Saul Steinberg Blows Into the Windy City

Earlier this year when I ran into my New Yorker cartoonist colleague, Ken Krimstein, one of the first things we talked about was the Steinberg exhibit that had opened in Ken’s hometown, Chicago.   I thought it would be interesting to hear what a New Yorker cartoonist thought of the show and Ken graciously agreed to review the exhibit for the Spill.  I received his fascinating take yesterday and am pleased to share it here.

 

Saul Steinberg Blows Into the Windy City

by Ken Krimstein

At least among my generation of cartoonists, three masters seem to be the entry level drug into making the stuff. Charles Addams, Don Martin, and Saul Steinberg. The precise balance of the three varies, but be sure, one of them is in there.

When you’re a young cartoonist, trying to peel yourself away from Rugrats or Marmaduke or Dick Tracy (not that there’s anything wrong with any of them), the coolness, line, precision, puzzling delight of Steinberg is catnip. Cartoons can do that? Weird, fun, challenging pictures that ignite something in your reptilian cartoonist brain and connect in a way, that at least for me, said, “holy crap, I’ve got to try to do that too!”

So you draw, and you read, and you devour everything you can about this quirky Romanian via Italian architecture school immigrant/refugee who was able to bamboozle the U.S. Army into making him an officer in WWII and who “owned” first chair at the New Yorker from the 40’s to the 80’s. I remember hearing Roger Angell, who ought to know, saying in his almost 70 years at The New Yorker he only marked two bona-fide geniuses. One was Nabokov. You can guess the other.

As I approached the modestly placed show, in a couple of side galleries at the Art Institute of Chicago, http://www.artic.edu/exhibition/along-lines-selected-drawings-saul-steinberg, “Along The Lines: Selected Drawings by Saul Steinberg,” I wondered what the effect would be on me? Would my guru still be singing his siren song? Or would his work seem like some tattered mid-century modern furniture at a second-hand shop? Would there be discoveries? Would there be some gags (a discipline which he quickly mastered and just as quickly seemed to abandon for his ‘thought drawings?’) How securely fastened were these pieces to the wall, and could I manage to escape with one?

But when I turned the corner into the gallery, my doubts were erased. Five of his paper bag masks stared, glared, grinned, cajoled, taunted right into my face. THE PAPER BAG MASKS!!! I had seen them so many times in photographs, but never in person. So amazing, so “breaking the fourth wall,” so tribal/modern, so right there, in front of me. I was disarmed.

The show is comprised of 54 “drawings” gifted to the Art Institute by the Saul Steinberg Foundation in 2013. Since I moved to Chicago from New York several years ago, I’d been longing to go into the print library and examine them. But here they were. And, in total, I’d have to say it is rare that any gallery show has as high a batting average of “holy-crap I wish I’d done that” worthy work as this one. True there was only one pure “gag,” and not incidentally it graces the cover of the catalog (a man laying on bar stools as if they’re a bed), not one of Steinberg’s greatest but still.

Aside from the wit, the “think,” it was the “ink” (or pencil, paint, chalk, foil, rubber stamp etc.) that blew me away. His ideas are fascinating, but his craft was a complete revelation. Up close and personal, his pen lines squeak, his colored pencils whisper, his paints sigh. The creamy paper, left open in large swathes, was as important as his markings. You don’t look at Saul Steinberg originals, you watch them!

I always knew Steinberg as a mind, now I could appreciate him as an eye. So when, in the second image, a crowd of Steinberg people (and a dog) stared up into space, into my eyes, at my eye level, I felt the cagey Romanian’s hands pulling me into the page. I started leaning in as close as the guards would allow, searching for hints of pencil lines, erasing? The layout of the pages, the fantasy, the filigree — more and more seductive. I was in his head, withered cowboys, wrinkled matrons, the full ghastly glory of 1950’s road trips across American in the enormous Cadillac (I know, because he had a drawing of himself driving it.)

As if to say, “take this printers!,” Steinberg takes that horrible phrase “mixed-media” and makes it noble. (Nobel?) In person, watercolors, colored pencils, wax pencils, and lamp-black ink ignite each other in a way that can’t be reproduced. It made me want to seek out “Ivory Wove Paper” whatever and wherever that stuff exists, and corner the market on it.

There were concepts galore, of course. Covers that were large and creamy and delightful. (Delight, in fact, is the refrain of this show.)

Steinberg took delight in letters, in weird words (KONAK), in clouds, in color, in splotches and feathery lines. My favorite piece? Ebbets field in Brooklyn, the brave lights, perched on crooked, patched together poles, pump their wan luminosity over the field, grim, street lamp-lit Brooklyn spreading around it like delightful human fungus. Or something like that. I loved it. Maybe because I once tried to visit Ebbets field and now it’s just a plaque on some housing project.

My other favorite (in Steinberg’s world you are allowed to have two favorites) is a breakfast still life, all light pencils and water color washes and sunlight and a slight hangover and you can feel the sun glowing and smell the coffee, thank God!

So, does he hold up? Oh, yes. But, he’s different to me now. Maybe because I’m different. My take-away, besides all that delight? He drew buildings like they were people and he drew people like they were buildings.

What did I learn from that? Nothing. And everything.

 

Along the Lines: Selected Drawing of Saul Steinberg, runs at the Art Institute of Chicago through October 29, 2017. http://www.artic.edu/exhibition/along-lines-selected-drawings-saul-steinberg

(Steinberg Mask above copyrighted by the artist)

 

About Ken Krimstein (pictured left, behind the Steinbergian mask. Photo: Bob Eckstein):

Born, Chicago, Illinois. Raised in Deerfield Illinois. Began drawing at age one. Graduated from Grinnel College and Northwestern University. His work has appeared in “Punch,” “The National Lampoon,” “Narrativemagazine.com,” several cartoon anthologies edited by Sam Gross and in others assembled by King Features “New Breed.” As a writer, he has published in mcsweeneys.net, “The New York Observer,” and has read work as part of “Trumpet Fiction” at KGB bar in New York. Krimstein lives with his wife and three children in Chicago.  New Yorker work: August 7, 2000 – . Clarkson Potter published a cartoon collection, Kvetch As Kvetch Can, in October of 2010.  Website: http://www.kenkrimstein.com/

Seven New Yorker Cartoonists Walk Into a Book Barn; Latest Cartoon Companion Posted; Q & A With Jacob Samuel

Seven New Yorker Cartoonists Walk Into a Book Barn

 

In my hundreds of visits to the always interesting  Rodgers Book Barn in Hillsdale, New York I’d never walked in with six other New Yorker cartoonists…until yesterday.  The Book Barn’s owner, Maureen Rodgers  allowed us to sort of take over the place as we browsed and talked and generally hung out for an hour or so. 

Photo above: from left to right: Bob Eckstein, Sam Gross, Michael Maslin, Robert Leighton, Danny Shanahan, Peter Steiner, and Ken Krimstein

This group then moved on to the classic Martindale Diner, and eventually made its way to the Spill‘s world headquarters. Below is a photo of  Danny Shanahan, Ken Krimstein, and Bob Eckstein looking at a copy of Charles Addams’ Groaning Board. And that’s Sam Gross looking at Peter Arno’s Parade. (photos courtesy of Robert Leighton).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Latest Cartoon Companion Posted

Speaking of cartoons and cartoonists…the latest Cartoon Companion has been posted. The CC boys rate the latest the cartoons in the New Yorker;  this issue features, among others, the Grim Reaper playing hide-and-seek, Orpheus in an elevator, and the big bad wolf using an inhaler.  See it all here.

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A Q&A With Jacob Samuel

From CJNews.com, June 22, 2017 , “Cartoonist Depicts Millennial Misery With Slinky Hell” — this Q&A with Jacob Samuel, who began contributing to The New Yorker in 2014.

Link here to visit Mr. Samuel’s website.

Wall-to-Wall Cartoonists at David Remnick’s Hello Goodbye Party

 The New Yorker‘s editor, David Remnick threw a Hello Goodbye party last night (Hello, Emma Allen, the magazine’s new cartoon editor; Goodbye, Bob Mankoff, the former cartoon editor). It was, by far, the largest gathering of New Yorker cartoonists since  1997, when forty-one gathered for an Arnold Newman group photo (it appeared in the magazine’s first cartoon issue, December 15, 1997). Here are a bunch of photos from the evening, courtesy of Liza Donnelly, the Spill‘s official photographer for the evening; additional  photos by  Sarah Booth, Marshall Hopkins, and Paul Karasik.

Photo above, l-r: Drew Dernavich, Sarah Booth, John Klossner, George Booth, Chad Darbyshire (back to camera), Matt Diffee, (New Yorker writer) Sarah Larson, Ken Krimstein, Bob Mankoff, Eric Lewis, Bob Eckstein

Edward Koren and Francoise Mouly (The New Yorker‘s Art Editor)

 

 

 

 

 

Emma Allen, The New Yorker‘s Cartoon Editor, and Stanley Ledbetter, the magazine’s jack-of-all trades.

 

 

 

 

 

George Booth and Roz Chast.  That’s Lars Kenseth in the background (photo courtesy of Sarah Booth)

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Karasik, Liana Finck and Gabrielle Bell (photo courtesy of Paul Karasik)

 

 

 

 

Jason Adam Katzenstein, unidentified, Roz Chast speaking with Sara Lautman (back to camera), and Chris Weyant far right.

 

 

 

Chris Weyant (partially obscured), Farley Katz, unidentified, David Sipress, New Yorker writer Matt Dellinger (in checked shirt), Andy Friedman, Danny Shanahan. The group in the back: Drew Panckeri, Mitra Farmand, Sara Lautman, Kendra Allenby

 

Sam Gross and Robert Leighton

 

Bob Mankoff and David Remnick

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chris Cater, with the New Yorker‘s assistant cartoon editor, Colin Stokes, and Avi Steinberg

 

 

 

George Booth and David Borchart

 

 

 

 

 

Joe Dator and Peter Kuper

 

 

Felipe Galindo and Carolita Johnson

 

 

 

John O’Brien and Bob Eckstein

 

 

Three former cartoon department assistants: Marshall Hopkins, Emily Votruba, and Andy Friedman (photo courtesy of Marshall Hopkins)

 

 

 

 

 

Chris Weyant and Paul Noth

 

 

Matt Dellinger with  Stanley Ledbetter, and Matt Diffee (and way back by the window: Chad Darbyshire to the left, and Amy Hwang to the right)

 

 

 

 

P.C. Vey and Trevor Hoey

 

 

 

 

 

Kim Warp, Pat Byrnes, and George Booth

 

 

 

Sam Gross and Roz Chast

 

 

 

 

l-r: P.C. Vey, Liza Donnelly, Danny Shanahan, George Booth, and Michael Maslin (photo courtesy of Sarah Booth)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chris Weyant and Liana Finck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sam Gross and Lars Kenseth

 

 

 

 

 

Eric Lewis, Andy Friedman, and Barbara Smaller

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pat Byrnes, Paul Karasik, and Peter Kuper

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marc Philippe Eskenazi and Ben Schwartz

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlie Hankin, Amy Hwang, Kendra Allenby, and Avi Steinberg

 

 

 

Marshall Hopkins with Bob Mankoff’s first assistant, Emily Votruba (Mr. Hopkins was also at one time Mr. Mankoff’s assistant)

 

 

 

Far left: David Sipress speaks with Andy Friedman.  Foreground: Barbara Smaller, Emily Flake and P.C. Vey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

l-r: Felipe Galindo, Marshall Hopkins, Sam Gross, Mort Gerberg, and Ed Koren

 

 

 

 

 

Edward Koren, Michael Maslin, Liza Donnelly and a photobombing David Remnick. That’s Charlie Hankin in the back, far right.

 

 

 

 

Here’s an  incomplete list of all the cartoonists who were there (if you were there and don’t appear on this list, please let me know)

Kendra Allenby, George Booth, David Borchart, Pat Byrnes, Chris Cater, Roz Chast, Joe Dator, Chad Darbyshire, Drew Dernavich, Matt Diffee, Liza Donnelly, Bob Eckstein, Mitra Farmand, Liana Finck, Emily Flake, Andy Friedman (aka Larry Hat), Felipe Galindo(aka feggo), Mort Gerberg,  Sam Gross, Charlie Hankin, Marshall Hopkins, Amy Hwang, Edward Koren, Trevor Hoey, Carolita Johnson, Paul Karasik, Farley Katz, Jason Adam Katzenstein, Lars Kenseth,  John Klossner, Ken Krimstein, Peter Kuper, Amy Kurzweil, Sara Lautman, Robert Leighton, Eric Lewis, Bob Mankoff, Sam Marlow, Michael Maslin,  Paul Noth,  Jeremy Nguyen, John O’Brien, Drew Panckeri, Corey Pandolph, Ellis Rosen, Jennifer Saura, Ben Schwartz, Danny Shanahan, David Sipress,  Avi Steinberg, P.C. Vey, Kim Warp, Chris Weyant.  

New Yorker Cartoons of the Year 2016 Index

new-yorker-best-cartoons-of-the-year-2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Ink Spill tradition continues with the posting of an Index for the Cartoons of the Year bookazine.   Why an Index you might ask.  Mostly because I always enjoyed seeing them in the magazine’s hardcover anthologies (the New Yorker‘s Cartoon Albums) and missed having an Index for these yearly bookazines (they started in 2010). I wouldn’t read too too much into the numbers of drawings you see listed for each cartoonist, but the Index itself is a reasonably good snapshot of the New Yorker‘s somewhat boisterous stable of cartoonists in these last few years.

You’ll see that few of the entries have a “(cc)” beside certain page numbers.  The “cc” refers to the Caption Contest.  So those particular drawings appeared on the magazine’s back page.  You might notice that there’s an asterisk next to Julia Wertz’s name.  That’s because her name does not appear on the list of contributing cartoonists found on page 4 of the bookazine. She is, however, included on the Contributors page (p.2).

And here you go:

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Darrin Bell   62

Harry Bliss 5, 12, 15, 45, 53, 57, 60, 77, 115, 142 (cc)

David Borchart 12

Pat Byrnes 32

Roz Chast 7, 55, 75-76, 89, 117, 138

Tom Cheney 9, 48

Tom Chitty 29

Frank Cotham 30, 34

Michael Crawford 78, 96, 133

Joe Dator 46, 120, 134, 139(cc)

Drew Dernavich 60, 90, 117

Matthew Diffee 138

Liza Donnelly  28

J. C. Duffy 59

Bob Eckstein 70, 102

Liana Finck 13, 37-40, 55, 95, 137

Emily Flake 26, 28, 87, 121

Seth Fleishman 79, 80

Alex Gregory 70, 124

Sam Gross 135

William Haefeli 22, 122

Kaamran Hafeez 74, 94, 123

Tim Hamilton 93

Charlie Hankin 6, 25, 36, 56, 88

Amy Hwang 21, 51, 54

Carolita Johnson 136

Zachary Kanin 11, 27, 59, 69, 93, 140(cc)

Bruce Eric Kaplan 14, 25, 67, 91, 123,

Farley Katz 11, 15, 24

Jason Adam Katzenstein 10, 13, 57, 62, 136

John Klossner 91

Edward Koren 8

Ken Krimstein 19, 82

Peter Kuper 17

Amy Kurzweil 122, 124

Robert Leighton 53, 72, 98, 101, 102, 104

Christian Lowe 78

Robert Mankoff 35, 119

Michael Maslin 80, 132

William McPhail 23, 42, 45, 63, 81, 98, 141(cc)

Paul Noth 61, 65, 71, 73, 74, 79, 83, 85, 92, 97, 135

John O’Brien 44

Drew Panckeri  88

Jason Patterson  86, 133

Victoria Roberts  120

Dan Roe  14

Benjamin Schwartz  13, 33, 56, 64, 83, 84, 101, 116

Danny Shanahan  8, 9, 23, 64, 141 (cc)

Michael Shaw  67

David Sipress 10, 24, 33, 52, 58, 66, 71, 116, 119, 134

Barbara Smaller  19, 22, 27, 30, 36, 54, 94, 118

Trevor Spaulding  43, 85

Edward Steed  16, 34, 43, 44, 49, 68, 86, 99, 103, 105-114

Avi Steinberg  96, 99

Mick Stevens  6, 47, 52, 86, 89, 103

Matthew Stiles Davis 18

Mark Thompson  61

Tom Toro 16, 21, 46, 48, 50, 69, 82, 104

P.C. Vey 31, 35, 90, 95, 137, 140(cc)

Liam Walsh 18, 41, 47, 49, 50, 84

Kim Warp 7

Julia Wertz * 125-131

Christopher Weyant  31, 42

Shannon Wheeler  73

Gahan Wilson  20

Jack Ziegler  63, 66, 100

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William Hamilton’s Life on the Farm; Gil Roth Interviews Ben Katchor (again); Ken Krimstein to Bare All; A Case For Pencils’ Bill Kartalopoulos Interview

william-hamilton

HAMILTON1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From The Lexington Herald Leader, October 28, 2016,    “Who Knew Famous New Yorker Cartoonist Lampooned City Life From a Kentucky Farm?”— this piece about the late great William Hamilton.

(Above: A Collection of Mr. Hamilton’s cartoons from 1977)

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katchor

bangil

Here’s Gil Roth’s latest Virtual Memories podcast…this time he speaks (again) with Ben Katchor.  Be sure to check out Mr. Roth’s very long list of other interviews — many of them with cartoonists.

Link here to Mr. Katchor’s website.

 

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Cartoonist-photos-10-7-2

From BRProud, October 28, 2016 “AAF-BR to Host “A New Yorker Cartoonist Bares All” — this piece about Ken Krimstein’s upcoming talk in Baton Rouge on November 4th.

Link here to Mr. Krimstein’s website.

 

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9780544750357_aaa4a-thumbnailJane Mattimoe’s Case For Pencils blog  takes a momentary break from investigating  New Yorker cartoonists tools of the trade to speak with Bill Kartalopoulous, the editor of The Best American Comics series.

Link here to Ms. Mattimoe’s  A Case For Pencils.

 

 

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