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 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

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



Post of Interest: Liza Donnelly Live-Drawing the Women’s March; Interview of Interest: The New Yorker’s Cartoon Editor, Emma Allen; TCJ Interview: Zach Kanin

From Medium, “Drawing the Women’s March” — Liza Donnelly writes about live-drawing last week’s big march in NYC.  See it here.


Interview of Interest: The New Yorker’s Cartoon Editor, Emma Allen

From Brooklyn Magazine, January 22, 2018, “30 Under 30, Class of ’18: The New Yorker‘s Cartoon Editor, Emma Allen”  — this interview and a video


The TCJ Interview : Zach Kanin

From TCJ, January 22, 2018, “Checking in with Zach Kanin” — RJ Casey interviews the cartoonist.

The Tilley Watch Online; Attempted Bloggery Uncovers Sizzling Platters

This week’s Daily cartoons (these are cartoons that appear only online and are not in the print version of the magazine) include appearances by David Sipress (businessmen in D.C.), Chris Weyant (a fortune teller sees law & order ahead), Zach Kanin (a pantsless sovereign), and Ellis Rosen (two drawings: Santa watching the results of the recent Alabama senate race, and an animated comment on net neutrality).

Over on Daily Shouts, contributing  New Yorker cartoonists include a duo effort by Jason Adam Katzenstein & Farley Katz, “Some Health Insurance Plans That Would Actually Work For Me” and the third of Liana Finck’s “Dear Pepper” advice pieces.


Attempted Bloggery Uncovers Sizzling Platters

Attempted Bloggery, one of the Spill’s favorite blogs, unearths three New Yorker drawings centered on sizzling platters (one of them, by Barbara Shermund, is shown above).

While you’re on the AB site, scroll down to see a Dorothy McKay cover for the (old old) Life magazine. 

Here’s Ms. McKay’s entry on the Spill‘s A-Z:

Dorothy McKay ( Self portrait above from Meet the Artist, 1943; Photo from Cartoon Humor, 1938) Born c.1904, died June, 1974 New York City. New Yorker work: 1934 -1936.



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 November 6, 2017

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

 I think it’s safe to say we have in our hands this week the New Yorker’s official Fall issue what with John Cuneo‘s beautiful giant leaf descending cover. 

For a change, I looked through this week’s issue (the digital issue, of course) on my laptop instead of on my tablet. It’s helpful seeing everything in an immediately readable format instead of having to zoom in, but it also removes a layer of mystery I’ve come to enjoy: seeing the cartoons small, and trying to figure out (sometimes) who did them and guessing what the caption might be. Back to the tablet next week.

Skipping through the front of the magazine, I did pause to admire the illustration on page six by Roman Muradov. It sort of has a Arthur Getz and Eugene Mihaesco mash-up feel — a 1960-ish vibe.  Nice.

Passing by the “redraw” of Rea Irvin‘s  iconic never-shoulda-been-replaced Talk of The Town masthead (above) we get to the first cartoon on page 22, a couple of beavers, courtesy of Kaamran Hafeez.  One of the beavers suffers from an age-old problem that was used to great effect on The Mary Tyler Moore Show when  newsman Ted Baxter read, on air: “I’ve just been handed a bulletin: ‘You have something on your front tooth!'” Curious about whether there was any significance to running a beaver drawing now, I consulted Wikipedia for a snap education. The entry included this:“Maintenance work on the dam and lodges is particularly heavy in autumn.”

Here’s a photo of a beaver, just because:

 Five pages later is a Zach Kanin drawing of a fitting room. I like the louvered fitting room doors, which could easily double for those steel roll-down gates you see on storefronts. Below left: Kanin louvered door.  Right: steel roll-down gate.

Eight pages later a Paul Noth mobster-tinged bar scene based on  “if a tree falls in the forest…” Nice expression on the woodsman’s face.  Good caption. Four pages later an Ed Steed drawing (i.e., dark). Shades of Charles Addams’ kids home from camp drawing

On the very next page, Julia Suits takes us out west to the reliable compound of cowboys at a campfire plus modern technology (I’ve done it myself a few times — it’s an irresistible scenario). Can’t see a cowboy campfire without thinking about Mel Brooks’ classic scene. Three pages later an interesting garage drawing by Ellis Rosen. One of our grandmasters, George Booth did a number of memorable garage drawings. Here’s one (published in the issue of December 28, 1998):

Mr. Booth has had a lot of company over the years. Mr. Ellis gives us a lovely drawing with an excellent caption. And, bonus: it sits well on the page. An Amy Kurzweil drawing is on the very next page.  A chess scenario, perfectly timed for Halloween. I like this drawing, but did find myself pondering why the chess pieces have arms. Are these actual chess pieces dressed up for Halloween, or are they people dressed up in chess pieces for Halloween who have decided to further Halloween-ize their chess costumes? So many questions…

Five pages later a Roz Chast triptych (her preferred construct in recent years). The third panel is a gem.

Six pages later, a Sara Lautman drawing leaning heavily on a pun. Five pages later, appearing just a day after International Cat Day, is an Amy Hwang cat drawing. If you want even more cartoon cat drawings, find these somewhere online or in your favorite used book store:

Five pages later, veteran Mick Stevens brings us back to much earlier times. I’m aware of the cartoon takes of Moses passing by a burning bush (hmmm, that was him, wasn’t it?) and him famously getting hold of the tablets containing the Ten Commandments. But the Biblical-era press conference is new to me.  I note that Moses looks weary.

Three pages later another cartoonist trope: the wedding scene. This one’s by Emily Flake. Understanding the definition of the word “algorithm” as used in the caption is key to understanding this drawing.  Someone should really do a book of New Yorker  dating/mating/algorithm related drawings (there was a dating cartoon in the magazine two weeks ago).

Four pages later, the last drawing in the issue (not counting the caption contest work): a banana peel domestic situation via J.A.K. (Jason Adam Katzenstein). The only thing as funny as someone slipping on a banana peel is someone getting slapped with a pie in the face. Danny Shanahan gave us both:

To see a slideshow of all the cartoons in this week’s issue, go here to the Cartoons page of and scroll down past the Daily Cartoon, Caption Contest to Cartoons from the Issue.

–See you next Monday