The three New Yorker Cartoon Yearbooks shown above were published following the anvil heavy Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker that appeared in 2004 (and the lighter updated paperback Complete Cartoons in 2006). I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to see these Cartoon Yearbooks. Why? For starters, they are hardcover, and are 9″x12″ — the size of the Albums of the Golden Era (such as we’ve been discussing these past many Sundays). I note that a cartoonist colleague, Trevor Hoey was responsible for the design. My hat’s off to you, Mr. Hoey. Job well done. The 2009 Cartoon Yearbook was (sigh) the last time a non-thematic New Yorker cartoon collection appeared in hardcover.
Each of these Yearbooks has an introductory piece, each of them jokey. To paraphrase Bruce Springsteen, someday we’ll look back on these and maybe they’ll all seem funny. But for now, these intros cause me to think of what is written on the inside flap of the very first New Yorker Album: “Oh, just look inside!”
The Yearbooks were designed with care, using decent paper stock, ensuring you don’t see the drawings bleeding through from the other side (as was the case in the behemoth 2004 collection). The back covers lists all the artists represented, a welcome practice that began with the 1958 New Yorker Album of Sports & Games and carried on with most, but not all, subsequent Albums. There is also an Index to the artists represented, something that I find respectful to the individual artists.
How I wish these Annuals were continued; they were well-produced (produced in-house) hardcover books definitely built to last, unlike what came after them: the magazine format Cartoons of the Year, published from 2010 -2016. Sometimes referred to as bookazines, there is nothing bookish about them; they are magazines, containing advertisements, and special features that never ran in the New Yorker (including several pieces by yours truly). It’s true that people collect magazines that are meaningful to them, but if I had to guess, I’d guess that a whole lot more people have book shelves in their homes containing hardcover New Yorker cartoon collections than magazine shelves holding New Yorker “bookazine” collections.
Going back to the Yearbooks, I believe this is the perfect format for collecting New Yorker cartoons. Whether it’s done annually or every five years or ten years, it’s how the work deserves to be presented: no-frills, no banners, no cover hype, no advertisements, no jokey forewords or informed forewords or essays — just the facts, ma’am, or should I say, just the cartoons.
Below: left – right, the Artists Represented on the back covers of the 2007, 2008, 2009 Yearbooks.