The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of May 28, 2018

Gayle Kabaker‘s charming cover kicks off summertime ’18 (you can read about the cover here).

Just for fun I’m showing the cover of every last issue of May from 1925 through 2015, one from each decade.

May 30, 1925: Ilonka Karasz; May 25, 1935: Constantin Alajalov; May 26, 1945: Constantin Alajalov; May 28, 1955: A. Birnbaum; May 29, 1965: Arthur Getz; May 26, 1975: Robert Tallon; May 27, 1985: Gretchen Dow Simpson; May 29, 1995: Mark Ulriksen; May 30, 2005: Peter de Seve; May 25, 2015: Carter Goodrich

And now to the new issue.

From the Department of Just Sayin’ : There are 18 cartoons and 17 illustrations (3 of the illustrations are full page)…  Rea Irvin’s classic  Talk of The Town Masthead is still a-missin’. It’s a thing of beauty. This is what it looks like:

I’m going to mention just one drawing from this issue (if you want critical writing on the cartoons I suggest you head over to Cartoon Companion, where each drawing is discussed and rated from 1 – 6).  Charlie Hankin’s drawing (it’s on page 61) reminded me of Jack Ziegler’s work. That of course is a very good thing. Mr. Hankin gives us a lovely (and large) drawing of the Metropolitan Opera House —  obviously there’s more to it than that; you can see it here, along with all the other drawings in the issue.  Mr. Ziegler’s was a cartoon world created to amuse himself; his way-out-there graphic and humorous takes on just about everything were his cartoon calling card. It’s good to see someone (Mr. Hankin in this case) give us such a fun drawing to look at and live with.

Finally, some paperwork.  A new cartoonist in this issue:  Jessica Olien.   If my record keeping is correct, Ms. Olien is the 15th new cartoonist — the 4th this year — brought on board since Emma Allen took charge of the magazine’s Cartoon Department in May of 2017.

Here’s the list of cartoonists in this week’s issue:

You might notice a co-credited cartoon: Kaamaran Hafeez and Al Batt.  It’s not the first time a cartoonist has shared credit with a gagwriter, but it’s still a rarity. 

— See you next week

The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of April 2, 2018

The latest issue is themed: The Mind Issue.  Don’t mind me if I zip through the issue this week. Seeing the cover pop up digitally this morning I immediately thought of Steinberg’s 1961 collection,The Labyrinth (I also thought how much I dislike seeing drawings of or photos of brains. Squeamish, I guess).

This type of a cartoon-look-inside-the-head drawing goes way back  — I know I’ve seen an animated version or three that were likely produced in the 1930s or 40s or earlier?  Animation archivists would surely be able to pinpoint the dates.

A quick aside: thinking that Steinberg had done a cover using the cartoon-inside-the-head device I ended up looking through decades of New Yorker covers this morning. It was a blast spending time with The Complete Book of Covers of The New Yorker: 1925 -1989 (Knopf, 1989)  taking in the art and artistry.

And now to the cartoons. The words “thinker” and “thought” appear in the first two cartoons of the issue (Tom Toro’s and Bruce Kaplan’s, in that order), thus somewhat tying them into the issue’s theme. After that the cartoons are mostly on their own, as usual (although the Frank Cotham drawing, on page 65, does have “think” in its caption).

Looking through the issue, I found myself in a thinking mode. I was thinking, or maybe wondering is a better word, if Rea Irvin’s classic Talk of the Town masthead will ever be returned to its rightful throne (sorry about that. I’ve just started watching Game of Thrones — a bit late, but better late than…). Here’s Mr. Irvin’s masthead:

As sometimes happens here on the Monday Tilley Watch, I’m not going to go drawing-by-drawing this week. Here are all the cartoonists represented (for the record, your honor):

I do want to point out a trio of graphic favorites. They each surprised at first sight: 

Charlie Hankin’s  The Thinker cartoon (ah, another one tied-in to the issue’s theme). I do wish this was allowed a bit more space on the page; Rodin’s man looks squeezed in there.

Seth Fleishman’s long ago subway drawing (and there it is: this week’s subway drawing!).  I like that it was allowed to spread across the top of the page.

Peter Kuper’s witch-or-not-a-witch drawing with its subtle throwback to John Held Jr’s wood cut style (it also, of course, recalls this unforgettable scene from Monty Python’s Holy Grail.

For more reading on each and every cartoon in this issue be sure to check out the Cartoon Companion. They usually post their rated takes by Thursday evening. 

— See you next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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). 

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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.

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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!  

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Site of Continued Interest: A New Yorker State of Mind

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

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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: