The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of February 26, 2018

Always glad to return to weekly issues of the magazine after doubles. This new issue sports a cover that seems like the sum of the equation: Olympics + North Korea =.

  Here’s what cover artist Mark Ulriksen had to say about it on newyorker.com

The Olympics + North Korea equation continues with the very first spot drawing appearing on the opening page of The Talk of The Town. And, as long as we’re mentioning that page,  let’s get this out of the way: Rea Irvin’s classic Talk masthead is still a-missin’.  Here’s what it looks like:

Could be wrong, but it seems like there are slightly more Otto Soglow spot drawings scattered throughout Talk than usual (along with Tom Bachtell’s always top-notch drawings). 

Doesn’t take long to get to the first cartoon of the issue (it’s on page 18). P.C. Vey delivers a very P.C. Vey-like piece of work (that’s always a good thing).  Love the little fish Mr. Vey has drawn, but wish it was still swimmin’. Five pages later Lars Kenseth takes us to the land of the pitchman. Funny drawing. Love how Mr. Kenseth uses the language. I did something in that vein a long time back — in the New Yorker, April 6, 1981, to be exact.  I remember it being a ton-o-fun playing with the structure of the television pitch. 

On the very next page one of my favorite subjects: the old west (or possibly it’s a cowboy and his horse in the contemporary west).  Zach Kanin’s coffee-drinking horse is well drawn.  I wish the cowboy’s face was easier to see on the digital edition — this is where print (might) come in handy. 

Nine pages later, a well-placed-on-the-page Frank Cotham cartoon. Cartoonists usually love to show gangsters about to toss a guy off a pier.  Mr. Cotham gives us a prequel. Nice.

Four pages later Roz Chast with an at-home Olympics moment.  A very Chastian drawing any which way you look at it. Another four pages brings us to the second-ever New Yorker drawing (unless I’m mistaken) by Olivia de Recat.  Similar to her first in that it’s mostly text. This one is approximately 97% text (handwritten text).  Her first was perhaps 91% text.  Though we don’t see them as much as we used to, the aforementioned Ms. Chast has done a number of text-driven (to use a Tina Brown era term) drawings over the years. Without doing research (unforgivable, I know!) I’m going out on a limb by suggesting Ms. Chast may have pioneered this particular form of New Yorker cartoon. If anyone wants to shoot that down, please contact me.

Five pages later, Maddie Dai weighs in on a fellow’s mid-life crisis times two.  His motorcycle (which lacks a gas tank — maybe it’s one of those new electric bikes) has at least one (unintentional?) funny feature: the bike’s training wheels are attached to the hub of the rear wheel.  If this cartoon bike was a real bike the training wheels would spin around with the tire, complicating things even further for the crisis guy.  No matter — it’s a nice drawing. 

On the very next page, a debut New Yorker cartoon by Navied Mahdavian*, that answers the oft-asked question, “What did we do before the internet?” Funny drawing.

Four pages later, veteran cartoonist, Mick Stevens gives us death having just died.  Looking at Mr. Stevens’ drawing I asked myself if this fell into the double negative column.  If death dies, isn’t death then alive? Way too much of a headache-inducing thought for this cartoonist (me, not Mr. Stevens).

Eight pages later Sara Lautman takes us to a contemporary bar moment. Found myself studying the shelves and bottles of booze in the background.  There’s a Robert Weber-ish looseness to that area.

Seven pages later a Bruce Eric Kaplan gem of a caption.  And on the very next page, the last drawing of the issue (not counting those on the Caption Contest page).  Liana Finck gives us a bird chase. Not sure what the surface is that they are on — is it pavement with a sidewalk in the rear?  It probably doesn’t matter.  The big bird — the one that’s chasing the little bird —  has an expression indicating confidence she/he will succeed, despite the lack of arms. 

*For those keeping track, Navied Mahdavian is the thirteenth new cartoonist introduced under the magazine’s current cartoon editor, Emma Allen, since she was appointed in May of 2017, and the second newbie introduced so far in 2018.

— See you next Monday

 

 

Their First Tilley Issues: Ross, Shawn, Gottlieb, Brown, and Remnick

With the New Yorker’s 93rd Anniversary issue soon on the horizon I thought it would be fun to take a look at first Tilley covers by Harold Ross, William Shawn, Robert Gottlieb, Tina Brown and David Remnick. I’ve thrown in tidbits of Tilley trivia — mostly non-Tilley trivia —  along the way.    

February 21, 1925: Harold Ross

A no-brainer.   It was the very first issue of the magazine. We could’ve ended up with curtains being parted on a big stage (you know, sort of an unveiling thing), but Ross wisely decided to go with Rea Irvin’s mysterious dandy for the cover of his debut issue. 

February 23, 1952: William Shawn

Although Harold Ross passed away in early December of 1951, his successor, William Shawn wasn’t appointed until late January of 1952.  One of Mr. Shawn’s first issues following that stamp of approval from the magazine’s publisher, Raoul Fleischmann, was the magazine’s twenty-seventh anniversary edition. 

February 20, 1989: Robert Gottlieb

Robert Gottlieb officially began his tenure as the magazine’s editor, February 16, 1987. As the latest issue of the magazine is dated a week past its actual pub date (the day it appears on newsstands), the anniversary issue of 1988 would seem to have been the last edited by Mr. Shawn.  Thus Mr. Gottlieb’s first anniversary issue was the following year, the issue of February 20, 1989 (if anyone out there has a different take, please advise). What made news was the return of cartoons in color. Specifically, the cartoons in a four page spread by William Steig, “Scenes From The Thousand And One Nights.” As noted in the New York Times piece I linked to above, there hadn’t been color cartoons since a Rea Irvin double page spread in 1926.

February 22, 1993: Tina Brown

Ms. Brown allowed classic Tilley on a cover just once in her tenure at the magazine. The issue of 1993 was the last in an unbroken line of Tilley anniversary issues.  Ms. Brown’s choice for 1994 made news — how could it not.  It was a not-so-sly-nod to Eustace, titled “Elvis Tilley” courtesy of Robert Crumb.  Following Elvis we saw a gold(!) Tilley for the magazine’s 70th birthday; “Eustacia Tilley” by R.O. Blechman in 1996; “Dick Tilley” by Art Spiegelman in 1997, and finally, a complete departure from Tilley, Michael Roberts’ “California Sighting” cover in 1998.

February 19 & 26, 2001: David Remnick

Although David Remnick’s first shot at an anniversary cover came in 1999, it wasn’t until 2001 that he returned Rea Irvin’s classic Tilley to the cover.  What a long strange trip it had been for Tilley since we last saw him in 1993. 

Mr. Remnick’s first two anniversary covers belonged to Edward Sorel in 1999 and a William Wegman dog in 2000.

Since the classic Tilley cover in 2001, Mr. Remnick has put classic Tilley on the following covers: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007,2009, and 2011. 

For more on Eustace Tilley and the anniversary issues link here to “Tilley Over Time” a piece I wrote for newyorker.com in 2008, on the occasion of the magazine’s 83rd birthday. 

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of January 22, 2018

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

 I enjoy the little drama of seeing the new New Yorker cover pop up on the screen early Monday morning when I go to the digital issue; sometimes there is no Monday morning  drama because the cover has been released (online) days earlier. The magazine occasionally does this with of-the-moment covers. That’s the case this week — Anthony Russo‘s “In the Hole” appeared online days ago (I continue to wonder why New Yorker covers need titles, a practice that began with Tina Brown’s second issue, October 12, 1992). The last untitled New Yorker cover, issue of October 5, 1992  was Edward Sorel‘s punk in a hansom cab — the first Tina Brown era cover:

The very next issue, October 12, 1992:

This latest issue’s cartoons start off well with Bruce Kaplan‘s Alice in Wonderland drawing. It’s graphically more complex than his usual style. The caption is excellent. Way to go.

Next up, four pages later, is a Farley Katz concert drawing. I enjoyed hovering over this drawing, looking at the details, especially the drums and drummer. Just three pages later, a couple of texting turtles via Liana Finck. For some reason — I don’t believe I’ve ever thought or said this before about any cartoon (other than one of my own) — I really wanted this drawing to be ever-so-slightly colored-in. Perhaps the largeness of the landscape surrounding the turtles reminded me of how Guy Billout handles his pages.  

Six pages later, a fun Drew Dernavich drawing of a situation almost every driver has encountered: the hunt for a space. Coupled with a long-time favorite cartoonist scenario (the person crawling along the desert) and bingo!  My only wish here would have been for the cartoon to have more breathing room around it.  On the very next page, another drawing that would’ve benefited from a little bit more space on the page (hey what can I say, in the balancing act between text and cartoons, I always notice when there’s an imbalance). In Maddie Dai‘s cartoon we return to the Sistine Chapel (where Julia Suits was not too long ago). Reminder: if you haven’t seen the Michelangelo exhibit at the Met, better hurry.

Five pages later, a splendid Edward Koren drawing. And…it’s placed beautifully on the page.  You can’t ask or more, folks.

On the very next page, a history lesson from Sara Lautman:  how did the Great Lakes come to be called the Great Lakes.  Interesting drawing —  I like the scenario Ms. Lautman’s given us. 

Three pages later, a cold & flu season contribution from P.C. Vey.  The little drawing within the drawing is very funny. The aforementioned Julia Suits has the next drawing (on the very next page after Mr. Vey’s). The drawing makes use of the “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” armature. The setting is very George Boothian.  

On the opposite page a William Haefeli drawing drawing upon the Bob Newhart showism: “Don’t go to bed mad.” Words of wisdom then and now. On the next page, a Teresa Burns Parkhurst captionless drawing (and the second cold & flu drawing in the issue).  Elevator bank drawings are not seen all that often anymore. I like that the drawing was allowed to spread across three columns, allowing us to mosey on over to the pay-off.

Five pages later, Shannon Wheeler brings a very in-the-news item on home.  This could easily have been one of those drawings that are sometimes placed below the table of contents.  Good stuff. 

Six pages later, an Ed Steed scenario ( a category within itself). Dead (?) fish, in a cage, not a tank. The use of color offsets the mystery…just a little.

Eight pages later, courtesy of Mick Stevens, an advice-seeking court jester. Don’t know if this drawing has anything to do with current domestic politics (in particular, a current politician) but it feels like it does.  On the opposite page, a Mary Lawton “meet the…” scenario. “Meet the…” drawings seem to be making a comeback. This particular one seems true-to-life (with the exception of the two hours displayed on the sign.  I’ve a feeling you could meet those people during all business hours). 

Five pages later, the last drawing of the issue (not counting the caption contest cartoons).  Tom Toro‘s penchant for detail is put to great use. Funny drawing. I wish it wasn’t slammed up against an ad though. I don’t believe the balancing act mentioned earlier (with text and cartoons) should ever include advertisements and cartoons. Cartoons hugging editorial text: yea. Cartoons hugging ads: nay.  Just sayin’. 

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Update: Rea Irvin’s classic Talk of The Town masthead still missing. This is what it looks like:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretty in Pink: The New Yorker’s 25th Anniversary Album; More Spills: Moore Tweets Out a Ziegler… More Soglow

Judging by what I’ve noticed over many years of visiting used book stores, The New Yorker 25th Anniversary Album must have been the most popular in the series of their cartoon anthologies. This is the one you’re likely to find if you find any at all. Bonus: it’s easily found online for just a few bucks. The Album sports a series of firsts on the cover: the first time a monochrome Eustace Tilley appeared on an Album (the next time he would appear this close to so much solid color was on the magazine’s 60th Anniversary issue.  Then editor, Tina Brown presented Eustace surrounded by, um, gold). 

The 25th Album was the first to reproduce a number of full cartoons on the cover (minus the captions, which due to the size of each cartoon shown, would’ve been virtually impossible to read without a magnifying glass. The exception is John Held, Jr.’s work where the text is within the piece).  And it was the first to be divided into sections: The Late Twenties, The Early Thirties, The Late Thirties, The Early Forties, and The Late Forties.

All the big names are here, of course, and so are some of the most memorable cartoons in the magazine’s history, including Thurber’s Seal in the Bedroom, Addams’ skier, and Arno’s “Well, back to the old drawing board.”  This is the Album for anyone who has heard about the New Yorker‘s Golden Age, and wants to know what all the fuss was about.

The design of the book is excellent, with paper of good quality, allowing for Gluyas Williams’ masterpieces, run full page, to glow.  Arno’s brushstrokes look as if he just swept them across the page fifteen minutes ago. On the pages where a number of cartoons appear, the layout is handled with great care, never too busy; each page was obviously fussed over by someone (or someones) who knew what they were doing. Just look at the graphic balancing act directly below:

The contributors are a Who’s Who of the magazine’s pantheon of great artists, including the founders, and the ones who showed up while Harold Ross was still messing around with the ingredients.  Steig’s Small Fry are here, as is Soglow’s Little King.  Helen Hokinson’s Club Ladies are generously presented, as are spreads by Rea Irvin, and and and…gee willikers, so much more (to see more scroll down to the back cover’s list of artists).  This is one of the very best Albums of cartoons the magazine ever produced (as another 67 years have passed since its publication it shares the top shelf with a few others). 

The flap text (above) reminds us that the cartoons are a record of the times. I’ll go along with that. As the magazine moves closer to its 100th year it’s essential for the cartoons to change with the times and reflect the times. I expect that the Introduction to The New Yorker’s 100th Anniversary Album will express something close to that sentiment, if not exactly that.

If you’ve read Genius In Disguise, Thomas Kunkel’s great biography of Harold Ross, you might remember that book’s prologue has a wonderful section devoted to the party at the Ritz-Carleton celebrating the New Yorker‘s 25th Anniversary. It was a party, wrote Kunkel, “celebrating accomplishment, about creating something of enduring importance.”  

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Michael Moore Tweeted out a drawing this morning by the late Jack Ziegler that’s right on the money (so to speak):

— My thanks to Bruce Eric Kaplan for bringing this to the Spill’s attention.

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…A lot More Soglow

Attempted Bloggery has posted a cart full of rare Otto Soglow drawings (some of them are what used to be referred to as “naughty” — nowadays we’d call them not-PC. ) 

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of November 20, 2017

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

Wow, three weeks in row without a political cover. This latest cover, of two children chalking out a hopscotch pattern on the ground, has a title, as have all covers since Tina Brown instituted the practice. I’ve always wondered why it’s necessary to title a cover.  Shouldn’t the piece tell you everything you need to know all by its lonesome? A graphic island unto itself? In this case, the title is “Coding 101”; many folks (or at least I) never would’ve caught the reference to coding on the hopscotch pattern.  Honestly, all I saw was kids doing a kid-like thing.  I initially thought: how wonderfully simple (too simple it turns out).  Never having played hopscotch, you could’ve fooled me — and it did — that this cover had an underlying meaning. For the record, I do have one connection to the game: I did a hopscotch drawing back in 1989. No coding appears in the drawing.

After a quick trip through Goings On About Town (or GOAT) we arrive at the Christoph Neimann Talk of the Town Masthead. Notice how I’m no longer referring to it as the Rea Irvin Talk of The Town Masthead. Mr. Irvin created the masthead and it stayed in place, with a few tweaks along the way (made by Mr. Irvin) for 92 years,  This past Spring Mr. Niemann was commissioned to redraw the masthead. Absolutely no knock against his work, but the original really never should’ve been replaced.

Here’s Mr. Irvin’s classic:

Now on to the cartoons and cartoonists.  The first cartoon in the issue is by J.A.K. (Jason Adam Katzenstein). The drawing depends on understanding the caption’s reference to the Large Hadron Collider.  I remember when the collider was all over the news years ago (2008 specifically).  Seeing it referred to here in this drawing I immediately thought there was some collider news event I’d recently missed. A quick search didn’t turn up anything exciting in the news (exciting, that is, to this non-scientific mind). What I did see on Wikipedia is how darn huge the collider is (they don’t call it “large”  fer nuthin’).

Mr. Katzenstein’s drawing — how he drew the collider — made me think of a great Jack Ziegler drawing involving something we tend to think of as small (plumbing pipes).  Unlike Mr. Katzenstein’s collider, Mr. Ziegler went to town in the juxtaposition department, making the small humongous; Mr. Katzenstein made the humongous small-er.  I’m  showing Mr. Ziegler’s here as it appeared on the page in the issue of March 3, 1980. It’s a thing of beauty. While working I often keep in mind this quote from Mr. Ziegler: “…it’s always nice when cartoonists know how to draw so that they can give us something pleasant and fun to look at.”

Six pages later, a Hitchcockian-flavored drawing from Julia Suits. Who can forget this Tippi Hedren moment from Hitchcock’s The Birds? Ms. Suits cartoon adds poppy seeds, and voila!

On the facing page is a Frank Cotham cave man drawing. Similar to his drawing last week in mashing very old (last week medieval and contemporary times) with now.  Here it’s mashing very very very old with now. The cartoon is placed/spaced well on the page.

Ten pages later a drawing by newbie Alice Cheng (her first appearance was this past February), who has employed a semi-forgotten go-to situation: house mice.  This is a Charles Addams moment (bringing in a crime scene with police and the media). Nicely done.  Four pages later a cowboy campfire drawing by Zach Kanin.  I’ll take a cowboy and campfire drawing any day of the week — love them.  Here, Mr. Kanin seems to channel the wonderful wackiness of  the aforementioned Mr. Ziegler. 

And speaking of semi-little-used go-to situations, the very next drawing (by Amy Kurzweil) gives us signs in a store front window. Store front windows with signs once appeared regularly in The New Yorker (I did my share as did many colleagues).

On the very next page is a well placed Roz Chast drawing.  Anxiety in an airplane.  You can just imagine, but you don’t have to, of course. Ten pages later an Ed Steed strip-like drawing along the bottom of the page.  Larkness visible.

Seven pages later, a Charlie Hankin drawing based on the  famous story of Icarus. It never seems to turn out well for poor Icarus. I like Mr. Hankin’s take on the the myth.

Three pages later is the New Yorker (print) debut for Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell; a more than meets the eye drawing.  Good wording. Another three pages brings us to a drawing by William Haefeli. It can be said of a number of New Yorker cartoonists that their work is instantly recognizable (think BEK).  Mr. Haefeli’s work is solidly in that category. The caption for this drawing is priceless. The drawing, as was Ms. Cambell’s, is well placed on the page.

Nine pages later is a Tom Chitty drawing of robots (they appear to be sitting at the same coffee shop table as J.A.K. s collider couple, although the seats are different).  The little flower at the heart of this drawing reminds me (exactly in its look) of a battery-powered plastic flower in a plastic pot my mother gave to me. When you turn it on the flower rotates and “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” starts playing. Would these robots have a real flower or a mechanical flower?

The last drawing in the issue is by Sara Lautman.  Oddly/coincidentally, the drawing incorporates a round-top table (just like Mr. Chitty’s drawing and Mr. Katzenstein’s). But the focus here is on the genie that’s appeared, and his up-dated wisdom (do genies dispense wisdom? Sure, why not). He appears to be drawn in the Disney Robin Williams genie mold more than the Barbara Eden look (below: Disney’s genie on the left, Lautman’s in the center, Barbara Eden’s genie, far right ):

 

— See you next Monday.