The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of March 12, 2018

Despite the snow scene outside my window and the forecast for another wallopin’ of snow here in a few days, I know Spring is just around the corner. The latest New Yorker cover — the second by Jenny Kroik — is in the same realm of wishful thinking. Her cover is a welcome respite from politics, which are always just around the corner too. 

Paging through the issue, I noticed a photo under the “Videos” heading at the bottom of the “Contributors” page.  A new online feature: “The New Yorker Interview” — a swell idea.  I’m hoping future interviews will include the magazine’s artists.

Moving quickly now through pet peeves: the use of a near full page photo leading off Goings On About Town; the absence of Rea Irvin’s iconic Talk of The Town masthead. 

And now the cartoons: the first of the issue, a Frank Cotham drawing that on my tablet appeared to show a fellow running along a beach (I thought he was running near dune grass).  On the laptop it’s quite clear he’s running in a field.  The runner’s toned legs — a funny touch –are unexpected (in a Cotham drawing) but certainly do indicate this fellow’s been in training. 

Seven pages later, a Carolita Johnson bar drawing. I think this just might be my favorite drawing of hers. The caption is textbook (New Yorker textbook, that is), from the use of the name “Jer” to the mid-caption set-up use of the word “empty” to last word, “peanut.”

Six pages later, another new favorite by a veteran cartoonist.  Drew Dernavich‘s Batman drawing delivers: caption, the drawing itself. Wonderful (I would’ve loved to see the drawing occupy a larger space). Three pages later, Avi Steinberg gives us a turn-about on a favorite pastime for many: people watching. Mr. Steinberg has removed the generally accepted casualness of people-watching and turned it into people-staring.  Awkward.

Three pages later, a moment with an aging couple via Emily Flake. A few pages following Ms. Flake’s drawing, a Roz Chast drawing which made me happily recall cartoonists’ lunches of yore (and even more recently than yore). 

Four pages later, an Olivia de Recat drawing.  As with her two previous drawings, this is text-driven (a Tina Brownism, I think) but not as text-driven as her previous efforts. If Ms. de Recat’s “Big City Sound Machine” was actually being produced I might spring for one if only for the “Dump Truck in Rain” sound — what poetry.

Three pages later a drawing by veteran cartoonist, Mike Twohy.  I associate sack races with town picnics in summertime, but I suppose they’re not exclusive to a season (I played around with a sack race and a seasonal reference many years ago, It appeared in the New Yorker  June 21, 1982, to be exact. See below). I’m also reminded of Robert Day’s 1945 collection, All Out For The Sack Race! I know there’ve been a few other sack race drawings in the magazine but not yet enough to fill up a New Yorker Book of Sack Race Cartoons.

Three pages later a Bob Eckstein game show drawing. Without diving into the piece (that’s what they do over on Cartoon Companion) I really enjoyed the well-situated and funny Tom & Mom contestants.  We used to see game show drawings every so often; it would be great if we got to see more. They are silliness vehicles.

Directly opposite Mr. Eckstein’s drawing (and why it’s directly across is a puzzle — why not in the upper right hand corner?) is a beauty by Edward Koren. A lot to look at in this drawing, as is usually the case with Mr. Koren’s work.

The final drawing in the issue (not counting the Caption Contest drawings) is by Darrin Bell. Criminals on their way to a caper (there’s a word that’s been retired for at least 50 years). Two of the would-be robbers are masked. The driver — who’s quite a large fellow – is unmasked.  This reminded me for some reason of that great scene in The Town, when the guys don rubber nun masks — even the driver. I guess in these situations it’s up to the individual would-be perpetrator to make the masked or unmasked call.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of November 13, 2017

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

Surprise, surprise — two non-political New Yorker covers in a row. Last week was John Cuneo‘s wonderful big falling leaf; this week, in a debut appearance, Jenny Kroik gives us a lovely bookstore scene (it’s titled “At the Strand” but really it could be almost any bookstore). You can read about her cover here.

Before wading in to the magazine’s cartoons (there are only eight in the issue, so it will be an abbreviated wade this week), two graphic pieces in the front of the magazine caught my eye. One’s an illustration, and the other an ad. Bendik Kaltenborns Coney Island illustration on page 16 is a whole lot of fun. Perhaps I’m already getting a little wistful about summer past, but I think it’s more the playfulness of the piece. Besides, I’m glad summer is over.

The other piece (the ad) is for an exhibit of work by Henry Martin Gasser, an artist I never heard of until this morning. I’m posting the ad here in the hope the advertiser won’t mind. Lovely work, judging by this one piece shown. Having just looked him up, I was delighted to find he was born in Newark, New Jersey. A fellow Jerseyite!

Okay, now into and onto the magazine’s cartoons and cartoonists. Oh wait, first let me check and see if Rea Irvin’s classic Talk of The Town masthead has been returned to its rightful place. Nope. Darn. Sigh.  If it was back in place, you’d certainly recognize it. It would look exactly like this:

This issue’s first cartoon appears on page 30.  Ben Schwartz gives us a family in a car, drawn head on through the windshield (geez, this is sounding like an accident report). You have to be familiar with the game “I Spy” to get at the humor in the caption, but you don’t need to be familiar with divorce to fully appreciate the uncomfortable situation. I like car drawings, and in particular, like it when a cartoonist takes on this scenario (that is, the challenge of drawing head-on into a car, or the reverse, drawing from the back seat looking forward). Charles Addams, who loved cars, and loved drawing cars, did several of these kinds of drawings. Here’s one:

In the next drawing, five pages after Mr. Schwartz’s, Emily Flake mixes religion with pizza. Understanding this drawing may also require you to seek out, via your search box, the Temptation of Christ (no joke!, or yes joke?). In Ms. Flake’s drawing, Jesus finds himself in a situation many of us have found ourselves in: seeing doughnuts* in a box, and debating whether or not to partake. I found, in my just completed research of the Temptations (not these Temptations) that one of the them was hedonism (hunger/satisfaction), so doughnuts as a temptation really does work here.

*[correction: in an earlier post I referred to the food in the box as pizza.  On my screen the object on the boxtop looks exactly like a pizza.  I stand corrected. My thanks to the corrector!]

On the way to the next cartoon, on page 45, we pass a “Sketchbook” by Roz Chast. It is, as Tina Brown would say, “text driven” with some drawings of children in party hats surrounding the text. Not a cartoon, but something that really does look to be out of a sketchbook.

On page 45 is an offering from Amy Hwang. A clothing store scene (babies clothing, to be more precise). The store is woefully low on inventory. Good luck to the proprietors!

Four pages later, following a double page photograph, is a Harry Bliss drawing. Talking pets in a jam (talking pets in jam might be funny too, I think). You may need to search for “Tang Dynasty Urn” to understand the severity of the pooch and kitty’s situation.

Five pages later, Liana Finck takes us into outer space with a drawing I have notched in my brain as memorable. Well drawn, amusing, and beautifully placed on the page.  What more could we ask for. (I note it’s the second footwear drawing in recent times. Carolita Johnson had one back in September).

Another five pages brings us to newbie Maddie Dai‘s drawing of an icky hairbrush (I say “icky” because I’m not a fan of snakes). You may or may not have to go to your search box to look up Medusa to refresh your graphic memory. Oh heck, despite my not wanting to see more snakes, here’s a version, in marble, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, from 1630.

And yet another five pages later (hey, is this a pattern, this five pages apart thing?) is a Glen Le Lievre drawing, and amazingly(!) the first politically tinged cartoon of the issue. Why politically-tinged?  There’s the the word “subpoena” in the caption plus the background appearance of the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol Building (sans the Statue of Freedom, shown below).  Both structures are handled in light wash, and looking a little ghost-like.

Eight pages later (so much for the five pages pattern) is a Frank Cotham castle. It’s the last drawing of the issue (not counting those in the Caption Contest). Mr. Cotham’s drawing is allowed generous space on the page. The fellow speaking (a King) has done a major renovation on his property, leaving just a safe space (the castle’s redoubt) in case there’s big trouble. I like the outfit his visitor is wearing as well as the vaguely 1960-ish architecture of the new addition. 

and that’s that. See you next Monday for the issue of November 20th. It being the issue closest to Thanksgiving (on the 23rd), I’m really hoping for a turkey cartoon to appear somewhere in the issue, or on the cover.

Until then, here’s  some food for thought — a drawing of mine published in the December 8, 2014 New Yorker.