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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appearance of Interest: Harry Bliss; Attempted Bloggery Begins a Gregory d’Alessio Appreciation; Advertising Work by New Yorker Cartoonists, Part 15: Abner Dean

Appearance of Interest: Harry Bliss

Harry Bliss, a New Yorker contributor since 1998,  will speak at the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History on September 18th.  All the details here.

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Attempted Bloggery Begins a Gregory d’Alessio Appreciation

Gregory d’Alessio, a New Yorker contributor  — he contributed from 1934 – 1940 — who doesn’t get much attention is finally getting some over on Stephen Nadler’s Attempted BloggerySee it here.

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Advertising Work by New Yorker Cartoonists, Part 15: Abner Dean

Speaking of an artist who doesn’t get much attention, next up is Abner Dean (the entire series, with the exception of the Absolut ads, courtesy of SPX’s Warren Bernard). All of Mr. Dean’s ads are for the Aetna Insurance Group, and are presented chronologically, clockwise beginning from the upper left, from 1945 -1951.

Mr. Dean’s entry on the Spill’s A-Z:

Abner Dean Born, New York City, March 18, 1910. Died, June 30, 1982, NYC. According to his New York Times obit (July 1, 1982) Dean “started his career at the National Academy of Design and went to Dartmouth College, where he graduated in 1931.” He published numerous collections of his work, including It’s A Long Way to Heaven (Farrar & Rinehart, 1945) and Wake Me When It’s Over (Simon & Schuster, 1955). Although primarily a cover artist for The New Yorker (he contributed five, all in the 1930s), he did publish one drawing in the magazine: January 2, 1960.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch

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

The week begins with the eclipse eclipsing political news, if only for a moment. Good luck with that, eclipse.  As noted here last week the cover of the new issue (dated August 28, 2017) has received more notice than usual.  Read about it, and two covers from different publications, here. This is the first New Yorker cover for David Plunkert (it says so right on the  Contributors page in the issue. How did we ever manage before Tina Brown instituted a Contributors page many moons ago. Wait –don’t answer that.  It’s a rhetorical question).

I will briefly derail to mention that I often return to the contributors page that accompanied the very first Cartoon Issue (December 15, 1997). It wasn’t identified as the Contributors page — it simply said “Cartoonists” but you get the idea. It’s handy for tidbits of information not found elsewhere. A sample:

Back on track now and breezing through the front of the current issue.  After pausing, briefly, to stare blankly at the rejiggered Rea Irvin Talk of The Town masthead (sorry — this is very much a dog worrying a bone thing with me), we see several graphic eclipse references (one by the late great Otto Soglow, the other by the contemporary illustrator, Tom Bachtell).  I have to admit I was fooled into thinking that the Goings On About Town full page photo of the fellow very obviously pointing skyward was also an eclipse thing, but after reading the text, I was set straight.

Now to the issue’s cartoons.  Getting ahead of things, I noticed that the first three out of four drawings are death-or-injury related. An unannounced theme issue, perhaps? (Don’t answer that either.  It’s another rhetorical question).  I also noticed that the first cartoon didn’t appear until page 45. I don’t keep track of when the first cartoon appears in every issue (and I won’t start now, or should I?) but it’s noticeable. That first cartoon is a kitty drawing by David Borchart, whose first New Yorker drawing appeared nearly ten years ago (September 24, 2007).  Here’s an interesting piece about Mr. Borchart on Jane Mattimoe’s Case For Pencils blog. 

A few pages later a rats-and- sauna drawing by Will McPhail (first New Yorker appearance: 2014). I can almost guarantee that this scenario has never appeared in the magazine before. It’s a caption-less drawing, yet the rat to the extreme left appears to be speaking. Just idle rat chat I guess. I had to look up the spoon used by the third rat in from the left. My search tells me it’s a ladle used to pour water over hot rocks to produce even more steam. I was unaware that hot rocks figured into manhole covers. You live, you learn. 

A couple of pages later we come to a beautifully placed Roz Chast drawing (Ms. Chast’s first New Yorker cartoon appeared in 1978). I’m a fan of Ms. Chast’s summertime drawings (and covers).  On the very next page is a Liam Walsh drawing (his first New Yorker drawing appeared in July of 2011) —  the third of the aforementioned death-or-injury related cartoons (the other two: Mr. Borchart’s elderly kitty, and Ms. Chast’s lottery winner).  There are an awful lot of caskets in this cubicle-related drawing. Someone should really do a book of cubicle cartoons (Harry Bliss authored a book of death cartoons, Death By Laughter, back in 2008).

Next up is an Ed Steed drawing (his first New Yorker cartoon appeared in 2013).  Mr. Steed recently had a run of death-or-injury related cartoons, but here the subject is Romantic Poets (that’s the title of the drawing).  I’m wondering (still) if the couple in bed are in one of those laboratories where people’s dreams, sex lives (etc.) are monitored. The large observation-like window suggests as much.  I like Mr. Steed’s sensitive lettering in this drawing.  Three pages following Mr.Steed’s drawing is newcomer, Maddie Dai (first New Yorker drawing appeared this past June). I wonder how many dentist offices will hang reprints of this cartoon.  The drawing seems firmly rooted in the school of Kanin (Zach Kanin), which was itself in the school of Addams (Charles Addams). Blue ribbon lineage. 

Three pages later is a Julia Suits drawing featuring crocs. (Ms. Suits first New Yorker cartoon appeared in 2006). I’ve a passing familiarity with crocs (in other words, I’ve seen them worn) but the use of “hosed off” caused me to go to Google for a refresher course. This passage in the article cleared things up for me, hosing off-wise:

“The shoes’ original home was Boulder, Colo. The early Crocs customer was probably a Pacific Northwesterner who liked to boat or garden…”

Next up is an eye-catching cartoon by David Sipress (first New Yorker cartoon: 1998).  I’m a sucker for animated luggage cartoons. I’m surprised that only one other person in the area — that fellow with a suitcase nearest the animated luggage — acknowledged the luggage was alive.  Following Mr. Sipress’s cartoon is another caption-less cartoon with a character who is speaking. In this case, the speaker is likely reading out loud from Stories About Crumbs (I would definitely buy that book). Someone should really do a book of park bench cartoons.  (P.C Vey is the artist here. His first New Yorker cartoon appeared in 1993). A broken-record aside: this is another well-placed cartoon. It’s so great seeing cartoons sit on the page as they should.

Five pages later is the familiar boxed drawing style of Harry Bliss (first New Yorker appearance: 1998).  This drawing requires some familiarity with Scooby-Doo

Five pages later is a Barbara Smaller drawing with,  as you might have expected for this late August issue of The New Yorker, a back-to-school reference. Ms. Smaller’s first New Yorker appearance was in 1996. Following Ms. Smaller’s cartoon is a Carolita Johnson cartoon. Of interest:  this 2015 Case For Pencils post about Ms. Johnson’s tools of the trade.

On the following page is the last drawing of the issue (not counting the Cartoon Caption Contest drawings appearing on the very last page). I can’t think of a better way to end the issue than with   a truffle-related cartoon by Joe Dator (his first New Yorker appearance: 2006).  I really do not want to get into “liking” certain drawings but since the die was recently cast when I liked a Bruce Kaplan drawing,  I’ll admit this drawing registered quite high on my inner laugh-o-meter.  For evaluations and ratings of every drawing in every issue I recommend going over to Cartoon Companion. They usually post their ratings for each new issue by the end of the week. I’ll say this about Mr. Dator’s work: for me, he is representative of that wonderful continuum of New Yorker artists who have their very particular world.  Think of George Price, or Richard Taylor, or Syd Hoff or Jack Ziegler.  I’m not suggesting that Mr. Dator’s sense of humor is similar to these artists (although you might be tempted to compare the senses);  I’m suggesting that he, like those artists, is as successful in providing us with a world of his own.  Good stuff.

 

 

 

 

Monday/Tuesday Tilley Watch

And now for Part 2 of the Monday Tilley Watch…

Continuing on:  a cat and twister drawing by Julia Suits  — who could ask for more. Ms. Suits first New  Yorker cartoon appeared in 2006. On the very next page, a cartoon, with a slip of color, by  P.S. Mueller (first New Yorker cartoon, 1998). Mr. Mueller specializes in what is sometimes referred to as “off-the-wall” humor. His work is well off the wall — the cartoon community is all the better for it.  A few pages beyond his cartoon is work by a relatively new contributor, Kendra Allenby, whose first drawing appeared in the New Yorker in August of 2016.  I see a hint — just a hint — of John Held, Jr.’s flapper drawings in this particular cartoon: the roundish heads — the angular bodies.

On the very next page is a Farley Katz drawing.  Mr. Katz began contributing to the magazine in 2007.  Mr. Katz is firmly in the P.S. Mueller school of off the wall, but in this particular case, not too far off.  I love storefront cartoons (Roz Chast has done a bunch); I’m happy to see this row of shops show up.  Just three pages later is a Lars Kenseth drawing based on what must be one of the longest running ads on tv. Here Mr. Kenseth dispenses somewhat with his usual roll-on deodorant style  depiction of people (he was the subject of a Spill piece just the other day), and gives us something close to realistic (with some Mr. Potato Head or bobble-head proportions).  Next up: a cutting edge-ish (another reminder: “cutting edge” usage courtesy of the Tina Brown era) Tom Chitty drawing.  Mr. Chitty’s work first appeared in the New Yorker in 2014. No one draws like Mr. Chitty. It’s beginning to seem like this issue is loaded with off-the-wallers.  How fun. 

On the very next page after Mr. Chitty’s drawing is the minimalist work of Bruce Eric Kaplan (BEK). I have to admit — and I don’t like admitting it because I don’t want to drag in the laugh-o-meter to these Monday Tilley Watches (rating the drawings falls in the jurisdiction of Cartoon Companion)but I did laugh out loud at this drawing. The drawing’s a perfect example of less is more. For the record: Mr. Kaplan’s first drawing appeared in the magazine in 1991.

Next up, a little touch of Hemingway from Paul Noth (first New Yorker drawing: 2004). As I mentioned when I began posting the Monday Tilley Watch, one of the things I look for while browsing through each new issue is whether someone has already done a drawing in the ballpark of something I’ve just submitted to the magazine or have yet to submit.  Here Mr. Noth uses the word (and the dish) “casserole” which happens to be central to a drawing I’d planned on submitting next week.  So my casserole drawing will now cool its heels for several months before it’s sent downtown to 1 World Trade Center (where the New Yorker’s offices are located). This juggling of what cartoon to send and when to send it or whether not to send it is about as complicated as this cartoonist life gets.

The final drawing of the issue (not counting those on the last page belonging to the caption contest) belongs to Vermonter,  Harry Bliss.  It’s a drawing thematically tied to the issue’s cover: summertime concerns.  As a footnote (related to Mr. Bliss’s drawing) the news that possum eat ticks has swept the upstate community where I live. The possum’s status has risen dramatically.

…see you next week.

 

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch

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

 

 

Expecting something political on the July 31st cover it was a surprise when Javier Mariscal‘s water’s edge pastoral popped up on my screen (I’m looking at the digital version of the magazine; I’ll look at the print version when it arrives. Two different experiences). My first thought: if James Stevenson had worked in stained glass, this might be the result. Here’s an example of what I was thinking (a Stevenson cover from October 1975, and Mr. Mariscal’s on the new issue):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A note before heading into the issue: I have a habit of not looking at the cartoonists listed on the Table of Contents — I look at everything else on the TOC, but want to be completely surprised by the cartoons as I page through. I see on the TOC that Bruce McCall has a Shouts & Murmurs piece — things are already interesting.  On my way to “The Talk of The Town”  I stopped to examine the illustration on page 8 by Henning Wagenbreth. Glad I stopped — enjoyable illustration, and, bonus: the name Henning Wagenbreth is now a new favorite name.

Moving on: a quick look at the Talk masthead —  it’s still the revamped version brought in a few months back. I ask the power(s) that be to reconsider and bring back Coke Classic (i.e., Rea Irvin’s masterpiece masthead  — shown directly below — that led off Talk from January 30, 1926 through May 15, 2017). 

It should be noted (and maybe I did note it once on this site): Tom Bachtell is the contemporary artist behind the drawing appearing on the opening Talk page and many of the others sprinkled through the rest of Talk, but the small spots that look like this:

are by the late great Otto Soglow (fondly remembered by many for his creation,  “The Little King”). Mr. Soglow supplied the Talk spot drawings in earlier times (pre-Lee Lorenz years as Art Editor).   We are lucky his work is still appearing here some forty-two years after his death.

And now, finally to the cartoons: the first is by Sara Lautman, whose first New Yorker drawing appeared in March of last year. If the search function on the digital edition is correct, this is her 6th New Yorker appearance. A few pages later is a David Sipress drawing.  Mr. Sipress’s active line is immediately recognizable, as is the New York City subway setting (the subway has been in the news quite a lot, with the Mayor of NYC taking a well -publicized ride just yesterday). Next is a drawing by Paul Karasik (whose new book, How to Read Nancy was mentioned here last time, so I’m mentioning it again). In Mr. Karasik’s drawing, Grant Wood’s American Gothic farmer returns to the New Yorker.  During Charles Addams’ long run at The New Yorker he had a lot of fun with Mr. Wood’s pitchfork-wielding farmer, as well as at least one of the other folks at the bar in Mr. Karasik’s drawing.

Here’s Addams working with the American Gothic duo– this from The Charles Addams’ Mother Goose.

And here’s a link to another.

And here’s Addams with a roomful of recognizable subjects, including Mona Lisa

But I, uh, digress…so back to the issue at hand. Opposite Mr. Karasik’s barflies is a timely drawing by Liza Donnelly featuring colluding ice cubes. As with Roz Chast’s drawing from the last issue, I like the way this drawing has been placed on the page.  Today’s New York Times carries the headline “‘I Did Not Collude,’ Kushner Plans to Tell Senate Investigators” — hmmm

Several pages later we come to another well-placed/sized drawing — this one’s by Harry Bliss. As noted on yesterday’s Spill, it’s “Shark Week” on The Discovery Channel. It’s also summertime. Mr. Bliss manages to celebrate both, as well as tipping his hat to lifeguards (a New Yorker colleague, John O’Brien, was a longtime lifeguard in Wildwood, New Jersey. I believe he’s the only New Yorker artist with those intersecting credentials). Next is a kangaroo cartoon (also well placed & sized) by Liana Finck (who was mentioned on the Spill yesterday for several reasons…both good). Here we have a drawing that, stylistically (and maybe even thematically) brings to mind a cross between Ed Arno and Arnie Levin, with even a dash of Bill Woodman tossed in to the mix.  In the end, of course, it’s pure Finck.

A Seth Fleishman Newton’s Cradle cocktail drawing follows Ms. Finck’s. Mr. Fleishman, like the aforementioned Ms. Lautman, started at The New Yorker in the early months of last year —  his generous use of black against white made (and make) his work easy to pick out in the crowd. A Roz Chast six-parter follows (Ms. Chast’s first New Yorker appearance was in 1978). I failed to mention last week that Ms. Chast has a new book coming out this Fall: Going Into Town: A Love Letter To New York.

A Paul Noth prison drawing is next (Mr. Noth’s first New Yorker appearance was in 2004)  — Mr. Noth has a book coming out as well — it’s not due until next year, but I’ll mention it here anyway.  Someone should do a collection of New Yorker prison cartoons. Three pages following Mr. Noth’s drawing is the very recognizable work of Drew Dernavich.  If you want to know a little more about how he works, visit Jane Mattimoe’s Case For Pencils post here.  Three more pages brings you to one of the newest kids on the block (first New Yorker appearance: November 14, 2016): Lars Kenseth. In this drawing, Mr. Kenseth meets King Arthur, sort of. For some reason I wanted the caption to have the word “sticky” in it, but “licked” comes close enough.

Two pages on we find a drawing by cat and elephant-lover, Danny Shanahan, who’s been contributing to The New Yorker for 30 years.  No one draws  elephants like Mr. Shanahan (he’s even had a New Yorker elephant cover).   

Another new kid, Ellis Rosen is up next (first New Yorker appearance: December 12, 2016). I like birds-in-flight cartoons. Carl Rose, Lee Lorenz, and a number of other colleagues have offered them up to us over the years.

On the opposite page from Mr. Ellis’s drawing is a drawing executed in the instantly recognizable  style of William Haefeli (first New Yorker appearance: 1998). The Spill’s archive is lucky enough to have one of Mr. Haefeli’s original New Yorker drawings.  Visitors who are shown the piece are usually surprised by its size (it’s quite small) and its complexity (his originals look even more complex in person than on the printed page or screen).

A few pages later, we have what looks like a Smith Bros. cough drop board meeting —  a bunch of bearded men courtesy of Carolita Johnson (first New Yorker appearance: 2003), followed by a cat and dog living room situation by Christopher Weyant (first New Yorker appearance: 1998; Mr. Weyant is the  illustrator of a recent childrens book, I Am (Not) Scared by Anna Kang).  I love the way Mr. Weyant draws cats (he joins the Well-drawn Cat Club; I won’t list all the members for fear of possibly leaving someone out).  Tom Toro’s next (first New Yorker appearance: 2010) with a rarity: a lethal-signage cartoon. Kudos to the author of Tiny Hands. 

Mr. Toro’s drawing is followed by a Liam Walsh cartoon featuring a smallish fish with a big appetite (Mr. Walsh’s first New Yorker appearance: 2011). I already mentioned Bill Woodman above, but I’ll mention him again. I see fishing cartoons and I think Woodman. For some examples check out his book, Fish and Moose News (published in 1980). 

 

Lastly, the newest of the newbies, Maggie Larson, whose first New Yorker drawing appeared in last week’s issue.  I can’t recall how many massage-related cartoons have been in The New Yorker. At least one, now (someone with a better database than mine please let me know of others).

 

And that’s that.