A Must See at The Society of Illustrators! “Funny Ladies at The New Yorker: Then and Now”

On Thursday, July 26th, the center of the New Yorker cartoon universe will temporarily shift from 1 World Trade Center (the magazine’s home) to the Society of Illustrators as the exhibit, “Funny Ladies at The New Yorker: Then and Now” kicks off with a panel of some of the best in the biz. New Yorker artist, Liza Donnelly, who curated the exhibit will moderate the panel discussion featuring the New Yorker‘s Cartoon Editor, Emma Allen, and New Yorker artists Roz Chast, Carolita Johnson, and Liana Finck. 

(Above: the panelists. Top row, left to right: Emma Allen, Roz Chast, Carolita Johnson. Bottom row:  Liana Finck, and the moderator, Liza Donnelly)

The exhibit features work (the majority of it original art) by thirty-four New Yorker cartoonists, past & present. (below: an Alice Harvey drawing, published in The New Yorker, October 24, 1925, and below that, a drawing by Maddie Dai from the issue of August 21, 2017)

Here’s the full list of artists:

Marisa Acocella, Kendra Allenby, Julia Bernhard, Roz Chast, Maddie Dai, Liza Donnelly, Liana Finck, Emily Flake, Pia Guerra, Carolita Johnson, Alice Harvey, Helen Hokinson, Emily Sanders Hopkins (nee Richards), Emma Hunsinger, Amy Hwang, Nurit Karlin, Amy Kurzweil, Maggie Larson, Sara Lautman, Mary Lawton, Sharon Levy, Huguette Martel, Doris Matthews, The Surreal McCoy, Mary Petty, Ethel Plummer, Victoria Roberts, Barbara Shermund, Barbara Smaller, Bishakh Som, Julia Suits, Kim Warp, Sofia Warren, Sophia Wiedeman

 

Link here to The Society of Illustrators for more info.

 

Exhibit of Interest: “Funny Ladies At The New Yorker: Then and Now” at The Society of Illustrators; Fave Photo of the Day: Sam Gross & Bob Eckstein; Case For Pencils Follows-Up on Roz Chast’s Search For a Pen; Profile of Interest: Emma Hunsinger

Exhibit of Interest: “Funny Ladies at The New Yorker: Then and Now” at The Society of Illustrators

Something to look forward to mid-summer! The Society of Illustrators will exhibit a survey of the women cartoonists of The New Yorker, as well as a panel discussion you won’t want to miss,  moderated by the show’s curator, Liza Donnelly.  Some info here, with more to follow. Drawing above by the great Nurit Karlin.

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Fave Photo of the Day: the incomparable Sam Gross with the World’s Greatest Snowman Expert, Bob Eckstein, looking over sketches at the New Yorker‘s art department.  My thanks to  The Surreal McCoy for use of her photo.

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Case For Pencils Follows-up on Roz Chast’s Search For a Pen

Ms. Chast asked for pen suggestions.  Case For Pencil readers responded.  Read here.

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Profile of Interest: Emma Hunsinger

From Wake Forest Magazine, June 14, 2018, “So You Want To Be In The New Yorker?” — this profile of one of the newer New Yorker contributors, Emma Hunsinger (her first cartoon appeared in the issue of November 27, 2017).

 (photo by Peri Hofmann)

 

Victoria Roberts Pencilled; Attempted Bloggery on Cuneo’s Art; Seth’s Commencement Address; Philip Roth Jaywalking on West 79th St.

Jane Mattimoe’s Case For Pencils returns with a look at Victoria Roberts’ tools of the trade. See it here!

Ms. Roberts began contributing to The New Yorker in 1988.

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Attempted Bloggery on Cuneo’s Art

This week Stephen Nadler’s Attempted Bloggery looks at items acquired at the MoCCA Fest.  Today it’s John Cuneo‘s Not Waving But Drawing. Read it here. Above right: Mr. Cuneo’s most recent New Yorker cover.

Photo above: Mr. Cuneo in the foreground seated next to Anelle Miller, the Director of The Society of Illustrators.  In the back, from left to right: Cartoonist Felipe Galindo, Stephen Nadler, and cartoonist Marc Bilgrey  (photo courtesy of Liza Donnelly).

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Seth’s Commencement Address

From The Comics Journal, May 22, 2018, “Seth’s 2018 Center For Cartoon Studies Commencement Speech” — read the entire address here.

Seth began contributing to The New Yorker in 2002.

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A Split-Second Encounter With Philip Roth

Back in the Fall of 2014, driving on Columbus Avenue, I made a right turn onto West 79th Street. As my wife and I once had an apartment on 79th I often made a point of driving past the address on the way back upstate. For some reason on this particular day, after rounding the corner, and well short of our old apartment building, I immediately pulled over on the north side of the street and illegally parked for a moment. Just then a taxi pulled right in front of me, and parked. The right side back door of the taxi opened and a fellow holding a cane gingerly got out. He started to make his way to the rear of the cab and then began to negotiate between the cab’s rear bumper and my front bumper. I wanted the guy to know I wasn’t going to move my car while he was there — a simple courtesy — so I looked right at him, and he looked right at me (I suppose to make sure I wasn’t going to move my car): it was Philip Roth. I waited til he’d crossed diagonally southwest on 79th before taking the picture you see above.  A nice split-second encounter with a favorite writer. 

 

 

The Tilley Watch Online; Photos from the Kovarsky Opening; “Not OK” Cartoonists in Westchester

Among the magazine’s Daily cartoons this week:  Kim Warp’s weary winter weather drawing; Brendan Loper’s tweeter-in-chief cartoon;  Lars Kenseth’s  take on this week’s  unusual White House media moment, and Peter Kuper’s Trumpian map of the world.   

Over on Daily Shouts, these were the contributing New Yorker cartoonists: Ellis Rosen and Liana Finck

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Photos From the Kovarsky Opening at The Society of Illustrators

A packed house last night at the Society of Illustrators Opening Reception for Kovarsky’s World: Covers and Cartoons From the New Yorker. Here’s an array of photos (all by Liza Donnelly, with one exception: the photo of Liza Donnelly and her husband– that’s courtesy of Gina Kovarsky)

Above: a wall of Kovarskys.

Below: Anatol Kovarsky’s daughter, Gina, and Mr. Kovarsky’s wife, Lucille Patton; Ellen Lind and John Lind.  Gina Kovarsky and John Lind co-curated the exhibit.

Below: New Yorker cartoonists Sam Gross and Felipe Galindo

Below: New Yorker cartoonists Liza Donnelly and Michael Maslin

Below: Sam Gross and New Yorker cartoonist Bob Eckstein

Below: Writer/illustrator Mo Willems, Columbia University’s Curator for Comics and Cartoons, Karen Green, and John Lind

 

A closing thought on the exhibit, which runs til March 3 of this year:

This is a terrific show.  The energy bouncing off Mr. Kovarsky’s work on the walls is inspiring.   After looking at all of the covers and drawings I went back and spent more time looking at Mr. Kovarsky’s very first cartoon for the New Yorker.  It was published in the issue of March 1, 1947; here’s how it appeared:

I’ve always had a special affection for first New Yorker drawings.  It is, as they say, a moment.  Every cartoonist remembers the details surrounding their first published drawing. The unspoken mini-drama surrounding the first is that no one knows, of course, whether there’ll be a second (see the Spill‘s One Clubbers on the A-Z).  In Mr. Kovarsky’s case there was a second, and then there were hundreds more — close to 300 in fact. If that wasn’t something impressive in itself, he also contributed 40 covers.  And all this work was done in the relatively short time span of twenty-two years (according to Gina Kovarsky: “In the 1970s, Kovarsky shifted his main focus from cartooning to fine art…”).  It will not come as a surprise to anyone seeing this exhibit how Kovarsky accomplished so much in a mere two decades. It is as if he never set his pen or his brush down for a moment. Kovarsky’s world seemed to be abuzz 24/7. How lucky for us all.   

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“Not OK” Cartoonists in Westchester

From Westchester Magazine, January 12, 2018, “You Can Meet New Yorker Cartoonists…”

 Here’s a capsule description from the article:

“Not OK” — Great Cartoons That Weren’t Good Enough is a collection of works by previous New Yorker-published cartoonists that fit exactly that bill. Curated by artist and Brooklynite David Ostow, this series has come to Westchester for a month-long showing following the completion of its original gallery run in Bushwick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anatol Kovarsky Opening Reception Tomorrow at The Society of Illustrators; Latest New Yorker Cartoons Rated; Article of Interest: The New Yorker’s Newsletter Director; Interview of Interest: Chris Ware

Anatol Kovarsky Opening Reception Tomorrow at The Society of Illustrators

You’ve seen the name “Kovarsky” and a whole lot of his work here on the Spill every week for quite some time now as we approached the opening exhibit of his work at the Society of Illustrators.  Well, the show is up, and tomorrow evening is the opening reception (it’s open to the public). 

For anyone interested in seeing New Yorker cartoons and covers from its Golden Age up close and personal, this is where you should be tomorrow evening. An inspiring exhibit. 

All the info here.

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Latest New Yorker Cartoons Rated

  The CC boys, “Max” & “Simon” are back with a look at all the cartoons in the latest issue of The New Yorker (January 15th).  Perhaps it’s worth noting that there is no other place on the internet (or off) that does what they do.

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Article of Interest: The New Yorker’s Newsletter Director, Dan Oshinsky

From Niemanlab, January 10, 2018, ” With its newsletter director, The New Yorker wants to experiment with standalone and international-focused product” — an article about Dan Oshinsky…with New Yorker cartoon content.  Read it here.  

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Book of Interest: Chris Ware’s “Monograph”

From Chicago Magazine, January 10, 2018, “Chris Ware on Monograph, His Creative Process, and the False Urban-Suburban Dichotomy” — whew, what a headline!  An interview with Mr. Ware.  Read it here.

The Spill Talks Mirror Balls and Tracking Porcupines with Seth Fleishman

I took notice when Seth Fleishman’s first cartoon, uniformed cows standing over a table,  appeared in the New Yorker in the issue of April 4, 2016 (it appears below).  Sometimes a new cartoonist’s work (the drawing itself and/or the caption) will appear slightly awkward (my first New Yorker drawing fits both those categories), but Mr. Fleishman’s work seemed like it was already there, as if he’d been around for awhile.  Further Fleishman appearances in the magazine only confirmed that feeling.

So who is this guy?  He told me recently that he’s been asked several times by colleagues, “Where did you come from?”  The answer is that he was born and bred in north-western New Jersey, and by age 14 aspired to be, in his words, “either a musician, a cartoonist, or an impressionist.” Music won out for awhile.  In 2011 he launched GratefulGuitarLessons.com and three years later wrote and produced “I Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore” by the Snake Oil Willie Band. The song peaked at #2 on the Billboard Comedy chart. But before all that he submitted one batch of drawings to The New Yorker in 1994 (a drawing from that batch appears below).  None were accepted. He did not submit again until 2014.

 

In January of 2016 he sold his first drawing to the New Yorker (more on that later) and has been submitting ever since.  If you head over to the New Yorker‘s Cartoon Bank, you’ll find he has been published two dozen times as of now, an excellent batting average. I finally met Mr. Fleishman at the big George Booth opening at the Society of Illustrators, and while we chatted it occurred to me that further discussion (via email) should be Spilled.  And so…

 

Michael Maslin: I know you were too young to have frequented Studio 54, but looking at your New Yorker work, two of the two dozen published thus far are “Saturday Night Fever” related. Is there something you’d like to share with us, vis a vie your interest in  mirror balls, disco, and/or Tony Manero (John Travolta’s character in the film)?

Seth Fleishman: What a fun opening question! I love classic disco and R&B from the 70s. I love the Bee Gees. I love Barry White. When they bought the first one, I still had more disco ball ideas in me, so I submitted more. When they bought the second one, I figured I’d just keep going until they stopped buying them. There actually is a third one, but it hasn’t run yet, and it’s my favorite one of the trilogy. Hopefully it runs at some point. I confess I sent a few more after that, but sanity prevailed. I got no more OKs on the subject, and moved on. That’s why there are editors.

MM: When we first spoke you mentioned that Charles Barsotti came to mind as one New Yorker artist who, let’s say, was of importance to you before you became familiar with other New Yorker cartoonists.   Am I remembering that right? If not, please clarify.  What I’m getting around to is the question you mentioned you’ve heard before: “Where did you come from (artistically)?”  Can you talk a little about early influences (comics, cartoons, or whatever)?

SF: I was familiar with New Yorker cartoons at an early age. My mother turned me on to Booth, Thurber, Addams, plus Ronald Searle and others. I also liked the Sunday newspaper comics — Peanuts, Hagar The Horrible, Beetle Bailey, Ziggy, etc.

When I took on New Yorker cartooning, I didn’t want to be influenced. I wanted my own voice.  Bruce Eric Kaplan was an inspiration in that regard — the boldness in the originality of his visual style. The closest I came to falling under anyone’s spell was Charles Barsotti. No one would say my stuff looks like Barsotti, but there were things I saw in his work that appealed to me. It’s all so charming.

After I found my style, I began to notice and learn from cartoonists with whom I felt a connection — Otto Soglow, Chon Day, Mischa Richter, Bob Mankoff, Arnie Levin, to name a few.  I also like a lot of European cartoonists: Sempe, Bosc, Jules Stauber, Miroslav Bartak,  Pawel Kuczynski, as well as Argentinian cartoonist Guillermo Mordillo.  I’m a blind fool with broken hands compared to all of those names, but I drew inspiration from them all.

MM: As mentioned in my intro, music has loomed large in your life. I’ve found that there are at minimum, two camps of cartoonists: one camp listens to music while they work on their drawings, and the other doesn’t (a third camp blends silence with music, and a fourth camp listens to the radio…there are probably a hundred other camps).  Which camp are you in, if you are in one, and if you do listen to music while working on your batch, can you name names, or types of music you listen to.

 SF: When working on ideas, silence. When drawing, music. If not music, silence. Mostly Italian Baroque and Italian Renaissance instrumental music. Vivaldi, Marcello, Manfredini, Capirola (lute), Dalza (lute), Biber. Some Spanish Baroque vihuela music. Occasionally some Chinese guzheng. If it has words, it’s in a language I don’t speak. Russian Sacred Music, for example. There is a set called The Divine Wisdom of St. Sofia by The Choir of the Suzdal Holy Virgin’s Protecting Veil that is incredibly beautiful. 

MM: Wow. I was expecting maybe the Grateful Dead.  Interesting that if you listen to music with words, it’s in a language you don’t speak.  Is that because you don’t want to get caught up in lyrics? Or something else?

SF: Words are distracting, but if sung in a foreign language, they are effectively instrumental. Just sounds. I do love the Grateful Dead– ‘Dark Star’ is not totally out of the question. But doing all those video lessons, dissecting, demystifying, and explaining their music in granular detail has changed my relationship with them as a listener. Maybe that’s the price I pay. I love the work, but I can’t really listen to them as a regular civilian anymore. And anyway, I truly fell in love with Vivaldi once I heard his music performed by Rachel Podger. That led me into early Venetian music in general, and that’s a rabbit hole from which I have yet to emerge. I also play renaissance lute. 

MM: Looking at your work, it’s clear you’re happiest working caption-less. Are you thinking caption-less when you work, or is that just how the work turns out more often than not?

 SF: As a general rule, the less I say the better. In the words of the Psalmist, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.”  Also, the people I draw don’t have mouths. They don’t even have chins or jaws. So it’s virtually impossible for them to say anything.  Seriously, the captionless stuff is what got the OKs. It came as a very pleasant surprise to me. I am happiest working captionless. It’s perfect. I give all the credit to Bob Mankoff. He just kept picking the captionless stuff, and a certain type at that. I learned who I am as a cartoonist by the selections he made. It is a particular way of thinking. It’s all visual. It’s a certain way of associating. And I love it.

MM: Not many of our colleagues have pursued captionless work. In modern times, John O’Brien, of course, and Nurit Karlin, Steinberg…and earlier, Otto Soglow and Sam Cobean among not too many others.  So you’re working captionless and graphically you’re using areas of black ink like nobody’s business. I’m thinking specifically of the vampire with a flashlight. Here the area of black ink is essential.  Anything you want to say about this drawing?  

SF: It was my first OK. I hadn’t yet figured out how important black was going to be for me when I drew it. About half of that batch still had greys. In some strange way, this cartoon was, if you’ll pardon the pun, a beacon for me. It heralded the importance of black. It was my first lesson learned from getting an OK. It was actually a revelation, and I committed to black then and there.

When people think of the classic New Yorker cartoon style, maybe they imagine rich, grey washes. But there have always been black and white practitioners, some of whom I’ve already mentioned — Barsotti, BEK, Soglow, etc. I think it works well for those who fall on the more abstract, iconographic end of the drawing spectrum. There are a few other things I hadn’t figured out yet that make the drawing less than ideal, but it was my first sale so who cares? 

  MM:Emily Flake told the Spill she bakes pies and has spent time at a firing range.  Is there something in your week that takes you outside of your work space? Something away from thinking about cartoons/music?

SF: Here’s something interesting — my wife Cheryl and I are fairly adept at porcupine tracking. They are present in our area, and we go out on weekends looking for them, and we often find them. If I had a spirit animal, it would be the porcupine. 

Below: The cartoonist and his wife tracking porcupines

During the week, my only purely social interaction is a weekly breakfast at the Branchville Grille with a regular group of friends. Branchville is a sleepy little town. One of our group is a beautiful 85-year-old gentleman named Sandy, who was a corpsman in the Marine Corps in Korea. It’s really something to be around special people like that. Other than that, during the week it’s work, work, work.

MM: And once you’ve tracked the porcupines, then what?

SF: Cheryl is a nature photographer, so she’ll take pictures [an example is below]. Other than that, we just observe and spend a little time with them. I’m not ashamed to say Cheryl and I both consider porcupines and many other creatures to be our friends. As far as we’re concerned, when we’re out in the woods or wetlands, we’re spending time with friends.

MM: If there’s a typical beginning to your work day (work on drawings that is) what is that day like? (Jack Ziegler told me he would begin his work day by sitting with the New York Times, then head off to his drawing board.  Danny Shanahan mostly begins by writing ideas down. Others just start drawing).  

SF:I work on ideas in the early morning, while my mind is still groggy. If the ideas are flowing, I keep at it until it peters out. If nothing’s shaking, I don’t press it. I give it a little time, then move on. I’m not constantly thinking about ideas. I used to do that, but I don’t anymore. Once the coffee has kicked in, I can start drawing.

MM: Your work is also appearing in Esquire these days. And, unless I’m mistaken, it utilizes color.   Is working for Esquire different than working for The New Yorker?  

SF: It’s very different. Esquire is filled with graphic design. Using color helps the drawings pop in that environment. It also fits the vibrant spirit of the magazine. Esquire has a distinct aesthetic. I try to visually and topically compliment that. Three of my cartoons appear per issue (monthly), linked by a theme, under the heading “Spot On by Seth Fleishman.” The November issue was “Spot On: Cinema.”  Each cartoon was a riff on a classic cinematic moment. That adds a layer of difficulty for me creatively, but it’s a fun challenge.

Below: a recent Fleishman Esquire cartoon

MM: Many cartoonists have something else going on with their work besides submitting to The New Yorker and whatever other publications they contribute to.  Some do children’s books, or they work on graphic novels, or mass media projects (television)… anything like that going on with you? 

SF: Not at the moment. Which is fine! I have plenty to do.

— I asked Mr. Fleishman if he would send an example of what his work looks like before it’s in the finished state you see published, and he sent this delightful sketch.

MM: Even more than mirror balls, I see that chickens show up a lot in your New Yorker drawings. Care to comment? 

SF: I have a simple rule: when in doubt, draw chickens. I’m typically an idea-first guy, but I’ll use other methods if necessary. One such method is to just start drawing without thinking. Trouble is, when I do that, nine times out of ten I draw a chicken! I’ve had many, many chicken drawings rejected. I don’t care. Have some more chickens! 

I live in a somewhat rural area. We still have working farms around here. I relate to animals. Chickens are humble, awkward looking little creatures. They have a certain charm to them. They are easy to draw. Who can explain it? I just like chickens.