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.
Hooray for Hollywood? This week’s cover (artist: Chris Ware) reminds us — not that we need reminding –that Tinsel Town is a troubled town.
Shout out to the Cartier folks for the pretty street lamp that greets you as you open the magazine. Nice also to see the photo of David Bowie (however much I disagree with this current usage of the Goings On About Town opening page, i.e., with a nearly full page photo. It never fails to trick me into thinking I’m seeing an ad).
Speaking of being in disagreement, the stand-in remains in place for Rea Irvin’s iconic design for the Talk Of The Town.
Here’s what the original looks like:
And here’s the stand-in:
Alrighty then, on to the issue’s cartoons.
The very first cartoon is by David Sipress. A somewhat retired theme (torture) returns. Torture rack drawings popped up more ages ago, replaced (if my unscientific memory search is slightly accurate) with another kind of torture: prisoners hanging by handcuffs up on dungeon walls. I feel for the fellow in Mr. Sipress’s drawing who is about to undergo the “procedure.”
Five pages later a couple of “Casablanca”-era Humphrey Bogart-like fellas at the end of a pier, courtesy of Carolita Johnson. As discussed last week (Frank Cotham’s drawing of thugs planning just such a pier push) this is a standard situation a lot of cartoonists are attracted to (including this one). Here’s one more — a personal favorite of mine.
On the very next page, a robot drawing by Navied Mahdavian, whose debut drawing was last week. I recall Zach Kanin bringing robots back into usage a few years ago (or maybe it was Roz Chast…or was it someone else. New Yorker cartoon robot aficionados please advise). In this particular case I was a bit worried that the scientists had their backs to the dancing duo. Perhaps it was this portion of the caption: “They [the robots] don’t appear to want to take over…” [bolded words mine]. Hmmm, if there’s any doubt, any doubt at all as to the robots’ intentions, perhaps it’s best to observe them in an fortified isolation booth or something.
Three pages later a Danny Shanahan drawing. Fun drawing perfectly synced with a wonderful Shanahan-esque caption. If I was awarding ribbons as they do over on the Cartoon Companion, I’d pin one on this drawing (and on the P. C. Vey drawing that we’ll get to in a minute).
Eight pages later, a Roz Chast NYC-centered alien “take us to your leader”-type drawing. I enjoyed examining the screens on the aliens’ chests. Would love to see Chastian aliens in color.
On the very next page (and I should say, very nicely sized and placed on the page) is a terrif Chris Weyant drawing. The caption’s sterling construction reminds me of captions once written by the likes of James Stevenson, Donald Reilly, and Charles Saxon. Applause applause!
Two pages later, a real gem by P.C. Vey. A cave couple. Mr. Vey’s world is such a fun treat (and isn’t that why we love cartoons?). I find it hysterical that:
1. The cave woman looks nothing like a cave woman (her hair’s perfect and she’s wearing a somewhat stylish shift).
2. The cave man is so well-groomed (both hair and beard).
The next two drawings (the first by newbie Pia Guerra, and the next by veteran-newbie Will McPhail) reminded me, in their construction (not style) of ancient friezes:
If you placed a ruler along the base of the feet in each drawing, you’d see that every foot (and one paw) touches the edge of the ruler (with the exception of Ms. Guerra’s wolf’s right paw, and a kicked-up foot on the person to the extreme right of Mr. McPhail’s drawing). There is no reason to note this other than that I don’t recall ever seeing two frieze-like drawings back-to-back before.
Four pages following the second frieze cartoon is a Maggie Dai Atlas drawing that sent me to the search box. Now I know what “leg day” refers to. On the very next page, the instantly recognizable style of Drew Dernavich, who delivers an Oscars drawing.
Three pages later a delightful Barbara Smaller drawing. Nice to see bigger picture work by her. On the very next page, an Ed Steed sports drawing (basketball). Five pages later Paul Noth references fine art. I recall that Roz Chast handled Venus on a cover not too very long ago. My memory is that Addams liked to work with Venus too. Am I wrong, but aren’t bathtubs the preferred bathroom fixture for home births rather than sinks? Of course, it being cartoonland and all, anything’s possible.
Case in point: the last drawing of the issue, by JAK (otherwise known as Jason Adam Katzenstein). We see a card game with a Wolf Blizter-like guy in an open collared rumpled shirt, a well dressed woman (she’s wearing pearls), and a wolf(?) in a tuxedo.
The popped eyes and slack jaw suggest animation as inspiration, like so:
Cover Update: The New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons
If you’ve been following the Spill ‘s coverage of cover art (or lack of) for The New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons (due in October from Black Dog & Leventhal) you might find it interesting that we now have the below image to contemplate:
A Syd Hoff Salute From Attempted Bloggery
Well this will be fun. Attempted Bloggery begins a salute to the late great Syd Hoff today. See it here!
Here’s Mr. Hoff’s entry on the Spill’s A-Z:
Syd Hoff ( Pictured above. Source: Esquire Cartoon album, 1957) Born 1912, New York City, died May 12, 2004, Miami Beach, Florida. New Yorker work: 1931 – 1975. Website: http://www.sydhoff.org/
Donald Reilly’s Work at Cooper Union
From Cooper Union, “Donald Reilly’s New Yorker Legacy”
— the above piece found its way to the Spill courtesy of David Pomerantz. My thanks to him.
…and an additional piece Spilled a few years ago about CU alum Edward Sorel, Liana Finck, and Jon Agee: “Cooper Cartoonists at The New Yorker”
Mr. Reilly’s entry on the Spill’s A-Z:
Donald Reilly ( Pictured above in the mid 1980s. Photograph by Liza Donnelly) Born, Scranton, Pa. November 11, 1933; died, Wilton, Ct., June 18, 2006. Graduated from Muhlenberg College in 1955 with a bachelor’s degree in English; received a certificate in fine arts from Cooper Union in 1963. NYer work: 1964 -2006; 1,107 cartoons and 16 covers. Rumored to have been on the shortlist in consideration to succeed James Geraghty as The New Yorker’s Art Editor (Lee Lorenz, in his book The Art of The New Yorker 1925 -1995, said Reilly was “Geraghty’s choice” to succeed him). William Shawn eventually appointed Lee Lorenz to the position in 1973
The Monday Tilley Watch is a meandering take on the cartoons in the current issue of The New Yorker.
I can think of no better way to kick-off The New Yorker’s very first “Television Issue” than with a cover by Bruce Eric Kaplan who is in the New Yorker/Television Hall of Fame because he wrote the famous and exceptionally funny Seinfeld episode “The Cartoon”; Mr. Kaplan has television creds to spare — he was a producer for “Girls” and “Six Feet Under”… learn more here. Wearing one of his other hats — that of New Yorker cartoonist, he’s been contributing his boxed-in world to the magazine since 1991. Here’s Mr. Kaplan talking about this week’s cover.
No disrespect to the front of the book, but as our concern here is cartoons, we need to zip through GOAT (Goings On About Town) and get right to the cartoons…but first: a brief stop at The Talk of The Town. For those new to this site, let me explain: I’m trying to will the long-standing Rea Irvin masthead back home. This is the one that greeted New Yorker readers every week beginning in the issue of January 26, 1926 through to this past issue of May 15, 2017. It was replaced in the issue of May 22, 2017 by a revamped version. My potted history of Mr. Irvin’s masthead can be found here on an earlier Spill post where you’ll see all the incarnations of the masthead.
Okay, with that out of my system (til next week?), off to the cartoons.
Last Monday I mentioned that that week’s first cartoon didn’t appear until page 45; this week’s first cartoon appears on page 22 — my gut tells me that this is in the range of the norm for first cartoons. The first cartoon (hey, it’s a Bruce Eric Kaplan-esque boxed-in drawing) is by T.S. McCoy, whose first New Yorker appearance seems to have been in the issue of August 15, 2014. I say “seems” because I cannot locate any info on this artist on the Cartoon Bank site, nor in the database (someone please contact me and set me straight if I’m wrong). The subject of McCoy’s drawing is therapy, with the help of buffalo. From the number of Youtube videos showing people getting too close to buffalo, I’d suggest sticking with dogs, rabbits, birds, horses, cats, etc., as therapy pals. [Update: T.S. McCoy has reached out to the Spill, and confirmed that the Aug.15, 2014 drawing was this artist’s first appearance in The New Yorker. I’ve added McCoy to the Spill’s A-Z under the cartoonist’s preferred moniker: The Surreal McCoy]
Five pages later we come to a title drawing — that is, a drawing without a caption, but with the essential wording appearing above — or sometimes below — the drawing. In this case the title reads: The Annual Hamptons End of Summer Back-To-Wall Street Tie Fly. It’s by David Sipress, whose first New Yorker drawing appeared in 1998. I like the action of the blowing-in-the-wind neckties — very beachy. Unsure if this drawing was referencing a real Hamptons tradition I asked Mr. Sipress about it this morning. He said in an email: “Not a real thing. In fact it’s one of those ridiculous, totally silly and meaningless ideas that begin as a drawing that I find funny and then the words pop into my head. A frisson of disdain for both Wall Street and the Hamptons is in there somewhere as well.”
Three pages later a full page Roz Chast drawing (in color). Ms. Chast has, appropriately enough, a television themed drawing, “The Seven Ages of Me and TV” (for those who were reading the New Yorker pre-Cartoon Caption Contest you might remember there was a period when the back page was dedicated to full page color drawings by Ms. Chast). Ms. Chast’s first New Yorker drawing appeared in 1978.
Four pages later, a Will McPhail cartoon. At first glance, I thought the magazine had erred and rerun a McPhail drawing from May of this year. The drawing from the May issue is on the left, the current issue’s drawing is on the right:
But no, they’re two different drawings. Perhaps the woman splayed out on a chair will become a sort of (George) Boothian man in the bath tub thing for Mr. McPhail. Mr. McPhail’s first New Yorker appearance: December 22, 2014.
On the very next page is a Peter Kuper cartoon. Mr,. Kuper’s first New Yorker cartoon appeared June 6, 2011. I’m a fan of cops & robbers cartoons (no cops in this drawing, fyi). A number of colleagues have spent time graphically visiting the criminal underworld. When the subject comes up nowadays, I’m reminded of the late Michael Crawford’s paintings.
Five pages later, a restaurant scene courtesy of Avi Steinberg (note: if a cartoonist does not have a website I will link you to the New Yorker’s Cartoon Bank site where filling in the search box and clicking on “Search” will take you to some of the artist’s work. Here’s the CB link). Avi Steinberg’s first cartoon appeared in the issue of 2012. About five pages later is a talking magic bean genie cartoon by Farley Katz, one of the off-the-wall specialists in the New Yorker’s stable. Not sure I’ve ever seen a talking magic bean genie drawing before. I’m intrigued by the level of the woman’s head as it relates to the counter-top. Did she drop to the floor after the bean began to float and speak, then slowly rise up to counter level see what the heck was going on? I’m a fan of cartoon back stories.
Eight pages later is a Liana Finck drawing (first New Yorker appearance: February 13, 2015. CB link here). Ms. Finck’s style is immediately and welcomingly identifiable — an achievement not to be pooh-poohed in this age of a gazillion styles. Five pages later is a subway themed drawing by Carolita Johnson (first New Yorker drawing: 2003). I am reminded of an exhibit some years ago of New Yorker subway drawings. Here’s a quick read about it.
Next up, a generously placed Ed Steed drawing (CB link here). The second of Mr. Steed’s drawings in a row featuring a large rectangle. In this case we’re looking out onto a field that’s sporting a huge ping pong paddle and a ping pong ball. There’s a heavy military presence in this drawing: the trucks on the field, the uniform of the fellow speaking, the matching outfits of three figures, the map on the table — the sign reading “Top Secret” strangely placed on the inside of the room, instead of outside where you’d expect it. But why split hairs? And then there’s the guy wearing the hood and athletic footwear. I guess I shouldn’t ask why there’s only one paddle and only one (potential) ponger or player, or whatever. Mr. Steed’s first New Yorker appearance: March 4, 2013.
Sixteen pages until the next cartoon. There’s a television-themed photo essay in-between. One of the photos is of Pete Holmes, who touched down, briefly, in the New Yorker, between 2006 through 2008, with three cartoons. Following the photos is a witch drawing by J.A.K. (Jason Adam Katzenstein). His first drawing appeared in the issue of November 17, 2014. Those are some happy/scary creatures bubbling up from the big pot. Mr. Katzenstein’s drawing reminds me ever-so-slightly of how the late great Donald Reilly handled witch drawings. Here’s one of Mr. Reilly’s from October 17, 1988:
Six pages later, a socks and Spielberg drawing by relative newcomer, Maggie Larson (first New Yorker appearance in the double issue dated July 10/17, 2017). As this is the last drawing in this televIsion issue (not counting the Caption Contest drawings on the last page) I thought it appropriate to return to Jerry Seinfeld and his classic sock routine.
— See you next Monday
Every so often I like to take a look at a random issue of The New Yorker from well before my time there, or well before my time, period. This issue, of April 29, 1967 is solidly in the former category. The New Yorker was not yet on my mind — I was in fact, just about to begin transitioning out of comic books, and into underground comics. My last (non-underground) comic book bought at the time of its release was this one, Superman and The Flash, December 1970 (yes, I still have it — I don’t throw much away).
Flipping through this Spring-time issue of The New Yorker, the first thing I noticed, besides the lovely Abe Birnbaum cover, was the very simple Table of Contents, when the magazine seemed intent on just offering up a few clues as to what was inside. No listing of artists or writers, just column headings such as “The Air” and “Current Cinema” — we’ve come a very long way since then.
Of the seventeen cartoonists represented in this issue, not one was a woman. This was a time when only one veteran female cartoonist was still on the scene, the great Mary Petty. But her run at the magazine had ended a year before in the issue of March 19, 1966 (she died in 1976). The next female cartoonist to show up was Nurit Karlin, and she wouldn’t begin publishing until 1974.
These are the seventeen cartoonists in this issue: Charles Saxon, Warren Miller, Lee Lorenz, William Hamilton, James Mulligan, Dana Fradon, William O’Brien, Edward Koren, Ton Smits, James Stevenson, Robert Kraus, Donald Reilly, J. B. “Bud” Handelsman, Carl Rose, Barney Tobey, Robert Weber, and William Steig. Many of these names will ring a bell with New Yorker cartoon aficionados, and some names will ring a very large bell. Edward Koren and Lee Lorenz are still contributing to the magazine. Dana Fradon and Warren Miller are still hail and hearty. James Stevenson, Robert Weber, and William Hamilton were among the recently departed slew of New Yorker cartoonists this past year.
For me, the most surprising cartoonist to see in the issue was Carl Rose (“surprising” because I unfairly tend to place his work more in the 1920s – 1940s). Mr. Rose contributed his very first cartoon to The New Yorker in the Halloween issue of 1925, when the magazine was about nine months old; his last cartoon appeared in the summer of 1971. (Below: Mr. Rose’s April ’67 drawing)
And here, for a little more on One Dozen Roses and other noteworthy New Yorker cartoon moments in Mr. Rose’s career, I’m going to lift some of the info from his entry on the Spill‘s “New Yorker Cartoonist A-Z” section:
…this collection contains essays by Rose on cartoon themes. Especially of interest is his essay concerning Harold Ross, “An Artist’s Best Friend is His Editor”. Carl Rose will forever be linked to E.B. White for the December 8, 1928 New Yorker cartoon of the mother saying to her child, “It’s broccoli, dear.” and the child responding, “I say it’s spinach, and I say the hell with it.” The drawing was by Rose, the caption was adapted by White from Rose’s original idea (for a slighty expanded explanation go here). Rose also had a Thurber connection. In 1932, Rose submitted a drawing captioned, “Touche!” of two fencers, one of whom has just cut off the head of the other. Harold Ross ( according to Thurber in The Years With Ross) thinking the Rose version “too bloody” suggested Thurber do the drawing because “Thurber’s people have no blood. You can put their heads back on and they’re as good as new.” The drawing appeared December 3, 1932.
One last thing about Carl Rose: there aren’t a lot of photographs of him around but when Irving Penn (whose work is now being celebrated at New York’s Metropolitan Museum), photographed a number of The New Yorker‘s artists in 1947 for a spread in Vogue, an unassuming looking Carl Rose was right up there on the top-most platform with Otto Soglow and Alajalov, seated just behind Charles Addams. Among the others in the photo: Steinberg, Steig, Helen Hokinson, George Price, Richard Taylor, Perry Barlow, Barney Tobey, Barbara Shermund and Whitney Darrow, Jr. — an array, if ever there was one, of New Yorker cartoonist royalty.
Getting back to Mr. Rose’s colleagues work appearing in the April issue, the magazine was, in 1967, still laying-out the cartoons with the graphic gusto it always had: a beautiful full page by O’Brien , an equally beautiful half-page Warren Miller drawing; other drawings were run in various shapes and sizes. The subject matter seemed to be bridging the older New Yorker art with the new: businessmen and housewives appear, as do people dealing with obviously modern cultural keystones such as long-haired men and hip young woman; personal computers courtesy of Donald Reilly and politics via Lee Lorenz, whose drawing depicts Robert Kennedy photo bombing a couples vacation picture. Dana Fradon’s drawing, about recharging electric cars, could’ve run in modern times. Needless to say (so why am I saying it?) that the issue was a blast to look through. The cartoonists were in top form, providing us with a lot, a whole lot, to look at. As Jack Ziegler told me in an interview last year: “…it’s always nice when cartoonists know how to draw so that they can give us something pleasant and fun to look at.”