The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of November 13, 2017

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

Surprise, surprise — two non-political New Yorker covers in a row. Last week was John Cuneo‘s wonderful big falling leaf; this week, in a debut appearance, Jenny Kroik gives us a lovely bookstore scene (it’s titled “At the Strand” but really it could be almost any bookstore). You can read about her cover here.

Before wading in to the magazine’s cartoons (there are only eight in the issue, so it will be an abbreviated wade this week), two graphic pieces in the front of the magazine caught my eye. One’s an illustration, and the other an ad. Bendik Kaltenborns Coney Island illustration on page 16 is a whole lot of fun. Perhaps I’m already getting a little wistful about summer past, but I think it’s more the playfulness of the piece. Besides, I’m glad summer is over.

The other piece (the ad) is for an exhibit of work by Henry Martin Gasser, an artist I never heard of until this morning. I’m posting the ad here in the hope the advertiser won’t mind. Lovely work, judging by this one piece shown. Having just looked him up, I was delighted to find he was born in Newark, New Jersey. A fellow Jerseyite!

Okay, now into and onto the magazine’s cartoons and cartoonists. Oh wait, first let me check and see if Rea Irvin’s classic Talk of The Town masthead has been returned to its rightful place. Nope. Darn. Sigh.  If it was back in place, you’d certainly recognize it. It would look exactly like this:

This issue’s first cartoon appears on page 30.  Ben Schwartz gives us a family in a car, drawn head on through the windshield (geez, this is sounding like an accident report). You have to be familiar with the game “I Spy” to get at the humor in the caption, but you don’t need to be familiar with divorce to fully appreciate the uncomfortable situation. I like car drawings, and in particular, like it when a cartoonist takes on this scenario (that is, the challenge of drawing head-on into a car, or the reverse, drawing from the back seat looking forward). Charles Addams, who loved cars, and loved drawing cars, did several of these kinds of drawings. Here’s one:

In the next drawing, five pages after Mr. Schwartz’s, Emily Flake mixes religion with pizza. Understanding this drawing may also require you to seek out, via your search box, the Temptation of Christ (no joke!, or yes joke?). In Ms. Flake’s drawing, Jesus finds himself in a situation many of us have found ourselves in: seeing doughnuts* in a box, and debating whether or not to partake. I found, in my just completed research of the Temptations (not these Temptations) that one of the them was hedonism (hunger/satisfaction), so doughnuts as a temptation really does work here.

*[correction: in an earlier post I referred to the food in the box as pizza.  On my screen the object on the boxtop looks exactly like a pizza.  I stand corrected. My thanks to the corrector!]

On the way to the next cartoon, on page 45, we pass a “Sketchbook” by Roz Chast. It is, as Tina Brown would say, “text driven” with some drawings of children in party hats surrounding the text. Not a cartoon, but something that really does look to be out of a sketchbook.

On page 45 is an offering from Amy Hwang. A clothing store scene (babies clothing, to be more precise). The store is woefully low on inventory. Good luck to the proprietors!

Four pages later, following a double page photograph, is a Harry Bliss drawing. Talking pets in a jam (talking pets in jam might be funny too, I think). You may need to search for “Tang Dynasty Urn” to understand the severity of the pooch and kitty’s situation.

Five pages later, Liana Finck takes us into outer space with a drawing I have notched in my brain as memorable. Well drawn, amusing, and beautifully placed on the page.  What more could we ask for. (I note it’s the second footwear drawing in recent times. Carolita Johnson had one back in September).

Another five pages brings us to newbie Maddie Dai‘s drawing of an icky hairbrush (I say “icky” because I’m not a fan of snakes). You may or may not have to go to your search box to look up Medusa to refresh your graphic memory. Oh heck, despite my not wanting to see more snakes, here’s a version, in marble, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, from 1630.

And yet another five pages later (hey, is this a pattern, this five pages apart thing?) is a Glen Le Lievre drawing, and amazingly(!) the first politically tinged cartoon of the issue. Why politically-tinged?  There’s the the word “subpoena” in the caption plus the background appearance of the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol Building (sans the Statue of Freedom, shown below).  Both structures are handled in light wash, and looking a little ghost-like.

Eight pages later (so much for the five pages pattern) is a Frank Cotham castle. It’s the last drawing of the issue (not counting those in the Caption Contest). Mr. Cotham’s drawing is allowed generous space on the page. The fellow speaking (a King) has done a major renovation on his property, leaving just a safe space (the castle’s redoubt) in case there’s big trouble. I like the outfit his visitor is wearing as well as the vaguely 1960-ish architecture of the new addition. 

and that’s that. See you next Monday for the issue of November 20th. It being the issue closest to Thanksgiving (on the 23rd), I’m really hoping for a turkey cartoon to appear somewhere in the issue, or on the cover.

Until then, here’s  some food for thought — a drawing of mine published in the December 8, 2014 New Yorker.