Steig Covers Brendan Gill’s Here At The New Yorker




























A few days ago I took a look at Charles Addams’s original cover for Brendan Gill’s Here At The New Yorker (Random House, 1975).  Today I’m adding the 1990 edition of that book to the Spill’s New Yorker Cartoonists Library. This edition, published in the UK by Heinemann, features  a William Steig cover originally published by the New Yorker, February 14, 1964.
























An even later edition (De Capo Press, 1997) features a typically exuberant Frank Modell drawing:




Luckily, Mr. Gill kept adding new introductions as each edition appeared, giving us a kind of play-by-play as the New Yorker‘s editors and the magazine itself changed over time.

A bonus tucked away at the end of every edition: “Shawn On Ross” — nearly eight pages about Harold Ross written by his successor, William Shawn.

Being Eustace Tilley; Roger Angell Remembers James Stevenson; Oscar Time! Liza Donnelly Back on the Red Carpet Live Drawing the Oscars, Drooker’s Oscar Cover, Eckstein’s Oscar Wielding Eustace



Eustace Tilley is of course a fictional character — commonly referred to as The New Yorker‘s mascot.  There is a suggested backstory to Tilley himself in Lee Lorenz’s Art of The New Yorker: 1925-1995; there are best guesses elsewhere as to why Rea Irvin (see below) decided to submit the cover to Harold Ross to adorn Ross’s inaugural issue and there are probably just as many best guesses as to why Ross chose to use Irvin’s submission.

Following the advent of the New Yorker, it didn’t take long for a Tilley stand-in to show up; a New Yorker in-house publication featured Harold Ross as Tilley and Alexander Woollcott as the butterfly hovering at Tilley’s eye-level.  Over the years there have been innumerable parody New Yorkers (Ink Spill has a selection here).  But how many real people, after Harold Ross, have stood in for Tilley on a New Yorker cover or on another magazine’s cover.

If you search online you’ll see perhaps hundreds of Tilley stand-ins, some on the cover of The New Yorker itself, many submitted to the New Yorker as part of a contest, many just for personal amusement (Tilley as Disney’s Goofy, or Mad’s Alfred E. Neuman, Dr. Seuss’s Cat In The Hat, etc., etc.)    But here I’m concentrating on published covers featuring real people (and one real dog) as Tilley.   I’ve found just a few (please let me know of others that fit this category…update: my thanks to Attempted Bloggery for reminding me about the Eustace Clinton/Obama cover ):


First the real deal: Rea Irvin’s classic cover:























The New Yorker‘s in-house issue featuring Harold Ross.
















Renata Adler as Tilley on Manhattan, Inc. November 1986














New York magazine, July 20, 1992,  with Tina Brown as Tilley














The New Yorker’s 75th anniversary issue, February 21, 2000, with a William Wegman dog as Tilley (and one of his dogs standing in for the butterfly)















“Eustace Tillarobama” (credited to Rea Irvin and Seth) February 11, 2008
















And that brings us to the March 6, 2017  The New Yorker, with Barry Blitt’s  “Eustace Vladimirovich Tilley” and Donald J. Trump as the butterfly

Image result for eustace tilley putin


Rea Irvin’s entry on Ink Spill‘s “New Yorker Cartoonists A-Z”:

Rea Irvin  (pictured above. Self portrait above from Meet the Artist) *Born, San Francisco, 1881; died in the Virgin Islands,1972. Irvin was the cover artist for the New Yorker’s first issue, February 21, 1925.  He was the magazine’s  first art editor, holding the position from 1925 until 1939 when James Geraghty assumed the title. Irvin became art director and remained in that position until William Shawn succeeded Harold Ross. Irvin’s last original work for the magazine was the magazine’s cover of July 12, 1958. The February 21, 1925 Eustace Tilley cover had been reproduced every year on the magazine’s anniversary until 1994, when R. Crumb’s Tilley-inspired cover appeared. Tilley has since reappeared, with other artists substituting from time-to-time.






…From the New Yorker‘s Culture Desk, February 25, 2017, “Looking At The Field” Roger Angell on James Stevenson’s art and writing.

photo: Mr. Stevenson in Westport, Connecticut in 2015







Oscar Time!

…Liza Donnelly has been out in Hollywood all week drawing  the scene as the Academy Awards prepares for its big night. Following her historic appearance last year as the first ever cartoonist live drawing on the Red Carpet, she will be back again tomorrow night drawing the stars and the hooplah.

Check out her drawings @lizadonnelly  and  @CBSThisMorning


The New Yorker’s  Oscar cover, February 27, 2017 by Eric Drooker (titled “#OscarsNotSoWhite”)







…I’ll wrap up this post appropriately enough with Bob Eckstein’s Eustace holding an Oscar. Be sure to follow Mr. Ecksteins coverage of the big event on 









It Was 113 Years Ago Today…

Arno @ piano 1950s January 8th of any year can’t pass by around these parts without raising a glass to toast Peter Arno, born in New York City, 113 years ago today.

Visitors to this site are likely quite aware of Arno’s work and what it meant to the struggling New Yorker in its first year of publication.  Today I offer up another toast: this one’s to Arno for winning what might appear to some as a  small victory, but to cartoonists themselves is a victory quite meaningful.

During the later years of Harold Ross’s editorship (Ross is the fellow who created The New Yorker and was its first editor) Arno became incensed that some of his cartoon captions were being edited and published without his approval. He created a document that would ensure the magazine would agree to pay a  fine if such editing occurred without his approval. I believe this brought about an awareness and a policy that exists to this day at the New Yorker. Arno’s document is a thing of the past, but the magazine will not add or subtract so much as a comma in a cartoon caption without first running their suggestion by the artist for approval. It is a policy that symbolizes editorial respect for the magazine’s artists and their work.

My glass is raised to Arno for that and for so much more!

Above: Arno in the 1950s

If you want to read more about Arno may I suggest you check out his biography.

Frank Modell Celebrated

ModellCartoonists mostly live solitary work lives. When they’ve finished a drawing, sit back and take a look at it, the feedback usually comes from within; then there’s the occasional  laugh from their spouse, friend, room mate or visitor. In the reverse, it’s also usually a solitary experience for someone looking at a cartoon in a magazine.  More often than not, the reaction is internal, and yes, sometimes a laugh, out loud.

It is always slightly jarring — at least for me — to sit in a crowd and hear the collective roar of laughter at cartoons projected on a screen. Such was the experience last night at an evening dedicated to celebrating the life and work of the great New Yorker cartoonist Frank Modell, who passed away in May at age 98.

The event was held a few doors east of  the 44th Street entrance to The New Yorker‘s former longtime address at 25 West 43rd Street (the building’s main lobby stretches from 43rd to 44th).  A plaque attached to the magazine’s one-time residence bears Frank’s name alongside a number of other heavy hitters: Harold Ross, E.B. White, James Thurber, Helen Hokinson, Peter Arno, Charles Addams, Katharine White and James Stevenson to name but a few.  Mr. Stevenson, Frank’s best friend, was in attendance last night, as were a number of other New Yorker colleagues, including Warren Miller, Mort Gerberg, Edward Sorel, Arnold Roth, Liza Donnelly, Charles “Chip” McGrath, Roger Angell,  Anne Hall Elser, Thomas Vinciguerra  and Linda Davis.

Remarks from Frank’s close friends, Flicker Hammond, Edgar Lansbury, Tom Meehan, and the long-time New Yorker writer, Kennedy Fraser were preceded by the presentation of a wonderful array of Frank’s work. Watching the drawings come up on the screen, with each caption read by Nancy Franklin (the New Yorker‘s former television critic), the laughter moved from the front of the room to the rear — a true wave of laughter.  Each drawing was a reminder of Frank’s ability to reach us with elegant drawings (it was noted that Frank’s long-time colleague and editor Lee Lorenz had said that Frank’s drawings “popped off the page”) topped off by a disarmingly precise caption:  nothing elaborate, nothing obtuse — just plain funny. Funny, and evergreen; that magic ingredient  that for many many years was the hallmark of New Yorker cartoons.

As each cartoon was presented I was also reminded of the friendliness of Frank’s work — work as friendly as the man himself. The people he drew were people we knew, or know, or are. His animals, whether mythical or not, are animals we feel an attachment to, whether it’s the unicorn riding a unicycle or a dog sleeping on a stuffed chair.  One of the drawings shown, “Boy, am I glad to see you.” was greeted with exceptionally riotous laughter.  I couldn’t help but think of Frank himself at that moment.  Boy, Frank, were we glad to see you.



Gil Roth’s Virtual Memories Ink Spill Podcast

gil-roth-in-our-kitchen-sept-2016From the Department of Self-Promotion:

Gil Roth (shown standing in our kitchen last week) has an awful lot of cartoonists on his podcast,Virtual Memories. He visited recently to tape two more (with Liza Donnelly and myself).  The interview with Ms. Donnelly will show up a few Tuesdays from now, but in the meantime you can hear Gil grill me here.

Fifty Years Ago this week in The New Yorker…the Cartoons & Cartoonists

From time-to-time Ink Spill looks way way back at The New Yorker’s cartoon universe. Today, we’ll drop in on the issue dated fifty years ago, July 30, 1966 and take a brief look around at the cartoons and cartoonists within. In 1966, William Shawn was in his 14th year as editor of The New Yorker; the Art Editor, James Geraghty, was in his 27th year (back then the Art Editor was responsible for all aspects of the magazine’s art: the spot drawings, the covers and the cartoons).


Reilly 1st cover 



The cover — a beauty — was by Donald Reilly. It was the first of Mr. Reilly’s sixteen covers for the magazine (his last, Feb 10, 1992). Though sixteen covers is impressive, even more impressive are the thousand-plus cartoons he contributed during his time at the magazine.








Here’s his Ink Spill “A-Z” entry:



The Table of Contents back then looked like this (readers were left on their own to identify the cartoonists and the contributors to the Talk of The Town):

TOC Aug 1, '66









The cartoonists in the issue: Whitney Darrow, Jr., William Steig, Saul Steinberg, Joseph Mirachi, James Stevenson, Donald Reilly, Charles Saxon, Frank Modell, Alan Dunn, Robert Day, Warren Miller, Stan Hunt, and Mischa Richter


A deep, albeit all-male, bench of talent.  This New Yorker Cartoonists Hall of Fame line-up doesn’t even include a number of the other regular contributors of the time including Peter Arno, Charles Addams, Syd Hoff, Dana Fradon, Al Ross, Barney Tobey, Robert Weber, Edward Koren, Lee Lorenz, and many more (the work of the great George Price, that master of the quirky split-line is represented in a ¾ page drawing for Iberia Airlines).


The newest addition to The New Yorker’s stable in this issue was Warren Miller, whose first cartoon appeared in the magazine in 1959. The most senior cartoonist was the aforementioned Mr. Dunn. His work first appeared in The New Yorker in 1926.


Of particular note is the six page spread “Come to Britain” by Charles Saxon. We don’t see spreads like this in the magazine anymore – at least on the somewhat regular basis they once appeared. Generally speaking – or even specifically speaking — cartoon spreads are history (A Roz Chast spread in 2014 comes to mind, but it was a bird of a different feather as it was an excerpt from her forthcoming book and not a spread created for the magazine).


What to make of The New Yorker’s cartoon culture fifty years ago: the magazine was seven to eight years away from the end of Geraghty’s long run as art editor (Lee Lorenz was his successor). Although the Geraghty era is sometimes referred to as the Golden Age of New Yorker cartooning – it’s tough to argue it wasn’t –I believe the Golden Age extended beyond Geraghty and into Lorenz’s years as well. Geraghty presided over an amazing collection of cartoon worlds: a mix of veterans, and stellar new additions like Edward Koren, who began contributing in 1962, Henry Martin who began in 1964, and William Hamilton, whose first drawing was published in 1965.


When I think of this era of the magazine I’m reminded of something William Shawn wrote for Brendan Gill’s Here at The New Yorker. In the piece, which was headed “Shawn on Ross” [Harold Ross, the magazine’s founder and first editor]:


“It was certainly not the least of Ross’s talents that he was able to see talent in writers and artists before it was plainly visible to everyone. Also, he understood that talent developed more slowly in some than others, and he was willing to wait. He gradually learned that the primary function of the magazine’s editor, including him, was to create a structure and an atmosphere – a little world apart from the world – within the writers and artists could fulfill themselves.”


Creating that “structure and atmosphere” was, I believe, the secret sauce of The New Yorker. It gave us, the readers, the opportunity to enjoy the worlds these artists found their way into.    


The New Yorker 1955- 1965 Album is an excellent cartoon collection gathering work by all these artists (it’s available for a song on

 NYer Album 55-65back cover Album