The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of March 19, 2018

The latest New Yorker is the “Spring Style” issue (it says so right at the top of the Table of Contents). The huge feathered Carol Channing-esque hat on the cover (by Maira Kalman) sets the tone, or theme. There’s a lot of color in this issue (ads, illustrations, and one cartoon) — more so than usual, I think.  Makes sense: Spring = color.

Was hoping Rea Irvin’s iconic masthead (below) would be reborn for Spring, but alas. Had it popped up in this issue, it would look exactly like this.

And now off to the cartoons. The first, on page thirty-three, is by Carolita Johnson. For those visiting New York, or living in New York, Ms. Johnson’s titled drawing,  Dressing For the Manhattan Climate, will ring true any time of year.  Six pages later a Harry Bliss drawing. Mr. Bliss’s single panel cartoons are instantly recognizable — they’re always in a box. I’ll be curious to see how the fellows at the Cartoon Companion dissect this drawing.  

Five pages later, Joe Dator brings us a variation of pin the tail on the donkey.  For me, Mr. Dator’s drawings belong in that category of cartoonists work that amuses at first sight, even before the caption is read. Four pages later, a Roz Chast drawing that drove me to a dictionary. The drawing is titled Deux Ex Caffeina. I recognized it as a play on deus ex machina — a phrase I know but never bothered (til now) to understand.  Here’s how Mirriam -Webster defines it:

The New Latin term deus ex machina is a translation of a Greek phrase and means literally “a god from a machine.” “Machine,” in this case, refers to the crane that held a god over the stage in ancient Greek and Roman drama.

Got it now. Very nice drawing.

Opposite Ms. Chast’s drawing is a P.C. Vey drawing. With a caption that concerns paper shredding and includes the words “incriminating documents” there’s a heavy overtone of criminality.  By the way, both Ms. Chast’s drawing and Mr. Vey’s sit well on their respective pages, sized and balanced well off each other.

The next two pages contain two cartoons as well.  Mary Lawton’s, with a cat hogging a shaft of late afternoon sun and  Paul Noth’s comment on gun control (or lack thereof). Following a few pages later is a drawing by relative-newbie Olivia de Recat with another in her series of word-based cartoons. Time will tell if this is her specialty.

Two pages later a Will McPhail bathroom drawing.  I found the terror of the fellow in the tub very funny, but I do wonder why the text, in horror typeface, is within the drawing itself. This is the kind of big cartoon question that keep some of us awake at night. 

Opposite Mr. McPhail’s tub terror is Bishakh Som‘s debut in the New Yorker.  For those keeping track, Mr. Som is the fourteenth new cartoonist to make their debut since Emma Allen assumed the position of cartoon editor in May of 2017. 

Three pages after Mr. Som’s drawing is one by this cartoonist, putting to use perspective I learned in a high school Mechanical Drawing class. Thank you, Mr. Minchin.

Two pages later Ed Steed employs a bit of color in a drawing featuring little identical gentlemen.  At first I thought Mr. Steed had joined the cartoon tiny wind-up toy people club (Charles Addams did a lot of those drawings).  But closer inspection reveals these tiny folk to be real cartoon people and not toy cartoon people (you can tell they’re not toys because they lack wind-up keys). It being an Ed Steed drawing I don’t suppose it makes any sense to wonder why these dapper miniature men are tiny and identical and appear to have some Snidely Whiplash characteristics (the hats and mustaches). Funny is funny.

Three pages later, an Emily Flake family in crisis drawing, followed thirteen pages later by a Liana Finck drawing. Ms. Finck’s style, like the aforementioned Mr. Dator’s style, is immediately welcoming (and, of course, humorous). 

Eight pages later, the last drawing in the issue (not counting the Cartoon Caption Contest drawings) and the newest entry in the New Yorker‘s cartoon subway series. This one is by newbie (though not debut newbie) Sharon Levy. Having never been out west, I needed someone with left coast experience to explain it to me.  Okay then.

Note: all of the above cartoons can be seen on the New Yorker‘s website here.   Scroll down to Cartoons from the Issue

–See you next week







The First New Yorker Cartoon Issue…and the Last

From 1997 through 2012, the New Yorker published a “Cartoon Issue”; that there was a special issue wasn’t news — the magazine had started publishing them in its new era of ownership under Conde Nast (purists might argue that the issue of August 31, 1946 was the magazine’s first special issue. Beyond the Goings On About Town section, the entire issue was devoted to John Hersey’s Hiroshima. There were no cartoons, and no illustrations — just spot drawings).  The first Cartoon Issue came in the year of more change: the cartoon editorship passed from Lee Lorenz, who had held that position for 24 years, to one of the magazine’s cartoonists, Bob Mankoff, who had been contributing to the magazine for 20. [The Spill will take a look at the How and Why of that change in editorship in a future post].

The very first Cartoon Issue, dated December 15, 1997 was a celebratory explosion of the magazine’s signature art.  From the fold-out cover collage to the wonderful Jack Ziegler cartoon, “No comment” appearing where the “Comment” section would normally appear, it set the bar very high.  Also in this issue, the three section (originally planned as two section)  fold-out photograph of cartoonists taken by the acclaimed Arnold Newman, the mini bios of each cartoonist in the issue, Roger Angell’s Onward and Upward With the Arts piece (“Congratulations! It’s a baby”), Roz Chast’s graphic ode to Charles Addams, a double page photograph of George Price, a special feature by Richard Cline, Lee Lorenz’s “Cover Stories” …and more. 

In that first issue, the cartoons nearly took over the magazine. The majority of the pieces on the Table of Contents were cartoon-themed; 51 cartoonists were given brief bios.  In  the last Cartoon Issue,  28 cartoonists contributed and the issue’s special cartoon features were bundled together in the middle of the book, from page 60 to 76, with a smattering of single panel cartoons (16 cartoons to be exact) 5 multi-page spreads and 2 full page spreads, one of which, Joe Dator’s, “How We Do It: A Week In the Life of a New Yorker Cartoonist” is a classic piece of work.   As I wrote in 2012 when the issue appeared, “this Cartoon Issue veers from its predecessors in that its cover, cartoons and cartoon spreads are predominantly politically themed.”  

 Although all of the Cartoon Issues had elements that were exciting and fun — for instance, the Charles Barsotti cover on the second Cartoon Issue in 1998, and covers by New Yorker cartoonists such as George Booth, Ms. Chast, Harry Bliss, Edward Koren, Bruce Eric Kaplan, etc. —  that first Cartoon Issue, with its electric zeitgeist, remained the one to beat.  By October of 2011, when I mentioned to Jack Ziegler that the latest Cartoon Issue was probably due any week, he responded to me (via email) that it was “the moment we all dread.” By that time, the so-called “bookazine” Cartoons of The Year had already appeared and would shortly supplant the Cartoon Issue. On June 13, 2013, the magazine’s cartoonists received an email from the cartoon editor saying: “there definitely is not going to be a cartoon issue this year.” And that, as they say, was that.

(Below: the last Cartoon Issue, cover by Roz Chast)








The Herblock Award Goes to Ward Sutton; Podcast of Interest: Joe Dator on “The Shining”; Liza Donnelly’s Live-Drawings From The Oscars

Ward Sutton Awarded the Herblock Prize

Ward Sutton, who began contributing to The New Yorker in 2007, has been awarded the Herblock Prize.  According to a press release:

The Herblock Prize is awarded annually by The Herb Block Foundation for “distinguished examples of editorial cartooning that exemplify the courageous independent standard set by Herblock.”

For more on Herblock, link here.

To read more about the Herblock Foundation, go here.

To visit Ward Sutton’s website go here.

(above far right: an example of Herblock’s classic take on Richard Nixon)


Joe Dator on The Shining

From The Shining 2:37 Podcast, March 5, 2018, “Episode 20: Hullo Danny with The New Yorker Cartoonist Joe Dator”

Mr. Dator, who began contributing to The New Yorker in 2006, discusses the twins (shown above) among other things, Shining-ish.

Link here to Mr. Dator’s website.


Liza Donnelly’s 2018 Oscar Drawings

Liza Donnelly, seen in the screen grab above live-drawing from the Red Carpet, has gathered her work from Oscar week on Medium.  This is Ms. Donnelly’s third year live-drawing from the Academy Awards.  See it all here.

Visit Ms. Donnelly’s website here.

The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker (Anniversary Issue) February 12, 2018

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

 The cover of the New Yorker‘s 93rd Anniversary issue is by Malika Favre. On  Ms. Favre says, “I wanted to capture the poise and pose of the original Eustace Tilley, but do it as something simple and modern.” (You can read more of what she had to say about it here).   

Rea Irvin’s Eustace Tilley hasn’t been on the cover of the magazine since 2011. Perhaps next year.

This anniversary issue includes more tampering with graphics.  Contributors and department headings article headings appear in a new font (i.e., not the so-called Irvin font).

For instance: in the screen grab above, “American Chronicles” and  “Jia Tolentino” appear in the new font. Is this some kind of slow motion move away from the Irvin typeface. Let’s hope not. Nicholas Blechman, the magazine’s creative director told Magculture in June of 2017:

The New Yorker is a magazine shaped by time. Very little has changed since the first issue in 1925, and that respect for legacy is part of our visual identity. Since I arrived in 2015, we’ve been fine tuning an incredibly resilient and elegant design. Our road map for design changes in the print magazine is mostly complete. I think the table of contents could be tweaked, and the design of the Fiction page could also be tinkered with. Most of the big innovations you will be seeing at The New Yorker will be online, as we contemplate a web redesign and introduce improvements to The New Yorker Today app.

One wonders why the “fine tuning” for a design Mr. Blechman called “incredibly resilient.” The design of the egg is incredibly resilient — is there a soul out there who believes the egg should be fine-tuned.

Alright, with all that out of the way, it’s on to the drawings. I’m keeping it short this week, just mentioning a handful of cartoons.  There’s a terrific drawing by Edward Koren, a nod to Valentine’s day with a drawing by Mick Stevens, A really funny Joe Dator drawing, another subway drawing — this one’s by P.C. Vey (hey, are subway drawings the new desert island drawings?). There’s a Farley Katz drawing from the school of film director instructing an actor (a lesser used theme, but still potent as ever.  See what Peter Arno did with it in an un-pc drawing back in 1952). 

In a break from recent tradition and a return to olden times, there are a whole lot of “spot” drawings by various illustrators (at least one is a cartoonist as well).  Each pays homage to Rea Irvin’s Tilley. For the record, here’s a screen grab of all the contributors:

For more on each drawing in the issue check out the Cartoon Companion at the end of the week, when they’ll post their ratings. 

Finally, here’s the classic Rea Irvin Talk masthead you won’t see in this anniversary issue:




The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of January 29, 2018

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

Always a pleasure to see a colleague’s work pop up as a New Yorker cover as I open up the digital edition early Monday morning. We (“we” meaning the New Yorker‘s contributing cartoonists) used to be responsible (my unofficial estimate) for 60% of the covers during the year. Since Tina Brown’s era it’s somewhere around 1% to 5%. Roz Chast, Bruce Kaplan, Danny Shanahan, Harry Bliss, and George Booth would be the five percent. In 2017, just Ms. Chast’s and Mr. Kaplan’s work appeared on the cover.  In 2016, it was just Mr. Shanahan’s; in 2015 just Mr. Bliss’s work appeared on the cover — well, you get the idea). This one by Ms. Chast is graphically eye-catching.  It was ever-so-slightly difficult to appreciate on the tablet, so it was off to the laptop for a bigger image. I think the cover perfectly captures some people’s notion  (or reality) of January in New York City. The scarf knitted, then lost days later on the train, is shown on the magazine’s strap (the traditional vertical border running on the left side of the magazine’s covers) — it’s a nice touch.

Moving into the magazine I noted an attractive snippet of a Grant Snider drawing from a Daily Shouts piece. The blues reminded me of William Steig’s blues he used in a great number of his children’s books.

Oh, here’s a thought: why not reinstate Rea Irvin’s iconic Talk of The Town masthead in the magazine’s 93rd anniversary issue — just a few issues away. How great would that be! Mr. Irvin’s is directly below, with the re-do directly below it. 

To read more on the Mr. Irvin’s gem and its replacement, check out this Spill piece

Now on to the magazine’s cartoons. The first, by Amy Kurzweil, appears on page 19. A somewhat dark (yet not-so-dark!) take on flight delays.  I’m guessing many would enjoy a bonus three hours of life.  Nice handling of the plane out on the tarmac. Eleven pages later, the aforementioned Bruce Kaplan has a couple of kitties chatting in a living room.  As one who came later to cat appreciation, I appreciate the sentiment of the drawing, as well (as usual) as the drawing itself.

Noted along the way from Ms. Kurzweil’s drawing to Mr. Kaplan’s: Rui Ruireiro’s spot drawings making good use of yellow.  I see the predominant use of yellow in the New Yorker (especially if it involves a yellow cab, such as on page 28) and I’m immediately reminded of Steinberg’s masterful use of it on a cover back in 1979:

Four pages following Mr. Kaplan’s kitties, a wonderful Edward Koren drawing (wait, is there any other kind?). As with the last number of Koren cartoons published this one is given ample space to breathe on the page. Textbook placement. 

On the very next page a drawing by a relative newcomer, Pia Guerra. Who knew guessing weights at a carnival could lead to violence.  By the look of the weight guesser he has yet to be pummeled.  

Three pages later, a rather large funnel, or, ah, tunnel, drawing by Colin Tom (sorry, no website for Mr. Tom, that i know of. Please advise). I kind’ve wish this wasn’t in a boxy border (it’s obvious by now — maybe?– that I believe New Yorker cartoons thrive in a roomy habitat). On the very next page, an Amy Hwang drawing with a terrific caption.  I was about to note that this was a cat-free Hwang drawing when I spied a framed kitty on the cubicle wall.

The cartoons keep-a-comin in this issue: two more on the next two pages. The first by David Sipress and and the next by Paul Noth. Mr. Sipress’s recalls David Letterman’s, “I do and do and do for you kids — and this is what I get.” Mr. Noth’s refers to one of my favorite scenarios: the old women who lives in a shoe. In this case she’s spending some down time at a bar. I must say that the self-proclaimed old woman in Mr. Noth’s drawing appears quite young.  Perhaps she’s just starting out in life, in the shoe? Ten pages later a subway drawing couched as a personal hygiene drawing by Carolita Johnson. Clipping one’s nails while riding the subway seems risky. 

On the very next page, a Joe Dator drawing that set-off the Spill‘s applause meter. I’m leaving the applause meter out for Tom Chitty‘s drawing five pages later. 

Another five pages later, a Mick Stevens doctor’s office. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out  if what appears to be a jar of rubber glue on the front right of the desk is in fact a jar of rubber glue.  Four pages later a Frank Cotham drawing in a very familiar Frank Cotham scenario. On the very next page, the last drawing of the issue, not counting the caption contest: a charming charming Liana Finck drawing. I don’t know why, but I wanted the Earl of Sandwich to be the one asking the other guy the question. The cartoonist’s fuss-o-meter never rests.   









Interview of Interest: Joe Dator; Society of Illustrators Art Young Panel Discussion w/ Kunz, Brodner & Spiegelman; A Smorgasbord of Cartoons by Pat Byrnes

Interview of Interest: Joe Dator

The Cartoon Companion has posted Part 2 of its interview with one of the New Yorker‘s best.  Read it here


Society of Illustrators Art Young Panel

Check it out! Steve Brodner, Anita Kunz and Art Spiegelman will be at the Society of Illustrators on January 11, discussing Art Young.  All the info here.  (My thanks to Stephen Nadler of Attempted Bloggery for bringing this event to my attention).

Here’s Art Young’s entry on the Spill’s A-Z: Born January 14, 1866, Illinois. Died December 29, NYC @ The Hotel Irving. An online biography. 1943. New Yorker work: 1925 -1933. The Art Young Gallery


A Smorgasbord of Cartoons by Pat Byrnes

From Esthetic Lens, January 4, 2018, “Comic Relief: The Art of Pat Byrnes”

To see even more of Mr. Byrnes’s work, visit his web site.