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

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Booth: Model; Michael Crawford’s Maps; Roz Chast’s National Book Festival Poster

George Booth: Model

The cartoonist , Mike Lynch has recently turned up an issue of Leatherneck (October, 1951) with George Booth on the cover.  Sarah Booth has confirmed that is indeed her father having his helmet painted, telling the Spill, “I’d know that  look of mischief anywhere!”

According to Lee Lorenz’s  The Essential George Booth (Workman, 1998), Mr. Booth, who had enlisted as a Marine in 1944, re-inlisted and joined the Leatherneck staff in 1946, contributing  cartoons,  spots, spreads, and covers.  In a 1998, he told The New Yorker’s David Owen (for a Booth Profile) that Leatherneck was “a global magazine, and a very good one. It was slick. It gave me my start, and I got to work with some top professionals. It was really better than any school I could have gone to, and I learned a lot.” 

Above: Booth on the cover, and below, a Booth cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Michael Crawford’s Maps

From newyorker.com’s Culture Desk, July 4, 2017,  “Michael Crawford’s Mixed-Up U.S.A.”

Matt Dellinger, the late Mr. Crawford’s friend, introduces us to a slide show of unusual maps.

 

 

 

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Roz Chast’s National Book Festival Poster

From finebooksmagazine.com, July 6, 2017, “Cartoonist Roz Chast Designs National Book Festival Poster”

Ms. Chast, in a press release:

“I wanted to make a poster that expressed the excitement, appreciation, and delight I have for the books of my life.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Potted Video History of New Yorker Grim Reaper Cartoons; Eckstein: Snowmen As Modern Art; Cartoon Companion Rates This Week’s Drawings

 

 

 

 

From newyorker.com, The New Yorker Cartoon History: The Grim Reaper — this fun five minute video takes a look at one of the cartoonists best friends.  See it here.

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From newyorker.com‘s Culture Desk, “The Snowman As Art” — this piece by the World’s Greatest Snowman Expert, Bob Eckstein.

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The Cartoon Companion is back with ratings for all the cartoons appearing in the latest issue (a double: June 5 & 12) which includes the aforementioned Grim Reaper (on the beach this time around), two subway cartoons, a president playing golf, and a charming drawing from the late Michael Crawford.  

There is also word  that we’ll soon see a new look for the CC (as well as an interview with Harry Bliss and “sketches, rejected cartoons, and other fun stuff”) …can’t wait! For now, here’s the link to the latest post.

Video of Interest: From 1997, ABC’s Nightline Looks at the New Yorker’s Cartoonists; Sam Gross on Jack Ziegler; The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna on Jack Ziegler’s Pivotal Role at The New Yorker

Way way back in December 1997, ABC’s Nightline broadcast “Drawing Laughter: the Cartoonists of The New Yorker” devoting its entire half-hour time slot to New Yorker cartoons and especially, its cartoonists.  The video from ABC’s vault takes us back to the Tina Brown era, the beginning of Bob Mankoff‘s tenure as cartoon editor (he’d only been at the big desk since August), and the  New Yorker’s first Cartoon Issue. The piece includes footage of the Arnold Newman photo-shoot for the fold-out group photo that appeared in that special issue (and in the Nightline piece), a photo-op at the Algonquin,  as well as short profiles of William Hamilton, Roz Chast and Michael Crawford.  Ted Koppel sitting in a cartoon newsroom is priceless. Among those seen in the piece, if far too briefly, are Mischa Richter, Lee Lorenz, Stuart Leeds, Leo Cullum, Al Ross, Bud Handelsman, Edward Koren, Liza Donnelly, Edward Sorel, Robert Weber, Warren Miller, Charles Barsotti, Frank Cotham, Peter Steiner, Frank Modell, Mick Stevens, Danny Shanahan, Mort Gerberg, Bruce Eric Kaplan, and Sam Gross. Bonus: a quick shot of Jack Ziegler (“It’s kinda quiet in here.”).

For more Ziegler on tape, here’s a link to his appearance with David Letterman, June 20, 1983.

 

 

 

 

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Ink Spill received the following from the great Sam Gross (left) about Jack Ziegler:

   

Jack took a fierce pride in his drawings. On one occasion the art director at Look magazine made the mistake of putting a pushpin in one of them and then mounting it on his cork wall. Every art director in those days had a cork wall. Jack went ballistic and wanted to kill him. I calmed him down by convincing him that the art director would burn in hell for what he did. I’m sure Jack has gone to the place where there are no art directors.

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From The Washington Post‘s Comic Riffs columnist, Michael Cavna: “How Jack Ziegler Became ‘The Godfather’ of The New Yorker’s Modern Wave of Cartoonists”

— Mr. Cavna on how Jack Ziegler midwifed the New Yorker‘s cartoons into its second Golden Age.

So Long, 2016. Howdy, 2017

HNYGeez, what a year.  I’ve spent this morning looking back through Ink Spill’s  2016 posts. This was the year we lost more New Yorker cartoonist colleagues  than in any previous twelve month period in the magazine’s history:   William Hamilton, John Caldwell, Gerald Dumas, Michael Crawford, Anatol Kovarsky, Frank Modell, Robert Weber, and Peter Porges.

Their combined published work in The New Yorker adds up to approximately 5,000 drawings. An astounding number.  But of course what they really contributed to the magazine, and to us, whatever number of drawings published, were their distinct worlds, beautifully, thoughtfully, artfully  and engagingly set down on paper.

All of these artists helped define what a New Yorker cartoon is, and what it could be.  As as the old year takes a hike, and a sparkling new year begins, I suggest a fitting tribute to these fine fellows would be to seek out their work and revel in it.

 

 

 

Note: So Long, 2016. Howdy, 2017 is pinched from a line in Bob Dylan’s song, “Talkin’ New York”:  “So long, New York. Howdy, East Orange”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newest Addition to Ink Spill’s Library: Comically Correct

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Courtesy of Danny Shanahan, this promotional booklet (offered with new New Yorker subscriptions?) from 1995 has been added to Ink Spill‘s Library. Of the many promo booklets produced by The New Yorker I’d never seen this one until today. Shown are the cover, the introductory page and the list of cartoonists whose work is within (yes, Bruce Eric Kaplan’s middle name is spelled wrong).

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