Continuing Ink Spill‘s series of New Yorker cartoonists talking about important cartoon connections in their lives is P.S. Mueller on discovering Steinberg’s work. Mr. Mueller has been contributing to The New Yorker since 1998. “1958 Zorro Meets Steinberg” and photograph courtesy of Mr. Mueller.
1958 Zorro Meets Steinberg
In my adult mind I think of Saul Steinberg as an artist who forged his own passport out of hell and playfully went on from there. But his complicated life and tricky dance with identity meant nothing to the six or seven year-old Zorro impersonator who long ago became fascinated with his insanely simple and perfect line drawings.
I became a Steinberg thief immediately upon encountering his drawings in my father’s mile high stack of New Yorkers and proudly remain one to this day. When no one arrested me, I kept at it, snatching a bit of Thurber, a dash of Soglow, a pixilated grin from Steig, a blank look from Chon Day, and so on, until the lot of them came to inhabit me the way swallows inhabit a barn. The ghosts of Virgil Partch and Roger Price
haunt this fluttery loft as well, but I digress.
How can it be that a few line drawings glimpsed at such an early age more or less charted an entire career path for a kid in Ohio? Was it something to do with the moment of discovery rather than the discovery itself? Or kismet? Nah, I don’t buy any part of the whole kismet thing. It had to be that Rumanian cipher with the paper bag over his head who tempted me to forge my own papers with stolen ink.
See some of Steinberg’s work for The New Yorker here.
See P.S. Mueller’s New Yorker work here.
(Left: P.S. Mueller around the time he first encountered the work of Saul Steinberg)