The Monday Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue of June 25, 2018; A Few Images Posted from the Upcoming New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons

Noted that this week’s cover (above right) is by Harry Bliss, one of the New Yorker‘s cartoonists.  Noted because the majority of the magazine’s covers were once handled by its cartoonists (somewhat more than 60% a year by my iffy calculations). The number of cartoonists contributing covers these days can be counted on one hand: Mr. Bliss, Roz Chast, Bruce Eric Kaplan, Danny Shanahan, and George Booth.

The change came, as so many changes did, with the arrival of Tina Brown as editor in 1992.  At a meeting of cartoonists called by Ms. Brown just before she took the reigns as editor of The New Yorker, a bunch of us sat around a large table in an upstairs conference room at the fabled Algonquin. Arriving late (Amtrak issues), I sat next to then art editor Lee Lorenz and asked him what I’d missed.  He leaned over and whispered, “She’s going to bring in a lot of illustrators.” He then added something else, which you’ll have to wait to read in my memoir.

Some of Mr. Bliss’s cover has that Hitchcockian “Rear Window” feel to it; the structure of the cartoon (using balconies) has been put to good use by a few cartoonists over the years. Here’s an example that readily came to mind: a Liza Donnelly drawing that appeared in the January 20, 2014 New Yorker:

To read what Mr. Bliss had to say about his cover, go to this mini-interview here on  newyorker.com.

From the Depart of Just Sayin’:  The number of illustrations in this issue outweigh (in space) the number of cartoons appearing.  Sixteen illustrations (not including Tom Bachtell’s wonderful drawings that are laced through the Talk of The Town). Three of the sixteen are full page. Seventeen cartoons this week, one a full page by Liana Finck

The sizing of cartoons in this issue is generally very good. Most every drawing  gets some breathing room (just one is shoe-horned into a tight space).  

Three drawings noted: Ben Schwartzs bargain hunter’s mounted big game is fun. Charles Addams had a field day with this scenario throughout his spectacular New Yorker run.  Here’s one example .

Love Edward Koren‘s restaurant drawing. Some New Yorker drawings are referred to as evergreens — they always work, no matter the year, the trends, the political landscape, the whatever. Mr. Koren’s drawing is an evergreen.

The Spill‘s candidate for New Yorker drawing of the year (thus far) is Joe Dator‘s Abe Lincoln cartoon. (You can find it here on the magazine’s slideshow of the current issue’s cartoons. It’s number 13.)  When Harold Ross, the New Yorker‘s founder and first editor was asked why his magazine did not run color cartoons his response was, “What’s so funny about red?”* Mr. Dator’s drawing is a perfect example of what is funny about pink and orange, and yellow, and green and purple.

Spill round of applause for the above drawings.

*The New Yorker did run one color drawing in Ross’s time, Rea Irvin’s two page color spread, The Maharajah of Puttyput Receives a Christmas Necktie From the Queen. It was in the issue of December 12, 1925.

Still missing: Rea Irvin’s iconic Talk of The Town masthead. Here’s a Spill piece about its disappearance and replacement.

This is what the real thing looks like:

 

 — See you next week

______________________________________________________________________

A Few Images Posted From the Upcoming New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons

The above from the publisher’s website. Well it’s not much, but it’s better than nuthin’.  I could only get the middle image to open up for a better view. Will post more when there’s more to post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue of June 18, 1984

As mentioned here last week, it’s double issue time again. We’re halfway though it now ; only a week til the new issue (dated June 18, 2018) appears online early Monday morning. Just for fun I thought I’d go back to another June 18th issue — the one from 1984. 

Here’s the cover, by Susan Davis, who contributed fifteen covers to the magazine from 1983 – 1992.

 

And here are the cartoonists in that issue:

A number of New Yorker cartoon gods in that lineup. And, as you might expect, some cartoonists  contributing to the magazine then who still contribute now. On the downside, a number of colleagues who’ve passed on: George Price, James Stevenson, William Steig, Stan Hunt, J. B. Handelsman, Steinberg, Bernie Schoenbaum, Frank Modell, Barney Tobey, Ed Arno, Mischa Richter, Ed Fisher, Eldon Dedini, and Robert Weber.

A quick tour through the issue: Ed Frascino has a very funny cartoon name-checking Indiana Jones; Lee Lorenz ( the art editor at the time) puts the word “glitz” to excellent use; a half page George Price cartoon centered on the Year of the Rat; a beautiful full page Saxon drawing about the Museum of Modern Art; a four part Stevenson spread across two pages. He animates television antenna; a titled Steig: “Eastbound Traffic.” Great drawing!;  Stan Hunt’s drawing is one of those cartoons that could’ve run anytime in the previous thirty years (previous to 1984, that is) — a boiler plate kind of cartoon; “Bud” Handelsman gives us a heaven-based piece; a Roz Chast drawing split into four boxes. It could’ve run this year; an Ed Koren drawing that just is so like butter — drawing and caption;  Steinberg provides an illustration for a Profile piece by E.J. Kahn, Jr.; opposite Steinberg is a Bernie Schoenbaum cocktail party drawing — a scenario employed by nearly every cartoonist back then; a Frank Modell drawing with his signature people — love his grumpy husband; an Arnie Levin caterpillar/butterfly drawing — that that loose Levin line is so great; a Barney Tobey drawing set in another favorite situation: the boardroom; a great Warren Miller drawing:

 Following Mr. Miller’s cartoon is an Ed Arno drawing — that fine controlled line of his! Immediately identifiable; a Mischa Richter dog at a desk drawing; Ed Fisher gives us a weather bureau drawing with lots of fun detail; Eldon Dedini’s cartoon of two guys at a bar with a caption that could run today:Everything’s a trap if you’re not careful.”;  next up, a cartoon that made me laugh out loud, by the great cartoonist, Robert Weber:

Next, a beautiful Sempe drawing (is there any other kind?); and last, a Sidney Harris restaurant drawing. Mr. Harris’s style is his and his alone: an angular line that appears to almost spin out of control, but never does.

So, there it is. A cartoon feast in mid-June, thirty-four years ago. 

 

     

A Foot of Rejected Cartoons

Rejection is a New Yorker cartoonist’s constant companion. We are rejected every single week we submit work to the magazine (I’ve heard tales of contributors selling up to a half-dozen drawings out of one batch, but I’ve yet to hear of a contributor selling their entire batch.  Please advise if that’s ever happened).  Example: I submit cartoons weekly to the magazine (there is no set number despite the myth you may have heard that we must, or have to send ten a week).  If I’m very very lucky, one of the submitted cartoons will be accepted. The rest, the rejects, are then added to a pile in my work room. In the photo above is the pile that’s accumulated over the past year or so. Eventually I’ll move that pile to storage where it will join its rejected friends from years/decades past. 

Some time ago — fifteen or twenty years? —  I made a stab at organizing my rejects.  I bought plastic bins that held file folders.  I labeled the folders “Dogs” “Cats” “Police” “Food” “Knights” etc., etc.. This organization came in handy when someone would ask for submissions for a collection of drawings about dogs or cats or food or whatever. As the era of themed cartoon collections cooled, I found though that it was wasted time organizing for the possibility of a request for themed cartoons. So that organizing effort ended (although the plastic bins with their folders still exist).

Many cartoonists take their rejected work and try to find a home for it elsewhere. I know of at least one cartoonist who is very successful doing just that. I used to submit rejects to other magazines back when there were a good number of publications using cartoons. Below is a page out of a ledger I briefly kept in 1977.  I quickly realized keeping track of stuff wasn’t my thing.  You see on the page below across the top of the ledger the magazines I was submitting to the summer of that year — the summer when I broke into the New Yorker:  The New Yorker, Esquire,The Saturday Evening Post, Changing Times, Quest, Dawn Dusk, Playboy, Medical Economics, New Woman, and The Ladies Home Journal. Judging my from my entries I wasn’t doing very well until August of 1977, when the New Yorker bought “Nothing will ever happen to you” — after that things started to improve (with the exceptions of The Ladies Home Journal and Medical Economics — nothing of mine ever “clicked” for them).

Over time, the number of publications using cartoons has dwindled.  Most of the action these days is online, where the pay is little-to-none.  “None” is usually disguised as “exposure” as in “we don’t pay, but your work will get plenty of exposure.”

So what to do with these weekly rejected drawings.  Over the years I’d sometimes come across one that seemed it needed a second chance, and so off it went to the New Yorker.  Sometimes a resub (as they are called by cartoonists) is accepted, and published.  I once was even asked to send in resubs. It was around the time my wife and I were expecting our first child. My then editor, Lee Lorenz  sent me a letter saying something to the effect of: “Please send in a bunch of resubs — I know you’re going to be busy for awhile.”  There have even been weeks I resubmitted a drawing that had just been rejected. My personal favorite rejected cartoon is the one below.  I did the unthinkable: convinced of its merit, I stubbornly resubmitted it the very next week after it was rejected. It was accepted (and published December 21, 1998). Hey, you never know.

Mostly though the second chance for a resub (my resubs, not other cartoonists) is its last chance — and that’s okay.  I’ve always felt these rejects were necessary to do to get to the drawing that makes it through to being accepted and published. The rejects are invaluable steps to the printed page.  I’ve realized in the past few years that I rarely, if ever, send in resubs anymore. Emma Allen, the New Yorker‘s current cartoon editor has yet to see one of my drawings submitted twice. There’s no grand plan here — it’s just how it’s working out.

Personal History: First Book

Pardon this little trip down memory lane.

  In 1975 I printed this first book of mine on a creaky noisy offset press in the basement of the Print Shop at The University of Connecticut in Storrs (the Print Shop, a little paradise on campus, is no more, torn down and replaced — a la Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” —  by a parking lot).

 Somewhere Above the Jugglers And Dogs might have been my senior project — or it may have just been something I wanted to do for fun. I’m fairly certain the hat on the cover is some kind of tribute to the hat on the ground in Thurber’s classic drawing, “What have you done with Dr. Millmoss?” — the drawing I place highest on a pedestal.  

After printing all the pages (enough for 50 copies of the book) I drove them to be bound at a printing plant in Hartford (each copy has three staples covered by protective black cloth). I remember showing the completed work to a dear friend who promptly told me he hated the title. Everyone’s a critic.

By the time I put this together I’d already been submitting work to the New Yorker for three or four years; all of it rejected by the magazine’s legendary art editor, James Geraghty. I can’t blame him one bit.  Here’s one of the drawings, Tom Inventing Spit. Not exactly the kind of thing the New Yorker was publishing in 1975 (in hindsight, I wish I’d called the book Tom Inventing Spit). 

 In the next two years, post-college, I honed the kind of work I’d included in this book and collected even more of it in another self-published book, 115 Drawings. By the time 115 Drawings was produced in early 1977, I’d abandoned drawings like this and moved on to dutifully submitting work edging closer to single panel cartoons. By then Lee Lorenz, who succeeded Geraghty, was routinely rejecting my New Yorker submissions.  He finally caved in mid-1977 when the magazine bought an idea of mine (drawn up by the great Whitney Darrow, Jr., and published in the New Yorker, December 26, 1977). As far as the New Yorker’s concerned, my words came first.

   

 

 

Many Moons Ago At The New Yorker

A departure this Sunday from previous Sundays in that the book above contains only New Yorker covers, and zero cartoons. However, of the thirty-six cover artists represented in the book, twenty-eight also contributed cartoons. This seemingly lop-sided representation of the magazine’s cartoonists doubling as cover artists was not at all out of the ordinary in the pre-Tina Brown days (Ms. Brown inverted the cartoonist/strictly-cover artist ratio, reducing the percentage of cartoonists on the cover to a minimum. Non-contributing cartoonists have been in a wide majority since).   

The book, published in 1984 by United Technologies Corporation, with the heavy lifting done by the National Academy of Design, is a must have for any library stocked with New Yorker collections. It’s a coffee table book that doesn’t need a coffee table (measuring 10″ x 13″, but just 160 pages).

The folks at the National Academy did a splendid job of designing the book, taking great care to present us with not only the covers as they appeared as New Yorker covers, but full page, sans New Yorker logo. The book is divided into the four seasons; the only non-seasonal cover is the magazine’s very first (by the incomparable Rea Irvin) beautifully reproduced on the page just before we enter Spring. 

The bonus material is right up front of the book.  Two introductory pieces: Brendan Gill’s “A morning light” and Charles Saxon‘s “A special moment, fleetingly observed.”

A declaration of interest from Mr. Gill:

“There is…no such thing as a New Yorker cover…If one can say there is no such thing as a New Yorker cover, one can at least say that there are three or four types of art work that appear with considerable frequency on the covers of The New Yorker: those that are purely decorative, those that are topical or seasonal, and those that contain a mild satiric swipe or possibly a small, covert joke.”

My my, how times have changed.  The are still “three or four types of art work” but covers that “contain a mildly satiric swipe” are now a thing of the past.

And from Charles Saxon, another that was then declarative:

“Artists are invited to submit their work. Nothing is assigned, nothing is directed. The work is welcomed or it is not.”

 

 

On a personal note, I was just into my seventh year as a New Yorker contributor when I received an invitation to attend the gallery exhibit of some of the covers in the book. Here’s a very short excerpt about my visit to the opening from my still in-the-works/ongoing New Yorker journal.  At the time I was living in upstate New York after having somewhat recently moved from Greenwich Village.

May 31, 1984

Perhaps missing some of Manhattan’s hubbub, I decided to attend the Seasons At the New Yorker opening at the National Academy of Design on 5th Avenue hard by Central Park — new-ish territory for me, other than my infrequent visits to the Metropolitan Museum. I was half-a-block from the party when I noticed the New Yorker writer Brendan Gill holding court out on the sidewalk. He was wearing a dark suit and looked to be holding a glass of champagne. 5th Avenue! Champagne! Brendan Gill! THE Brendan Gill — the man whose book, Here At the New Yorker helped drive me to this magazine. The idea of introducing myself to him that evening was out of the question: just to be here at this party was more than enough excitement.  

Surveying the crowd as I walked into the gallery I immediately felt out-of-place — I was dressed casually, in sneakers, jeans, a faded red shirt and a thrift shop seersucker jacket. Everyone else  was dressed, as my mother would say “to the hilt.”

After rounding the exhibition looking at the framed covers, I sat down for a moment on a circular stuffed sofa next to a very nice woman, somewhat older than me.  After some initial pleasantries, I discovered that she had been married to Robert Kraus, a former New Yorker cartoonist (and later owner and editor in chief of his own publishing house, Windmill Press, publishers of William Steig’s children’s books).

Eventually I made one more pass around the gallery space and found myself walking into the New Yorker’s art editor, Lee Lorenz and his (then) wife. I knew Lee wouldn’t know me by sight — we’d only met once before, but I thought it would be silly not to speak with my editor. As I suspected, Lee looked confused and slightly unhappy when I walked up to him, but was relieved and seemingly amused when I told him my name. Lee looked me over and said, “You look like an ice cream salesman.”  And perhaps following up on the theme, his wife said, “Oh, you’re the one who does all the ice cream cartoons.” My self-confidence at once damaged and lifted, I made small talk, then drifted back out to 5th avenue, and back upstate.

Below: From the Spill‘s files, the invitation (my friend, Jack Ziegler didn’t call me the “boy archivist” for nuthin).