The latest issue is the klieg light for cartoonists; we go to it with some higher level of curiosity: to see who’s in and what our colleagues have come up with; to see, and yes, judge, whether we believe the work is great, good, bad, or so-so; whether there’s a just published drawing exactly like the one we were about to submit; whether there’s a drawing we’ll never forget, or never remember. I’ve always thought of every new issue’s cartoons as fuel — whether I like what I see or dislike it, it somehow gets the new week going…with a bang.
The Monday Tilley Watch is a look at the latest issue. I’ll record whose work we see, and whatever peripheral thought about the cartoon or cartoonist hits me at the moment. I’ll likely wander into other departments as well (at least mentioning the Art Department’s baby: the cover). It is not at all like what my friends over at the Cartoon Companion do. They dissect each cartoon and then rate it, bringing an objectivity to this party I can’t (neither of the Cartoon Companion fellows contribute to The New Yorker…yet).
And off we go.
The issue of July 24, 2017
… We begin with a political cover by Barry Blitt (surprise!) featuring the President and two of his children — the cover was already mentioned, and shown here at the end of last week…I note on the Table of Contents that there are no special cartoon features this week (no full pages…at least, none listed here… no spreads, etc.)..and then onto The Talk of The Town, still headed by the newly modernized Rea Irvin masthead. I’m going to keep wishing the previous masthead returns — the one that was in place for 91 years. The magazine has, in very recent times, tried out redesigns up front only to pull them back. If only it would happen here. I also note on the Talk page that there’s a wonderful Tom Bachtell drawing of the President and his in-the-news son; Donald and Donald, Jr. making their second appearance in the issue and we’re only 15 pages in.
The first cartoon of the issue is by a relative newcomer, Amy Hwang, who’s closing in on her seventh year contributing to the magazine…it’s followed by a P.C. Vey cartoon featuring nudity. There haven’t been all that many nude cartoon characters in the New Yorker in recent years, so, a novelty. Mr. Vey’s been contributing to The New Yorker for quite some time (his first appeared in 1993)…then a Barbara Smaller drawing — it might possibly be related to the Trump family, or not (Ms. Smaller’s first New Yorker cartoon appeared in 1996); an Edward Koren drawing is up next. Mr. Koren is our senior (in terms of years contributing) cartoonist, and a national treasure — his first New Yorker drawing appeared in May of 1962…
…Paul Karasik, whose first drawing appeared in 1999, has the next drawing. No cartoonist can resist drawing talking fish in a fishbowl. Mr. Karasik’s other lines of work include teaching and authoring (his new book, How to Read Nancy, was noted on the Spill last week). Liana Finck is next. We rarely see scout drawings in the magazine anymore. I think back to some classics by Peter Arno and Charles Addams. It should be noted that Ms. Finck, whose first drawing appeared in the magazine in 2013, has an opening this week of her Instagram work. Next is a doctor-themed drawing by one who knows about doctors, Ben Schwartz…
…Sam Gross, another national treasure, has the next cartoon — let’s just say it’s about the working life of dogs. Mr. Gross’s first New Yorker cartoon appeared in 1969. Mr. Gross is among a small group whose work I enjoy at first sight, before even taking in the what the drawing is all about (George Booth and the aforementioned Edward Koren come to mind as among the others in that group — I love seeing their work). Next up is another relative newcomer (first drawing in The New Yorker in 2013), Ed Steed. Three on-the-dark-side cartoons by Mr. Steed in the last three issues. Of note: this one stretches along the very bottom of two pages…
…Mr. Steed’s drawing is followed by the veteran, Roz Chast (her first cartoon was published in the magazine in 1978). I love how this particular cartoon looks on the page (yesterday’s Spill concerned itself with placement). William Haefeli‘s drawing is next (first New Yorker drawing: 1998). Mr. Haefeli has one of the most distinctive styles of this current stable of cartoonists. And speaking of distinctive styles, Drew Dernavich has the next cartoon. Some cartoonist’s styles are easily summarized (“the dot guy” for instance) — Mr. Dernavich’s tag might be “the woodcut guy.” (Mr. Dernavich should not be confused with John Held, Jr., the New Yorker ‘s much earlier “woodcut guy”). A Robert Leighton cartoon is next. Mr. Leighton is the artist behind this classic cartoon. His first drawing appeared in The New Yorker in 2002. In this new drawing he mixes crime with a food cart. Alex Gregory’s very Summery drawing follows. Mr. Gregory, like a few other cartoonists, has another whole career: he’s a writer for the award-winning televison show, VEEP. His first New Yorker cartoon appeared in 1999.
As usual, The Cartoon Caption Contest ends the issue. Drawings by David Borchart (first New Yorker cartoon published 2007), Tom Cheney (first New Yorker cartoon published 1978), and P.C. Vey. The drawings feature a food cart (two food carts in this issue!), a whole lot of business men following some ancient warriors on horses, and a hospital scene that blends in a little stadium gear.