The First New Yorker Cartoon Issue…and the Last

From 1997 through 2012, the New Yorker published a “Cartoon Issue”; that there was a special issue wasn’t news — the magazine had started publishing them in its new era of ownership under Conde Nast (purists might argue that the issue of August 31, 1946 was the magazine’s first special issue. Beyond the Goings On About Town section, the entire issue was devoted to John Hersey’s Hiroshima. There were no cartoons, and no illustrations — just spot drawings).  The first Cartoon Issue came in the year of more change: the cartoon editorship passed from Lee Lorenz, who had held that position for 24 years, to one of the magazine’s cartoonists, Bob Mankoff, who had been contributing to the magazine for 20. [The Spill will take a look at the How and Why of that change in editorship in a future post].

The very first Cartoon Issue, dated December 15, 1997 was a celebratory explosion of the magazine’s signature art.  From the fold-out cover collage to the wonderful Jack Ziegler cartoon, “No comment” appearing where the “Comment” section would normally appear, it set the bar very high.  Also in this issue, the three section (originally planned as two section)  fold-out photograph of cartoonists taken by the acclaimed Arnold Newman, the mini bios of each cartoonist in the issue, Roger Angell’s Onward and Upward With the Arts piece (“Congratulations! It’s a baby”), Roz Chast’s graphic ode to Charles Addams, a double page photograph of George Price, a special feature by Richard Cline, Lee Lorenz’s “Cover Stories” …and more. 

In that first issue, the cartoons nearly took over the magazine. The majority of the pieces on the Table of Contents were cartoon-themed; 51 cartoonists were given brief bios.  In  the last Cartoon Issue,  28 cartoonists contributed and the issue’s special cartoon features were bundled together in the middle of the book, from page 60 to 76, with a smattering of single panel cartoons (16 cartoons to be exact) 5 multi-page spreads and 2 full page spreads, one of which, Joe Dator’s, “How We Do It: A Week In the Life of a New Yorker Cartoonist” is a classic piece of work.   As I wrote in 2012 when the issue appeared, “this Cartoon Issue veers from its predecessors in that its cover, cartoons and cartoon spreads are predominantly politically themed.”  

 Although all of the Cartoon Issues had elements that were exciting and fun — for instance, the Charles Barsotti cover on the second Cartoon Issue in 1998, and covers by New Yorker cartoonists such as George Booth, Ms. Chast, Harry Bliss, Edward Koren, Bruce Eric Kaplan, etc. —  that first Cartoon Issue, with its electric zeitgeist, remained the one to beat.  By October of 2011, when I mentioned to Jack Ziegler that the latest Cartoon Issue was probably due any week, he responded to me (via email) that it was “the moment we all dread.” By that time, the so-called “bookazine” Cartoons of The Year had already appeared and would shortly supplant the Cartoon Issue. On June 13, 2013, the magazine’s cartoonists received an email from the cartoon editor saying: “there definitely is not going to be a cartoon issue this year.” And that, as they say, was that.

(Below: the last Cartoon Issue, cover by Roz Chast)








American Bystander #7 On Its Way!; More Spills…Ken Krimstein’s New Book; New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons Cover (Cont’d)

Hungry for comic humor?  American Bystander, now up to its 7th number, will do it for you. 

  Here are just some of the contributors in this issue : Charles Barsotti, R.O. Blechman (who’s provided the cover for #7), Harry Bliss, George Booth, M.K. Brown, Roz Chast, Tom Chitty, Randall Enos, Drew Friedman, Rick Geary, Sam Gross, Tom Hachtman, John Jonik, Lars Kenseth, Stephen Kroninger, Peter Kuper, Sara Lautman, Stan Mack, Brian McConnachie, P.S. Mueller, Mimi Pond, Mike Sacks, Maria Scrivan, Rich Sparks, Ed Subitzky, Shannon Wheeler, P.C.Vey, and Jack Ziegler.

Think they don’t make magazines like this anymore?…well actually, they do.  

  Go here to find out how you can get hold of American Bystander  #7.



Krimstein’s New Book…Here’s New Yorker cartoonist Ken Krimstein holding a galley of his forthcoming graphic biography, The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt: A Tyranny of Truth.  Photos by Alex Sinclair. The book is due this September, published by Bloomsbury. Mr. Krimstein’s previous book was Kvetch As Kvetch Can. More info here on the publisher’s website.

Link here to see Mr. Krimstein’s work.


The New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons Cover (Cont’d)…

I’m fascinated by the “journey” sometimes taken by a new book’s cover as it is listed online (my fascination probably began with the posting of a dummy cover for my Peter Arno book). 

The upcoming heavyweight New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons cover went from its initial listing (“No Image Available”) to a dummy cover (in black) to the finished cover (in red), then back to its dummy cover, and now (at least on Amazon) back to “No Image Available”… like so:






The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of January 29, 2018

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

Always a pleasure to see a colleague’s work pop up as a New Yorker cover as I open up the digital edition early Monday morning. We (“we” meaning the New Yorker‘s contributing cartoonists) used to be responsible (my unofficial estimate) for 60% of the covers during the year. Since Tina Brown’s era it’s somewhere around 1% to 5%. Roz Chast, Bruce Kaplan, Danny Shanahan, Harry Bliss, and George Booth would be the five percent. In 2017, just Ms. Chast’s and Mr. Kaplan’s work appeared on the cover.  In 2016, it was just Mr. Shanahan’s; in 2015 just Mr. Bliss’s work appeared on the cover — well, you get the idea). This one by Ms. Chast is graphically eye-catching.  It was ever-so-slightly difficult to appreciate on the tablet, so it was off to the laptop for a bigger image. I think the cover perfectly captures some people’s notion  (or reality) of January in New York City. The scarf knitted, then lost days later on the train, is shown on the magazine’s strap (the traditional vertical border running on the left side of the magazine’s covers) — it’s a nice touch.

Moving into the magazine I noted an attractive snippet of a Grant Snider drawing from a Daily Shouts piece. The blues reminded me of William Steig’s blues he used in a great number of his children’s books.

Oh, here’s a thought: why not reinstate Rea Irvin’s iconic Talk of The Town masthead in the magazine’s 93rd anniversary issue — just a few issues away. How great would that be! Mr. Irvin’s is directly below, with the re-do directly below it. 

To read more on the Mr. Irvin’s gem and its replacement, check out this Spill piece

Now on to the magazine’s cartoons. The first, by Amy Kurzweil, appears on page 19. A somewhat dark (yet not-so-dark!) take on flight delays.  I’m guessing many would enjoy a bonus three hours of life.  Nice handling of the plane out on the tarmac. Eleven pages later, the aforementioned Bruce Kaplan has a couple of kitties chatting in a living room.  As one who came later to cat appreciation, I appreciate the sentiment of the drawing, as well (as usual) as the drawing itself.

Noted along the way from Ms. Kurzweil’s drawing to Mr. Kaplan’s: Rui Ruireiro’s spot drawings making good use of yellow.  I see the predominant use of yellow in the New Yorker (especially if it involves a yellow cab, such as on page 28) and I’m immediately reminded of Steinberg’s masterful use of it on a cover back in 1979:

Four pages following Mr. Kaplan’s kitties, a wonderful Edward Koren drawing (wait, is there any other kind?). As with the last number of Koren cartoons published this one is given ample space to breathe on the page. Textbook placement. 

On the very next page a drawing by a relative newcomer, Pia Guerra. Who knew guessing weights at a carnival could lead to violence.  By the look of the weight guesser he has yet to be pummeled.  

Three pages later, a rather large funnel, or, ah, tunnel, drawing by Colin Tom (sorry, no website for Mr. Tom, that i know of. Please advise). I kind’ve wish this wasn’t in a boxy border (it’s obvious by now — maybe?– that I believe New Yorker cartoons thrive in a roomy habitat). On the very next page, an Amy Hwang drawing with a terrific caption.  I was about to note that this was a cat-free Hwang drawing when I spied a framed kitty on the cubicle wall.

The cartoons keep-a-comin in this issue: two more on the next two pages. The first by David Sipress and and the next by Paul Noth. Mr. Sipress’s recalls David Letterman’s, “I do and do and do for you kids — and this is what I get.” Mr. Noth’s refers to one of my favorite scenarios: the old women who lives in a shoe. In this case she’s spending some down time at a bar. I must say that the self-proclaimed old woman in Mr. Noth’s drawing appears quite young.  Perhaps she’s just starting out in life, in the shoe? Ten pages later a subway drawing couched as a personal hygiene drawing by Carolita Johnson. Clipping one’s nails while riding the subway seems risky. 

On the very next page, a Joe Dator drawing that set-off the Spill‘s applause meter. I’m leaving the applause meter out for Tom Chitty‘s drawing five pages later. 

Another five pages later, a Mick Stevens doctor’s office. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out  if what appears to be a jar of rubber glue on the front right of the desk is in fact a jar of rubber glue.  Four pages later a Frank Cotham drawing in a very familiar Frank Cotham scenario. On the very next page, the last drawing of the issue, not counting the caption contest: a charming charming Liana Finck drawing. I don’t know why, but I wanted the Earl of Sandwich to be the one asking the other guy the question. The cartoonist’s fuss-o-meter never rests.   









The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of January 22, 2018

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

 I enjoy the little drama of seeing the new New Yorker cover pop up on the screen early Monday morning when I go to the digital issue; sometimes there is no Monday morning  drama because the cover has been released (online) days earlier. The magazine occasionally does this with of-the-moment covers. That’s the case this week — Anthony Russo‘s “In the Hole” appeared online days ago (I continue to wonder why New Yorker covers need titles, a practice that began with Tina Brown’s second issue, October 12, 1992). The last untitled New Yorker cover, issue of October 5, 1992  was Edward Sorel‘s punk in a hansom cab — the first Tina Brown era cover:

The very next issue, October 12, 1992:

This latest issue’s cartoons start off well with Bruce Kaplan‘s Alice in Wonderland drawing. It’s graphically more complex than his usual style. The caption is excellent. Way to go.

Next up, four pages later, is a Farley Katz concert drawing. I enjoyed hovering over this drawing, looking at the details, especially the drums and drummer. Just three pages later, a couple of texting turtles via Liana Finck. For some reason — I don’t believe I’ve ever thought or said this before about any cartoon (other than one of my own) — I really wanted this drawing to be ever-so-slightly colored-in. Perhaps the largeness of the landscape surrounding the turtles reminded me of how Guy Billout handles his pages.  

Six pages later, a fun Drew Dernavich drawing of a situation almost every driver has encountered: the hunt for a space. Coupled with a long-time favorite cartoonist scenario (the person crawling along the desert) and bingo!  My only wish here would have been for the cartoon to have more breathing room around it.  On the very next page, another drawing that would’ve benefited from a little bit more space on the page (hey what can I say, in the balancing act between text and cartoons, I always notice when there’s an imbalance). In Maddie Dai‘s cartoon we return to the Sistine Chapel (where Julia Suits was not too long ago). Reminder: if you haven’t seen the Michelangelo exhibit at the Met, better hurry.

Five pages later, a splendid Edward Koren drawing. And…it’s placed beautifully on the page.  You can’t ask or more, folks.

On the very next page, a history lesson from Sara Lautman:  how did the Great Lakes come to be called the Great Lakes.  Interesting drawing —  I like the scenario Ms. Lautman’s given us. 

Three pages later, a cold & flu season contribution from P.C. Vey.  The little drawing within the drawing is very funny. The aforementioned Julia Suits has the next drawing (on the very next page after Mr. Vey’s). The drawing makes use of the “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” armature. The setting is very George Boothian.  

On the opposite page a William Haefeli drawing drawing upon the Bob Newhart showism: “Don’t go to bed mad.” Words of wisdom then and now. On the next page, a Teresa Burns Parkhurst captionless drawing (and the second cold & flu drawing in the issue).  Elevator bank drawings are not seen all that often anymore. I like that the drawing was allowed to spread across three columns, allowing us to mosey on over to the pay-off.

Five pages later, Shannon Wheeler brings a very in-the-news item on home.  This could easily have been one of those drawings that are sometimes placed below the table of contents.  Good stuff. 

Six pages later, an Ed Steed scenario ( a category within itself). Dead (?) fish, in a cage, not a tank. The use of color offsets the mystery…just a little.

Eight pages later, courtesy of Mick Stevens, an advice-seeking court jester. Don’t know if this drawing has anything to do with current domestic politics (in particular, a current politician) but it feels like it does.  On the opposite page, a Mary Lawton “meet the…” scenario. “Meet the…” drawings seem to be making a comeback. This particular one seems true-to-life (with the exception of the two hours displayed on the sign.  I’ve a feeling you could meet those people during all business hours). 

Five pages later, the last drawing of the issue (not counting the caption contest cartoons).  Tom Toro‘s penchant for detail is put to great use. Funny drawing. I wish it wasn’t slammed up against an ad though. I don’t believe the balancing act mentioned earlier (with text and cartoons) should ever include advertisements and cartoons. Cartoons hugging editorial text: yea. Cartoons hugging ads: nay.  Just sayin’. 


Update: Rea Irvin’s classic Talk of The Town masthead still missing. This is what it looks like:









Revisiting: The New Yorker 75th Anniversary Cartoon Collection

If you liked the cover of the New Yorker‘s very first Cartoon Issue (published in 1997) you might like the cover of The New Yorker 75th Anniversary Cartoon Collection (published in 2000).  Why? Because all of the cartoon grabs on the 75th Collection cover were on the cover of the Cartoon Issue. Now that’s not a bad thing; any cover with Thurber, Hokinson, Steig, Peter Arno, Barsotti, Gross, George Price, Gluyas Williams, Booth, and Leo Cullum, to name but a few, cannot possibly be a bad thing. I do remember being surprised, when first seeing the 75th Collection cover that these same drawings were recycled.

What was not on the Cartoon Issue cover but on the Anniversary Collection cover is one of Mike Witte‘s takes on Eustace Tilley (there’s another on the back cover).  Mr. Witte had become the go-to illustrator/cartoonist for updated Tilleys, with his work appearing on those numerous small New Yorker Book of __ (Cat, Dog, Doctor, etc., etc) Cartoons collections. 

Here’s the Cartoon Issue if you wish to hunt down the images appearing on both covers:

But back to the 75th Anniversary cover.  Strange, I know, but it has always reminded me somewhat of the package design for Stella D’oro cookies.


 Inside the collection (the cartoon collection, not the cookie collection) is an odd dedication. Odd in that it is a dedication from the magazine to the magazine itself: To the constant commitment of The New Yorker to this ridiculous and sublime art form.  That’s followed by a jokey Introduction, after which we finally get to the meat & potatoes.  Once to the cartoons, you’ll find they appear on “good” paper so you can enjoy the work without seeing a shadow of the cartoon on the following page. I’ve always been grateful that there is an Index provided as there is no chronological order to the work (there’s a Ziegler on page 2 and a Thurber on page 275). Though all the New Yorker albums shape history to some degree by including more or less of certain artists, in this volume the unbalance is noticeable. Or maybe not so noticeable if this was the first collection you ever picked up.  What I mean is this: for an anthology covering 75 years, a number of the most published cartoonists are represented by just one or two cartoons.  Examples:

Otto Soglow (published over 800 times): 1  cartoon

Carl Rose (over 500 times): 1

Perry Barlow (approx. 1,400 times): 1 cartoon

Alan Dunn, one of the most prolific New Yorker cartoonists of all time (close to 2,000 cartoons published): 2 cartoons

 In just four years, we would have the mother of all New Yorker collections: The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker.  Its Index shows a re-balance with all of the above cartoonists mentioned appearing far more than once or twice (in a closing aside, I should mention that this year we will apparently see the mother of the mother of all New Yorker collections, The New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons, which somehow includes 4,000 cartoons (for comparison, The 75th Anniversary Collection has 707 cartoons). 








Cartoon Companion’s Take on the First New Yorker Cartoons of 2018; A Carl Rose Original on Attempted Bloggery

The return of the New Yorker after a double issue break brings the return of the Cartoon Companion‘s “Max” and “Simon” and their rating system of 1 (bad — my word not theirs) to 6 (the polar opposite of bad).

In this first issue of 2018 the examined and rated cartoons include mattress shoppers, one of the three bears on a shrink’s couch, crystal shopping, and an author’s signing event. They also briefly mention this week’s cover by the great George Booth.  Read it all here!


A Carl Rose Original on Attempted Bloggery

One of the Spill‘s favorite blogs has a Carl Rose original to show usSee it here!

Here’s Carl Rose’s entry on the Spill’s A-Z:

Carl Rose (photo above) Born, New York City; died, Rowayton, Ct., June 20, 1971, age 68. New Yorker work: 1925 – 1971. Collection; One Dozen Roses (Random House, 1946). Note: this collection contains essays by Rose on cartoon themes. Especially of interest is his essay concerning Harold Ross, “An Artist’s Best Friend is His Editor.” Carl Rose will forever be linked to E.B. White for the December 8, 1928 New Yorker cartoon of the mother saying to her child, “It’s broccoli, dear.” and the child responding, “I say it’s spinach, and I say the hell with it.” The drawing was by Rose, the caption was adapted by White from Rose’s original idea (for a slighty expanded explanation go here). Rose also had a Thurber connection. In 1932, Rose submitted a drawing captioned, “Touche!” of two fencers, one of whom has just cut off the head of the other. Harold Ross ( according to Thurber in The Years With Ross) thinking the Rose version “too bloody” suggested Thurber do the drawing because “Thurber’s people have no blood. You can put their heads back on and they’re as good as new.” The drawing appeared December 3, 1932.