The New Yorker section of the upcoming Swann auction is an awful lot of fun. The Addams cover shown above is just one of the gems listed. To see the “3D catalog” go here. Other New Yorker artists whose work is going under the gavel include Charles Barsotti, Bemelmans, Abe Birnbaum, Whitney Darrow, Jr., Richard Decker, Ed Fisher, Heidi Goennel, Edward Gorey, Theodore Haupt, John Held, Jr., Helen Hokinson, Maira Kalman, Arnie Levin, Rick Meyerowitz, Bill Mauldin, Donald Reilly, Mischa Richter, Arnold Roth, Charles Saxon, Ronald Searle, Seth, Steinberg, Tom Toro, and Gahan Wilson.
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 cover above has always been a favorite. The first time I came across it I thought I’d stumbled upon a printing error. But no, it’s yet another gift from Rea Irvin, cover artist, designer (as in his designs for the magazine’s masthead, as well as his adapted development of the typeface), cartoonist, “art supervisor” (his unofficial or official designation at the New Yorker).
The rest of the issue is a lot of fun too. An Addams so-called “Addams Family” drawing (“We’ve had part of this floor finished off for Uncle Eimer”); a Richard Taylor strip that runs across the bottom of two pages; a half-page Hokinson “lunch club ladies” cartoon; a Sam Cobean shadow play drawing; a page and-a-half Steinberg spread under the heading “Berlin” and so much more (other cartoonists in the issue: Otto Soglow, Alan Dunn, Barney Tobey, Robert Day, Whitney Darrow, Jr., Alain, and Leonard Dove). Typical of the era, the cartoons dominated the pages, as if the text was secondary to the art.
Roz Chast Looks For a Pen
A fun post on Jane Mattimoe’s Case For Pencils blog: Roz Chast is asking for pen suggestions. Read it here.
Note: Ms. Chast (along with the cover artist, Liniers, and several others) is a guest of honor at the upcoming MOCCA Festival at the Society of Illustrators. Info here.
Tomorrow Night’s Book Signing of Interest: Marcellus Hall
This notice from the illustrator & New Yorker cover artist, Marcellus Hall:
From 1997 through 2012, the New Yorker published a “Cartoon Issue”; that there was a special issue wasn’t news — the magazine had started publishing them in its new era of ownership under Conde Nast (purists might argue that the issue of August 31, 1946 was the magazine’s first special issue. Beyond the Goings On About Town section, the entire issue was devoted to John Hersey’s Hiroshima. There were no cartoons, and no illustrations — just spot drawings). The first Cartoon Issue came in the year of more change: the cartoon editorship passed from Lee Lorenz, who had held that position for 24 years, to one of the magazine’s cartoonists, Bob Mankoff, who had been contributing to the magazine for 20. [The Spill will take a look at the How and Why of that change in editorship in a future post].
The very first Cartoon Issue, dated December 15, 1997 was a celebratory explosion of the magazine’s signature art. From the fold-out cover collage to the wonderful Jack Ziegler cartoon, “No comment” appearing where the “Comment” section would normally appear, it set the bar very high. Also in this issue, the three section (originally planned as two section) fold-out photograph of cartoonists taken by the acclaimed Arnold Newman, the mini bios of each cartoonist in the issue, Roger Angell’s Onward and Upward With the Arts piece (“Congratulations! It’s a baby”), Roz Chast’s graphic ode to Charles Addams, a double page photograph of George Price, a special feature by Richard Cline, Lee Lorenz’s “Cover Stories” …and more.
In that first issue, the cartoons nearly took over the magazine. The majority of the pieces on the Table of Contents were cartoon-themed; 51 cartoonists were given brief bios. In the last Cartoon Issue, 28 cartoonists contributed and the issue’s special cartoon features were bundled together in the middle of the book, from page 60 to 76, with a smattering of single panel cartoons (16 cartoons to be exact) 5 multi-page spreads and 2 full page spreads, one of which, Joe Dator’s, “How We Do It: A Week In the Life of a New Yorker Cartoonist” is a classic piece of work. As I wrote in 2012 when the issue appeared, “this Cartoon Issue veers from its predecessors in that its cover, cartoons and cartoon spreads are predominantly politically themed.”
Although all of the Cartoon Issues had elements that were exciting and fun — for instance, the Charles Barsotti cover on the second Cartoon Issue in 1998, and covers by New Yorker cartoonists such as George Booth, Ms. Chast, Harry Bliss, Edward Koren, Bruce Eric Kaplan, etc. — that first Cartoon Issue, with its electric zeitgeist, remained the one to beat. By October of 2011, when I mentioned to Jack Ziegler that the latest Cartoon Issue was probably due any week, he responded to me (via email) that it was “the moment we all dread.” By that time, the so-called “bookazine” Cartoons of The Year had already appeared and would shortly supplant the Cartoon Issue. On June 13, 2013, the magazine’s cartoonists received an email from the cartoon editor saying: “there definitely is not going to be a cartoon issue this year.” And that, as they say, was that.
(Below: the last Cartoon Issue, cover by Roz Chast)
On this day, besides thinking of the song, “My Funny Valentine”(the Elvis Costello version), I always think of this great Charles Addams New Yorker cover that appeared February 16, 1981 — it was also used as the cover for his 1981 collection, Creature Comforts. It just might be my all-time favorite Addams cover (magazine & book).
And please forgive this personal bit of New Yorker trivia here, but I believe I only had one Valentine’s Day cartoon published in all these years, published in the 91st anniversary issue, February 22, 2016: