The cover says it all.
With the publication of The New Yorker Cartoon Album 1975-1985, the word “Cartoon” makes its second appearance on an Album cover and in an Album title (the first was on the cover of The Album of Sports and Games: Cartoons of Three Decades). The magazine’s 60th anniversary not only saw this anthology published, but the magazine’s fans were treated to a fabulous show of cartoons and covers, curated by Barbara Nicholls, a former art assistant to James Geraghty (Ms. Nicholls went on to establish a gallery representing many of the New Yorker’s artists).
Mounted at the New York Public Library, this was the show for anyone who loved the magazine’s art. Following its run in New York, the exhibit went on the road across the country, and across the big pond. Here’s the brochure:
But now back to the anthology. You can see by the cover that the design is solidly in the school of the understated. The is no introduction within, no foreword, no dedication. Compare the cover to the cover of the 90th Anniversary Book of Cartoons (the Spill will eventually get to that on another Sunday) — you’ll see how graphic decision-making has changed.
The 1975- 1985 Album leads off with a spectacular full page drawing by Robert Weber, and it ends with a full page Charles Addams drawing. In between you’ll find a rich array of the grand masters of the form: Steig, Steinberg, George Price, Dana Fradon, Warren Miller, Frank Modell, the aforementioned Weber and Addams, Henry Martin, Booth, Koren, Ed Arno ( but not Peter Arno, who had passed away in 1968), Whitney Darrow, Jr., James Stevenson, Ed Fisher…the list couldn’t go on and on — it was, after all, finite, but you get the idea. Also in the Album, a new wave of cartoonists, including Mick Stevens, Leo Cullum, Liza Donnelly, the two Roz’s: Zanengo and Chast, Tom Cheney, Michael Crawford, Richard Cline, Bill Woodman, Peter Steiner, and Mike Twohy, among others (including yours truly). Jack Ziegler, who I’ve dubbed “The Godfather of Contemporary New Yorker Cartoonists” was a late entry in the 1925-1975 Album (his first New Yorker cartoon was published in 1974. He’s represented in the 1925-1975 Album by one cartoon). Here, in the 1975-1985 Album his genius is on full display.
This Album would be the last published during William Shawn’s editorship. The next Album would not appear until the year 2000, the magazine’s 75th anniversary (in between was Lee Lorenz’s Art of The New Yorker: 1925- 1995).
Below: the back cover of the The New Yorker Cartoon Album 1975-1985:
And the inside flap copy:
Fave Photo of the Day
Courtesy of New Yorker cartoonist colleague, Jeremy Nguyen, this photo taken last Monday of a cartoon event at Brooks Brothers. Beginning at the bottom ‘o’ the stairs and heading up: Emma Allen, the New Yorker‘s cartoon editor, and cartoonists Drew Dernavich, Liana Finck, and Jason Adam Katzenstein (aka J.A.K.). And unless I’m mistaken, that’s the classic Brooks Brothers Vintage Bomber Jacket (in Khaki)* just behind Ms. Allen .
Appearance of Interest: Robert Grossman
Mr. Grossman, widely known for his illustration, was, in the earliest stage of his career, an assistant to James Geraghty (the New Yorker art editor from 1939- 1973). Mr. Grossman’s first New Yorker appearance (below) was published January 13, 1962.
Mimi Pond is the subject of Jane Mattimoe’s latest Case For Pencils post wherein the cartoonist discusses her tools of the trade. (above: Ms. Pond’s work area). See the post here!
…From Comics DC, November 12, 2017, “Roz Chast, ‘Going To Town’ Recorded at Politics & Prose”
…Here’s the video of Chris Ware’s appearance on The Charlie Rose Show. Mr. Ware is currently making the rounds promoting his new book, Monograph By Chris Ware (Rizzoli).
The Monday Tilley Watch is a meandering take on the cartoons in the current issue of The New Yorker.
This week’s cover (by R. Kikuo Johnson, who we learn from the Contributors page teaches cartooning at the Rhode Island School of Design) is of robots on their way to wherever robots go to. One has an on-the-go cup of coffee(?) while another carries an old-fashioned lunch box. When I was a little kid, I was slightly fascinated by the lunchbox a neighbor (his name was Joe) carried to and from his factory job everyday. I sometimes wondered what was in his lunchbox and whether he had the same lunch everyday. Anyway, back to the cover. I thought seeing all the technology, it was going to be a Technology Issue, but no… it’s the Money Issue. The semi-Tilley on the Table of Contents alerts us to the theme:
Anyone who reads Ink Spill can probably guess that Tilley tampering (see yesterday’s Spill) will be duly noted here. Other examples :
Now on to the issue’s cartoons, and it doesn’t take long at all to find one. A nicely placed Tom Cheney drawing appears on page 4 directly following the end of the magazine’s Table of Contents. I like that the magazine does this every so often and not all the time. It’s a fun surprise. Mr. Cheney takes one of the cartoonist’s most reliable characters, death, to an artist’s studio. Artists studios, and artists, were very popular in years past, especially in the James Geraghty era (the New Yorker’s art editor from 1939 through 1973). Many of the best were gathered in The New Yorker Album of Art & Artists (New York Graphic Society, 1970).
There’ve been several other art-themed collections since (shown above: The New Yorker Book of Art Cartoons (Bloomberg, 2005), and The Museum of Modern Art Book of Cartoons (Museum of Modern Art, 2008 — a custom production), but the 1970 collection is the mother ship, containing some of the most famous art cartoons in the magazine’s canon.
Moving through the front of the magazine, I really like the beautiful photograph of a cow (in an ad for Louis Roederer) on page 15. What can I say? I love cows (to look at, admire, and occasionally pat on the head).
David Borchart has the second drawing of the issue. Age, of course, comes up most every time (heck, every time) there are Galapagos tortoises involved. Charles Addams (and there it is: an Addams reference and it’s only the second drawing of the issue) did several (I can remember three) — here’s one. Mr. Borchart delivers a caption that many can relate to, and just as many have probably heard said, or said. As usual with his work, it’s beautifully drawn. The elder tortoises look kind’ve happy.
I don’t usually comment on the illustrations but I do really like the cup of coffee by Golden Cosmos on page 40. Six pages later we have an Amy Hwang Jack and the Beanstalk drawing. A more complicated drawing than we’re used to seeing from Ms. Hwang. I like the beanbag chairs — I picture them in color for some reason: left to right: baby blue, brown, and rust colored. Two pages later another keeper from BEK (Bruce Eric Kaplan). I’m reminded here of the late James Stevenson’s barely disguised textbook political satire.
On the very next page is a Mike Twohy cornucopia drawing. Cornucopia drawings aren’t as plentiful (haha?) as artist drawings once were, but they showed up from time-to-time, sometimes on the cover. Here’s a beauty by Arnie Levin from 1978 (and how convenient it is that it’s a baseball themed cover in this heavy-duty baseball time of year).
Mr. Twohy’s cartoon, referring to a certain mega-online shopping site, is concerned with way more than baseballs. Eight pages later is a darkish Ed Steed drawing. His fishnet roller coaster recalls Lou Myers’s style (a snippet from a 1969 Myers United Airlines ad below left. On the right, a portion of Mr. Steed’s drawing).
Three pages later a dog walk in the park drawing from the long-time Wildwood, New Jersey lifeguard (retd), John O’Brien. As mentioned in the last Monday Tilley Watch, Mr. O’Brien excels at captionless drawings (to my mind the hardest to do; Charles Addams told Dick Cavett captionless drawings were his personal favorites). Mr. O’Brien’s drawing is placed perfectly on the page.
Four pages later, newbie Maddie Dai returns with, yes, an Addamsy situation. If it seems like there are a lot of references to Mr. Addams in these posts it might be because his work — well over a thousand cartoons published in The New Yorker — touched on so many situations favored-by-cartoonists, especially, of course in his case, dark side situations. Of the notes I received from former New Yorker Art editor, Lee Lorenz during my years of his tenure (he was editor from 1973 – 1997; I began receiving notes from him in 1977) at least three-quarters of them said, “Sorry — Addams already did this.”
Three pages following Ms. Dai’s drawing is a Julia Suits be careful what you say out there — it just might get you in trouble drawing. On the very next page is an oddity that’s now appeared for the second issue in a row (wait, does that mean it’s not an oddity anymore): a collaborative drawing by Kaamran Hafeez and Al Batt. Mr. Hafeez is responsible for the drawing itself. The setting is that old New Yorker cartoon chestnut: a business meeting.
Three pages later, a drawing by Farley Katz, a cartoonist who always shakes things up somehow. I like the complexity of the drawing – the stethoscope connecting both doctors with the patient — but I’m unsure who the “we” is in this case. Even on a very large screen it appears both women’s mouths are open, suggesting that they are both speaking. Someone write in please and clarify.
Three more pages and we find Batman, beginning his memoir, recalling his childhood. Nice drawing by Zach Kanin. I like how he’s shown us the Wayne family portrait over the mantel. When I see a New Yorker Batman cartoon I immediately recall this 1989 classic by Danny Shanahan:
Three pages following Mr. Kanin’s Batman is the the second sidewalk Liana Finck drawing in two issues. The beginning of a sidewalk series perhaps? I like the little birds on the sidewalk.
Alice Cheng, another newbie (her first New Yorker cartoon appeared in February of this year) is next with a salmon swimming upstream drawing. I love that this is here as it gives me an opportunity to recall the great 1998 Bill Woodman bears and salmon cartoon shown below. Look at this drawing! Lovely, funny. This is what the late very great Jack Ziegler had to say about Mr. Woodman: “Bill Woodman is a great cartoonist and one of the funniest “draw-ers” of all time, right up there with George Booth.”
Three pages later, a drawing of mine. I believe it’s the first time that I’ve had Uncle Sam in a New Yorker drawing. Four pages later is a not-quite-so-empty nest drawing by another newbie, Teresa Burns Parkhurst, who made her debut this month (not counting her caption contest appearance in September). I like the framed items on the wall, including the coffee mug, or mugs(?). On the very next page is what at first appears to be a doorman at an exclusive club situation. But as it’s a Peter Vey drawing, it’s not, of course — it’s a writer needs to escape drawing. Nice stanchions!
The next to last drawing in the issue belongs to Avi Steinberg. A man at a diner counter encounters a teeny coffee cup. As in an earlier drawing not long ago — not by Mr. Steinberg (I don’t think), I wonder about the level of the counter top in relation to the customer. It’s either a very low counter, or a very tall customer. One wonders too if the customer is just walking by the counter and has remarked on the little cup of coffee. There’s no indication of seating, so he isn’t about to sit; there are, however, items on the counter indicating customers might sit. As I’ve said before, I like imagining a backstory. Good caption.
The final drawing in the issue (not counting the caption contest drawings) is by Carolita Johnson. A fortune teller! As with Mr. Steinberg’s drawing, there’s some kind of perspective thing going on (with the door and the room) that caught my eye. You’ll see.
— Back next Monday
Rounding out this historic week for New Yorker cartoons and cartoonists as we say “Goodbye” to Bob Mankoff and “Hello” to Emma Allen is an article from the early 1970s as another transition was about to take place: long-time New Yorker Art Editor, James Geraghty was beginning to think retirement, but his successor was not yet in place (the successor would be Lee Lorenz). See the Geraghty article here at Attempted Bloggery.
Roz Chast was recently out west for the opening of the traveling exhibit “Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs”– here’s a brief interview with her from The Jewish News of California, posted April 26th, 2017: “Life’s Funny Like That: New Yorker Cartoonist’s Memoir on Exhibit at CJM”
Jeremy Nguyen and Ellis Rosen will be unveiling their rejected cartoons at the Downtown Variety Hour on May 1st. Details here. ________________________________________________________________________________
My favorite snowman expert, Bob Eckstein, has been out in the Windy City on a Spring tour promoting his lovely new book, Footnotes From the World’s Greatest Bookstores. Here’s a short interview with him from The Chicago Tribune.
…A reminder that the upcoming Pen World Voices Festival of International Literature will present Women In Ink, with a boffo panel featuring Emily Flake, Roz Chast, Liana Finck, and Rayma Suprani. Liza Donnelly will moderate. Details here.
Finally, for those who enjoy the obscure: the Swann Galleries has a 1932 Peter Arno poster up for auction on May 25th. A beauty! Details here.
… “The artists, who waited for the verdicts, scrambled for desk space where they could retouch their cartoons and spots according to what Wylie, or Katharine Angell, told them what Ross wanted.”*
— So said New Yorker editor and writer Rogers Whitaker to Thurber biographer, Harrison Kinney. He was describing a wonderfully fun and exciting time and place: The New Yorker in its infancy, ninety some years ago.
What’s changed since then? Well, the cartoonists no longer wait in the office to hear the verdict for that week’s submissions (email now alerts them to a sale, and more often, rejection). However, many cartoonists still head to the New Yorker every week to sit across from the cartoon editor. It’s a chance to connect with the editor, to get feedback, to discuss that week’s submissions. It’s also a chance to socialize with colleagues. Cartoonists, as has been said many times, are mostly solitary creatures, whiling away at their drawing boards or tablets without the company of other humans.
Using the clues of the personalities Mr. Whitaker mentioned we know that the artists (cartoonists for the most part with some cover artists tossed in) began showing up at the New Yorker from the very first days of the magazine. What we don’t know is exactly when the cartoonists began showing up to see the Art Editor — a ritual that began sometime during James Geraghty’s tenure as the magazine’s first Art Editor.
Rea Irvin, the New Yorker‘s Art Supervisor did not meet the artists flooding into the office. So who actually saw the artists coming in? It was, in the very beginning, Ross’s secretary, Helen Mears, who was soon fired and replaced by a young man named Philip Wylie. He was the unofficially titled artists “hand-holder” — the link between the editorial staff and the cartoonists. Most importantly to The New Yorker‘s history, and to its success, Wylie is the person who, while looking through twenty-one year old Peter Arno’s portfolio one day in 1925 happened to spot a drawing Arno hadn’t intended to show: a sketch of “two old bats about to charge obliviously into a trap — made by the rise of a sidewalk elevator. It [the drawing] greatly amused me.” The “two old bats” came to be called The Whoops Sisters, and also came to be credited as very likely rescuing The New Yorker from an early demise. This moment was one of the so-called “happy accidents” that saved the New Yorker and propelled it forward. And it could have only happened because Arno came into the office and sat down with Wylie.
We know that upon James Geraghty’s appointment as Art Editor in 1939 he began working closely with the magazine’s staff cartoonists on Look Day (Tuesdays back then, and for many years after. Wednesdays now). What has always endeared me to the editor/artist dance at the magazine is that editorial prompts are not directives — they are suggestions. This practice continued on during Lee Lorenz’s twenty-four years as art editor after he succeeded Geraghty, and it continues right up to today.
Mr. Lorenz ran a very tight ship in those twenty-four years; artists had to be invited in to the office on Look Day. Even some long-time contributors did not receive the coveted invitation. They had to drop off their work at the receptionist’s glassed-in cubicle at the end of the hallway near the elevators. To be invited back was well-earned. And what you found once you were buzzed through the hallway door and then walked down the dog-legged hallway to the Art Department was a small cream-colored waiting room filled with cartoonists whose names would most likely be as familiar as the names of your family members. Their work, of course, would be familiar as well. The days of artists messing up the office were in the rear view mirror. Some of the cartoonists actually had “studios” in the building (Charles Addams, Frank Modell, James Stevenson, Edward Koren among them). Mr. Lorenz had an editorial light touch when working with artists — a shade lighter than Geraghty’s, or so I’ve been told; like Geraghty, Lorenz’s advice was succinct, and spot-on.
When Bob Mankoff succeeded Mr. Lorenz, he instituted what he called an “open door” policy, saying, “I’ll see anyone.” And in they came. To be sure, it created a different climate in what is called the cartoonists lounge. Lots of new faces, many unpublished in The New Yorker, or anywhere, mingled with veteran contributors such as Sam Gross, George Booth, and Mort Gerberg. The scene wasn’t messy, as in the old days, but it was lively (they’ve had to be “hushed” on more than one occasion. Dana Fradon, recalling the pre-Mankoff days, told Ink Spill: “Once, when someone down the hall voiced an official complaint about ‘noise’ coming from the cartoonists waiting room, Ed Fisher and I went out into the hall and sang, in close harmony, ‘The Beer-Barrel Polka’. “Roll out the barrel…”).
It was recently announced that a New Yorker editor, Emma Allen would replace Mr. Mankoff in May. A Cartoon Department email soon followed announcing that Mr. Mankoff would not see cartoonists on Look Day in these last weeks of his editorship. How eerily quiet it will be around the cartoon lounge on Wednesday mornings! I imagine that come May, the non-existent doors to the cartoon department will swing open again (there are waist-high partitions everywhere now, and just a few doors) and the cartoonists will flood in, as lively and boisterous as they’ve been for over ninety years.
*A Who’s Who of those mentioned above
Emma Allen: Ms. Allen has worked as an editor of Talk of The Town, a writer, and editor of Daily Shouts, and as of May this year, The New Yorker‘s Cartoon Editor.
Ed Fisher: Mr. Fisher’s first cartoon appeared in The New Yorker October 27, 1951; he went on to contribute over 700 cartoons. He died in 2013.
Dan Fradon: Mr. Fradon, whose first cartoon appeared in The New Yorker, May 1, 1948, is the doyen of the magazine’s artists. He has published well over a thousand cartoons in the magazine.
James Geraghty: a former gag-writer, hired in 1939, he became the magazine’s first Art Editor. Before Geraghty, there was no one single person at the magazine dedicated to overseeing all the art (Harold Ross was the overseer of everything in his magazine). Ross’s successor, William Shawn said of Geraghty: “Along with Harold Ross…he set set the magazine’s comic art on its course and he helped determine the direction in which the comic art would go and is still going.” Mr. Geraghty was the art editor from 1939 through 1973. He died in 1983.
Rea Irvin: Mr. Irvin is a huge part of the New Yorker’s DNA as he’s responsible for the New Yorker‘s first cover (featuring the fellow referred to as Eustace Tilley); Mr. Irvin adapted the typeface that we now call the Irvin typeface; he contributed a record number of New Yorker covers, and last but not least, he helped “educate” Harold Ross, art-wise. He died in 1972.
Harrison Kinney: A reporter for The New Yorker from 1949-1954; his massive biography of James Thurber: His Life & Times was published in 1995.
Lee Lorenz: Geraghty’s successor as Art Editor (and later, under Tina Brown’s editorship, as Cartoon Editor). He began as editor in 1973, handing over the reigns to Bob Mankoff in 1997. Mr. Lorenz is also one of, if not the most prolific New Yorker cartoonists. He is also the author of numerous books about New Yorker cartoonists, including the must-read history, The Art of The New Yorker:1925- 1995.
Bob Mankoff: Mr. Mankoff, also a cartoonist for the magazine, has been its cartoon editor for over nineteen years. His memoir, How About Never — Is Never Good For You?: My Life In Cartoons was published in 2014.
Helen Mears: Harold Ross’s first secretary and the first person delegated to be a go-between the editorial department and the artists. She was fired by Philip Wylie on orders from Harold Ross. Mr. Wylie then assumed Ms. Mears duties.
Harold Ross: The founder and first editor of The New Yorker. There are three biographies of Mr. Ross. Thomas Kunkel’s biography Genius in Disguise is essential reading. Mr. Ross died in 1951.
William Shawn: Appointed in January of 1952 as Harold Ross’s successor. He remained editor until 1987. He died in 1992.
Rogers E. M. Whitaker: hired in 1926 he headed the checking department and later the make-up department. Mr. Whitaker went on to become an editor and contributor to the New Yorker, working under various names: “E.M. Frimbo” (“The World’s Greatest Railroad Buff”) for pieces chronicling his journeys on the nations railways; “J.W.L.” for his pieces about Ivy League football; “The Old Curmudgeon” when he wrote for The Talk of The Town. Mr. Whitaker died in 1981.
Katharine White: Hired in August of 1925, Ms. White (then Angell) was the magazine’s first Fiction Editor. According to the New York Times: she…”exerted a profoundly creative influence on contemporary American literature…having transformed The New Yorker from a humor magazine into the purveyor of much of the best writing in the country.” Before James Geraghty consolidated the Art Department, the art was under the umbrella of the Fiction Department. Lee Lorenz has written of her that “she was a powerful voice in the selection of the magazine’s art.” She died in 1977. Linda Davis’s biography, Onward & Upward: A Biography of Katharine S. White is essential reading.
Philip Wylie: “The New Yorker‘s first bona fide applicant” was the magazine’s second artist hand holder. He attended hundreds of the magazine’s first art meetings. His short stint at The New Yorker was followed by a long and successful career as a writer including the best-selling Generation of Vipers. He died in 1971