The First New Yorker Cartoon Issue…and the Last

From 1997 through 2012, the New Yorker published a “Cartoon Issue”; that there was a special issue wasn’t news — the magazine had started publishing them in its new era of ownership under Conde Nast (purists might argue that the issue of August 31, 1946 was the magazine’s first special issue. Beyond the Goings On About Town section, the entire issue was devoted to John Hersey’s Hiroshima. There were no cartoons, and no illustrations — just spot drawings).  The first Cartoon Issue came in the year of more change: the cartoon editorship passed from Lee Lorenz, who had held that position for 24 years, to one of the magazine’s cartoonists, Bob Mankoff, who had been contributing to the magazine for 20. [The Spill will take a look at the How and Why of that change in editorship in a future post].

The very first Cartoon Issue, dated December 15, 1997 was a celebratory explosion of the magazine’s signature art.  From the fold-out cover collage to the wonderful Jack Ziegler cartoon, “No comment” appearing where the “Comment” section would normally appear, it set the bar very high.  Also in this issue, the three section (originally planned as two section)  fold-out photograph of cartoonists taken by the acclaimed Arnold Newman, the mini bios of each cartoonist in the issue, Roger Angell’s Onward and Upward With the Arts piece (“Congratulations! It’s a baby”), Roz Chast’s graphic ode to Charles Addams, a double page photograph of George Price, a special feature by Richard Cline, Lee Lorenz’s “Cover Stories” …and more. 

In that first issue, the cartoons nearly took over the magazine. The majority of the pieces on the Table of Contents were cartoon-themed; 51 cartoonists were given brief bios.  In  the last Cartoon Issue,  28 cartoonists contributed and the issue’s special cartoon features were bundled together in the middle of the book, from page 60 to 76, with a smattering of single panel cartoons (16 cartoons to be exact) 5 multi-page spreads and 2 full page spreads, one of which, Joe Dator’s, “How We Do It: A Week In the Life of a New Yorker Cartoonist” is a classic piece of work.   As I wrote in 2012 when the issue appeared, “this Cartoon Issue veers from its predecessors in that its cover, cartoons and cartoon spreads are predominantly politically themed.”  

 Although all of the Cartoon Issues had elements that were exciting and fun — for instance, the Charles Barsotti cover on the second Cartoon Issue in 1998, and covers by New Yorker cartoonists such as George Booth, Ms. Chast, Harry Bliss, Edward Koren, Bruce Eric Kaplan, etc. —  that first Cartoon Issue, with its electric zeitgeist, remained the one to beat.  By October of 2011, when I mentioned to Jack Ziegler that the latest Cartoon Issue was probably due any week, he responded to me (via email) that it was “the moment we all dread.” By that time, the so-called “bookazine” Cartoons of The Year had already appeared and would shortly supplant the Cartoon Issue. On June 13, 2013, the magazine’s cartoonists received an email from the cartoon editor saying: “there definitely is not going to be a cartoon issue this year.” And that, as they say, was that.

(Below: the last Cartoon Issue, cover by Roz Chast)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

James Stevenson’s Life & Work Celebrated

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friends, relatives, and colleagues gathered yesterday morning at the Century Association in Manhattan to honor the late New Yorker Artist & Writer, James Stevenson. Among those from The New Yorker were Danny Shanahan, Arnie Levin, Anne Hall Elser, Roger Angell, Kennedy Fraser, Susan Morrison, Anthony Hiss, Mark SingerThe New Yorker’s “Jack-of-All-Trades” Stanley Ledbetter, the New Yorker‘s former Television Critic, Nancy Franklin and the magazine’s former Art Editor/Cartoon Editor, Lee Lorenz.

A blow-up of one of Mr. Stevenson’s color pieces hung behind a podium where guests made their way to recall movingly and often hilariously, Mr. Stevenson.

On our way out, we were offered a jar of  Creamy Skippy Peanut Butter (a Stevenson favorite), as well as the booklet of drawings shown above, and partially below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mr. Stevenson’s entry on Ink Spill’s New Yorker Cartoonists A-Z:

James Stevenson Born, NYC, 1929. Died, February 17, 2017, Cos Cob, Connecticut.  New Yorker work: March 10, 1956 -.   Stevenson interned as an office boy at The New Yorker in the mid 1940s when he began  supplying ideas for other NYer artists. Nine years later he was hired a full-time ideaman, given an office at the magazine and instructed not to tell anyone what he did. He eventually began publishing his own cartoons and covers as well as a ground-breaking Talk of the Town pieces (ground breaking in that the pieces were illustrated). His contributions to the magazine number over 2000.   Key collections: Sorry Lady — This Beach is Private! (MacMillan, 1963), Let’s Boogie (Dodd, Mead, 1978).  Stevenson has long been a children’s book author, with roughly one hundred titles to his credit.  He is a frequent contributor to the Op-Ed page of The New York Times, under the heading Lost and Found New York. Stevenson’s recent book, published in 2013, The Life, Loves and Laughs of Frank Modell, is essential.

A 2013 Ink Spill piece of interest: James Stevenson’s Secret Job

 

Being Eustace Tilley; Roger Angell Remembers James Stevenson; Oscar Time! Liza Donnelly Back on the Red Carpet Live Drawing the Oscars, Drooker’s Oscar Cover, Eckstein’s Oscar Wielding Eustace

 

 

Eustace Tilley is of course a fictional character — commonly referred to as The New Yorker‘s mascot.  There is a suggested backstory to Tilley himself in Lee Lorenz’s Art of The New Yorker: 1925-1995; there are best guesses elsewhere as to why Rea Irvin (see below) decided to submit the cover to Harold Ross to adorn Ross’s inaugural issue and there are probably just as many best guesses as to why Ross chose to use Irvin’s submission.

Following the advent of the New Yorker, it didn’t take long for a Tilley stand-in to show up; a New Yorker in-house publication featured Harold Ross as Tilley and Alexander Woollcott as the butterfly hovering at Tilley’s eye-level.  Over the years there have been innumerable parody New Yorkers (Ink Spill has a selection here).  But how many real people, after Harold Ross, have stood in for Tilley on a New Yorker cover or on another magazine’s cover.

If you search online you’ll see perhaps hundreds of Tilley stand-ins, some on the cover of The New Yorker itself, many submitted to the New Yorker as part of a contest, many just for personal amusement (Tilley as Disney’s Goofy, or Mad’s Alfred E. Neuman, Dr. Seuss’s Cat In The Hat, etc., etc.)    But here I’m concentrating on published covers featuring real people (and one real dog) as Tilley.   I’ve found just a few (please let me know of others that fit this category…update: my thanks to Attempted Bloggery for reminding me about the Eustace Clinton/Obama cover ):

 

First the real deal: Rea Irvin’s classic cover:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Yorker‘s in-house issue featuring Harold Ross.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Renata Adler as Tilley on Manhattan, Inc. November 1986

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York magazine, July 20, 1992,  with Tina Brown as Tilley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Yorker’s 75th anniversary issue, February 21, 2000, with a William Wegman dog as Tilley (and one of his dogs standing in for the butterfly)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Eustace Tillarobama” (credited to Rea Irvin and Seth) February 11, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that brings us to the March 6, 2017  The New Yorker, with Barry Blitt’s  “Eustace Vladimirovich Tilley” and Donald J. Trump as the butterfly

Image result for eustace tilley putin

 

Rea Irvin’s entry on Ink Spill‘s “New Yorker Cartoonists A-Z”:

Rea Irvin  (pictured above. Self portrait above from Meet the Artist) *Born, San Francisco, 1881; died in the Virgin Islands,1972. Irvin was the cover artist for the New Yorker’s first issue, February 21, 1925.  He was the magazine’s  first art editor, holding the position from 1925 until 1939 when James Geraghty assumed the title. Irvin became art director and remained in that position until William Shawn succeeded Harold Ross. Irvin’s last original work for the magazine was the magazine’s cover of July 12, 1958. The February 21, 1925 Eustace Tilley cover had been reproduced every year on the magazine’s anniversary until 1994, when R. Crumb’s Tilley-inspired cover appeared. Tilley has since reappeared, with other artists substituting from time-to-time.

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…From the New Yorker‘s Culture Desk, February 25, 2017, “Looking At The Field” Roger Angell on James Stevenson’s art and writing.

photo: Mr. Stevenson in Westport, Connecticut in 2015

 

 

 

 

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Oscar Time!

…Liza Donnelly has been out in Hollywood all week drawing  the scene as the Academy Awards prepares for its big night. Following her historic appearance last year as the first ever cartoonist live drawing on the Red Carpet, she will be back again tomorrow night drawing the stars and the hooplah.

Check out her drawings @lizadonnelly  and  @CBSThisMorning

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The New Yorker’s  Oscar cover, February 27, 2017 by Eric Drooker (titled “#OscarsNotSoWhite”)

 

 

 

 

 

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…I’ll wrap up this post appropriately enough with Bob Eckstein’s Eustace holding an Oscar. Be sure to follow Mr. Ecksteins coverage of the big event on newyorker.com 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frank Modell Celebrated

ModellCartoonists mostly live solitary work lives. When they’ve finished a drawing, sit back and take a look at it, the feedback usually comes from within; then there’s the occasional  laugh from their spouse, friend, room mate or visitor. In the reverse, it’s also usually a solitary experience for someone looking at a cartoon in a magazine.  More often than not, the reaction is internal, and yes, sometimes a laugh, out loud.

It is always slightly jarring — at least for me — to sit in a crowd and hear the collective roar of laughter at cartoons projected on a screen. Such was the experience last night at an evening dedicated to celebrating the life and work of the great New Yorker cartoonist Frank Modell, who passed away in May at age 98.

The event was held a few doors east of  the 44th Street entrance to The New Yorker‘s former longtime address at 25 West 43rd Street (the building’s main lobby stretches from 43rd to 44th).  A plaque attached to the magazine’s one-time residence bears Frank’s name alongside a number of other heavy hitters: Harold Ross, E.B. White, James Thurber, Helen Hokinson, Peter Arno, Charles Addams, Katharine White and James Stevenson to name but a few.  Mr. Stevenson, Frank’s best friend, was in attendance last night, as were a number of other New Yorker colleagues, including Warren Miller, Mort Gerberg, Edward Sorel, Arnold Roth, Liza Donnelly, Charles “Chip” McGrath, Roger Angell,  Anne Hall Elser, Thomas Vinciguerra  and Linda Davis.

Remarks from Frank’s close friends, Flicker Hammond, Edgar Lansbury, Tom Meehan, and the long-time New Yorker writer, Kennedy Fraser were preceded by the presentation of a wonderful array of Frank’s work. Watching the drawings come up on the screen, with each caption read by Nancy Franklin (the New Yorker‘s former television critic), the laughter moved from the front of the room to the rear — a true wave of laughter.  Each drawing was a reminder of Frank’s ability to reach us with elegant drawings (it was noted that Frank’s long-time colleague and editor Lee Lorenz had said that Frank’s drawings “popped off the page”) topped off by a disarmingly precise caption:  nothing elaborate, nothing obtuse — just plain funny. Funny, and evergreen; that magic ingredient  that for many many years was the hallmark of New Yorker cartoons.

As each cartoon was presented I was also reminded of the friendliness of Frank’s work — work as friendly as the man himself. The people he drew were people we knew, or know, or are. His animals, whether mythical or not, are animals we feel an attachment to, whether it’s the unicorn riding a unicycle or a dog sleeping on a stuffed chair.  One of the drawings shown, “Boy, am I glad to see you.” was greeted with exceptionally riotous laughter.  I couldn’t help but think of Frank himself at that moment.  Boy, Frank, were we glad to see you.

modell-boy-am-i-glad-to-see-you

 

Edward Koren to Speak & Sign Books

the_new_yorker_e2730aaa-d9ce-486e-91a8-ca7dfd5d2f5bRoger & Ed KorenOne of the greatest modern day New Yorker cartoonists, Edward Koren will be speaking at the Delaware Art Museum on July 21st (in conjunction with the traveling exhibit of his work, “The Capricious Line”).  All the details here.

[left: Mr. Koren (hatless) with another great New Yorker contributor/editor, Roger Angell. Photo courtesy of Liza Donnelly]

My thanks to David Pomerantz for alerting me to this event