Latest New Yorker Cartoons Rated; Even More Hoff; Chast with Ukulele

The Cartoon Companion‘s “Max” and “Simon” are back, taking a close look at the New Yorker cartoons in the issue of January 22, 2018.  Visit the site here!

Cartoons in this issue by:________________________________________________________________

Even More Hoff

Stephen Nadler’s Attempted Bloggery keeps the spotlight on little seen work by the late great Syd Hoff. See it here!

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Roz Chast with Ukulele

From In Your Face New York, this notice of an appearance by Ms. Chast on stage with ukulele partner, Patricia Marx.

 

Walking Tour of Interest: Library of Congress’s “Drawn To Purpose”; Exhibit of Interest: Shannon Wheeler; Kovarsky Opening Reception at the Society of Illustrators, Friday, Jan. 12!

From Comics DC, January 9, 2018, “Touring the LoC’s Drawn  to Purpose exhibit with curator Martha Kennedy” — an interesting walk through with Mike Rhode. Among the New Yorker contributors mentioned: Barbara Shermund, Roberta MacDonald, Liza Donnelly, Roz Chast, Helen Hokinson, and Alice Harvey. Read it here.

Link to the Library of Congress’s page here.

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Exhibit of Interest: Shannon Wheeler

From Bleeding Cool. January 9, 2018, “Shannon Wheeler’s Exhibition of Trump Cartoons, Across From Mar-A-Lago

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A Reminder: The Opening Reception for the Society of Illustrator’s exhibit “Kovarsky’s World: Covers and Cartoons From the New Yorker” is this Friday, January 12thDetails here.  

More Unseen Kovarsky: Mike Lynch has posted a number of previously unpublished work by Mr. Kovarsky.  See it here!

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of January 15 2018; Happy 114th Birthday, Peter Arno

The Monday Tilley Watch is a meandering take on the cartoons in the current issue of The New Yorker.

 I don’t know about you, but after I’ve looked through the cartoons of each new issue of The New Yorker I have the kind of  immediate reaction I have after sitting through a movie. As I begin walking up the aisle, the verdict is usually already in: good movie, bad movie, loved it, hated it, so-so, etc.. I looked through this latest issue of the magazine and thought: good cartoons. Good cartoons from beginning to end, with a real gem mid-way through.  

The first cartoon of the issue, William Haefeli’s on page 18 gets things going. Haefeli’s drawings never disappoint, and in this case caption and drawing are doing exactly what I hope for in every New Yorker cartoon (giving us Peter Arno’s one-two punch; in this case the one-two are so close together it’s a onetwo punch) If you have the issue in front of you (print or digital) notice the child’s body language. Mr. Haefeli has created a drawing that almost moves. 

Three pages later a drawing by Amy Hwang, who has become somewhat of a cat specialist. This is a lovely drawing, with a terrific caption. I predict it’s going to be reprinted on a lot coffee mugs and t-shirts.  

Four pages later a couple at a table by JAK (Jason Adam Katzenstein). Good caption. The woman’s expression is as the British say, “spot on.”

Five pages later a curio: a P. C. Vey  Christmassy drawing in the January 15th issue. It’s a very good drawing  replete with tree and one very large gift.  I’ll forever wonder why it wasn’t in the issue  of December 18 or the issue just after, January 1, 2018. A mystery!

Another five pages brings us to a Kim Warp drawing employing two of my favorite subjects: dinosaurs and space travel (in this case time/space travel).  Another wonderful drawing with a really good caption. 

Six pages later, the gem I spoke of earlier.  John O’Brien gives us a site (a work site) to behold —   it’s caption-less too (to me, caption-less cartoons are the most difficult to successfully achieve.  Mr. O’Brien’s batting average of success with them is crazy high). This is a high bar New Yorker drawing. And so: applause, applause.

 

On the very next page is a Matt Diffee cartoon.  He, like a few other cartoonists in the magazine use a box to frame their work (Jack Ziegler was King of the New Yorker boxed drawings). Mr. Diffee’s drawings are always easy on the eyes (the soft greys).  Here we have a couple of folks ice fishing. The idea centers on the use of the ice machine known as a Zamboni blended with the popular urban food truck.  As sometimes happens with drawings, I paused to consider an element (last week it was missing tent stakes). Unfortunately, this pause never fails to get in the way of the one-two punch.  Why, I thought, would a Zamboni be on an ice fishing lake?  I looked up Zambonis, and learned they are sometimes used on ice skating lakes.  But there’s no sign of skaters anywhere on Mr. Diffee’s lake. Perhaps they’re just off to the side, out of the box.  I’m fairly certain my fascination with cartoon details such as this comes out of my early cartoon education by way of New Yorker art editor, Lee Lorenz. He once returned a drawing to me and asked if I’d make the surf board in the drawing look less like a six foot cigar.  It wasn’t the most important element in the drawing, but if it appeared to be a giant cigar it would take the reader too much out of the  drawing. I guess that stuck with me — and now you’re stuck with me pointing out cartoon minutiae.

Four pages later, a Will McPhail nearly deserted beach scene. I like the caption. Mr. McPhail  shows us one of those funny umbrella tables you see in movies of places that resemble wherever this is.  What’s missing is only someone (or something) off in the distance splashing in the ocean. What can I say — I like graphic splashing. 

Three pages later, a color drawing from Seth Fleishman in a setting far far away from Mr. McPhail’s.  Subway rats playing a game.  Having just seen a photo in the Times the other day of a NYC rat dragging a moon pie, I’m wondering if NYC subway rats are now a thing.  I guess they’ve always been a thing, if you think about it.

On the page after the rats is a Roz Chast package drawing.  Ms. Chast excels at these, and this one’s right up there, laughs-wise. I haven’t examined a package of Junior Mints in a long time (not my theater go-to candy) but I do wonder if those boxes show the “Juniors” as human…probably not.  Six pages later a Brendan Loper Evel Knievel inspired drawing. We don’t see enough dare- devil drawings in the magazine. Interesting drawing. Good stuff.  

Thirteen pages later, the last drawing in the issue (not counting the Caption Contest pieces): Julia Suits provides a trope that seems to be off-again on-again in the magazine: the military officer pointing out a medal. By off-again on-again I mean we don’t see many for awhile and then they suddenly pop up like asparagus. Henry Martin did a number of these, as did a number of other colleagues.  I can’t recall ever doing one. Time to get crackin’.  

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Happy 114th Birthday, Peter Arno

Strange to think of Peter Arno, whose work seems so very much alive, as born 114 years ago. All the years I worked on his biography, from 1999 through 2016, he seemed somehow on the scene, at least the New Yorker scene. In early 2016, with the book wrapping up, I paid one last Arno research visit to Yale, where he spent one year, the Fall of 1922- Spring of 1923. I went there to look for possible Arno materials in a box of Thurber’s papers; it turned out to be a fun but wild goose chase.

  Even though Arno only attended classes the one year (his father pulled the plug, financially) it was a launch pad year for his not-too-far-off entree to The New Yorker.  At Yale his cartoons became quite polished as they appeared more and more in the Record  (Arno did a few covers too). Besides drawing, Arno was fully engaged with his other love, music.

  He organized what he called an “orchestra” and found a place to play right across the street from the campus.  He mentioned playing there in a letter to his mother:

“…working in the Art School all day long and playing every evening in the Bull Dog Grille…”

 That last day I spent at Yale I took a walk along York Avenue, with the Bull Dog’s address in hand.  I came to the corner of Elm and York and could see some old buildings were right where I needed them to be, diagonally across the street. Crossing Elm I quickly spotted  #264 over one of two arched doorways on a three-story Victorian era building. The building had survived (!) but there was some kind of construction going on, with the front partially shrouded, and a dumpster parked out front.

The entrance to the Grille (it was upstairs on the third floor) was the door to the right, just behind the plywood wall behind the lone tree. I stood across the street for a bit, then crossed over to see what I could see close-up.  It was a wonderful moment thinking about the college-aged Arno heading through that door. I’d read in Dorothy Ducas’s great Arno piece in the March 1938 issue of Mademoiselle  that besides playing music upstairs Arno also drew on the walls (ala Thurber!). Standing in front of the building that day there was a lot to imagine. 

Here’s a photo I took that afternoon:

Before writing today’s piece I thought I’d use Google to see what had been done to the place a year or so later. Turns out it wasn’t construction after all — it was destruction.

Though the building is gone, those Arno moments playing music and drawing upstairs at the Bull Dog are not entirely forgotten.  Also not forgotten: the body of work Arno published in the New Yorker during his 43 years there, much of which can be found in the books below.

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ps: Rea Irvin’s classic Talk masthead (shown below) still missing from the magazine. Hope it returns soon.

  

 

 

 

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of January 8, 2018

The Monday Tilley Watch is a meandering take on the cartoons in the current issue of The New Yorker.

And off we go — a new year!  Hundreds of new cartoons to look forward to in 2018’s 47 issues (there are five double issues).  On yesterday’s Spill I showed the back flap copy from the Third New Yorker Album, published in 1930. I like it so much I’m repeating it here:

Note that the copy expresses the publisher’s pleasure if you’ve experienced any of these symptoms while looking through the cartoons: amusement, irritation, or nervousness.  I think that’s about right; the magazine’s cartoons shouldn’t be just a cozy reassuring sweater, they should — sorry — itch a little every so often. The magazine’s cartoons have long had a reputation for sometimes being annoyingly indecipherable. I think that’s mostly a myth, but what the heck — it’s a fun myth, and cartoons are in the business of being fun.  

If you substitute “The New Yorker” for “The Third New Yorker Album” in that ancient flap copy above I think you might agree that we’re still in the same boat, cartoon-appreciation-wise. At least for me, the cartoons appearing in every new issue can amuse, irritate, and/or cause some nervousness that produces that sudden clammy feeling that it’s finally happened: I’m totally out of it — the world has passed me by. Why just last night I had to Google “Backpack Kid” after Anderson Cooper mentioned him during CNN‘s live Times Square coverage. Oh, the stress.

Thankfully, it being the first day of the new year, and an enforced happy holiday, no nervousness (for me) while looking through this brand new issue. Some amusement, and some teeny tiny fun irritants here and there (technical cartoon stuff — no cause for alarm). 

But before we get to the new cartoons:  just above is Rea Irvin’s beautiful classic Talk of the Town masthead that’s been missing since last Spring (talk about yer irritants!). I hope it returns home soon.

The first cartoon (or “drawing” if you’re a New Yorker classicist) is by William Haefeli. Having selected a wine 100% based on its label just two days ago, it’s personally relatable (one of several not-so-secret ingredients making for a successful cartoon).  And of course the drawing itself is top shelf Haefeli.

Eight pages later, a Victoria Roberts cartoon. A surprise here is that Ms. Roberts has given us an outdoors scene — I’ve become accustomed to her drawings being set inside, usually in a living room. This new one is fun all around. No one else draws like Mr. Haefeli and the same is true with Ms. Roberts.

Nine pages later yet another New York City subway drawing (I’m going to predict that the fellows over on Cartoon Companion will make special note of this come Friday when they post their rated takes on the issue’s cartoons). I spent more time than usually spent looking at a cartoon when I came to Ellis Rosen‘s well-drawn drawing of an urban underground diarist. At first glance, seeing the drawing on my tablet, I wondered if that was a hot water tank behind the tent. Switching over to my computer I could see it was a trash can. 

Below left: Mr. Rosen’s trash can.  Right: a hot water tank.

In a way, I wish it had been a hot water tank as it would’ve made zero sense having it there (sometimes/most times, I love something nonsensical in the mix). I also liked that the fellow in the drawing appears to be wearing a Davey Crockett coonskin hat (but I hope it’s synthetic and that no raccoons were harmed in the making of the cartoon). By the way, you can still buy these hats.  Here’s one on Etsy.

I worry a little about Mr. Rosen’s diarist’s tent. If a subway train ever does blow into the station the tent will likely have serious stability issues as there aren’t any stakes holding it down.

Five pages later a Roz Chast cartoon. Like Ms. Roberts, Ms. Chast has gone outdoors. Bonfires bring to mind all sorts of stuff, some good (beach bonfires), some bad (book burning). As with Mr. Rosen’s drawing, I lingered on this one a bit more than usual, trying to figure out if the ring of people was made up of children, teenagers, or adults. I think all three. 

On the very next page, a Lars Kenseth Moby Dick, uh, Moby Lobster cartoon. As much as I feel for  tanked lobsters in restaurants and grocery stores, this is, like Mr. Haefeli’s work, top-shelf stuff. I’m dragging out the Spill’s graphic applause meter for this one:

 

Three pages later, a boxed drawing that could only be the work of Harry Bliss. Rarely do we see this much detail in a drawing (if you don’t count Mr. Haefeli’s work). What I find amusing in this drawing, with its incredible detail — especially the tree in the forefront — is that there are no footprints in the snow created by either father or daughter. Shadows by the shoes, yes…but no indication of prints. Funny. Maybe it’s a cleared dry pathway void of snow.

The next drawing, by Teresa Burns Parkhurst, is on the very next page. I could be terribly wrong about this but I don’t remember seeing too many public restroom drawings in the New Yorker. There’ve been many many drawings of private bathrooms.  Peter Arno’s so-called Man in the Shower immediately comes to mind and of course George Booth’s man in the tub series.  But a quick look through the New Yorker‘s database only turns up a few cartoons taking place in restrooms (i.e. bathrooms out of the home).  For what that’s worth! 

Sixteen pages later is a David Sipress television documentary series cartoon. Seeing this I couldn’t help but recall one done in the same school of thought published in the New Yorker 35 years ago by a then relative newcomer to the magazine (me). Coincidentally, Mr. Sipress and I share an affection for the word and number “six” in our captions: he uses it once, “…ninety-six part -documentary…” and, as you see below, I used it twice (coincidentally, and unimportantly, I was in my sixth year of contributing when the drawing below appeared in the issue of May 2, 1983). 

 

Five pages later an Emily Flake drawing, set outside.   A woman sits on a park bench in what appears to be sweater weather — there’s foliage on the trees (with two leaves on the ground).  California maybe?  I’m reminded of the late great Al Ross who somewhat specialized in park bench drawings. I raise my morning mug of coffee to Ms. Flake for this unexpected opportunity to mention the exceptionally talented and charming Mr. Ross.

Six pages later a Frank Cotham limo drawing. Without checking the New Yorker‘s database I think I’m on safe ground in saying that Mr. Cotham has done a good number of limo drawings (and by the way, isn’t it well past time for a Cotham anthology of cartoons?). I’m having difficulty deciphering the ears on the passenger.  Are they pointy? If they are, is that essential information?  Questions, questions…

Three pages later the last drawing of the issue (not counting the Caption Contest drawings).  This one, by Andrew Hamm is anchored by the oft-used flock ‘o’ birds scenario.  I pretty much always enjoy these drawings, whether done by Henry Martin or Lee Lorenz, etc., etc… Here we have very heavy appliances heading south…a scary proposition.

— See you next Monday.

 

 

 

 

 

A 32 Year Old New Yorker Cartoon Sampler

This being a Monday, the Monday Tilley Watch would normally be here, but last week’s issue was a double — we won’t see a new issue until next Monday.  So here’s an addendum to yesterday’s post (about the magazine’s 60th anniversary album):  A Cartoon Sampler, published in 1985 (wow, what a celebratory mood the magazine was in).  Samplers were not new then, but they have somewhat fizzled out since.  I believe this Sampler would’ve been offered to new subscribers (a lot of, if not most of, other samplers were themed, and sent out as advertising incentives). 

Sitting above an Eldon Dedini drawing on the very first page is this intro:

Almost 50 pages, this isn’t a cheap-o toss-away booklet, but something savable — it tucks nicely into the 1975-1985 Album. The cartoons, all on reasonably good paper stock, are usually placed one a page with just a couple of exceptions.  There’s even a double page spread of Steinberg’s drawings (“Women”).  The cartoonists are represented in a fine balance, from George Price, the elder (in terms of years at the magazine; his first New Yorker appearance was in 1929) to newbie, Richard Cline, who was first published in the New Yorker in 1981.

A sample from the Sampler:  work by Robert Weber (the full page) and on the opposite page, Roz Chast, and Edward Koren:

The back cover:

 

 

The New Yorker Cartoon Album 1975 – 1985

With the publication of The New Yorker Cartoon Album 1975-1985, the word “Cartoon” makes its second appearance on an Album cover and in an Album  title (the first was on the cover of The Album of Sports and Games: Cartoons of Three Decades).  The magazine’s 60th anniversary not only saw this anthology published, but the magazine’s fans were treated to a fabulous show of cartoons and covers, curated by Barbara Nicholls, a former art assistant to James Geraghty (Ms. Nicholls went on to establish a gallery representing many of the New Yorker’s artists). 

Mounted at the New York Public Library, this was the show for anyone who loved the magazine’s art.  Following its run in New York, the exhibit went on the road across the country, and across the big pond. Here’s the brochure:

But now back to the anthology. You can see by the cover that the design is solidly in the school of the understated. The is no introduction within, no foreword, no dedication. Compare the cover to the cover of the 90th Anniversary Book of Cartoons (the Spill will eventually get to that on another Sunday) — you’ll see how graphic decision-making has changed.

The 1975- 1985 Album leads off with a spectacular full page drawing by Robert Weber, and it ends with a full page Charles Addams drawing.  In between you’ll find a rich array of the grand masters of the form: Steig, Steinberg, George Price, Dana Fradon, Warren Miller, Frank Modell,  the aforementioned  Weber and Addams, Henry Martin, Booth, Koren, Ed Arno ( but not Peter Arno, who had passed away in 1968), Whitney Darrow, Jr., James Stevenson, Ed Fisher…the list couldn’t go on and on — it was, after all, finite, but you get the idea.  Also in the Album, a new wave of cartoonists, including Mick Stevens, Leo Cullum, Liza Donnelly, the two Roz’s: Zanengo and Chast, Tom Cheney, Michael Crawford, Richard Cline, Bill Woodman, Peter Steiner, and Mike Twohy, among others (including yours truly). Jack Ziegler, who I’ve dubbed “The Godfather of Contemporary New Yorker Cartoonists”  was a late entry in the 1925-1975 Album (his first New Yorker cartoon was published in 1974. He’s represented in the 1925-1975 Album by one cartoon)Here, in the 1975-1985 Album his genius is on full display.  

This Album would be the last published during William Shawn’s editorship.  The next Album would not appear until the year 2000, the magazine’s 75th anniversary (in between was Lee Lorenz’s Art of The New Yorker: 1925- 1995). 

Below: the back cover of the The New Yorker Cartoon Album 1975-1985:

And the inside flap copy: