David Remnick on Charles Barsotti; The Daily Cartoon handed off to…


Barsotti moat love

This week’s New Yorker (issue dated June 30, 2014) contains a Postscript written by the magazine’s editor, David Remnick.  The piece, spread across the magazine’s gutter, includes four Barsotti drawings.  Of Barsotti’s work, Remnick writes (in part):


In his peculiarly enchanted kingdom, any being or object was capable of speech and wit: there were talking noodles, boxes, fruit, squirrels, hammers, and bowling pins. He was astonishingly productive. At the end, there were many dozens of drawings available to us, and while we will miss him, we will be publishing Charley Barsotti for a long time to come.


Note: no link to the full piece as it is available in print or online by subscription only)




daily_cartoon_banner_katzThe New Yorker‘s Daily cartoon has transitioned smoothly from Mick Stevens to Farley Katz.  Mr. Katz’s first entry appears today.

Reminder: Lee Lorenz “In Conversation” Tomorrow at the Westport Historical Society; Mick Stevens’ last Daily Cartoon posted


A reminder that Lee LorenzThe New Yorker‘s Art Editor from 1973 through 1993 and its Cartoon Editor from 1993 through 1997 will be “in conversation” with me tomorrow at The Westport Historical Society @ 4:00.  Information here.

Mr. Lorenz is a long-time contributor to New Yorker — his cartoons have been appearing in the magazine since 1958.


From The Westport News, “Former New Yorker Art Editor to speak  in Westport”






Mick Stevens has announced on his  website that today’s New Yorker Daily Cartoon (left) is his last. In the post, “Back to the Batch,” Stevens says, “What I thought would be a 3 to 4 week gig turned out to last 10.” The Daily has been handled by a number of cartoonists since its recent inception, including Danny Shanahan, David Sipress, Barbara Smaller, Paul Noth, Mike Twohy, and Tom Toro. No word yet on whose turn is next.

Jack Ziegler on Charles Barsotti

Jack Ziegler and Charles Barsotti made up the entire Kansas wing of the New Yorker until Charley passed away last night. I asked Jack if he’d care to share a few thoughts on Charley, and here is what he had to say:

A friend of mine and I had dinner with Charley Barsotti and his wife Rae this past April 18th.  It was a lovely, summery evening, sun going down, out on the patio at Aixois, a little French restaurant about a block or so down the hill from their house in Kansas City.  It was the last time we saw each other.  A week after that I got a call from Rae saying that they’d just come back from his doctor who told them that at that point the medical professionals had done all they could for Charley.  It would be a matter of weeks.

At our dinner, Charley and Rae had looked even nattier than their usual selves, all dolled up like they were about to jump on line at an Easter Parade.  Over the past four years, after I’d moved to the KC area from Connecticut, we would get together fairly often for either lunch or dinner and I’m sure Charley used to cringe at some of the outfits I would appear in – shorts & sandals if the temperature was anywhere near 80 degrees, levis at all other times of year.  Charley was always properly coifed, pressed and cuffed.  I always felt that if he’d had a pair of spats, he would have worn them.  Next to him I looked like a bum.  But Chas. never rolled his eyes, nor did he try to hide behind his napkin or crawl under the table.  I eventually learned to dress a little better, a little more KC-style, whenever I’d make the trek in from Lawrence, KS, to lunch.

At that final dinner, he was frail, much thinner, and walking with a cane, but his spirits seemed as high as ever.  We talked about The New Yorker because we always talked about The New Yorker – and also the crappy, deteriorating state of the world because that was always a big concern for Charley who had a great sense of what was right and a great befuddlement of what always seemed to be so impossibly wrong.  And, as usual, we laughed a lot.  At one point Charley speared a piece of potato or something with his fork and Rae told him he wasn’t supposed to eat that, given the strict palliative diet he was now on.  He popped it into his mouth anyway and enjoyed this little defiant poke at his illness, as did we all because – yeah – it was the right thing to do.

Charley’s drawings were (are) beautiful, elegant, simple, smart, thoughtful, funny, fun, and silly.  I think he might have liked that last adjective best.  As my friend Dewey, who had never met him before that night, said as we were driving back to Lawrence, “What a lovely man.”



Charles Barsotti: 1933 – 2014


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Terribly sad news has just arrived here: the great New Yorker cartoonist, Charles Barsotti has passed away at his home in Kansas City. Mr. Barsotti, whose work was often mentioned in the same breath as Otto Soglow’s and James Thurber’s because of his spare melodic ink line, was a contributor to The New Yorker since 1962, and had been a contract artist with the magazine since 1970.   His long parade of kings and tyrants, and dogs – or “pups” as he called them – began appearing regularly in the magazine in 1968, over a thousand drawings in all, and two covers, the second of which graced the magazine’s second Cartoon Issue in December of 1998.  That cover featured a subject Mr. Barsotti had successfully avoided up til then: a staple of most cartoonists’ ouvres, the desert island.

Born September 28, 1933, in San Marcos, Texas, Mr. Barsotti was immediately whisked away to San Antonio, where he was raised.   He contributed drawings to his school newspaper, with his early influences the popular comic strips of the day, including  Lil Abner, Blondie and Prince Valiant.  Later influences included the great single panel cartoonists he discovered in Look, The Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s and eventually The New Yorker.    On a trip to New York in his late 20s, he made the rounds of magazines then publishing cartoons and sold one drawing to The New Yorker.  That drawing, published August 25, 1962 was stylistically atypical Barsotti, more in the vein of Robert Kraus or Warren Miller, with shading and wash. He would describe his later work –- the style he stuck with the rest of his career — as “post cluttered.”  It would be six years until his next drawing appeared in The New Yorker (November 23, 1968), but in that time he had provided ideas for several New Yorker cartoonists (Chon Day and William O’Brian among them) and had become, ever so briefly, cartoon editor of The Saturday Evening Post.  When the Post closed down in 1969, Barsotti and another Post contributor, George Booth, were taken in at The New Yorker.  Mr. Barsotti told Richard Gehr, “George was an immediate hit, but I wasn’t.”

While his career at The New Yorker was just building up steam he took a side-trip into national politics, running (unsuccessfully) for Congress in 1972, one of two New Yorker cartoonists ever to do so (John Held, Jr. ran and lost, in 1926 in Connecticut). His 1981 collection of cartoons, Kings Don’t Carry Money was favorably reviewed in The New York Times, which led off with  high praise:Thurber lives, in Kansas City under the name of Charles Barsotti.”

Besides emails, my personal interactions with Mr. Barsotti were few. The first time we met was at the Algonquin; Tina Brown had just been appointed Editor of the magazine, succeeding Robert Gottlieb, and in a gesture of good will, Ms. Brown invited a number of cartoonists to meet with her in a conference room upstairs at the Algonquin.  When the meeting ended, Charley bolted out first, and headed for the steps. I was right on his heels. Charley was grumbling as he quick-stepped, not really conversing. I remember thinking, I’m running down the steps in the Algonquin right behind Charles Barsotti –- now how unlikely is that?

This past Spring, Charley contributed to a piece, The A-Ha! Moment, I edited for the New Yorker‘s website.  This is what he wrote:

I start with a small stack of paper, good paper that can stand a lot of erasing because I seldom begin with a specific idea for a cartoon.  Then I start drawing in pencil, drawing and erasing. Kings come and go.  As do power hungry businessmen and sleazy politicians. Pups usually stay a little longer. I like pups.

Of course before all that I’m chocked with rage that the world isn’t perfect and many people are asses.

After a while if I’ve plugged away hard enough and tossed out enough ideas — Yes, there can be an A-Ha! Moment and it’s great.  Sometimes that’s followed by “Where did that come from?” Waste no time with questions.

Ink it in.


Link to Mr. Barsotti’s obit in The Kansas City Star

Link to Mr. Barsotti’s website

Link to some of Mr. Barsotti’s New Yorker work

Link to Richard Gehr’s interview with Mr. Barsotti

Link to the New Yorker Cartoon Editor’s blog post regarding Mr. Barsotti’s passing.

A Barsotti Bibliography:

A Girl Needs A Little Action (Harper & Row, 1969)

Kings Don’t Carry Money (Dodd, Mead & Co.,1981)

Barsotti’s Texas (Texas Monthly Press, Inc., 1986)

The USA Today Cartoon Book (with Bruce Cochran and Dean Vietor). (Andrews & McMeel, 1986)

The Best of C. Barsotti (Rauette Books,(U.K.), 1989)

The Essential Charles Barsotti (Compiled and Edited by Lee Lorenz). (Workman Publishing, 1998)

From the Very Big Desk Of…Business Cartoons by New Yorker Cartoonist Charles Barsotti (Bullfinch, 2006)

They Moved My Bowl: Dog Cartoons by New Yorker Cartoonist Charles Barsotti (Little, Brown & Co., 2009)