boston Globe. 

On the very next page, a touch of color in an Ed Steed cartoon (first New Yorker cartoon, 2013). An artist paints a nude. I know, I know — you see a nude woman in a New Yorker cartoon you think Peter Arno. I’d argue that Sam Cobean was the New Yorker’s king of nude cartoons. Take a look at the cover of his 1950 collection of cartoons.

In Mr. Steed’s drawing he incorporates 3-D (thus the color) —  a rarity in the New Yorker. 3-D was used to great effect in this classic by Bob Eckstein from 2012. It remains one of my favorite New Yorker drawings of modern times.

Two pages later we run into a P.C. Vey drawing (first New Yorker appearance, 1993). For me, this is the Vey-ist of the Veys. The Spill doesn’t rate cartoons (that’s what they do over on the Cartoon Companion site), but if it did, this drawing would have all sorts of happy adjectives heaped upon it.

Next up is a drawing by a relative newbie, Kendra Allenby (her first New Yorker appearance was in August of last year). Ms. Allenby, who is a storyboard artist, opts for the storyboard-like look, i.e., a boxed drawing, employed with regularity by Harry Bliss, among others. Four pages later is a veteran newbie, Will McPhail (first New Yorker drawing, 2014). Heads on pikes…a rarity in the magazine (there are at least two in Charles Addams’s New Yorker oeuvre: one in the issue of January 4, 1941. Another, “Excuse me, Walter, that’s my cue”  contains a head on a pike, but it’s incidental.  There’s also, “Ready, dear?” on page 40 of Monster Rally  — but it’s not a New Yorker drawing). 

Next is a Roz Chast drawing (Ms. Chast’s first New Yorker appearance, 1978).  Love the flow of words (alas, no Ziegler-esque pop-up toaster). A Tom Chitty drawing follows Ms. Chast’s (Mr. Chitty’s first New Yorker drawing, 2014). On tomorrow’s Spill we’ll visit a cartoonist whose style is as out there as Mr. Chitty’s — maybe even more out there.  An Ellis Rosen musical courtroom  drawing follows (Mr. Rosen’s first New Yorker drawing, December of 2016). readers will remember that Mr. Ellis just appeared on a “Cartoon Lounge” video with  Emma Allen (the magazine’s cartoon editor) and Colin Stokes (the associate cartoon editor). See it here if you missed it. Three pages later is a Maddie Dai cartoon employing a fairy tale setting.  Mix in a little modern technology and bingo! (Ms. Dai’s first New Yorker appearance, June 5, 2017). I am reminded of an out of office discussion I had with former cartoon editor, Bob Mankoff, back in 2008, in which he declared,”No more fairy tale drawings!”  Well that didn’t happen.  A Barbara Smaller sidewalk conversation cartoon is next (Ms. Smaller’s first New Yorker appearance, 1996). Someone should really do a Sidewalks of New York cartoon collection.

As mentioned here last week, I avoid looking at the cartoonists listed on the Table of Contents for the express purpose of being surprised while looking through every new issue.  This week, that resulted in a wonderful moment toward the end of the issue with the appearance of a drawing by one of our cartoon gods, George Booth.  A classic Booth scene, with more cats than you can shake a fur ball at, this drawing is a real treat. Mr. Booth was the subject of a Fave Photo of the Day here on the Spill last week. In the photo he is shown working at his desk. According to a highly reliable source (his daughter), he works every day, perhaps that’s one of the secret ingredients for an artist who has been contributing to The New Yorker for nearly half a century.  This coming Fall we can all look forward to a Booth exhibit at The Society of Illustrators (October 24 through December 23, 2017).

And lastly in the issue (not counting the Cartoon Caption Contest — I’ve decided, for now,  to opt out of covering it) is a David Sipress words of wisdom drawing, cleverly distilling a page out of Pete Frames Rock Trees.  Mr. Sipress’s first New Yorker drawing appeared in the summer of 1998). It’s nice to see Blind Faith mentioned in a New Yorker cartoon.

A Roomful of Cartoonists











As anyone could guess, a home inhabited by two cartoonists is bound to have a lot of cartoons around. Not just our own, but cartoons from our New Yorker family; cartoonists we’ve only known by their work, cartoonists we’ve just met, and cartoonists we’ve known for a very long time.  With the exception of our own work, our walls are covered with framed drawings by all the above, from an unpublished drawing by the relatively new New Yorker contributor, Charlie Hankin (a drawing of a clam on a lawn next to a sign that reads “Beware of Clam”  —  it cracks me up every time I look at it) to Alice Harvey‘s first captioned New Yorker drawing, published in October of 1925.





In the photo at the top of this post, from top left, clock-wise, is a New Yorker drawing by Robert Weber, a Gardner Rea drawing, one by Jack Ziegler, and an oddity: a group drawing by Mick Stevens, Mr. Ziegler, Roz Chast and Liza Donnelly.

The Ziegler solo drawing, The Jungle Never Sleeps, hangs closest to my work room doorway; it appeared in The New Yorker as a half-page, July 28, 1980.  It’s just one drawing in a career populated with many many funny and beautiful drawings, but, jeez, what a drawing.  Needless to say, the idea is gold, and funny as hell. Jack went perfectly heavy on the speech balloons. The single line of smoke drifting  up from the campfire changes from a black line to negative space and back to a black line as it moves through the silhouetted jungle to the grey sky.  You can tell he was totally involved in working that out. The fellow who’s come out of the beautifully drawn tent is perfection.  As Jack said to me in an interview last Fall: “…it’s always nice when cartoonists know how to draw so that they can give us something pleasant and fun to look at.”  Well said, well done.