The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of April 30, 2018

Baseball in the air, on the field and on the cover of the latest issue of The New Yorker (actually, stickball’s on the cover, which appears, to me anyway, as if it’s a page out of an illustrated book).

Fewer illustrations/photos this week than last, but still, there are three full pages (including a full page photo of Hitler), and close to full page photo on the Goings On About Town lead page. How I wish we could see cartoons occupy a larger space every so often. Below are two pages from the issue of November 15, 1930. You can see how the drawings dominate the page and how the type follows the drawing. For instance: in the drawing on the left, by the great Barbara Shermund, the hanging plant is allowed to push up and compress the column of text. Notice too how the space afforded her beautiful drawing allows us to get far more visually involved in her work than if it had been squished in a rectangle.   

And now on to the issue’s cartoons.  A fun issue, mostly.

  It starts off well with a Danny Shanahan politically tinged(?) monkey drawing. Going out on a limb here, but Mr. Shanahan’s fabulous monkeys are the obvious heirs to Charles Addams’ takes on our ancestors.

Next up, three pages later, Jason Adam Katzenstein (aka JAK) goes to where many-a-cartoonist before him has gone: to the myth of Sisyphus. After I sped through an online refresher course about the King’s uphill struggle, I realized how this scenario beloved by cartoonists has oftimes become untethered from its backstory. No matter — that’s how we cartoonists roll. As Robbie Robertson wrote: “Ya take what ya need and ya leave the rest…”

Speaking of backstories, three pages later Ben Schwartz gives us Beethoven on stage. What’s really interesting about the drawing is Mr. Schwartz’s sly nod to the great Al Hirschfeld.  Do I, or do I not see Nina-esque shout-outs in the drapes. I do.

Five pages later, a Mick Stevens cave man drawing (he also had one two issues back). I like that he’s used the words stalagmites and stalactites. A little memory trick I learned back in fourth or fifth grade — how to tell the difference between stalagmites and stalactites: stalactites are the ones pointing down; they need to hold on “tite” to the ceiling. 

Three pages later, a shrink meets legume drawing by the wonderful Victoria Roberts. A fun and funny drawing. What more can one ask for.

Next up,  a domestic situation courtesy of Will McPhail. Funny. Another three pages brings us to a sidewalk scene from Pia Guerra. Dogs lined up to use a fire hydrant. I found myself wishing for a line-jumping dog instead of a fireman…

Two pages later another intensely graphic drawing from William Haefeli. Detail-city! And very slice-o-life.

Three pages later, a typically formatted (three panel) Roz Chast drawing. The word “Comix” pops out here. On the very next page, A Haefeli-like (in its use of detail) drawing by Jeremy Nguyen. Yet another slice-o-life drawing. I like how he’s given us two folks in silhouette in the foreground — that’s different. 

Four pages later a subway drawing from P.C. Vey (although here the subway is not central to the drawing — the situation could’ve taken place in any number of situations). A few pages later A Zach Kanin drawing focused on recreational drugs. On the very next page, A Lars Kenseth drawing.  You know it’s his work within a nano-second of turning the page. No one draws like this. I don’t rate cartoons like the Cartoon Companion boys do, but occasionally I applaud a drawing. 

On the next page Kim Warp  has drawn a Spill favorite scenario: a bakery (in this case, a cupcake bakery). I didn’t realize at first that there as an enormous Charles Addams-like cupcake involved in the drawing (initially saw the drawing on a tablet screen before switching to a laptop).  An unusual cartoon in that I think it works both ways (with the big cupcake, and without).  Sweet. 

On the following page, a Paul Noth drawing with a splash of color.  You have to be familiar with the commercial character who’s central to this cartoon. Three pages later a Carolita Johnson umbrella triptych just in time for May showers. Six pages later, immediately following that aforementioned full page photo of Hitler, is an Amy Hwang domestic situation — another go-to for many cartoonists: the couple discovered in bed by a significant other. Three pages later, the last cartoon of the issue (not counting the caption contest drawings): an online whack-a-mole scenario from Sam Marlow.

Finally: we are oh-so-close to the one year anniversary of the disappearance of Rea Irvin’s classic Talk Of The Town masthead. Here’s a Spill piece about it from last Fall when I was convinced the masthead would soon return. Not giving up hope on this, folks! 

Here’s the missing masthead:

 

*Dept of Corrections: an earlier version of the Monday Tilley Watch for the April 30th issue incorrectly listed Sam Marlow as Sam Means.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of April 16, 2018

Tom Gauld’s cover for this new issue is one of the best covers I’ve seen in the post-Lee Lorenz as editor era (Mr. Lorenz was the New Yorker‘s art editor from 1973 through 1993, and cartoon editor from 1993 through 1997. During his years as art editor he edited both covers and cartoons). Here’s Mr. Gauld talking about his Spring offering. 

Ink Spill puts its hands together for the cover.

My first run through of the issue earlier today made me wonder if this was the Illustration Issue (there isn’t an official Illustration Issue, but if there was, this could be it).  Here’s what I saw:

Goings On About Town, is as usual nearly a full page photograph.

A small color illustration in the Theater section.

A nearly half-page illustration for Night Life.

A three column wide photograph for Food & Drink.

A more than quarter-page photograph for Personal History.

A two column wide illustration for Shouts & Murmurs.

A nearly half-page photograph for The Sporting Scene.

A full page illustration for Profiles.

A page-and-a-half illustration for The World of Fashion.

A full page photograph for Fiction.

A three-quarter page illustration for The Theater.

An large illustration center of the page for Vinson Cunningham’s review in Books.

A more than quarter-page illustration for James Woods review in Books.

A center of the page illustration for Cinema.

And now to the cartoons:

The very first cartoon is by the veteran Mick Stevens. It’s an inside a whale cartoon. I immediately paused to consider the bend in the gullet of the whale. Having never been inside a whale I don’t know what it looks like in there but the cartoonist in me has always thought the inside of a whale was one huge space, like an airplane hanger. So yes, the bend caused me to stop and think awhile.

Up next five pages later is a super-dee-duper detailed William Haefeli drawing. Its graphic-ness (I don’t think that’s really a word) is startling. Perhaps it’s the use of so much black space (windows especially).  

Five pages later a Paul Noth drawing (Mr. Noth has a new book out, so congrats to him). This is an airlines passengers themed cartoon. As someone who has almost never flown I’m outta the loop on the whole boarding routine, so…

Two pages later a Seth Fleishman captionless drawing (as mentioned in previous posts here, Mr. Fleishman is solidly in the captionless cartoon school — which isn’t to say there are never captions). Here we have brick-oven pizza blended with a fossil fuel. I can’t get enough of pizza parlor cartoons. I’m sure everyone remembers this classic from Gahan Wilson.

Six pages later, a P.C. Vey cartoon. Not sure anyone else could’ve done this (maybe the aforementioned Mr. Wilson). There’s a tiny bit of sinisterism (is that a word?) in the air with this drawing. Seven pages later an outta the box (or boxes) Roz Chast drawing. We’ve become accustomed to her comics-like structure of three panels (or more). This single panel is striking, graphically.

Equally striking on the very next page is a teethy Edward Koren drawing starring one of his famous beasts. Perhaps the best placed drawing in the issue (there are several cartoons vying for worst placed cartoons). Breathing room galore for Mr. Koren’s dental drawing.

Four pages later Kate Curtis three bears cartoon (one bear unseen, as is Goldilocks). The window in the drawing looks out onto a dark forest. My gaze kept returning there, expecting to see something. But no…

Three pages later an ashes in an urn drawing from David Sipress. Comedic use of ashes in urns summons up (for me) this scene from Meet the Parents Mr. Sipress makes use of Milton Glaser’s I heart NY campaign, introduced in 1977. 

Two pages later a Ben Schwartz scientists observing behavior cartoon. The cartoon rests on the hope that the reader has some familiarity with a particular author mentioned. If you’re not familiar with the author then it’s off to Wikipedia for a crash course.

Four pages later, Julia Suits has a toga drawing featuring some lovely draping. On the very next page Trevor Spaulding has a cartoon related to a recent cultural movement.  Interesting drawing.

Three pages later a somewhat complex drawing from Lars Kenseth combining fringe mob activity with fine art (see Mickey Blue Eyes for more on this). 

Seven pages later, the last drawing in the issue (not counting those that are part of the caption contest): a Carolita Johnson cartoon in a slim space on the bottom of page 72. The drawing is about lip balm which strangely(?) reminds me of an interview I saw the other day with Joseph Kennedy III wherein he discusses “Chapstick-gate.” 

And that’s that, except for this *

*Rea Irvin’s classic Talk of the Town masthead design has been missing for nearly a year now. Just as a reminder, it looks exactly like this:

 

 

 

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of April 9, 2018

Here’s  Bruce McCall speaking about his gluten-free-gluten cover, along with three cover sketches (a nice touch).

And here are the cartoonists in the issue:

A slightly different Monday Tilley Watch this week…I’m listing my first response as I (electronically) flip through the issue, as if the drawings are flashcards.

Bruce Eric Kaplan…rodents and a tiger — I really like the tiger.

Lars Kenseth…a Snidely Whiplash reversal.  Funny that the train is a toy (shades of Charles Addams).

Tom Cheney…internet mischief in olden times.

John Klossner…support food. Wonder what kind of animal is being served.  

Harry Bliss…Jake LaMotta on ice.  A very outta left field drawing.

Roz Chast…a wicked queen’s magic mirror, updated.

Paul Noth…a patient prefers male doctors.

Pia Guerra…a sacred cow & more

Ed Steed…strong strange man drawing, or strange strong man drawing.

William Haefeli…a lesson in capitalization.

Seth Fleishman…a turkey display, with color.

Joe Dator…a NYC tour bus. Finally, a comment on those noisy things that rumble around the great metropolis. 

Frank Cotham…a witness explains. 

Teresa Burns Parkhurst …an egg ponders. A candidate for The New Yorker Book of Poultry Cartoons.

Mike Twohy…a doggy snow globe.  I can’t get enough of dogs and snow globes. 

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Keen-eyed observers will note that Rea Irvin’s classic Talk of The Town masthead is still in absentia. Here it is:

and here’s the stand-in:

To read more, go here.

 

 

 

 

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

The cat, or, uh, cover’s been outta the bag for several days now, so we can move right on to the cartoons in the issue. (I’ll mention Rea Irvin‘s missing masthead later on in this post).

Roz Chast has the first drawing (p.19). The setting of several folks lined up on a sofa hard up against a wall seems to belong to her.  It’s her signature, as much as George Booth’s guy-in-the bathtub scenario is his. 

Six pages later a Zach Kanin cozy-under-a-blanket-by-a-fire drawing (coincidentally, the action in the drawing is set on a sofa). The cartoon is anchored by the use of the word “breasts” in the caption.  A quick online search shows a modest number of New Yorker breast-related cartoons, with very few actually mentioning breasts in the caption. One that came readily to mind is this classic courtesy of Jack Ziegler from November of 1997.  

  Nine pages later, a fun Seth Fleishman drawing (captionless, of course. His specialty).  Succinct clean lines and ideas. The same could be said for the very next cartoonist: William Haefeli. Unlike Mr. Fleishman, he works with a caption. This particular drawing is textbook Haefeli. Even the inconsequential fruit in the bowl (in the foreground) is rendered as if it is essential to our grasp of the entire piece.

On the very next page is a grand drawing from Charlie Hankin, well-placed on the page. A crime scene by P.C. Vey is on the opposite page. I love how he’s drawn the victim. This compact set of drawings is one of my favorites in quite awhile (the set consisting of Fleishman, Haefeli, Hankin, and Vey).

Five pages later, the second New Yorker drawing from Bishakh Som, who delivers the magazine’s weekly subway drawing. Subway drawings are now certifiably the new crash test dummy drawings.  [a second subway drawing, by this cartoonist, appears as this weeks Caption Contest challenge] 

Fifteen pages later (following a photo spread) is a colorful and intricate drawing by Peter Kuper. An excellent piece of work. Five pages later, Carolita Johnson takes us to a concert hall. I like that she’s brought us somewhere we typically don’t go much (anymore) in New Yorker cartoons. Ms. Johnson’s handled the scene well, with the audience, drawn in grey, driving our focus to the sniffling quartet. I am curious about the tiny dash and “c”  appearing next to her signature:

Three pages later a well-drawn Tom Cheney cartoon (is there any other kind?).  NYC apartment seekers who don’t have money to burn will find this drawing especially hilarious. On the very next page, Emily Flake brings us a demographic not often seen in the magazine: senior citizens. It appears the fellow’s had enough and is taking a walk.  He can’t be planning on being away very long: he has no coat or jacket, and just one piece of luggage not much bigger than a bowling ball bag.

The last drawing in the issue (not counting those on the Caption Contest page) is by Edward Koren, who will, this May, celebrate his 56th year of contributing his drawings to The New Yorker.  No one draws birds like Mr. Koren, and, need I say it (sure, why not) — no one draws like Mr. Koren.

 Link here to see all of the drawings referenced in this issue.

And don’t forget to check out The Cartoon Companion (they usually post at week’s end) for their rated take on all the issue’s cartoons.

— See you next week

ps: Couldn’t help but notice that Rea Irvin’s iconic Talk of the Town masthead is still a-missin’.  There’s a substitute in its place.  This is what the real deal looks like:

 

 

 

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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of January 15 2018; Happy 114th Birthday, Peter Arno

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

 I don’t know about you, but after I’ve looked through the cartoons of each new issue of The New Yorker I have the kind of  immediate reaction I have after sitting through a movie. As I begin walking up the aisle, the verdict is usually already in: good movie, bad movie, loved it, hated it, so-so, etc.. I looked through this latest issue of the magazine and thought: good cartoons. Good cartoons from beginning to end, with a real gem mid-way through.  

The first cartoon of the issue, William Haefeli’s on page 18 gets things going. Haefeli’s drawings never disappoint, and in this case caption and drawing are doing exactly what I hope for in every New Yorker cartoon (giving us Peter Arno’s one-two punch; in this case the one-two are so close together it’s a onetwo punch) If you have the issue in front of you (print or digital) notice the child’s body language. Mr. Haefeli has created a drawing that almost moves. 

Three pages later a drawing by Amy Hwang, who has become somewhat of a cat specialist. This is a lovely drawing, with a terrific caption. I predict it’s going to be reprinted on a lot coffee mugs and t-shirts.  

Four pages later a couple at a table by JAK (Jason Adam Katzenstein). Good caption. The woman’s expression is as the British say, “spot on.”

Five pages later a curio: a P. C. Vey  Christmassy drawing in the January 15th issue. It’s a very good drawing  replete with tree and one very large gift.  I’ll forever wonder why it wasn’t in the issue  of December 18 or the issue just after, January 1, 2018. A mystery!

Another five pages brings us to a Kim Warp drawing employing two of my favorite subjects: dinosaurs and space travel (in this case time/space travel).  Another wonderful drawing with a really good caption. 

Six pages later, the gem I spoke of earlier.  John O’Brien gives us a site (a work site) to behold —   it’s caption-less too (to me, caption-less cartoons are the most difficult to successfully achieve.  Mr. O’Brien’s batting average of success with them is crazy high). This is a high bar New Yorker drawing. And so: applause, applause.

 

On the very next page is a Matt Diffee cartoon.  He, like a few other cartoonists in the magazine use a box to frame their work (Jack Ziegler was King of the New Yorker boxed drawings). Mr. Diffee’s drawings are always easy on the eyes (the soft greys).  Here we have a couple of folks ice fishing. The idea centers on the use of the ice machine known as a Zamboni blended with the popular urban food truck.  As sometimes happens with drawings, I paused to consider an element (last week it was missing tent stakes). Unfortunately, this pause never fails to get in the way of the one-two punch.  Why, I thought, would a Zamboni be on an ice fishing lake?  I looked up Zambonis, and learned they are sometimes used on ice skating lakes.  But there’s no sign of skaters anywhere on Mr. Diffee’s lake. Perhaps they’re just off to the side, out of the box.  I’m fairly certain my fascination with cartoon details such as this comes out of my early cartoon education by way of New Yorker art editor, Lee Lorenz. He once returned a drawing to me and asked if I’d make the surf board in the drawing look less like a six foot cigar.  It wasn’t the most important element in the drawing, but if it appeared to be a giant cigar it would take the reader too much out of the  drawing. I guess that stuck with me — and now you’re stuck with me pointing out cartoon minutiae.

Four pages later, a Will McPhail nearly deserted beach scene. I like the caption. Mr. McPhail  shows us one of those funny umbrella tables you see in movies of places that resemble wherever this is.  What’s missing is only someone (or something) off in the distance splashing in the ocean. What can I say — I like graphic splashing. 

Three pages later, a color drawing from Seth Fleishman in a setting far far away from Mr. McPhail’s.  Subway rats playing a game.  Having just seen a photo in the Times the other day of a NYC rat dragging a moon pie, I’m wondering if NYC subway rats are now a thing.  I guess they’ve always been a thing, if you think about it.

On the page after the rats is a Roz Chast package drawing.  Ms. Chast excels at these, and this one’s right up there, laughs-wise. I haven’t examined a package of Junior Mints in a long time (not my theater go-to candy) but I do wonder if those boxes show the “Juniors” as human…probably not.  Six pages later a Brendan Loper Evel Knievel inspired drawing. We don’t see enough dare- devil drawings in the magazine. Interesting drawing. Good stuff.  

Thirteen pages later, the last drawing in the issue (not counting the Caption Contest pieces): Julia Suits provides a trope that seems to be off-again on-again in the magazine: the military officer pointing out a medal. By off-again on-again I mean we don’t see many for awhile and then they suddenly pop up like asparagus. Henry Martin did a number of these, as did a number of other colleagues.  I can’t recall ever doing one. Time to get crackin’.  

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Happy 114th Birthday, Peter Arno

Strange to think of Peter Arno, whose work seems so very much alive, as born 114 years ago. All the years I worked on his biography, from 1999 through 2016, he seemed somehow on the scene, at least the New Yorker scene. In early 2016, with the book wrapping up, I paid one last Arno research visit to Yale, where he spent one year, the Fall of 1922- Spring of 1923. I went there to look for possible Arno materials in a box of Thurber’s papers; it turned out to be a fun but wild goose chase.

  Even though Arno only attended classes the one year (his father pulled the plug, financially) it was a launch pad year for his not-too-far-off entree to The New Yorker.  At Yale his cartoons became quite polished as they appeared more and more in the Record  (Arno did a few covers too). Besides drawing, Arno was fully engaged with his other love, music.

  He organized what he called an “orchestra” and found a place to play right across the street from the campus.  He mentioned playing there in a letter to his mother:

“…working in the Art School all day long and playing every evening in the Bull Dog Grille…”

 That last day I spent at Yale I took a walk along York Avenue, with the Bull Dog’s address in hand.  I came to the corner of Elm and York and could see some old buildings were right where I needed them to be, diagonally across the street. Crossing Elm I quickly spotted  #264 over one of two arched doorways on a three-story Victorian era building. The building had survived (!) but there was some kind of construction going on, with the front partially shrouded, and a dumpster parked out front.

The entrance to the Grille (it was upstairs on the third floor) was the door to the right, just behind the plywood wall behind the lone tree. I stood across the street for a bit, then crossed over to see what I could see close-up.  It was a wonderful moment thinking about the college-aged Arno heading through that door. I’d read in Dorothy Ducas’s great Arno piece in the March 1938 issue of Mademoiselle  that besides playing music upstairs Arno also drew on the walls (ala Thurber!). Standing in front of the building that day there was a lot to imagine. 

Here’s a photo I took that afternoon:

Before writing today’s piece I thought I’d use Google to see what had been done to the place a year or so later. Turns out it wasn’t construction after all — it was destruction.

Though the building is gone, those Arno moments playing music and drawing upstairs at the Bull Dog are not entirely forgotten.  Also not forgotten: the body of work Arno published in the New Yorker during his 43 years there, much of which can be found in the books below.

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ps: Rea Irvin’s classic Talk masthead (shown below) still missing from the magazine. Hope it returns soon.