Personal History: From Zero To Sixty; Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon…And Yesterday’s

Personal History: From Zero To Sixty

In the summer of 1977, with college behind me and the demands of school work finally over, I was able to focus all of my attention on getting into the New Yorker — my New Yorker or Bust phase.  I’d begun sending the magazine work when I was still in high school, and then all through college, with no luck whatsoever, and an ever-increasing pile of rejected work.

For some reason, during that summer, I thought it would be smart to make a few stabs at being organized, and so I began a ledger, recording what I sent in to the magazine every week. In those days there were a bunch of other magazines buying cartoons — a ledger would help me keep track of what went where; it became routine to send my New Yorker rejects out to them (I’d somehow learned that’s what the professionals did). By mid-August I’d yet to to sell a single cartoon anywhere; I hadn’t made a penny from my work (think Beatles: Out of college, money spent, see no future, pay no rent, all the money’s gone, nowhere to go”) — even something called UFOlogy was rejecting my drawings.

Everything changed when the August 22nd batch — seventeen cartoons — was submitted to The New Yorker. That week I went from having sold zero number of drawings anywhere to any publication to having my work accepted at The New Yorker (it was a drawing of a fortune teller speaking to a customer, saying,“Nothing will ever happen to you”). As momentous a moment as that was for me — my foot finally in the door at The New Yorker! — the magazine was buying the idea (the caption) and handing it to veteran contributor Whitney Darrow, Jr. to execute. As noted in the ledger, it appeared in a December issue of the magazine — December 26th, to be exact.

By 1977, Mr. Darrow had been with the magazine 44 years. It had long been a practice at The New Yorker to supply artists in need of fresh ideas with work sent in from the outside (like me), or from other cartoonists at the magazine, or from the art department staff. There were even a few idea men contracted to do nothing but think up ideas for the artists.

I knew nothing about that system when the fortune teller cartoon made it through The New Yorker‘s editorial hurdles and was bought. I received a check for $150.00 — the first time I was paid for what I wanted to do for a living. When I look at the list shown above it’s a little frightening how empty the page is — all those empty squares, all those rejected drawings. Only two other sales on the page: both New Yorker rejects from that same August 22nd batch: one to Dawn Dusk magazine, and the other to the about-to-be-refurbished Esquire magazine (Esquire never ran that drawing or others of mine it later purchased — they changed course on running cartoons before the maiden issue under Clay Felker appeared on newsstands).

As summer turned to winter, my initial luck with The New Yorker seemed to have run out. Weeks and then months of empty ledger boxes. In early 1978, justlikethat, The New Yorker bought another from me (this time the drawing they published was mine). Oddly, I abandoned the weekly ledger just before that second drawing was taken. I think all those empty boxes were beginning to get to me.

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Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon

David Sipress on dinosaurs and stress. Mr. Sipress began contributing to The New Yorker in 1998.

And Yesterday’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon

Elisabreth McNair on when it’s safe to go out again.

Ms. McNair began contributing to The New yorker in July of 2018.

The Monday Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue Of May 18, 2020

The Cover: a sign o’ the times graduation piece by Anita Kunz. This is the tenth out the last eleven covers that is coronavirus-related.

The Cartoonists:

The Cartoons:

An even dozen cartoons & cartoonists, with a thirteenth, Ed Steed, as this week’s Spot drawing artist. The newbie in the crowd, Oren Bernstein, is the sixth new New Yorker cartoonist of 2020, and the fifty-ninth new addition to the stable since Emma Allen became cartoon editor in the Spring of 2017.

Some fleeting thoughts on a few of this week’s drawings:

…The aforementioned newbie’s drawing style looks to be in the school of John O’Brien (although this drawing carries a caption; Mr. O’Brien is one of the masters of the captionless cartoon).

…I was hoping to see a horse in Roz Chast’s ranch drawing, but alas! (I’m a fan of Ms. Chast’s horse drawings).

…two drawings, two very different styles, caught my eye: Mitra Farmand’s cats in bags (p.62)… and Liana Finck’s moonbeam in a jar (p. 40).

…Emily Bernstein’s racoon drawing caption is swell & funny.

…the rhythm of the wording in the boxed title of Maddie Dai’s gameboard drawing (p.37) vaguely echoed (for me) the wording in John Held, Jr.’s New Yorker work (with maybe a dash of Glen Baxter tossed in).

…I like seeing the George Boothian rug in Frank Cotham’s cartoon (p. 44). When I began studying Mr. Booth’s work, I noticed how many of his carpets never quite sat completely flat on the floor. I found this touch of reality (just one of many in Mr. Booth’s work) inspirational. Example (in this May 25, 1998 New Yorker drawing):

The Rea Irvin Talk Masthead Watch

The above iconic design by the great Rea Irvin was ditched in the Spring of 2017 in favor a redrawn(!) version. Hopefully, one day, someday, the above will return. Read all about it here.

 

 

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue Of April 27, 2020

The Cover

The new issue’s cover, by Homer Hanuka, is the seventh of the last eight covers that are coronavirus-related.  You can read a Q&A with the artist here.

The Cartoonists

Joe Dator, Sam Gross, Harry Bliss, Farley Katz, Roz Chast, Ellis Rosen, Glen Baxter, P.C. Vey, Emily Flake, Frank Cotham, David Sipress, Liana Finck, Lars Kenseth, Johnny DiNapoli, Carol Lay, Kate Curtis

The Cartoons

Not to be missed: Peter Kuper’s “Little Donald’s Sneeze (After Winsor McCay’s ‘Little Sammy Sneeze’)”

Random thoughts after going through the cartoon slide show: seeing a Sam Gross drawing in any issue is always a blast. Mr. Gross, having begun contributing to the magazine in 1969, is the veteran of the week (with Roz Chast next — she began contributing in 1978)…… always interesting to see a Glen Baxter drawing in the magazine, especially if it involves cowboys (this one does)…… Joe Dator’s olden days binge drawing caught my eye as did Ellis Rosen’s social distancing magic trick……Especially fond of Farley Katz’s solo parader (reminded me, strangely enough,  of Ringo Starr’s wonderful segment in “A Hard Day’s Night” when he goes “paradin”). Enjoyed two cartoons employing turns on old chestnuts: David Sipress’s version of “What do I look like, a mind reader?” and Kate Curtis’s on “Try to get some sleep. Everything will be better in the morning.” ….. P.C. Vey’s cave people are a hoot.

…And: there’s a newbie: the aforementioned Kate Curtis is the 5th new cartoonist added to The New Yorker‘s stable this year, and the 58th added under cartoon editor, Emma Allen.

The Rea Irvin Talk Masthead Watch

Without the digital issue posted as yet (2:00pm), I’ve no idea if Mr. Irvin’s iconic masthead (above) has returned. If I had to guess, I’d say nope, it hasn’t. Read all about it here.

 

 

 

 

The Weekend Spill: A Book Of Interest On The Horizon; The Tilley Watch Online, The Week Of April 6-10, 2020

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It appears that this long-ago rejected cover painting is going to be a Spill Easter thing. ___________________________________________________________

 

An Editor’s Burial: Journals and Journalism From The New Yorker and other Magazines, coming our way in July from Penguin/Random House.

 

This from the publisher:

A glimpse of post-war France through the eyes and words of 14 (mostly) expatriate journalists including Mavis Gallant, James Baldwin, A.J. Liebling, S.N. Behrman, Luc Sante, Joseph Mitchell, and Lillian Ross; plus, portraits of their editors William Shawn and New Yorker founder Harold Ross.

Together: they invented modern magazine journalism. Includes an introductory interview by Susan Morrison with Anderson about transforming fact into a fiction and the creation of his homage to these exceptional reporters.

 

I’m guessing the piece on Harold Ross by S.N. Behrman is “Harold Ross: A Recollection”  from Mr. Behrman’s The Suspended Drawing Room (Stein & Day, 1965). It’s good reading.

 

The Lillian Ross material possibly (likely!?) from her oddly unconvincing memoir of Shawn, Here But Not Here (Random House, 1998).

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An end of week listing of New Yorker artists who contributed to newyorker.com features

The Daily Cartoon: P.C. Vey, David Sipress, Mort Gerberg, Brendan Loper, Jeremy Nguyen.

Daily Shouts: Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell.

…and Barry Blitt’s Kvetchbook, “He Walks Among Us” — this piece on John Prine.

…and from The Culture Desk, this Paul Karasik piece, also on John Prine.

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Thurber Thursday: A Thurber Dog Cap; Sutton’s Daily; Chast In Florida; Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon

There aren’t a lot of wearables in the Spill’s archives — a Sam Cobean scarf, and just a few hats: one worn by Mischa Richter for the Arnold Newman New Yorker cartoonists group photo shoot in 1997, and this Thurber cap, bought ages ago in Columbus, Ohio at The Thurber House. I’ve always loved the simplicity of it — no need to fill the hat with running dogs. As befits Thurber’s art, less is so much more.

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Yesterday’s Daily Shouts, courtesy of the fab Ward Sutton: “Where All That Bloomberg Campaign Money Went”

Mr. Sutton began contributing to The New Yorker in 2007. Visit his website here.

 

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Chast In Florida

From Boca, March 4, 2020, “Roz Chast Delights, Moves Audience at Festival of the Arts”***

***A correction regarding this passage in the above piece:

She [Roz Chast] explored a bit of her glass-ceiling backstory as the only female cartoonist at the New Yorker circa 1978, when, at 23, she made a sale from her very first batch of submissions.

Nurit Karlin’s cartoons were being published at the time Ms. Chast began contributing to The New Yorker. Ms. Karlin’s cartoons appeared in The New Yorker from 1974 through 1988.

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Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon

Being right all the time, courtesy of David Sipress, who began contributing to The New Yorker in 1998. See more of his work here.