The above cover does not appear on the New Yorker‘s 94th Anniversary issue; note the date and price. I’ve posted it — the very first New Yorker cover — because sentimental me misses seeing Rea Irvin’s iconic curiously curious Eustace Tilley, dressed in his oddly compelling finery. He hasn’t shown up since 2011 (below)…that seems like such a long time for him to be away. Sometimes it’s good to go back, before, you know, you drift too far from shore (to read about Kadir Nelson’s Tilley-inspired take-off on the cover of the current issue, go here).
It has made my week seeing George Booth’s drawing in the issue (p.47). It’s classic Booth. And no small thing, it inhabits the perfect space on the page — it is where it should be and it looks as it should look. And… it looks great. I could, and will, say the same for Edward Koren’s drawing (p.80).
Two of our cartoon gods delivering the goods, continuing to share their worlds, a half century or more since they began contributing to The New Yorker (Mr. Koren began in 1962, Mr. Booth in 1969).
Of interest to the weedsy cartoon folks: there is not just one caption-less cartoon in the issue — there are three (Seth Fleishman, Will McPhail, and Ed Steed). By caption-less, I should clarify that I mean a cartoon that appears without assistance from words in a box, or a title, or a thought balloon.
Finally, I end as I began: by mentioning the work of The New Yorker artist Rea Irvin. His beautiful masthead — the one that ran for most of the magazine’s 94 years but went missing in the Spring of 2017 (read about it here) is also still out of sight this anniversary week (well, two weeks, as it’s a double issue). It appears here once again, as it always does on Mondays, until someone tells me to cut it out (so to speak) or until it reappears in the magazine (and wouldn’t that be great).
The Cover: This week’s New Yorker cover is by Pascal Campion, his second cover for the magazine — his second moody metropolis scene. Read about it here. I wonder if we’ll see a moody mid-western, western, northeastern or southern scenario anytime soon.
The Cartoons: Several nice surprises this week. The first was running into Sam Gross’s lead-in cartoon (his work has been appearing in the magazine for forty-nine years). There are certain cartoonists whose style alone gets the laugh meter buzzing. Mr. Gross is one of those cartoonists. The other surprise: R.O. Blechman’s “spot” drawings. Mr. Blechman’s wonderful drawings and covers have appeared in the magazine for forty-five years.
A third nice thing to see in this issue: the number of cartoons. Bumped up from the usual dozen or so to a healthy eighteen. They just keep on a-comin as you flip through the magazine (as do the illustrations).
If I have one little dark cloud to drag over this sunny moment it’s another plea for some of the work to be run larger (true, some cartoons run large, should be smaller). A number in this issue are, to my eyes, sized just right (a few for instances: Tom Cheney’s on page 54, and Jon Adams on page 52). Perfectly sized is Seth Fleishman’s terrific drawing on page 39. But others seem wedged into their corners; Roz Chast’s intricate Candy Land For Adults (page 32) and David Sipress’s off the beaten track restaurant (page 25) would benefit from more space. Really all I’m campaigning for is a graphic invitation for readers to fully appreciate the work. The work of the late George Price is a good example of how a cartoonist’s world can take us in for some detached momentary fun-time. Mr. Price’s drawings were usually allowed a lot of breathing room on the page. One paused to inspect the work, to enjoy all the “stuff” Price gave us. Imagine one of his drawings run in a little box on the corner of a page.
A few favorite drawings, or elements of drawings in this issue: Joe Dator’s monkey (page 40); Paul Noth’s drawing (page 60) — a great addition to the New Yorker‘s doctor canon; P.C. Vey’s theater drawing; Maddie Dai’s drawing of a sculptor and friend, as well as the caption; Frank Cotham’s perfect caption for his drawing (page 36). All fine, inspiring moments.
Next-to-Lastly, a mention of the newest cartoonist on the block:Ellie Black, the third newbie this year and the twenty-seventh new cartoonist brought in since Emma Allen became the magazine’s cartoon editor in May of 2017. A good debut, with a welcome unexpected play on the well-worn hands touching moment we’ve seen in movies and books.
Speaking of Mr. Irvin, I spoke too soon last week about the New Yorker‘s anniversary issue appearing this week. Had I bothered to consult the fine print publishing info found near the end of each issue I would’ve seen that next week’s magazine (a double issue: February 18 & 25) is the 94th anniversary issue.
The Magazine: Whenever February comes around, I begin thinking about the upcoming anniversary issue of The New Yorker, a favorite child here on this site (Spill visitors might rememberthis Tilley-centric piece I wrote for newyorker.com a few years back). Seeing Rea Irvin’s classic dandy this year would be such a welcome surprise. Even more of a surprise than, say, coming upon the now-famous Mandy the Mandarin duck in Central Park. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Irvin’s iconic cover. In fact, the last time was in 2011. So what will next week’s cover be: the dandy or a duck?
The Cover this week — rushed released days earlier — is from the masterful pen of John Cuneo. Below is an early version of the published cover, provided courtesy of Mr. Cuneo.
The Cartoonists (note the Spots contribution from Ed Steed) :
A little bit of something for everyone in this issue: an ice fisherman, a whale, a cat person in a dog park, a windy city street, imbibing cave people, a library, clowns, the subway, domestic situations, the mob, a police lineup, a restaurant scenario, Snow White.
Cartoon placement-wise, it was good to see some stretching out from the usual rectangular box seated in a corner of a page. Frank Cotham’s basement drawing run three columns wide (on page 30) is a good example, as is Zach Kanin’s ice fisherman on page 63 and Liana Finck’s drawing on page 72. Brendan Loper’s party-folk drawing on page 44, and Kim Warp’s police lineup drawing on page 48 were also given more breathing room. Then there’s Will McPhail’s full page (with the “Sketchbook” heading of “L’) on page 43. I’ve given this drawing some extra thought this morning, wondering if it needed the “Sketchbook” heading. What exactly does the “Sketchbook” designation bring to the page. I also wonder if those outside the New York/ Metropolitan area understand that the “L” refers to the “L” line of the New York City subway system (and local stories concerning the line). And then there’s the question of whether the “L” train reference actually means something here that’s essential to understanding the little story played out in sequence. Perhaps, perhaps. Perhaps not. So many questions! Anyway, it’s a fun drawing that works well no matter the subway line. As noted with a hint of impatience on Cartoon Companion, New Yorker subway cartoons have become nearly a standard scenario in recent months. I continue to believe that no scenario is played-out if the idea works well.
A subway sidenote: when I think of previous multi-panel subway cartoons my first thought is of this one by Liza Donnelly from the New Yorker issue of April 14, 1986. And speaking of Ms. Donnelly, in her cave man drawing on page 21 of this latest issue of the magazine there’s not a cave man in sight.
I’ve been re-watching the entire run of “The Sopranos” lately, so Joe Dator’s cement shoe drawing on page 52 grabbed my attention. I especially enjoyed seeing the George Boothian bare light bulb hanging down from the ceiling.
This issue marks the New Yorker print debut for Emily Bernstein. Ms. Bernstein is the third new New Yorker cartoonist of the year and the 28th since Emma Allen became the magazine’s cartoon editor in the Spring of 2017.
The Tilley Watch again signs-off with a nod to the missing Rea Irvin masthead (seen below). Read about it here.
Two weeks in to the new year without a Trump cover! Anna Parini makes her cover debut (it’s titled “A New Leaf”; not for the last time, I wonder why we need titles for the covers.
Viewed online, various elements of the cover are animated. Snow blows, wind blows the woman’s hair and ruffles a few pages of her book. Silhouetted figures walk by in the background. It’s a lovely image but I found myself wondering if people really stand on city streets reading books on cold snowy windy wintry days.
The only image I can readily conjure up that incorporates a similar situation is of holiday carolers holding up their song books as they stand singing on street corners.
I’m at a disadvantage this morning as the digital issue has yet to appear. That means we’ll dispense with counting illustrations as well as even beginning to think about how the cartoons are placed on the pages. A pity. Instead I’m relying on the slideshow of cartoons provided on newyorker.com.
The cartoonists in this issue: David Sipress, Will McPhail, Jason Adam Katzenstein, Pia Guerra, Zach Kanin, Roz Chast, Mike Twohy, P.C. Vey, Tom Cheney, Carolita Johnson, Sophia Warren, Frank Cotham, Trevor Spaulding, Danny Shanahan, Ben Schwartz, Liana Finck, Tom Toro.
Some thoughts on the cartoons:
Graphically, Frank Cotham’s drawing of the soldiers atop a castle tower is quite striking. As one who has studied the castle work of the master, Charles Addams, and as one who has drawn many a castle myself, I was taken by the dramatic angle Mr. Cotham has given us. Bravo!.
Of note is Danny Shanahan’s desert island drawing. It made me think about the resurgence of what once seemed a played-out scenario. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the recent past we’ve seen a number of desert island drawings, all clever as can be, and all proving that anything works in the cartoon universe if it works well. Mr. Shanahan’s works well (and lest we forget, a few years ago he had a cover of…a desert island). Here’s a quick look at some desert island cartoons courtesy of the BBC.
I really enjoyed Liana Finck’s damsel in distress tied to railroad tracks. Ms. Finck’s heavy use of black recalls Charles Barsotti’s expert use of contrast, and more recently, Seth Fleishman’s. I particularly like that she didn’t get involved in a detailed drawing of the tracks. She’s given us what looks like a ladder on the ground, and it works! Best of all: the eye contact she’s captured between the villain and the woman. Excellent.
— Finally, here’s to Rea Irvin’s beautiful missing masthead, replaced in May of 2017. Read about it here, and see it below:
A Charles Addams Birthday Tribute
To celebrate Charles Addams birthday, here’s a lovely piece by Steve Stoliar. My thanks to him for allowing it to appear here.
this day in 1912, Charles Samuel Addams was born in Westfield, New
Jersey – and I think we’re all more than a little better off because of
it. Chas Addams’ delightfully dark cartoons brightened up innumerable
issues of ‘The New Yorker” from 1932 (!) until his death in 1988 – a
more than fifty-five-year run. And, of course, his family of macabre
relatives was the basis for “The Addams Family” TV series and later
films (though the characters had no names before the TV series, which was produced by Groucho’s longtime friend, writer Nat Perrin).
I first met Addams in 1978 – on the same day I first met Dick Cavett
– backstage at the PBS Cavett show, when the subject of the show was
“New Yorker” cartoonists. Addams signed a copy of “Addams and Evil”
that I “happened to have” brought along in the event our paths crossed.
About five years later, when I was living in New York and writing for Cavett at HBO, I spotted Chas striding in my direction up Sixth Avenue. Another path-crossing! I stopped him and asked, “Excuse me – aren’t you Charles Addams?” He smiled and replied, “Yes, but how did you recognize me? Most people think I’m Walter Matthau!” [see photo below] I tossed off some sort of compliment and off we went in our separate directions.
Not long thereafter, I picked up this delightful original ink-and-wash Chas Addams drawing – for a whopping $300 – because some guy with a bunch of vintage original “New Yorker” cartoons was remarrying and his wife didn’t like “all those old cartoons” on their walls. His loss; my gain. I wrote to Addams about the drawing c/o “The New Yorker” and received this lovely note in return. He is missed – but at least we have his prolific outpouring of drawings to remember him by.