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.

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of October 30, 2017

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

We are definitely in the Halloween mode in the new issue, and it all begins with Carter Goodrich’s cover; a scary clown looking remarkably similar to our current president peers out from the woods.  For some reason my thoughts drifted back to what I believe was the first appearance of the Donald on the cover way way back in 1992; the Robert Risko high-kickin’ chorus line cover was on the 13th issue of Ms. Brown’s tenure.

Skipping through GOAT (Goings On About Town), and, sigh, the redrawn Rea Irvin Talk of the Town masthead,  we come to page 18, and the first cartoon of the issue.  Zach Kanin is back with what at first might seem like a Halloween themed drawing, what with the full-face ski hats, but it’s not Halloween-related — it’s a pizza crime cartoon. Not the first pizza drawing in the magazine (for instance: who could forget Gahan Wilson’s 1997 classic), but possibly the first incorporating a stick-up using bank robbery terminology.  My one microscopic quibble with the drawing is not with the drawing at all, but the proximity of the Otto Soglow spot drawing just above it.  I’m firmly in the camp of letting the New Yorker‘s cartoons have plenty of breathing room. 

 Roz Chast’s gingerbread man drawing, appearing five pages after Mr. Kanin’s, is an example of plenty of breathing room.  A Danny Shanahan carrot cake man two issues ago, and now a gingerbread man.  Somebody should really do a book of pastry people cartoons.

Nine pages following Ms. Chast’s couch-bound confection (with a Trump illustration appearing along the way) is an Amy Hwang drawing that, at first glance, appears to be Halloween-related. But, like Mr. Kanin’s, it’s not a Halloween drawing (although I’ve seen situations like this set up in front yards of homes at this time of year). A buff executioner stands beside a rope-less(?) guillotine. Five pages later is a Will McPhail drawing with its figures in silhouette (guillotine, silhouette…what an issue).  Lovely night sky, Mr. McPhail. On the very next page is another William’s drawing (William Haefeli).  I should mention that all of the drawings, from Ms. Chast’s on, have been beautifully placed on the page. Mr. Haefeli delivers a principal’s office cartoon drawn in his trademark style. This drawing might even have more going on than the usual Haefeli contribution. I found myself enlarging the cartoon on my computer screen to see what was on the cartoon computer screen and what was going on out in the cartoon hallway.

Three pages later is a Julia Suits drawing that causes us (or maybe just me) to imagine another cartoon within her cartoon.  A fellow at a very long bar is thinking about a woman who’s walked into his wet cement. That’s what I was imagining — the walking into the wet cement scene.

On the very next page is — yay! — a Halloween cartoon, courtesy of one of our modern anchor cartoonists, Joe Dator.  Mr. Dator’s “last-minute” parade drawing made me think about the now famous Greenwich Village mega-parade, wherein gazillions of costumed folks gather together.  Mr. Dator’s less populated parade is appealing. Four pages later, a drawing by one of the most recognizable stylists in recent times, Seth Fleishman. Looking slightly Spy vs Spy in this drawing (it’s the hat, I think, plus the mash-up of black & white figures) Mr. Fleishman dips into mobsterville  — the fish wrapped in newspaper). 

On the very next page is a Drew Panckeri drawing of a reclined and relaxed member of the armed forces on his bed speaking with what I imagine is a counterpart from an adversarial country. I find the fellow’s coat interesting — it looks a bit like an Eisenhower jacket, but it’s not quite short enough. Several objects in the room caused me to linger on this drawing for awhile: the lava lamp, the large model (?) of a rocket, and the framed piece which looks as if it might be based on James Montgomery Flagg’s 1917 “I Want You poster (itself based on New Yorker cartoonist Alfred Leete‘s earlier work, shown below far right). The fellow in Mr. Panckeri’s  frame is definitely pointing at the viewer, but his clothing looks more carny than country.  

 

Fourteen pages later (following a photo essay) is a Bruce Eric Kaplan drawing of a woman in bed. As usual with Mr. Kaplan, a winning caption. Opposite Mr. Kaplan’s drawing is a wonderful bookend to Mr. Dator’s parade drawing (it being the Halloween issue): witches standing at a boiling cauldron.  This is a lovely drawing, with an Edward Gorey-ish feel to it.

Ten pages later is the last drawing of the issue (not counting the caption contest work on the last page).  It’s a Paul Noth word play drawing.  I see people at a table with the mention of wine and I cannot not think of James Thurber’s 1937 oft-reprinted classic drawing.

I can’t leave this week’s issue without a Charles Addams shout-out. If you have a moment, seek out his covers and drawings.  With Addams it was Halloween all year long. 

Til next Monday… 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Checking In: Peter Kuper Talks Spy Vs. Spy, The New Yorker, and So Much More

When I think of MAD magazine I think of Alfred E. Neuman, of course, and Al Jaffee’s Fold-In, and Spy vs Spy. For the past twenty years the latter has been in the hands of Peter Kuper.  His non-Spy work has been appearing more and more in The New Yorker these days, both the print version (an example above — a drawing from the March 6th issue this year)  and the non-print version — the Daily Cartoon.  Graphically, his work is a feast for the eyes, incorporating solid construction and style. And naturally, it’s very funny.

I only met Peter a year or so ago at a book event at Columbia University; we’ve emailed from time-to-time ever since.  I thought it was about time to officially check in with him; luckily he agreed to allow some Spill questions to fill his inbox.  We covered MAD, The New Yorker, and much more in the following conversation. 

Michael Maslin: So Peter, you’re a MAD person as well as a New Yorker person, but I also think of you as someone out there getting your fingers inky in a lot of projects.  True?

Peter Kuper: Yes, in the sketchy career as a cartoonist I juggle at a high velocity to make this work.

A new edition of my book Diario de Oaxaca, a chronicle of time I spent in Mexico from 2006-2008, was just published. I added 40 pages of new material and overall redesign to this updated edition.

I’m currently working on a collection of Franz Kafka short story adaptations titled Kafkaesque that will come out Fall 2018. I’m also co-editing a new issue of World War 3 Illustrated ,a political comics magazine I co-founded when I was in art school…a few years back. This is our 48th issue (due out in November) with the theme of fascism. For some reason that seemed like a timely subject.

Along with Steve Brodner and Andrea Arroyo I’ll be curating OppArt a site gathering work by a wide range of artists about our insane political climate. It’s hosted by The Nation magazine’s website.

Above: a page from Ruins

A Chinese edition of my last graphic novel Ruins is in the works and following Kafkaesque I will be adapting Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. All of this, I hope, will  relate to commenting on the current presidency.

MM:  The current political climate must seem like a shooting-fish-in-barrel moment for you — evidenced by your work frequently showing up on the New Yorker’s online Daily Cartoon.  One of those drawings [shown above] received a good deal of notice . Can you describe how this drawing came to you? 

PK: There is so much material everyday I could just devote all of my time drawing about it, even if I had nowhere to publish them besides my own, very limited, social media. I’m very thankful for the outlet the New Yorker site provides so can address things as they happen and reach a pile of eyes. Doing these cartoons also helps me avoid the short trip to losing my mind over the news.
The “Five Stages” popped into my head thinking about how Trump was turning on even his closest supporters like Jeff Sessions. The timing was dumb luck given within the week Priebus and Scaramucci were booted. Since I’m interested in sequential art, doing this as a series of images was a nice fit.

MM: I really like the way that drawing is sequential within itself, if you know what I mean.  It’s not broken into separate panels, but seems animated.  The little clocks along the bottom tricked me into thinking the employee was on a conveyor belt.  Was that intentional?

PK: The conveyor belt was very much part of the idea, but I threw the clocks in last minute. I would have collaged in photos of real clocks, but I got word on my sketch at 9:30 and didn’t get to work until 10. The art was due at noon and I got it in at 12:01, so I ran out of time…hmm, how ironic. 

MM: Let’s talk MAD for a moment. Like a zillion other cartoonists, part of my earliest comic art education came from absorbing every issue of MAD. Spy vs Spy was a major piece of the experience.  Can you talk about about what Spy vs Spy meant to you as a kid, and how it came about that you inherited it.

PK: Mad was all that to me too. Really the first place I saw the intersection– or maybe more accurately– the collision of humor and politics. Of course I always “read” Spy first, you couldn’t help it. They only ran it periodically so seeing it was a real treat. In 1996 the editors called me in and asked if I was interested in taking an, er, stab at it.

I almost passed since it was someone else’s characters and I had lost touch with the material. I had been doing a wordless strip called Eye of the Beholder (It began in the New York Times  in 1993 and I had been self-syndicating to alternative newspapers) and I’d just finished a book called The System  which was entirely wordless, which I assumed was why they called me. I later learned that the editor had discovered an oddball book I did called Comics Trips in a remaindered books bin (it was a collection of my sketchbook work from a trip through Africa and S.E. Asia) and that’s why he called. So to make a short story long, I said I’d do a sample story. I figured if I was to take it on I’d have to give it a personal touch, so I did the sample in stencils and spray paint figuring they’d say “thanks, but no thanks” and I’d be on my way. In doing the sample I realized what a big influence the strip had on my interest in wordless comics (along with Sergio Aragonés marginal drawings).

If I had wanted the gig, I’m sure I would have blown it. They were looking for a change and I turned out to be a good fit. I thought I’d do it for a few years and move on. That was twenty years ago.

MM: One of the Spy images we’re showing in this piece is of the 2 prong/3 prong optical illusion (or whatever it’s called). It’s so great it’s still being used. I remember as a kid being transfixed by that drawing [I feel as if I saw it on the back page, or near the back page] and learning how to make it work. Was that drawing specific to MAD — do you know its origin?

PK: It is called a Blivet it dates back to American servicemen in World War II. It refers to any unnecessary or superfluous thing. It may be a mixture of blip and widget–or so says Google.

MM: Is there a typical work day for you?  With MAD and the New Yorker Daily and the regular New Yorker batch to get in weekly, plus all the other things you’re doing, how do you arrange work? Are you incredibly organized?

Above: Kuper in The Nation

PK: Not much “typical” exactly and I’m certainly not crazy organized (fortunately my wife, Betty, is). I have a studio separate from my apartment, but only a few blocks away, happily. I tend to get to work between 9-10 and work until 7-ish. Sometimes I return to work after dinner and I work most weekends, but really that’s by choice. I love doing what I do especially comics and they take an absurd amount of time. When I was working on Ruins  (over a three-year period) at a certain point I brought a drawing table to the apartment so I would see more of my wife and daughter. Though fortunately freelancing does afford one the opportunity to speed up or slow down work. It doesn’t matter exactly when I work as long as it gets done, so I do end up getting to hang out, then race later to meet deadlines. I  swear, I wasn’t an absentee husband/father! (At least according to my autobiography, Stop Forgetting To Remember )

MM: You were first published in The New Yorker in 2011; some time passed until now when you seem to be in there more often. Any reason behind these better times at the magazine, or just one of those things?

PK: Actually, I pitched to The New Yorker from the beginning of my career back in the 1980’s to no avail. I was first published there in 1993 when Tina Brown came in. I did a number of illustrations for Chris Curry and a two page spread titled ” Masks of the Urban Jungle”  that I did for Lee Lorenz [one page of “Masks…” shown above]. I had a six-month run pitching cartoons to him and sold two, neither of which ran. I was doing them in stencils and spray paint which was probably too far from a New Yorker cartoon tone. Soon I found myself doing New Yorker-esque ideas and felt I was losing a sense of direction, so I started pitching multi-panel political cartoons. One that didn’t fly I pitched to The New York Times and it ran on the Op-Ed page. An editor from the NY Daily News saw it and I got a spot there doing a weekly five panel political cartoon titled “New York Minute” that ran every Sunday for two years. I concluded that was what all the pitching to The New Yorker had lead me to, so it had been worth it. My next round was in 2011. I had an idea and crazily on a Friday afternoon figured what-the-fuck and pitched it to Mankoff. It was topical and amazingly he bought it. So I was deluded enough to pitch for another six months and had zero sales.

In 2015 I got another bee in my bonnet, and the fickle cartoon Gods have seen fit to throw me enough bones to keep me at it. I’m surprised to find that my drawing style morphed through the years into something that fits there, but isn’t forced.I had grown tired of the stencil work and was afraid that the toxic enamel spray paint would kill me.Doing this work brought me back to the  realization of how much New Yorker cartoonists have influenced me. Cartoonists like Charles Saxon and Arno (I’m not just blowing smoke here) Addams, Gluyas Williams, Rea Irvin, Booth and on and on were a huge part of why I wanted to be a cartoonist. So doing work for the New Yorker has been one of my life-long goals.

MM: Back to Spy vs Spy: spies are big news again what this period of almost daily talk of Russian spies; in your mind, who are your Spy vs Spy spies? 

PK: Bond’s the name, James Bond and whatever that recent movie Charlize Theron was in.

________________________________________________________________

Visit Mr. Kuper’s website for more on most everything discussed above. 

*While this piece was being put together, Mr. Kuper’s book Ruins received the Boscarato, an Italian award for best foreign graphic novel. The Spill extends its congratulations!

Of Note from yesterday’s OppArt press release:

Long a home to quality accountability journalism, The Nation broadens its horizons in this unprecedented political moment with OppArt, a new series of artistic dispatches from the front lines of resistance. Spearheaded by celebrated artists and illustrators Andrea ArroyoSteve Brodner, and Peter KuperOppArt will showcase fresh content daily as a diverse set of artists take aim and draw. The first installation of the series, “Nuisance Flooding,” launched today.

Curated with a singularly progressive and political point-of-view, OppArt will convene international artists with a broad range of talents, from comics and illustrations to street graphics and fine art. Their work will confront and expose power, while sustaining a wry humor in turbulent political times. The series complements The Nation’s longstanding ComixNation print feature.

The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker, October 9, 2017

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

The New Yorker has gone through a number of survivable events in its 92 year history. It nearly folded in its first six months of existence, but survived when Raoul Fleischmann, its original backer, suddenly turned white knight, decided to pump more money into it. The magazine survived when the magazine’s founder and first editor Harold Ross died too soon.  The magazine survived its transition from the Fleischmann family to the Newhouse family in the late 1980s, and all the hooplah that ensued when William Shawn was succeeded by Robert Gottlieb, and when Gottlieb was in turn succeeded by Tina Brown, who was then succeeded by its current editor, David Remnick.  It won’t go without saying that yesterday’s news of the passing of Si Newhouse, owner of The New Yorker caused a lot of ink to begin flowing (online as well as print) about what his passing means for the future of the magazine.  Perhaps it’s best to acknowledge that the crystal ball is cloudiest just when we want it to be crystal clear. 

And now on to the cartoons in the latest issue.  

Two BEK covers in the last six issues of The New Yorker. Amazing. I’m always thrilled to see a cartoonist colleague’s work on the cover, and am ever hopeful more and more will be added into the mix.

Following all the up front of the book graphics (ads, of course, and illustrations) we come to the calm spread of pages 28 & 29 with a well placed Liana Finck drawing on the upper right.  I like the use of the word “monsters” in the caption.  I think the word has also suggested (at least to me) that the fellow Ms. Finck has pictured resembles ever-so-slightly the Frankenstein monster (as played by Boris Karloff).  

Six pages later we come to a Jon Adams drawing (his first New Yorker cartoon appeared last week).  The desert island cartoon, once seemingly on the verge of retirement is as present as ever in the magazine.  I’ll be curious as to how the Cartoon Companion guys dissect this drawing (we’ll find out later in the week when they post). I’m reluctant to step on their turf, but can’t help but be concerned that the angle of the palm tree which is about to catapult one of the islanders into the ocean (presumably to safety) will throw the fellow away from the container ship off in the distance. This is part of what cartoonists do, I guess.  We worry about the fate of stranded cartoon characters on a cartoon desert island.

On the very next page is a Michelangelo moment courtesy of Julia Suits.  Her drawing is based on one of the master’s greatest hits within one of his greatest hits:  the “Creation of Adam” (seen below) on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Ms. Suits has given us the origin story of a slightly shocking moment we’ve all experienced at one time or another. 

A couple of pages past the beginning of a Janet Malcolm piece on Rachel Maddow we come to a two-fer spread: an Edward Koren drawing on the left side and a Matthew Diffee on the right. Mr. Koren is our longest serving cartoon contributor, having first been published in 1962. It’s always a good week when one of his drawings graces the pages of the magazine. Selfishly, I would’ve loved to see this drawing run at least half-a-page.  But as the Rolling Stones so memorably sang, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime you find you get what you need.” 

A quartet of pages later we come to a drawing by newbie, Maddie Dai; the drawing itself carries a candidate for longest caption in a New Yorker cartoon.  I think of George Booth when I see a lot of caption. Here’s an example of a long-form  Boothian caption from The New Yorker, February 18th,  1985:

Strangely enough, on the page following Ms. Dai’s fortune teller drawing is another longish captioned drawing — this one by David Sipress. I like the whiskerless cat(?) on the floor of this drawing.  It looks a bit distressed. Four pages later a Roz Chast triptych incorporating the word “illuminati”;  I’m beginning to get the feeling this issue is thematic in a mystical, monstrous, space agey way (Ms. Finck’s monster, Ms. Suits Michelangelo drawing, Maddie Dai’s fortune teller, Mr. Sipress’s a newly discovered planet drawing, and now Ms. Chast’s illuminati).  Probably just coincidence. 

Two pages later, the theme goes up in smoke as P.C. Vey takes us shopping. I note that none of the products on the shelves carry labeling. I’m reminded of the books in Chairman Mao’s library. On closer inspection, there is writing present on Mao’s books, but the first impression is similar (for me anyway) to Mr. Vey’s supermarket shelving.   

On the very next page after Mr. Vey’s shopping expedition we’re thematically back to religion with an Adam and Eve drawing courtesy of Will McPhail.  I suppose it’s possible it’s not Adam and Eve as the female here has to my eyes a contemporary haircut. You can’t see much of Adam, as he’s behind a giant leaf that doesn’t quite cover the “all”  mentioned in his caption. Someone who knows leaves can set me straight if Mr. McPhail’s leaf is similar to this maple leaf I grabbed off of Google images.  

 

A couple pages later another relative newbie, Kate Curtis (her first drawing appeared in the New Yorker in January of 2016).  Back to contemporary life with an airline check-in moment. The drawing looks vaguely Kim Warpian (it’s the airline employee’s fingers I think that bring Ms. Warp’s work to mind). Seven pages later we’re whip-lashed back to King Arthur’s big sword in the stone moment with a contemporary twist, courtesy of Ben Schwartz. Lars Kenseth had a sword and stone drawing recently. I wonder if sword and stone drawings are going to give desert island drawings a run for their money.

Nine pages later, we remain (somewhat) in ancient times with a couple of medieval towers (sans Rapunzel…possibly), and a dragon…and a lawn mower?  All from Avi Steinberg’s pen. This drawing reminds me of the George Price classic below (published in The New Yorker June 3, 1939).  Both Mr. Steinberg’s and Mr. Price’s have guys outdoors doing something in the yard; both have woman in the window calling out to the guys; both have something wrapped around a structure: Mr. Steinberg has a dragon, Mr. Price has ivy.

On the following page a talking clock from Eric Lewis. I’m always reluctant to favor a drawing in the Monday Tilley Watch (again, that’s what they do over on the Cartoon Companion site), but I’m going to favor this, the last drawing in the issue. I see shades of various artists in the drawing itself — this isn’t unusual: I see some vague hint of various cartoonists’ work in every cartoonist’s drawing (including my own). In this case it’s a little Stuart Leeds, a little Gahan Wilson, and a shadow of Pierre Le-Tan.  Of course, the drawing itself is pure Eric Lewis — an excellent way to end the issue. 

— see you next week.   

 

 

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch (Part 1)

Double issues (as we’ve just experienced) have a way of creating the impression it’s been ages since the last new issue. So, yay, finally: the late August New Yorker (dated, for the record:  August 21, 2017). There are a lot of cartoons in this issue, so the Monday Tilley Watch will be broken up into two parts. I’ll post the second half in a few days…possibly tomorrow (a Tuesday Tilley Watch?)

The cover, by Adrian Tomine, is certainly summery (and a sort of summary of some summers). 

Skipping through the front of the magazine (this is, after all, a look at the drawings in the issue) I pause to note that Rea Irvin’s classic Talk of the Town masthead is still on holiday (wishful thinking that it might’ve returned!).  Now on to the cartoons:

The first, Mr. Tator Tot, is descended from the world of Mr. Potato Head and is pure Danny Shanahan.  I can see these being sold in nice little packages wherever toys are sold (with a warning that they should be kept out of the hands of small children).  As a side note, when Mr. Shanahan was discussing this drawing with me not long ago we went off into a brief recounting of the various potato-related drawings we’d both done.  Someone should do a New Yorker book of potato cartoons.  The next drawing (I’ll shorthand it as “hip disease”)  is by Jason Adam Katzenstein, who is closing in on his third anniversary of appearing in The New Yorker. I’m a big fan of doctor office drawings. The eye chart in this one really caught my…eye (sorry). I’d say someone should do a book of New Yorker doctor cartoons, but it’s been done, and done well. 

A few pages later we come to a summertime baseball in the park drawing by yours truly. For those who keep track of things, this is my second major appliance-related drawing in the magazine (there was at least one cartoon of mine featuring a small appliance (a blender) back in the 1980s).  Seven pages later we come to a Tom Toro desert island drawing (Mr. Toro was profiled here on the Spill not long ago, talking about his new book Tiny Hands, among other things). The desert island fellow, judging by his look, has somehow managed to survive on the island for a very long time. Good for you, island guy. I’m a little worried about the cruise ship being so close to shore, but then remind myself that this is a cartoon. (fyi: Mr. Toro’s been contributing to The New Yorker since 2010).  Next up is a drawing by newish-comer, Kate Curtis (she’s been contributing to the magazine for about a year-and-a-half).  I love set piece cartoons (folks sitting at a dining room table or a kitchen table, people in bed or sitting on living room sofas, etc.). Challenging, and so much fun when they work out well, as this one has. Several pages later is another newcomer, Maddie Dai (Her first New Yorker cartoon appeared this past June).  A hopscotch drawing! We don’t see many of those.  This one has a Charles Addams-ish flavor to it.  And speaking of Mr. Addams, who did a number of wonderful gingerbread house drawings in his time, our next drawing, by Liana Finck, is of a house made of kale.  Worth noting here: as has been the case for at least the past five issues of the magazine, the placement and sizing of most drawings has been splendid. (Ms. Finck’s first cartoon appeared in The New Yorker, February 2013). The next drawing, by Sara Lautman (first cartoon in The New Yorker: March, 2016) is a blast of color…and madras (!) — making for an exciting visual. A few pages later, and again, well-placed and sized, is an Ed Steed cartoon. Love the child-like house on the horizon. Mr. Steed’s first appearance in the magazine: March 2013. There’s a Sketchbook by Will McPhail a few pages following Mr. Steed’s drawing.  The use of the Sketchbook — and I could be very wrong — goes back to the Tina Brown era. Next up is a drawing by Emily Flake (like Mr. Toro, she was the subject of a piece on The Spill not long ago). Ms. Flake has been contributing to the magazine since September of 2008. This is a set piece drawing, with a lot of emotion.

Part 2 of The Monday Tilley Watch coming later this week…

Video of Interest: From 1997, ABC’s Nightline Looks at the New Yorker’s Cartoonists; Sam Gross on Jack Ziegler; The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna on Jack Ziegler’s Pivotal Role at The New Yorker

Way way back in December 1997, ABC’s Nightline broadcast “Drawing Laughter: the Cartoonists of The New Yorker” devoting its entire half-hour time slot to New Yorker cartoons and especially, its cartoonists.  The video from ABC’s vault takes us back to the Tina Brown era, the beginning of Bob Mankoff‘s tenure as cartoon editor (he’d only been at the big desk since August), and the  New Yorker’s first Cartoon Issue. The piece includes footage of the Arnold Newman photo-shoot for the fold-out group photo that appeared in that special issue (and in the Nightline piece), a photo-op at the Algonquin,  as well as short profiles of William Hamilton, Roz Chast and Michael Crawford.  Ted Koppel sitting in a cartoon newsroom is priceless. Among those seen in the piece, if far too briefly, are Mischa Richter, Lee Lorenz, Stuart Leeds, Leo Cullum, Al Ross, Bud Handelsman, Edward Koren, Liza Donnelly, Edward Sorel, Robert Weber, Warren Miller, Charles Barsotti, Frank Cotham, Peter Steiner, Frank Modell, Mick Stevens, Danny Shanahan, Mort Gerberg, Bruce Eric Kaplan, and Sam Gross. Bonus: a quick shot of Jack Ziegler (“It’s kinda quiet in here.”).

For more Ziegler on tape, here’s a link to his appearance with David Letterman, June 20, 1983.

 

 

 

 

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Ink Spill received the following from the great Sam Gross (left) about Jack Ziegler:

   

Jack took a fierce pride in his drawings. On one occasion the art director at Look magazine made the mistake of putting a pushpin in one of them and then mounting it on his cork wall. Every art director in those days had a cork wall. Jack went ballistic and wanted to kill him. I calmed him down by convincing him that the art director would burn in hell for what he did. I’m sure Jack has gone to the place where there are no art directors.

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From The Washington Post‘s Comic Riffs columnist, Michael Cavna: “How Jack Ziegler Became ‘The Godfather’ of The New Yorker’s Modern Wave of Cartoonists”

— Mr. Cavna on how Jack Ziegler midwifed the New Yorker‘s cartoons into its second Golden Age.