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







A Visit to “Jim’s Bench”; Cartoon Companion Rates The Latest New Yorker Cartoons; Tilley Watch Online; Live New Yorker Cartoons Part VI on Late Night with Seth Meyers

A Visit to “Jim’s Bench”

The filmmaker Sally Williams recently asked me if I’d like to meet with her at “Jim’s bench” on Central Park West and 77th Street, right across the street from the Museum of Natural History. I couldn’t possibly resist the invitation. Ms. Williams has been working on a documentary about James Stevenson for quite some time now; we’ve had numerous conversations over the years about Mr. Stevenson and, of course, The New Yorker. 

 Mr. Stevenson is on a long list of New Yorker cartoonists who have lived and worked in New York City (some still do) and whose work reflected their city. I think also of Steinberg and Alan Dunn as cases in point.

Sitting on this bench near where Mr. Stevenson lived I couldn’t help but imagine him experiencing the traffic, the sounds, sights, types of individuals bicycling by, walking by, running by; the dogs and dog-walkers, the flurry of activity at the museum. I could see it all in Stevenson’s style: gracefully casual, with spark. Ms. Williams confirmed that Mr. Stevenson was, like so many cartoonists, a watcher (I once likened cartoonists to sponges. Consciously or subconsciously, we take everything in).  

If you find yourself near the Museum of Natural History, you might want to take a seat on Jim’s bench and spend a few moments watching Manhattan go by, Stevenson-style. 

  The bench is the one closest to the Humboldt StatueIt bears a small plaque:

 (I’ve written about Mr. Stevenson here on the Spill a number of times.  Here’s one piece which might be of interest). 


Cartoon Companion Rates the Latest New Yorker Cartoons

Messrs. Max and Simon are back with thoughts & ratings on work by Frank Cotham, Carolita Johnson, Drew Dernavich, Avi Steinberg, Emily Flake, Roz Chast, Olivia de Recat, Mike Twohy, Bob Eckstein, Edward Koren, and Darrin Bell.  Read it here!


Daily Cartoons this week by: Paul Noth, Mary Lawton, Kim Warp, David Sipress, and Lars Kenseth (4/5ths of the drawings were Trumpian).

And the contributing New Yorker cartoonists on Daily Shouts:  P.C. Vey, Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell, Liana Finck, Emily Flake, and JAK (with Hartley Lin).  


Live New Yorker Cartoons Part VI on Late Night with Seth Meyers

The New Yorker‘s editor, David Remnick returns to Late Night with Seth Meyers in the best segment yet. Cartoons by Carolita Johnson, Charlie Hankin, Will McPhail, Maddie Dai, and Ellis Rosen brought to life.   See them here!



The Tilley Watch Online; E. Simms Campbell’s 1933 Map of Harlem Night Clubs

A shortened Daily Cartoon week ( due to the holiday?) with David Sipress (a Trump drawing),  Brendan Loper (two gun control drawings), Jeremy Nguyen (a gun control drawing), Peter Kuper (a gun control drawing), and Barry Blitt (a Trump/Olympics drawing).

Over on Daily Shouts a lot of contributing New Yorker cartoonist activity: Liana Finck’s ongoing advice piece, Will McPhail on writers, and Olivia De Recat on pets.

See all the work (and then some) here.


E. Simms Campbell’s 1933 Map of Harlem Night Clubs

Stephen Nadler shows us a beautiful E. Simms Campbell piece on today’s Attempted Bloggery. Below’s a sample .  To see the entire piece go here.


Marcellus Hall’s Debut Graphic Novel; Liana Finck’s “Passing For Human”Cover; A Passing of Note, 50 Years Ago Today

Marcellus Hall’s Debut Graphic Novel

New Yorker artist Marcellus Hall’s debut graphic novel, Kaleidoscope City will be out next month.

From the publisher:

“A lone man navigates the streets of Kaleidoscope City in the aftermath of a broken romance. Buoyed by his curiosity and a search for meaning, with sketchbook in hand, he finds inspiration in unexpected places, from far-flung neighborhoods to fleeting glimpses of a mysterious woman.” Info here!

Mr. Hall’s website


Liana Finck’ s “Passing For Human” Cover

New Yorker cartoonist Liana Finck  has posted the cover of her upcoming graphic memoir, Passing For Human ( Random House, September 18). 

From the publisher:

“A visually arresting graphic memoir about a young artist struggling against what’s expected of her as a woman, and learning to accept her true self.”

Link here for more info.


50 Years Ago Today

I’m not one for remembering death dates, but this is one to note: One of the New Yorker‘s cartoon gods, Peter Arno, died 50 years ago today. Here’s the headline on the front page of The New York Times, February 23, 1968.


The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of February 26, 2018

Always glad to return to weekly issues of the magazine after doubles. This new issue sports a cover that seems like the sum of the equation: Olympics + North Korea =.

  Here’s what cover artist Mark Ulriksen had to say about it on

The Olympics + North Korea equation continues with the very first spot drawing appearing on the opening page of The Talk of The Town. And, as long as we’re mentioning that page,  let’s get this out of the way: Rea Irvin’s classic Talk masthead is still a-missin’.  Here’s what it looks like:

Could be wrong, but it seems like there are slightly more Otto Soglow spot drawings scattered throughout Talk than usual (along with Tom Bachtell’s always top-notch drawings). 

Doesn’t take long to get to the first cartoon of the issue (it’s on page 18). P.C. Vey delivers a very P.C. Vey-like piece of work (that’s always a good thing).  Love the little fish Mr. Vey has drawn, but wish it was still swimmin’. Five pages later Lars Kenseth takes us to the land of the pitchman. Funny drawing. Love how Mr. Kenseth uses the language. I did something in that vein a long time back — in the New Yorker, April 6, 1981, to be exact.  I remember it being a ton-o-fun playing with the structure of the television pitch. 

On the very next page one of my favorite subjects: the old west (or possibly it’s a cowboy and his horse in the contemporary west).  Zach Kanin’s coffee-drinking horse is well drawn.  I wish the cowboy’s face was easier to see on the digital edition — this is where print (might) come in handy. 

Nine pages later, a well-placed-on-the-page Frank Cotham cartoon. Cartoonists usually love to show gangsters about to toss a guy off a pier.  Mr. Cotham gives us a prequel. Nice.

Four pages later Roz Chast with an at-home Olympics moment.  A very Chastian drawing any which way you look at it. Another four pages brings us to the second-ever New Yorker drawing (unless I’m mistaken) by Olivia de Recat.  Similar to her first in that it’s mostly text. This one is approximately 97% text (handwritten text).  Her first was perhaps 91% text.  Though we don’t see them as much as we used to, the aforementioned Ms. Chast has done a number of text-driven (to use a Tina Brown era term) drawings over the years. Without doing research (unforgivable, I know!) I’m going out on a limb by suggesting Ms. Chast may have pioneered this particular form of New Yorker cartoon. If anyone wants to shoot that down, please contact me.

Five pages later, Maddie Dai weighs in on a fellow’s mid-life crisis times two.  His motorcycle (which lacks a gas tank — maybe it’s one of those new electric bikes) has at least one (unintentional?) funny feature: the bike’s training wheels are attached to the hub of the rear wheel.  If this cartoon bike was a real bike the training wheels would spin around with the tire, complicating things even further for the crisis guy.  No matter — it’s a nice drawing. 

On the very next page, a debut New Yorker cartoon by Navied Mahdavian*, that answers the oft-asked question, “What did we do before the internet?” Funny drawing.

Four pages later, veteran cartoonist, Mick Stevens gives us death having just died.  Looking at Mr. Stevens’ drawing I asked myself if this fell into the double negative column.  If death dies, isn’t death then alive? Way too much of a headache-inducing thought for this cartoonist (me, not Mr. Stevens).

Eight pages later Sara Lautman takes us to a contemporary bar moment. Found myself studying the shelves and bottles of booze in the background.  There’s a Robert Weber-ish looseness to that area.

Seven pages later a Bruce Eric Kaplan gem of a caption.  And on the very next page, the last drawing of the issue (not counting those on the Caption Contest page).  Liana Finck gives us a bird chase. Not sure what the surface is that they are on — is it pavement with a sidewalk in the rear?  It probably doesn’t matter.  The big bird — the one that’s chasing the little bird —  has an expression indicating confidence she/he will succeed, despite the lack of arms. 

*For those keeping track, Navied Mahdavian is the thirteenth new cartoonist introduced under the magazine’s current cartoon editor, Emma Allen, since she was appointed in May of 2017, and the second newbie introduced so far in 2018.

— See you next Monday



The Tilley Watch Online; A New Yorker Cover is Honored

The current president is the subject of 4/5s of this past week’s Daily Cartoons. Only Lars Kenseth’s cowboy stock market drawing did not reference Mr. Trump. The other New Yorker cartoonists represented: Peter Kuper (twice), Pat Byrnes, and Jason Chatfield (with Scott Dooley).

Over on Daily Shouts, New Yorker cartoonists Tom Chitty, Liana Finck (continuing her advice column), and Ed Steed contributed.

See all their work here and more.


A New Yorker Cover is Honored

Here’s Michael Cavna’s Comic Riffs piece about David Plunkert’s cover of August 28, 2017, named cover of the year by the American Society of Magazine Editors.