The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of December 4, 2017

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

Back in February of 1996, the New Yorker celebrated its 71st anniversary with a “Special Women’s Issue.” Of the 23 cartoonists in the issue, 20 were men. The three women cartoonists were Victoria Roberts, Roz Chast, and Liza Donnelly. The cover, a take-off on Eustace Tilley, dubbed “Eustacia Tilley” was handled by a man, R.O. Blechman.

Now, just 21 years later, we have what I believe to be a first: this is the first issue of the New Yorker where the number of women artists outnumber the men (if anyone can provide an earlier issue where this was the case, please let me know). Of the 14 cartoonists contributing to this latest issue, 8 are women. The cover is by a woman as well. 

Before heading on to the cartoons and cartoonists, I note this modern Tilley take (below left)  on page 4, below the list of Contributors:

Poor Eustace!  He’s lost most of his facial features, and he seems to have gained a large strand of red licorice around his shoulders. Just as a reminder, I’ve placed Rea Irvin’s original Eustace alongside, lest we forget.

Now on to the business at hand (at eye?). The first cartoon is the not-too-often-seen -anymore people-in-line drawing.  Memorable people-in-line moments that come to mind: the line waiting for soup in Seinfeld’s  “Soup Nazi” episode, and this classic  Woody Allen scene. Mr. Vey’s caption has a faint Horton Hatches The Egg-ness about it. The drawing itself features an abundance of stanchions that immediately reminded me of this wonderful captionless cartoon by Bill Woodman that appeared in The New Yorker, May 8, 1978:  

Five pages later is Sofia Warren’s second-ever New Yorker drawing (her first appeared last week). Sometimes New Yorker drawings drive me to the closest dictionary (via a search box) to clarify some word or phrase I’ve felt I generally understood (but didn’t really). There are two drawings in this issue that caused me to seek further definition.  The use of “vortex”  in Ms. Warren’s drawing was the first. Webster‘s defines it as “something resembling a whirlpool”  — Aha! That’s in the ballpark of what I thought it meant. Ms. Warren, confronted the challenge of drawing a stand-alone whirlpool by giving  us an energetic mass somewhat resembling birds nest pasta. Works for me (both the vortex and the pasta).

 

Three pages later a father/son factory “Someday this will be all yours” drawing. Updated, I suppose, with a reference to offshore shell companies.  In tried and true trope fashion, Mr. Noth has shown us framed images of the company’s previous generations of owners. Next up, a mash-up drawing by newbie, Jon Adams. Here we have the Michelin Man (in a sash). I had to look that up as well. I didn’t picture him in a sash — apparently, he doesn’t always wear one. The rubbery fellow is mixed up with the famous Michelin Guide. Also apparently, the Michelin Man is a Michelin Guide food critic who has been escorted out of a restaurant by a chef. The restaurant apparently (yes, the third “apparently”) does not allow customers to wear sashes.  An awful lot of apparentlys here. 

Three pages later another newbie, but not as new as the previous newbie.  In this Teresa Burns Parkhurst drawing both of the folks seem to be speaking (both have open mouths). I suppose it doesn’t really matter who’s doing the talking.  The caption works either way.  I was surprised that this drawing and the last were so close together as they are graphically similar.

In another three pages we come to the always welcome art of Joe Dator.  I can’t quite explain how (or why?), but I feel Mr. Dator brings a Mad Magazine/National Lampoon-quality to the New Yorker.  And that, of course, is a very very good thing. 

Four pages later is a Roz Chast drawing — it’s the second drawing of the issue that took me to the search box for a clear definition.  I’ve heard “life hacks” for awhile now, but never took the half-second to look it up. Well, okay…got it now.

Four pages later a Tom Chitty police line-up drawing. Mr. Chitty went at this head-on which almost (almost) makes the fellows in the line-up look like they in a painting or photo on the wall. Maybe they are, but I don’t think so. I wondered why it was possibly a #7 missing from the line-up and not #6.  Anyway, funny idea. On the opposite page is a Liana Finck drawing — the style recognizable from across the room. Nice grizzly bear.

Twenty-one pages later (!) is a Liza Donnelly drawing of an off the grid little piggy. I can’t tell if he’s happy to be off the grid or not.  Has he made the right decision for him or herself?  Only the little piggy knows. Opposite Ms. Donnelly’s drawing is a Frank Cotham drawing that caused me to, as Bob Dylan once said (in the song “Belle Isle”), “stay for awhile.” I couldn’t decide who was “clinging to territory”— the dog or the guy. I still can’t decide.

Four pages later a drawing by another newbie, Maggie Larson (but this isn’t her first New Yorker drawing). Ms. Larson’s style here reminds me of someone we don’t hear about much anymore: Charles Sauers. Both Ms. Larson and Mr. Sauers work employs a particular perspective as well as simple line drawing.   Here’s a Sauers drawing from the August 20, 1984 New Yorker:

And the last drawing of the issue (not counting the work on the Caption Contest page) is by Kate Curtis. A really well drawn piece, solidly in the Charles Addams school of everything.

So that’s that for this week…other than mentioning my campaign to reinstate Rea Irvin’s Talk of the Town masthead.  Here’s Mr. Irvin’s original.  Perhaps someday it will get back to where it once belonged. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of October 23, 2017

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

This week’s cover (by R. Kikuo Johnson, who we learn from the Contributors page teaches cartooning at the Rhode Island School of Design) is of robots on their way to wherever robots go to. One has an on-the-go cup of coffee(?) while another carries an old-fashioned lunch box.  When I was a little kid, I was slightly fascinated by the lunchbox a neighbor (his name was Joe) carried to and from his factory job everyday. I sometimes wondered what was in his lunchbox and whether he had the same lunch everyday. Anyway, back to the cover. I thought seeing all the technology, it was going to be a Technology Issue, but no… it’s the Money Issue. The semi-Tilley on the Table of Contents alerts us to the theme:

Anyone who reads Ink Spill can probably guess that Tilley tampering (see yesterday’s Spill) will be duly noted here. Other examples :

Now on to the issue’s cartoons, and it doesn’t take long at all to find one. A nicely placed Tom Cheney drawing appears on page 4 directly following the end of the magazine’s Table of Contents.  I like that the magazine does this every so often and not all the time.  It’s a fun surprise.  Mr. Cheney takes one of the cartoonist’s most reliable  characters, death, to an artist’s studio. Artists studios, and artists, were very popular in years past, especially in the James Geraghty era (the New Yorker’s art editor from 1939 through 1973). Many of the best were gathered in The New Yorker Album of Art & Artists (New York Graphic Society, 1970).

There’ve been several other art-themed collections since (shown above: The New Yorker Book of Art Cartoons (Bloomberg, 2005), and The Museum of Modern Art Book of Cartoons (Museum of Modern Art, 2008 — a custom production), but the 1970 collection  is the mother ship, containing some of the most famous art cartoons in the magazine’s canon. 

Moving through the front of the magazine, I really like the beautiful photograph of a cow (in an ad for Louis Roederer) on page 15. What can I say? I love cows (to look at, admire, and occasionally pat on the head).

David Borchart has the second drawing of the issue. Age, of course, comes up most every time (heck, every time) there are Galapagos tortoises involved. Charles Addams (and there it is: an Addams reference and it’s only the second drawing of the issue) did several (I can remember three) — here’s one. Mr. Borchart delivers a caption that many can relate to, and just as many have probably heard said, or said.  As usual with his work, it’s beautifully drawn. The elder tortoises look kind’ve happy.

I don’t usually comment on the illustrations but I do really like the cup of coffee by Golden Cosmos on page 40. Six pages later we have an Amy Hwang  Jack and the Beanstalk drawing.  A more complicated drawing than we’re used to seeing from Ms. Hwang. I like the beanbag chairs — I picture them in color for some reason: left to right:  baby blue, brown, and rust colored.  Two pages later another keeper from BEK (Bruce Eric Kaplan). I’m reminded here of the late James Stevenson’s barely disguised textbook political satire.

On the very next page is a Mike Twohy cornucopia drawing. Cornucopia drawings aren’t as plentiful (haha?) as artist drawings once were, but they showed up from time-to-time, sometimes on the cover. Here’s a beauty by Arnie Levin from 1978 (and how convenient it is that it’s a baseball themed cover in this heavy-duty baseball time of year).

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Mr. Twohy’s cartoon, referring to a certain mega-online shopping site, is concerned with way more than baseballs. Eight pages later is a darkish Ed Steed drawing. His fishnet roller coaster recalls Lou Myers’s style (a snippet from a 1969 Myers United Airlines ad below left. On the right, a portion of Mr. Steed’s drawing). 

Three pages later a dog walk in the park drawing from the long-time Wildwood, New Jersey lifeguard (retd), John O’Brien. As mentioned in the last Monday Tilley Watch, Mr. O’Brien excels at captionless drawings (to my mind the hardest to do; Charles Addams told Dick Cavett captionless drawings were his personal favorites). Mr. O’Brien’s drawing is placed perfectly on the page.

Four pages later, newbie Maddie Dai returns with, yes, an Addamsy situation. If it seems like there are a lot of references to Mr. Addams in these posts it might be because his work — well over a thousand cartoons published in The New Yorker — touched on so many situations favored-by-cartoonists, especially, of course in his case, dark side situations. Of the notes I received from former New Yorker Art editor, Lee Lorenz during my years of his tenure (he was editor from 1973 – 1997;  I began receiving notes from him in 1977) at least three-quarters of them said, “Sorry — Addams already did this.” 

Three pages following Ms. Dai’s drawing is a Julia Suits be careful what you say out thereit just might get you in trouble drawing. On the very next page is an oddity that’s now appeared for the second issue in a row (wait, does that mean it’s not an oddity anymore): a collaborative drawing by Kaamran Hafeez and Al Batt. Mr. Hafeez is responsible for the drawing itself. The setting is that old New Yorker cartoon chestnut: a  business meeting.

Three pages later, a drawing by Farley Katz, a cartoonist who always shakes things up somehow.  I like the complexity of the drawing – the stethoscope connecting both doctors with the patient —  but I’m unsure who the “we” is in this case. Even on a very large screen it appears both women’s mouths are open, suggesting that they are both speaking.  Someone write in please and clarify.

Three more pages and we find Batman, beginning his memoir, recalling his childhood.  Nice drawing by Zach Kanin. I like how he’s shown us the Wayne family portrait over the mantel.  When I see a New Yorker Batman cartoon I immediately recall this 1989 classic by Danny Shanahan:

Three pages following Mr. Kanin’s Batman is the the second sidewalk Liana Finck drawing in two issues.  The beginning of a sidewalk series perhaps?  I like the little birds on the sidewalk. 

Alice Cheng, another newbie (her first New Yorker cartoon appeared in February of this year) is next with a salmon swimming upstream drawing. I love that this is here as it gives me an opportunity to recall the great 1998 Bill Woodman bears and salmon cartoon shown below.  Look at this drawing! Lovely, funny. This is what the late very great Jack Ziegler had to say about Mr. Woodman: “Bill Woodman is a great cartoonist and one of the funniest “draw-ers” of all time, right up there with George Booth.” 

 

Three pages later, a drawing of mine. I believe it’s the first time that I’ve had Uncle Sam in a New Yorker drawing.  Four pages later is a not-quite-so-empty nest drawing by another newbie, Teresa Burns Parkhurst, who made her debut this month (not counting her caption contest appearance in September). I like the framed items on the wall, including the coffee mug, or mugs(?). On the very next page is what at first appears to be a doorman at an exclusive club situation.  But as it’s a Peter Vey drawing, it’s not, of course — it’s a writer needs to escape drawing. Nice stanchions!

The next to last drawing in the issue belongs to Avi Steinberg. A man at a diner counter encounters a teeny coffee cup.  As in an earlier drawing not long ago — not by Mr. Steinberg (I don’t think), I wonder about the level of the counter top in relation to the customer.  It’s either a very low counter, or a very tall customer. One wonders too if the customer is just walking by the counter and has remarked on the little cup of coffee.  There’s no indication of seating, so he isn’t about to sit; there are, however, items on the counter indicating customers might sit.  As I’ve said before, I like imagining a backstory. Good caption.

The final drawing in the issue (not counting the caption contest drawings) is by Carolita Johnson. A fortune teller!  As with Mr. Steinberg’s drawing, there’s some kind of perspective thing going on (with the door and the room) that caught my eye. You’ll see.

 — Back next Monday

 

 

 

Avi Steinberg

Carolita Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of October 2, 2017

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

October already? Well yes — that’s the way it is on magazine covers.  Always one week ahead of reality (or if it’s a monthly, one month ahead of reality). The cover of this weeks issue, graphically speaking, reminded me of Gretchen Dow Simpson’s work (she did 58 covers for the New Yorker ). A number of Ms. Simpson’s  covers involved stairs, and all the wonderful shadows and angles associated with stairs. She did one New York City stoop cover as well (it was this cover that came to mind when I first saw the latest one by Kadir Nelson. Like Mr. Nelson’s,  Ms. Simpson’s cover has a somber cast of its own. 

I note while zooming though the Goings On About Town the ad for Spielberg (“Direct From the Heart”) — he looks a little like John Lennon there, specifically the photo of Mr. Lennon taken outside Mr. Lennon’s New York City Bank Street address.

Spielberg and Mr. Lennon (with stethoscope):

Okay, now in to the issue and onto the cartoons. The first, on page 20, is by Barbara Smaller, who began contributing to the New Yorker in 1996.  An excellent sizing of Ms. Smaller’s drawing — we can really see her work here. It’s funny, but with this kind of space, her work makes me think somewhat of the late great Robert Weber’s. Perhaps it’s the caption, or tone of the caption — very Webery (Webbery?). Google search Robert Weber New Yorker images and you’ll get an eyeful. I’d direct you to a Weber collection but, sigh, there never was one (some day I hope!).   

Four pages later is a mob drawing by relative newbie, Christian Lowe (first New Yorker appearance: February 2016).  Again, nice placement on the page. The caption forced me to visualize cinematic baseball bat moments involving mobsters.  Did Robert De Niro’s  Al Capone do a bat flip in that memorable scene from The Untouchables?  Nope. 

Four pages later a rapunzel drawing by J.A.K. (Jason Adam Katzenstein).  Mr. Katzenstein (first New Yorker drawing: 2014) manages, in a two-part drawing no less, and using barely any of Rapunzel’s tower or hair, to succinctly convey an idea. Most cartoonists would show the whole tower and all the hair, as well as the sun, and Icarus. In this case, not necessary. J.A.K.’s drawing is immediately followed by a two page color spread by Roz Chast (her work began appearing in the magazine in 1978). An incident taken from a day in Ms. Chast’s life, involving a knife.  Three pages later a  drawing by  — I believe! — a brand new newbie, Jon Adams.  The drawing features a burning bed that is in no way connected to the 1984 Farrah Fawcett film, The Burning Bed.  

Two pages later, an Avi Steinberg drawing set in one of a cartoonist’s best friend scenarios: the doctor’s office.  I toyed with the idea that the caption should read “Just as I suspected. This thing makes everything louder” instead of the published “Just as I suspected. These things make everything louder” —  it’s the kind of brow furrowing decision-making that makes this cartoon biz so darn demanding.

Four pages later, the distinctive work of Lars Kenseth (first New Yorker cartoon: 2016).  Sharks! I wish we could see a Kenseth shark some day.  In this case the fins suffice. The fellow in the foreground is holding a small piece of wood.  I appreciate the care Mr. Kenseth has taken drawing that little piece of wood — the detail makes me laugh. 

After another four pages is a well placed Paul Noth drawing incorporating a wee bit of color.  Mr. Noth’s first drawing appeared in The New Yorker in 2004.  Like Mr. Steinberg’s doctor’s office, the wise man on the mountaintop is also a favorite of New Yorker cartoonists (I’ve done a number of both, and will continue to do more — they’re like potato chips: you can’t stop at one, or even a dozen).  On the very next page is a Farley Katz drawing.  Mr. Katz, like Mr. Kenseth, has a truly distinctive style.  You know it’s his work before you’ve had time to even wonder whose work it is (if that makes sense). There are certain cartoonists whose every drawing is akin to coming upon a blind curve — you have absolutely no idea what you are about to see. This is a very very good thing. In this latest drawing, there’s shopping action that (for me anyway) recalls the game show Supermarket Sweep. Again, Mr. Katz does not fail to deliver something unusual. 

A Tom Chitty drawing follows Mr. Katz. Talk about your distinctive styling. This is a three parter, with the third part using a party punch bowl, something not seen in New Yorker cartoons very often. If there’s been a punch bowl in recent times, I can’t recall it. Please correct me if I’m mistaken. The first Chitty New Yorker drawing appeared in 2014.  Three pages later, Emily Flake mashes pirates with ‘splaining. I’m curious as to where this  pirate get-together takes place. It looks kind of like a lodge, or a finished basement.  Ms. Flake’s first New Yorker cartoon appeared in 2008. On the very next page is a BEK (Bruce Eric Kaplan) drawing.  Another distinctive stylist with the added bonus of some of the best written captions the magazine publishes. They just flow.  Mr. Kaplan’s first New Yorker cartoon appeared in 1991. 

Eight pages later, the final drawing of the issue (not counting the Caption Contest drawings) and it’s by newbie, Teresa Burns Parkhurst. Technically not Ms. Parkhurst’s first appearance in the magazine — she was part of last week’s caption contest.  Another cartoonist’s chestnut scenario: the boardroom.  This time the focus is on the always awkward situation of whether or not to tell someone they’ve some foreign body (food, usually) stuck on their face. 

And that is that. See you next Monday.