The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker, Sept. 4, 2017: The Television Issue

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

I can think of no better way to kick-off The New Yorker’s very first “Television Issue” than with a cover by Bruce Eric Kaplan who is in the New Yorker/Television Hall of Fame because he wrote the famous and exceptionally funny Seinfeld episode “The Cartoon”;  Mr. Kaplan has television creds to spare — he was a producer for “Girls” and “Six Feet Under”… learn more here. Wearing one of his other  hats — that of New Yorker cartoonist, he’s been contributing his boxed-in world to the magazine since 1991. Here’s Mr. Kaplan talking about this week’s cover.

No disrespect to the front of the book, but as our concern here is cartoons, we need to zip through GOAT (Goings On About Town) and get right to the cartoons…but first: a brief stop at The Talk of The Town. For those new to this site, let me explain: I’m trying to will the long-standing Rea Irvin masthead back home.  This is the one that greeted New Yorker readers every week beginning in the issue of January 26, 1926 through to this past issue of May 15, 2017.  It was replaced in the issue of May 22, 2017 by a revamped version. My potted history of Mr. Irvin’s masthead can be found here on an earlier Spill post where you’ll see all the incarnations of the masthead.

Okay, with that out of my system (til next week?), off to the cartoons. 

Last Monday I mentioned that that week’s first cartoon didn’t appear until page 45; this week’s first cartoon appears on page 22 — my gut tells me that this is in the range of the norm for first cartoons. The first cartoon (hey, it’s a Bruce Eric Kaplan-esque boxed-in drawing) is by T.S. McCoy, whose first New Yorker appearance seems to have been in the issue of August 15, 2014.  I say “seems” because I cannot locate any info on this artist on the Cartoon Bank site, nor in the database (someone please contact me and set me straight if I’m wrong). The subject of McCoy’s drawing is therapy, with the help of buffalo. From the number of Youtube videos showing people getting too close to buffalo, I’d suggest sticking with dogs, rabbits, birds, horses, cats, etc., as therapy pals. [Update: T.S. McCoy has reached out to the Spill, and confirmed that the Aug.15, 2014 drawing was this artist’s first appearance in The New Yorker.  I’ve added McCoy to the Spill’s A-Z under the cartoonist’s preferred moniker: The Surreal McCoy]

Five pages later we come to a title drawing  — that is, a drawing without a caption, but with the essential wording appearing above — or sometimes below — the drawing. In this case the title reads: The Annual Hamptons End of Summer Back-To-Wall Street Tie Fly. It’s by David Sipress, whose first New Yorker drawing appeared in 1998. I like the action of the blowing-in-the-wind neckties — very beachy. Unsure if this drawing was referencing a real Hamptons tradition I asked Mr. Sipress about it this morning. He said in an email:  “Not a real thing. In fact it’s one of those ridiculous, totally silly and meaningless ideas that begin as a drawing that I find funny and then the words pop into my head. A frisson of disdain for both Wall Street and the Hamptons is in there somewhere as well.”

Three pages later a full page Roz Chast drawing (in color).  Ms. Chast has, appropriately enough, a television themed drawing, “The Seven Ages of Me and TV” (for those who were reading the New Yorker pre-Cartoon Caption Contest you might remember there was a period when the back page was dedicated to full page color drawings by Ms. Chast).  Ms. Chast’s first New Yorker drawing appeared in 1978.

Four pages later, a Will McPhail cartoon.  At first glance, I thought the magazine had erred and rerun a McPhail drawing from May of this year. The drawing from the May issue is on the left, the current issue’s drawing is on the right:

 

But no, they’re two different drawings. Perhaps the woman splayed out on a chair will become a sort of (George) Boothian man in the bath tub thing for Mr. McPhail. Mr. McPhail’s first New Yorker appearance: December 22, 2014.

On the very next page is a Peter Kuper cartoon. Mr,. Kuper’s first New Yorker cartoon appeared June 6, 2011. I’m a fan of cops & robbers cartoons (no cops in this drawing, fyi). A number of colleagues have spent time graphically visiting the criminal underworld.  When the subject comes up nowadays, I’m reminded of the late Michael Crawford’s paintings.  

Five pages later, a restaurant scene courtesy of Avi Steinberg (note: if a cartoonist does not have a website I will link you to the New Yorker’s Cartoon Bank site where filling in the search box and clicking on “Search” will take you to some of the artist’s work.  Here’s the CB link). Avi Steinberg’s first cartoon appeared in the issue of 2012.  About five pages later is a talking magic bean genie cartoon by Farley Katz,  one of the off-the-wall specialists in the New Yorker’s stable.   Not sure I’ve ever seen a talking magic bean genie drawing before.  I’m intrigued by the level of the woman’s head as it relates to the counter-top. Did she drop to the floor after the bean began to float and speak, then slowly rise up to counter level see what the heck was going on? I’m a fan of cartoon back stories. 

Eight pages later is a Liana Finck drawing (first New Yorker appearance: February 13, 2015. CB link here). Ms. Finck’s style is immediately and welcomingly identifiable — an achievement not to be pooh-poohed in this age of a gazillion styles. Five pages later is a subway themed drawing by Carolita Johnson (first New Yorker drawing: 2003). I am reminded of an exhibit some years ago of New Yorker subway drawings. Here’s a quick read about it.

Next up, a generously placed Ed Steed drawing (CB link here).  The second of Mr. Steed’s drawings in a row featuring a large rectangle.  In this case we’re looking out onto a field that’s sporting a huge ping pong paddle and a ping pong ball. There’s a heavy military presence in this drawing: the trucks on the field, the uniform of the fellow speaking, the matching outfits of three figures, the map on the table — the sign reading “Top Secret” strangely placed on the inside of the room, instead of outside where you’d expect it.  But why split hairs? And then there’s the guy wearing the hood and athletic footwear. I guess I shouldn’t ask why there’s only one paddle and only one (potential) ponger or player, or whatever. Mr. Steed’s first New Yorker appearance: March 4, 2013.

Sixteen pages until the next cartoon. There’s a television-themed photo essay in-between.  One of the photos is of Pete Holmes, who touched down, briefly, in the New Yorker, between 2006 through 2008, with three cartoons. Following the photos is a witch drawing by J.A.K. (Jason Adam Katzenstein). His first drawing appeared in the issue of November 17, 2014. Those are some happy/scary creatures bubbling up from the big pot. Mr. Katzenstein’s drawing reminds me ever-so-slightly of how the late great Donald Reilly handled witch drawings.  Here’s one of Mr. Reilly’s from October 17, 1988:

Six pages later, a socks and Spielberg drawing by relative newcomer, Maggie Larson (first New Yorker appearance in the double issue dated July 10/17, 2017).  As this is the last drawing in this televIsion issue (not counting the Caption Contest drawings on the last page) I thought it appropriate to return to Jerry Seinfeld and his classic sock routine.

 — See you next Monday