Mick Stevens’ dots, Facebook and The New Yorker


By now the whoop-dee-doo over Facebook’s temporary shutdown of The New Yorker’s Facebook page over a cartoon (seen above) by Mick Stevens has been covered by a multitude of sites.  If you missed the story check out  these posts: first, the New Yorker’s cartoon editor’s blog,  this Daily News post, and finally, this post from The Daily Mail (UK).


The Daily News article mentions that several websites were under the impression that Stevens’ redrawn clothed Adam and Eve cartoon (above) was an effort by The New Yorker to appease Facebook.  Ink Spill contacted the cartoonist today and asked how the second drawing came about and what its intention was. So, here’s Mick Stevens, with the last word on what he calls “those dots.”

“Bob [Mankoff] emailed me when the Facebook thing happened and asked me if I would do a version with Adam and Eve clothed, just for contrast and for use in a possible future blog…some folks got the idea though that we did the second version to satisfy our new censors at Facebook, which isn’t the case.”


Anatomy of The New Yorker’s Pig at the Complaint Department Cartoon




This week a familiar cartoon showed up on the The New Yorker’s last page as part of its continuing Caption Contest. The cartoon, of a pig at a complaint department, was drawn by Mick Stevens,  who has been contributing cartoons to The New Yorker for thirty four years .


Why was the cartoon familiar? Fans of the classic sitcom, Seinfeld, remember the episode “The Cartoon” (it aired January 29,1998) in which Elaine, inspired to submit a cartoon to The New Yorker, stays up all night working on cartoon ideas and finally comes up with the pig at the complaint department. (The New Yorker’s current cartoon editor, Bob Mankoff recently delved into the episode in great detail on his blog). In the episode, as Elaine hands her sketchbook to Jerry, we catch a glimpse of her pig cartoon.


So how did Elaine’s cartoon end up in this week’s New Yorker, some fourteen years after it appeared on television?



For clarity’s sake, Elaine’s cartoon – the one we see on her sketchpad, is not the cartoon in the current New Yorker. In an email conversation I asked Mick how he came to draw Elaine’s cartoon, and he wrote:


Bob [Mankoff] asked me to draw it up for a possible caption contest and/or use in his blog in reference to the Seinfeld episode.


I also asked Mick if he referenced Elaine’s cartoon, as there’s an undeniable similarity between the two.


I didn’t look at the Seinfeld cartoon first but it turned out to be similar.


Curious about the original cartoon that appears on Elaine’s sketchbook, I asked Bruce Eric Kaplan, the New Yorker cartoonist who wrote the Seinfeld episode, if he drew the cartoon we see on Elaine’s sketchpad.  I also asked if he still had the original – I thought it would be fun to post on Ink Spill.  Bruce replied in an email:


I didn’t draw it!

They asked me to but I didn’t want to.

Someone in the art department did it.

I don’t know who has it or if it still exists!


You might wonder why this flurry of detective work on my part about a brand new version of a fourteen year old drawing of a pig. Much like Elaine’s pig, I have a complaint.  A number of news stories that appeared following the publication of Mick’s version of Elaine’s cartoon,  such as appeared on Gawker and Yahoo News suggest that The New Yorker has “republished” Elaine’s cartoon. Hmmm, maybe I should write them a letter…


Dear Gawker and Yahoo News:


I really enjoy your sites – I’m a fan! – but Elaine is a fictional character who submitted her drawing to a fictional New Yorker.  The real New Yorker never published Elaine’s cartoon.


Michael Maslin


Many other sites ( and there are many) tell us that Mick’s cartoon is “the same one” or in at least one case “the very same one” as seen in the Seinfeld episode.

Well, no, actually it isn’t.

Mick Stevens has an ebook; Peter Steiner’s new book due in August; Victoria Roberts novel out in November


From Market Watch, July 17, 2012, “Featured Cartoonist with The New Yorker Publishes with Lulu.com” — this post on Mick Stevens new ebook, I Really Should Be Drawing / The Blook



And…the latest in Peter Steiner’s Louis Morgon series, The Resistance: A Thriller, is due out from Macmillan, August 21st.



AlsoVictoria Roberts has a novel, After the Fall,  coming out in November.

Exhibit: Felipe Galindo (Feggo); Feiffer’s first original graphic novel; More Mouly & Blown Covers; Video: S.J. Perelman interview; Mick Stevens’ fav NYer rejects; Liza Donnelly on the Art of Cartooning

From artcat, this notice of a group exhibit including Felipe Galindo (Feggo), “Political Neighbors: Ruis, Feggo, El Fisgon — Three Master Cartoonists of Mexico”


From Mediabistro, April 10, 2012,Jules Feiffer Lands Deal for his First Original Graphic Novel”


From wksu.org (Kent State & Ohio Public Media), April 10, 2012, “Blown Covers from The New Yorker” — with plenty of text and audio, including an interview with The New Yorker’s Art Editor, Francoise Mouly


From Youtube, this April 2, 1974 interview with S.J. Perelman from the PBS show, Day At Night


Over on Facebook (sorry, no link), Mick Stevens has started posting his favorite cartoons rejected by The New Yorker — see his post “My Favorite Rejects”


From Liza Donnelly’s blog, When Do They Serve the Wine, “Word and Image: The Art of Cartooning” — a transcript of the talk Donnelly delivered at a Creativity Symposium held at the Haystack Mountain School in Maine in the Fall of 2011.


Ward Sutton’s Davy Jones Tribute; Jack Ziegler’s First OK; Panel discussion with Flake, Dernavich and Katz

From Spin, “Ward Sutton’s Most Memorable Encounter With The Monkees’ Davy Jones”


From newyorker.com, two items of interest:

Bob Mankoff continues his series of My First OK.  Last week it was Mick Stevens, this week it’s Jack Ziegler’s turn with the post “The Journey of a Thousand Cartoons”.


And, on March 5th, The New Yorker’s Editor, David Remnick moderates a panel discussion with cartoonists, Emily Flake, Drew Dernavich and Farley Katz



Mick Stevens’ Illustrated song; Peter Steiner’s blog Hopeless but not Serious; New Yorker’s Cartoon Issue out

From Mick Stevens’ site mickstevens.com, October 24, 2011,  this illustrated song


And a reminder that Peter Steiner has a brand new blog, Hopeless but not Serious, wherein he posts daily energetic graphic swipes at politics, politicians, etc..


Finally:  The 15th annual New Yorker Cartoon Issue hits the stands today.  It features a wonderful cover by George Booth, and includes color work by the likes of Mark Alan Stamaty, Emily Flake, Zach Kanin, and Roz Chast.   There’s a b&w spread of work by the late Leo Cullum, and The Funnies, where you’ll find drawings by Jack Ziegler, Lee Lorenz, Bruce Eric Kaplan, and more.  There’re a handful of cartoonists sprinkled among the ads as well (Marisa Acocella Marchetto, Danny Shanahan, and Liza Donnelly).