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 Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of March 12, 2018

Despite the snow scene outside my window and the forecast for another wallopin’ of snow here in a few days, I know Spring is just around the corner. The latest New Yorker cover — the second by Jenny Kroik — is in the same realm of wishful thinking. Her cover is a welcome respite from politics, which are always just around the corner too. 

Paging through the issue, I noticed a photo under the “Videos” heading at the bottom of the “Contributors” page.  A new online feature: “The New Yorker Interview” — a swell idea.  I’m hoping future interviews will include the magazine’s artists.

Moving quickly now through pet peeves: the use of a near full page photo leading off Goings On About Town; the absence of Rea Irvin’s iconic Talk of The Town masthead. 

And now the cartoons: the first of the issue, a Frank Cotham drawing that on my tablet appeared to show a fellow running along a beach (I thought he was running near dune grass).  On the laptop it’s quite clear he’s running in a field.  The runner’s toned legs — a funny touch –are unexpected (in a Cotham drawing) but certainly do indicate this fellow’s been in training. 

Seven pages later, a Carolita Johnson bar drawing. I think this just might be my favorite drawing of hers. The caption is textbook (New Yorker textbook, that is), from the use of the name “Jer” to the mid-caption set-up use of the word “empty” to last word, “peanut.”

Six pages later, another new favorite by a veteran cartoonist.  Drew Dernavich‘s Batman drawing delivers: caption, the drawing itself. Wonderful (I would’ve loved to see the drawing occupy a larger space). Three pages later, Avi Steinberg gives us a turn-about on a favorite pastime for many: people watching. Mr. Steinberg has removed the generally accepted casualness of people-watching and turned it into people-staring.  Awkward.

Three pages later, a moment with an aging couple via Emily Flake. A few pages following Ms. Flake’s drawing, a Roz Chast drawing which made me happily recall cartoonists’ lunches of yore (and even more recently than yore). 

Four pages later, an Olivia de Recat drawing.  As with her two previous drawings, this is text-driven (a Tina Brownism, I think) but not as text-driven as her previous efforts. If Ms. de Recat’s “Big City Sound Machine” was actually being produced I might spring for one if only for the “Dump Truck in Rain” sound — what poetry.

Three pages later a drawing by veteran cartoonist, Mike Twohy.  I associate sack races with town picnics in summertime, but I suppose they’re not exclusive to a season (I played around with a sack race and a seasonal reference many years ago, It appeared in the New Yorker  June 21, 1982, to be exact. See below). I’m also reminded of Robert Day’s 1945 collection, All Out For The Sack Race! I know there’ve been a few other sack race drawings in the magazine but not yet enough to fill up a New Yorker Book of Sack Race Cartoons.

Three pages later a Bob Eckstein game show drawing. Without diving into the piece (that’s what they do over on Cartoon Companion) I really enjoyed the well-situated and funny Tom & Mom contestants.  We used to see game show drawings every so often; it would be great if we got to see more. They are silliness vehicles.

Directly opposite Mr. Eckstein’s drawing (and why it’s directly across is a puzzle — why not in the upper right hand corner?) is a beauty by Edward Koren. A lot to look at in this drawing, as is usually the case with Mr. Koren’s work.

The final drawing in the issue (not counting the Caption Contest drawings) is by Darrin Bell. Criminals on their way to a caper (there’s a word that’s been retired for at least 50 years). Two of the would-be robbers are masked. The driver — who’s quite a large fellow – is unmasked.  This reminded me for some reason of that great scene in The Town, when the guys don rubber nun masks — even the driver. I guess in these situations it’s up to the individual would-be perpetrator to make the masked or unmasked call.













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.


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 Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of February 5, 2018

An ice skating cover (titled “Figured Skaters”) on this week before the magazine’s 93rd birthday issue. On the way to the cartoons I’m sensing less graphics and more text in the Goings On About Town section.  Or is it just my imagination. Take away the weekly near full page photograph and the magazine seems edging to its graphic roots. For an idea of what I’m getting at, here’s a GOAT section from the March 14, ’59 issue atop a couple of GOAT pages from the new issue.


Now on to the cartoons and cartoonists.  The very first cartoon, by Ellis Rosen, takes us to familiar territory for many a New Yorker cartoonist (including this one): the wise man on the mountaintop. Mr. Rosen gives us a competitive situation that includes further incentive for prospective wisdom seekers.  I would love to see what the other mountain top looks like once the pizza oven is installed.  

Four pages later, Liana Finck takes us to medieval times with another cartoonist favorite: King and castle.  Even better: King, castle and moat. I can’t quite make out what is in the castle window.  Is it the Queen, or a kitty? Maybe it doesn’t matter.  A drawing that looks as if it might be in color (the moat), but run in b&w.  

Five pages later, a Will McPhail drawing and it’s yet another cartoonist fave scenario: the house mouse.  This is the first white house mouse cartoon in my memory (versus the usual grey mouse) And I believe it’s also the first cartoon that shows a house mouse wearing what appears to be eye makeup (the makeup makes sense what with the lighted vanity mirror).  Then there are the high heels visible through the mouse baseboard hole. A lot of elements to pause and consider here, but I’ll leave that to the Cartoon Companion guys when they post their take on the new cartoons later this week. That minimal caption is short and sweet.

Ten pages later we are taken even further back in time than Ms. Finck’s drawing with a cave drawing by this cartoonist.  It’s a mash-up.  On the opposite page a William Haefeli drawing bookstore drawing. I’m a big fan of bookstores and bookstore drawings — glad to see this cartoon. On the very next page a David Sipress domestic scenario —  the subject is the upcoming Super Bowl.  I don’t know anything about the Eagles or the Patriots (other than the headlines)  but this drawing seems to be playing to the Greater Metropolitan NYC area football fan base. Could be wrong. (I feel badly for the child on the sofa. He doesn’t appear to have a drink or snacks for the big game). 

Five pages later, a Roz Chast woman on a sofa drawing. She shows us a stressful time, long long ago before we were able (sometimes) to know who was calling without answering the phone. Caller ID: great invention.

Three pages later perhaps my favorite Frank Cotham drawing ever.  Jack Ziegler once said to me  “it’s always nice when cartoonists know how to draw and give us something pleasant and fun to look at.”   Well Mr. Cotham has given us that.  Atmosphere to spare, and a splendid caption. Bravo.

Five pages later a Bruce Eric Kaplan drawing.  Politics finally enters into a cartoon in the issue.  Mr. Kaplan’s caption well-honed, as usual. On the very next page is a Pia Guerra drawing (she’s a newbie, but not a brand new newbie).  Curiously, a Terminator drawing.  I confess I had to check on the name, Sarah Connor after initially forgetting that that is the name of a main character in the series (sorry, my Terminator recall is rusty). Two pages later, Emily Flake gets all religious with a priestly drawing.  Clergy drawings were once a staple in the cartoonists kit (think Charles Addams and Peter Arno, among many others).  As with looking up Sarah Connor I looked up “sleeve” as it’s used in the caption.  Never really thought about how communion wafers were packaged.  You live, you learn.

Three pages later, Jeremy Nguyen does a take on an iconic television ad.  I like the way Mr. Nguyen has approached this drawing: clean and simple: books, typewriter, the ubiquitous potted house plant, the writer(?) sprawled on the floor. 

Six pages later a debut drawing by Olivia de Recat, whose work has appeared in the Daily Shouts in very recent times. This has the feel of a postcard (see the cover of Bruce Springsteen’s first album, Greetings From Asbury Park).  It has ripped edges, so maybe an old post card?  Having just read the large NYTs piece on postcard collectors, I have them on my mind ( postcards and the collectors).  

Finally, the last cartoon (not counting the caption contest):  Paul Noth does a bang-up job on a ventriloquist drawing.  I love drawings that come outta nowhere (well, it actually came from Mr. Noth, but you all know what I mean).


–see you next week for the big double anniversary issue. Will Rea Irvin’s classic Eustace Tilley return to the cover?  Pressing our luck, wouldn’t it be great to see Mr. Irvin’s classic Talk of the Town masthead return.  Here’s what it looks like so you’ll know it when you see it: