The New Yorker section of the upcoming Swann auction is an awful lot of fun. The Addams cover shown above is just one of the gems listed. To see the “3D catalog” go here. Other New Yorker artists whose work is going under the gavel include Charles Barsotti, Bemelmans, Abe Birnbaum, Whitney Darrow, Jr., Richard Decker, Ed Fisher, Heidi Goennel, Edward Gorey, Theodore Haupt, John Held, Jr., Helen Hokinson, Maira Kalman, Arnie Levin, Rick Meyerowitz, Bill Mauldin, Donald Reilly, Mischa Richter, Arnold Roth, Charles Saxon, Ronald Searle, Seth, Steinberg, Tom Toro, and Gahan Wilson.
The New Yorker’s Cartoon Editor on Kanye and The Caption Contest
Read what Emma Allen, the New Yorker‘s cartoon editor has to say about the Kanye Caption Contest thing going on.
Commencement Speaker of Interest: Seth
All the info on the poster above and some more here.
A Spill Fave Blog: A New Yorker State of Mind: Reading Every Issue of The New Yorker
Time well spent reading this blog. Above: one of Rose Silver’s seven New Yorker covers.
Illustrator / New Yorker Cover Artist of Interest: Cannaday Chapman
From Cleveland Magazine, April 25, 2018, “Local Artist Talks About His Work With The New Yorker”
The first time you set eyes on a Tom Chitty cartoon there’s no way you’ll not have some kind of reaction. His is not a cookie cutter cartoon style, but something expressly his own. Like Lars Kenseth, Mr. Chitty has dared to go to some other cartoon dimension — a place with unfamiliar human anatomy. He and Mr. Kenseth are cartoon risk-takers. I’ve been emailing with Mr. Chitty over the winter months, talking about his work, and his life north of the border. Here’s some of what we discussed:
Michael Maslin: The people in your drawings are most unusual. Can you talk about how they came to be? And I tempted to ask (so I will): any particular reason there are no noses?
Tom Chitty: The way my cartoons are drawn today grew out of some advice I got at animation school. My tutor suggested I stop worrying about style, and concentrate more on ideas. So I started working more quickly, scribbling only what was essential to remember a thought. It turns out you don’t necessarily need noses in that context, and you for-sure don’t need Gray’s Anatomy. At a certain point, this way of drawing became normal to me – like handwriting.
My finished New Yorker cartoons are more deliberate than those initial sketch-burps, and my illustrations still more so – but I always start with the loose stuff and keep as much of it as I can.For the record, I describe the noses as ‘implied’, rather than non-existent!
MM: And moving on to another unique Chitty person characteristic: the bowl-legs. Do you have some cowboy in your background? Can you talk about the leg structure?
TC: If you take a look at the drawings I sent you (the ones that have noses), you’ll see that they’ve been drawn into a somewhat pre-defined, rounded-oblong, shape. I drew like this for a while because I read a couple of books about Mayan hieroglyphs and I became briefly (but healthily) obsessed.
Above: Nosed Chitty people
I don’t draw that way so much any longer, but the block-shaped bodies stuck. The legs are positioned quite far apart, it’s true, but I think that’s where they would need to be to hold up such a cumbersome torso. My characters are weird but they fully respect the laws of physics, probably.
No family cowboys that I am aware of, but plenty of odd bods.
MM: I love knowing what influenced cartoonists early on in life. Were you influenced/inspired by television, animated cartoons, comics, something else…a combination of any of those, or none of those?
TC: Asterix books were my first cartoon love, then Calvin and Hobbes (of course). Quentin Blake’s illustrations for Roald Dahl certainly lodged themselves in my brain, and I absorbed a bunch of Moomin that didn’t really understand. I read Dr. Suess’ Did I ever tell you how lucky you are?, over and over. Probably still my favorite book.
I have always been a heavy user of movies, but I’m not sure that was a direct influence on my drawing. I did used to watch Monty Python re-runs with my Dad, whenever they were on, and it’s hard not to be influenced by that, unless you are made of cardboard.
After Python came A bit of Fry and Laurie (Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie’s sketch show), French and Saunders, Blackadder, and anything Armando Iannucci or Steve Coogan were doing.
MM: I confess I did not know, until moments ago when I looked them up, what the Asterix books were/are. Looking at Asterix himself — and stop me if I’m stretching the comparison at all — I can maybe see just a hint of inspiration there for the way you draw legs. Did not expect the brief Mayan hieroglyphics obsession, but that’s why I asked. You just never know what has directly or indirectly been an influence.
Dr. Suess, Monty Python, Quentin Blake…it’s all beginning to make sense now. Any MAD magazine in your past or present? And what of the New Yorker artists? Anyone, or ones, that were motivators (for lack of a better word)?
TC: It’s very possible I internalized Uderzo’s Asterix legs. It would certainly explain why spindly limbs look quite normal to me. It’s tough to pick out a particular New Yorker artist, but the first books I bought on this subject were collections by William Steig, and Charles Barsotti. I could tell you I love Roz Chast, but that would be as revelatory as admitting I have eyes. In general, I have favourite cartoons rather than cartoonists – favourite ideas.
A high school friend had a subscription to MAD magazine, so I’d flick through his issues while listening to Nirvana and eating sausages. I don’t know it as well as I would like though. MAD was a bit of a mythical creature in my particular English suburb, as was the New Yorker.
MM: Can you talk a little about how you made your way to the New Yorker. When did you begin thinking it might be worth a try; when did you begin submitting; what was the reaction when you first began showing your work?
TC: It wasn’t until I moved to Canada, (in 2009) that I was regularly exposed to the New Yorker. In the U.K. I’d use Private Eye to suck in cartoons – not least because the New Yorker was not well distributed (for obvious reasons).
In Toronto the magazine is easy to get hold of, and so I got to know it. It’s also pretty easy to get to New York City from here – I can go twice a year, instead of twice in my lifetime. That really helped. The idea of submitting started to feel reasonable – plus friends and family were telling me I should (even after they had seen my drawings).
So, I bought a pile of books about New Yorker cartoons and cartoonists, and once I’d read them, I reached out for some guidance on the submission process. Matt Diffee gave me some great advice, that seemed to boil down to this: at the start it’s really about figuring out how you can deliver a batch of ideas every week (forever). If you can do that, you’ll certainly get better at cartooning, and you might have a shot at getting published.
Above: Tom Chitty’s first New Yorker cartoon
I started submitting in the summer of 2014 and I got my first O.K. later that year. The first reaction I endured to that particular cartoon [published October 13, 2014] was a comment on the New Yorker‘s Facebook page. It was words to the effect of, “this drawing is so ugly”. After a little soul wringing, I managed to take that as a compliment.
MM: The Facebook commenter (“this drawing is so ugly”) probably did you a favor by offering up a quick immersion into the kind of stuff one needs to ignore to carry on. Are your days filled with drawing cartoons; are you involved in other projects; do you take time off for very un-cartoony things?
TC: At various times I am also an animator and illustrator – when something juicy comes up – but, most of my working life is spent making cartoons and art prints. I draw neighborhood scenes, mainly of Toronto right now, and also houses on commission – usually that’s an old family home, or in celebration of a new one.
I have always wanted to be a cartoonist, but I probably wanted to be a footballer even more than that (soccer player, for my American friends). I never really imagined that would happen, of course, but I do still spend more time playing and watching sport than is sensible. Here is some ridiculous evidence if you want it.
My one-year-old son is the main distraction right now though. Even football has taken a back seat to that little maniac – though, the cartooning brain is never truly off is it? Every experience has the potential to become a silly drawing.
MM: What is the cartoonist community like in Toronto? Do you ever run into Seth?
TC: Toronto is a great place to be for cartoons and graphic arts in general. It’s the fourth largest city in North America, so you’d expect that, I suppose – but despite it’s size its still very neighborhoody and I think that helps develop communities of all kinds.
The Ontario College of Art and Design is based right next to the Art Gallery of Ontario, which itself runs cartooning workshops. O.C.A.D. has some headline graduates in this field like Michael Cho and Gary Taxali. There’s also Sheridan College, a little out of the City. It’s known for exporting graduates to Pixar, among other things.
The Beguilling is the comic book store I prod people towards when they visit. It serves as something of a cartoonist hub in my experience – it’s run by the same people who organize the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.
There are some very interesting Canadian magazines based here, like Broken Pencil, which showcases indy publications and zines, and Taddle Creek, which is a broad literary mag (including comics) and, like the New Yorker, it features illustrations on the cover.
Above: Mr. Chitty with Mr. Dator, in Toronto, July 3, 2017
I also intentionally bumped into Joe Dator here last year, while he was visiting. He told me that Alice Cheng lives in Toronto too. So, if you’re reading this Alice, let’s grab a coffee! She definitely isn’t reading this.
Advertising Work by New Yorker Cartoonists, Part 8: James Thurber (Bug-A-Boo Ads)
I wish we knew if Thurber wrote or at least tinkered with the copy. The wording was obviously designed to resemble some of his work found in The New Yorker and in his collected works (four books by 1934, with a fifth appearing in the latter part of 1935, the year these ads appeared).
Whatever the case, these drawings are delightful, and you can’t beat the very Thurberish sounding product name.
Here’s Mr. Thurber’s entry on the Spill’s A-Z:
James Thurber (pictured above) Born, Columbus, Ohio, December 8, 1894. Died 1961, New York City. New Yorker work: 1927 -1961, with several pieces run posthumously. Key anthology: The Thurber Carnival (Harper & Row, 1945). Link here to a short biography on the Thurber House site
Seth’s Sesquicentennial Piece
Seth began contributing to The New Yorker in 2002.
— my thanks to cartoonist biographer, Mike Rhode for bringing Seth’s Hazel piece to my attention
Flake’s “Mama Tried” on IFC ‘s 2018 Slate of Projects
From Deadline Hollywood, July 29, 2017, “IFC Sets 2018 Slate…” — in a list of projects following this sentence:
IFC has given episodic script orders to the following projects:
A show about the seamy underbelly of new motherhood, Mama Triedfollows the struggles (and occasional triumphs) of Liz Callahan who’s finding that she could care less about being a “super-mom”- she just wants to survive. Mama Tried weaves Emily Flake’s darkly funny animation to help bring to life all of motherhood’s graphic, and sometimes gruesome, realness. Written by Emily Wilson (Cougar Town, Superior Donuts) and animated by and based on the graphic novel by Emily Flake, executive produced by Jax Media (Full Frontal, Broad City, Search Party).
Ms. Flake was a recent subject of the Spill’s “Checking In With…” series. Read it here.
Books of Interest: Seth, Ben Katchor
Never too early to think about upcoming books. Both of these are University Press of Mississippi titles. Forging the Past: Seth and the Art of Memory – (the paperback edition; the hardcover was published in 2016) — this edition comes out in December. Seth has been a New Yorker contributor since 2002.
Ben Katchor: Conversations due in February of 2018. Mr. Katchor began contributing to The New Yorker in 1994.
Advertising Work by New Yorker Cartoonists, Part 7: Charles Saxon
A June 8, 1980 New York Times article, “The New Yorker’s Humor Merchants” lead off with this: Charles Saxon, a cartoonist for The New Yorker for the last 25 years, has a problem. So many companies have been buying his drawings for their ads that last year he was able to do only 15 cartoons for the magazine, half his usual total. “I was just swamped with ad assignments and my New Yorker work suffered,” he said. “This year, I’m setting aside more time for the magazine which I consider my home home and where I can really express myself.”
It is true that, back then, ads using Saxon drawings seemed to be everywhere. Here’s the very tip of the iceberg, courtesy of SPX’s Executive Director, Warren Bernard, who spent a great deal of time and effort collecting ads featuring New Yorker cartoonists (and then allowed Ink Spill to reap the rewards). Dates for ads: Polaroid, 1969; Chivas Regal,1981; Jacuzzi, 1979; IBM, 1963
Here’s Mr. Saxon’s entry on the Spill’s A-Z:
Charles Saxon (self portrait above left from Best Cartoons of the Year 1947) Born in Brooklyn, Nov 13, 1920, died in Stamford, Conn., Dec 6, 1988. New Yorker work: 1943 – 1991 (2 drawings published posthumously). Key collection: One Man’s Fancy ( Dodd, Mead, 1977).
New Yorker cover artist, Seth (Gregory Gallant) returns to Gil Roth’s Virtual Memories podcast. Hear it here. And while you’re there check out Mr. Roth’s archive of interviews with other cartoonists, including, among others, these New Yorker contributors: Edward Koren, Roz Chast, Sam Gross, Liza Donnelly, R.O. Blechman, Peter Kuper, and John Cuneo.
We have not heard the last of the cartoonist, Buford Tune (mentioned here yesterday). To the left is a snippet of a Tune cover that has surfaced courtesy of Columbia University’s Karen Green. See the entire cover over at Attempted Bloggery.
Here, by way of Danny Shanahan, who donates most generously to the Spill‘s archives, is a box of Le Pen markers with an understated New Yorker connection.