Book of Interest: E.B. White on Dogs

ebwhiteondogs-197x300There are a number of New Yorker alum who had much to do with the magazine’s art, but are not generally thought of as New Yorker artists.  E.B. White is perhaps the most famous of the lot, although he did venture big time into the magazine’s art department with the publication of his one and only cover (below) published April 23, 1932:

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White is also remembered as author of one of the most popular cartoon captions of the magazine’s earlier days. It appeared beneath Carl Rose’s  drawing in the December 8, 1928 New Yorker:spinach

“It’s broccoli, dear.”

“I say it’s spinach, and I say the hell with it.”

 

The original caption, below, as submitted by Rose himself provided the framework for White’s sterling re-working. Rose’s original caption:

“Mother, if I eat my spinach, may I have some chocolate pudding?”

“No, dear, there isn’t any chocolate pudding today.”

“Well, the, the hell with the spinach.”

 

White, along with Russell Maloney, were considered by Rose the two best gagmen on the planet. All of this brings me to the book pictured at the top of this post, published earlier this year.  It’s edited by White’s granddaughter, Martha White (who also updated and revised the 2006 edition of the wonderful Letters of E.B. White).   E.B. White & dogs — a combination sure to amuse you through the winter months.

 

further reading… 

Click here for a piece about Martha White at a recent reading.

Click here to visit Martha White’s website.

The New Yorker’s New York…An Ink Spill Map

Maslin Big map New Yorker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What better way to begin to close out the year here at Ink Spill than with a map of Manhattan highlighting some of the people and places most associated with The New Yorker. I’ve stayed away from current contributors & editors for privacy reasons – that updated map will have to wait a few decades. 

Here’s the who and why of the map:  people have a habit of not living in one place on the island of Manhattan.  For instance, Peter Arno’s Park Avenue pad was not his only New York City address  – it was his last city residence before he moved north to plant a garden. And Dorothy Parker lived in numerous places, but I’ve just indicated the address where she spent the last 15 years of her life.  Some of the names below are so well known that I’ve provided no information other than when they were born and when they died.  There are many more New Yorker writers, artists and editors who lived in the city but who do not appear on the map. Perhaps another map, another time. (I believe if you click on the map, it’ll enlarge and make reading much easier)

As you’ll see below, the Key is divided into Places & People.  Have fun!

 Places:

The New Yorker  has moved four times in its history, and will be moving again shortly, down to the new World Trade Center.  The map shows (in the circular zoom-in of the 42nd Street area) the four addresses:

1.  25 West 45th St  The magazine began publishing here in 1925  and remained at this address until 1935, when it moved downtown to…

2.  25 West 43rd St.  This magazine stayed here the longest, from 1935 until 1991. It was here that Thurber wrote and drew on the walls (a fragment of wall bearing Thurber’s drawings from here was removed and has since been relocated at  the magazine’s newer offices.

3.  20 West 43rd St.  Basically a move right across the street, just south and due east a few feet.

4.  4 Times Square.  The current address, but not for long. 

Bleeck’s  Artist & Writer’s (formerly Club) Restaurant  215 West 40th St.

Bleeck’s (pronounced “Blake’s”) was a regular hang-out for, among others, the Herald Tribune and New Yorker crowd.  It was here that something called the Match Game (not the one on tv with Gene Rayburn) was played with increasing seriousness (or maybe just increasing losses and gains).  And yes, that’s the actual name of the place, parentheses, singular spelling of “Artist” and all.  Decor was English tavern with wood paneling, heavy furniture, dim lighting and a tarnished suit of armor near the door. Life magazine  profiled the joint in its issue of November 26, 1945.

Costello’s  East 44th St. 

Once Thurber tired of Bleeck’s, Tim Costello’s place became his favorite place to hang. Like Bleeck’s, Costello’s was favored by more of The New Yorker crowd than you could shake a monocle at.  The murals Thurber drew here became the stuff of legend (and contention). 

The Algonquin  59 West 44th St. 

It’s not where The New Yorker began (it began in Harold Ross’s brain), but it’s where so many of its ingredients gelled, most especially around and because of the famous Round Table crowd. The Algonguin will always be closely tied in spirit to The New Yorker in more ways and for more reasons  than can be gone into here.

 The Corner of Madison & 42nd St

This is the intersection where the five month old New Yorker, just killed off by Raoul Fleischmann at the Princeton Club, suddenly sprang back to life as Fleischmann waited with his fellow business partners for the light to change. Fleischmann overheard John Hanrahan (Fleischmann’s publications advisor) say to either Ross or Hawley Traux (Ross’s financial expert), “I can’t blame Raoul for a moment for refusing to go on, but it’s like killing something that’s alive.”   Fleischmann later wrote that Hanrahan’s remark had “gotten under his skin” and so he changed his mind about closing The New Yorker and gave the magazine a reprieve.  The rest is, well, you know…

People:

Charles Addams  25 West 54th St. (b. 1912  d.1988) Charles Addams! Need I say more?

Peter Arno  417 Park Ave. (b.1904  d.1968) Harold Ross called him “the greatest artist in the world”  — Arno’s name appears on a metal plaque outside the old New Yorker offices on 25 West 43rd St..  William Shawn included Arno in his list of four New Yorker contributors and editors who “did more to make the magazine what it is than can be measured.”  (E.B. White, Katharine White, and Thurber  were the other three).

Donald Barthelme  West 11th St. (b.1931 d.1989) Writer.  Read his Snow White to understand why he was the toast of fiction world.

Ralph Barton  419 e.57th. ( b.1891 d.1931)  Cartoonist extraordinaire.  Ross included his work and listed him first in his Advisory Editors in The New Yorker’s very first issue (he was followed by Marc Connelly, Rea Irvin, George S. Kaufman, Alice Duer Miller, Dorothy Parker, and Alexander Woollcott).  

Robert Benchley  44West 44th St. The Royalton NY Hotel (b.1899 d.1945).  A member of The Algonguin Round Table, and so much more.  Humorist, actor, New Yorker Theater Critic.  Note that he lived just across the street from The Algonquin.  

Gardner Botsford  Grammercy Place (b.1917  d.2004) long time New Yorker editor of non-fiction, his writers included Joseph Mitchell, Roger Angell, and A.J. Liebeling. Step-son of Raoul Fleischmann.

John Cheever  Hudson & Horatio (b.1912 d.1982)

Peter De Vries 32 West 11th  (b.1910  d.1993)  Novelist, humorist, Cartoon Doctor. 

Alan Dunn  12 E.88th St.  (b.1900 d.1974) One of the most prolific of the magazine’s cartoonists.  Married to Mary Petty.

Raoul Fleischmann  955 Fifth Ave.  (b.1885  d.1969)  In 1924, when Harold Ross proposed he and Fleischmann start a “new comic paper” Fleischmann put up the money.

Wolcott Gibbs  East 54th St.  (b.1902 d.1958) Writer, editor, critic, playright (“Season in The Sun”) (New Yorker theater critic – he took over the job from Robert Benchley)

Philip Hamburger  East 80th St.  (b.1914  d.2004) Writer of non-fiction for The New Yorker for over 60 years (serving under all of the magazine’s editors from Ross to Remnick).  He occasionally wrote under the name, Our Man Stanley.

Gus Lobrano  West 13th St.  (b.1903 d.1956) New Yorker fiction editor from 1938 – 1956.  Following Lobrano’s death,  E.B. White wrote of him: “His contribution to The New Yorker was deep and extensive; it is hard to get it all down in a brief report. Probably his most telling contribution was this: that because of knowing and loving him many writers felt that The New Yorker was their home.”

Russell Maloney  413 East 50th St. (b.1910  d.1948) A wildly prolific Talk of The Town writer, on staff from 1934 – 1945.

William Maxwell  East 86th St. (b.1908 d.2000) Author & fiction editor to Salinger, Cheever, Nabokov, and Updike, among many others.

Joseph Mitchell West 10th St. (b.1908 d.1996) Writer. A New Yorker staff writer who became known  for not writing after writing so well for so many years.

Grace Paley West 11th St. (b.1922 d.2007) Writer

Dorothy Parker  23 East 74th St. (The Volney) (b.1893 d.1967)  Ms. Parker was perhaps the most, if not one of the most celebrated members of the Algonquin Round Table. One of Ross’s original contributors and listed as an Advisory Editor in the very first issue of the magazine. The subject of numerous biographies.

S.J. Perelman 134 West 11th St.  (b.1904  d.1979). One of the great humorists of the 20th century. 

Mary Petty  12. East 88th St. (1899 – 1976) New Yorker cover artist and cartoonist. (See Alan Dunn).

Harold Ross  52 East 11th & 412-414 West 47th St. (b.1892  d.1951).  Ross dreamed up The New Yorker.  Thomas Kunkel wrote an excellent biography of Ross, Genius in Disguise

J.D. Salinger  300 East 57th St.  (b.1919 d.2010)

Willam Shawn  East 96th St.  (b.1907  d.1992) The New Yorker’s  legendary second editor.  He succeeded Harold Ross in 1952.  Would someone please write a biography of Mr. Shawn.  

Saul Steinberg 6th Ave. & 11th St…and at the end of his life: East 75th St.  (b.1914 d.1999).  The New York Time’s front page obit labeled him an “epic doodler” – how  I wish they could take that back. The man was a genius.

Otto Soglow 330 West 72nd St. ( b.1900  d.1975) He created The Little King.

John Updike West 13th St.  (b.1932  d.2009)

E.B. White  A number of addresses, beginning with 112 West 13th St., and later, with Katharine White at 16. East 8th St., then uptown at Turtle Bay Gardens, and in the mid 1940s, 37 West 11th St.  (b.1899 d.1985) In his earliest days in Manhattan, White roomed  at 112 West 13th Street along with Gus Lobrano. 

Katharine White  Several addresses, including 16 East 8th St. (see E.B. White above). (b.1892  d.1977) The New Yorker’s first fiction editor. She was hired in August of 1925, and shortly thereafter was involved in nearly all editorial aspects of the magazine. Listed by William Shawn as one of the four who “did more to make the magazine what it is than can be measured.”

Alexander Woollcott E.52nd St.  (b.1887 d.1943) Wrote The New Yorker’s “Shouts & Murmurs” column, also the magazine’s drama critic. He was a member of The Algonquin Round Table, and was among those listed as one of  Ross’s Advisory Editors in the first issue of The New Yorker.   He shared the 412 West 47th St address with Harold Ross and his wife, Jane Grant.  Woollcott later moved to the very far east end of East 52nd St., the place Dorothy Parker dubbed, “Wit’s End.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Street Where They Lived

 

 

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When I moved to Manhattan in the fall of 1976, just out of college, I was on a mission to be published by The New YorkerLittle did I know when I  rented an apartment at 113 West 11th Street,  that I had moved to a street that was home, at one time or another,  to a stellar array of the magazine’s artists and writers.  

A day after getting the keys to my apartment, I was standing in the small vestibule of my new address, when a tall man with an Amish-like beard came bounding down the stairs.  He paused to ask me what I was doing there.  After I introduced myself as the new tenant moving into 3R, he stuck out his right hand and introduced himself:  “Donald Barthelme.”   I didn’t know who he was — my initial thought was that he had an interesting name and beard —  but it didn’t take long before I learned I had moved into an apartment right above one of the most acclaimed New Yorker writers of the day. In no time at all, I discovered that Grace Paley,  a good friend of Donald’s,  lived nearly just across the street, west of the public school. (I met Ms. Paley in Donald’s apartment at a holiday party when we ended up sitting side-by-side on hassocks near the fireplace).

In time, as  I began to read up on New Yorker history, 11th Street continued to pop up:

E.B. White & Katharine White lived on 37 West 11th in the mid 1940s. 

The man who invented The New Yorker, Harold Ross, moved into 52 East 11th  following his time overseas during World War 1.

Steinberg lived in the Adams Hotel on the corner of West 11th and 6th Ave in 1942 – his first residence in this country. (Donald introduced me to Steinberg in the garden behind 113 West 11th).

Peter De Vries (profiled on Ink Spill ) lived at 32 West 11th before moving up to Connecticut.

S.J. Perelman lived at 134 West 11th.

  And I learned that my hero, James Thurber,  the man responsible for my wanting to become a New Yorker cartoonist, once lived at 65 West 11th.  The address was less than a minute walk east from my building, past Ray’s Pizza,  across 6th Avenue, and just a few steps along 11th on the north side, right where the New School building now stands.

(West 13th also had a small contingent of New Yorker residents: Thurber, John Updike and E.B. White).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brooklyn Book Festival features New Yorker Contributors Past & Present

BBF

 

This Monday, the 16th of September, the Brooklyn Book Festival begins with its Bookend events.  Names familiar from the New Yorker’s past, and names familiar from its present take part in (or are the subjects of) various events throughout the week. Below are just some of the events featuring New Yorker folk.  Please consult the Festivals website for all the details.

Monday, the 16th:

Lorin Stein and Chip McGrath on John O’Hara.  Paris Review editor Lorin Stein and The New York Times writer-at-large Chip McGrath discuss John O’Hara, who’s had more stories published in The New Yorker than anyone in the history of the magazine. Moderated by Steven Goldleaf.  Presented by powerHouse Arena  + Penguin Classics.

On Wednesday, September 18th:

Book Launch: Oil & Honey by Bill McKibben. In this personal account of climate activism, the bestselling author and environmentalist leads a protest against the building of the Keystone XL pipeline and helps raise hives with a Vermont beekeeper.

 

Also on Wednesday:

Book Launch: Art Spiegelman presents Co-Mix. Greenlight hosts Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, Art Spiegelman, for the bookstore launch of his new book Co-Mix: A Retrospective of Comics, Graphics, and Scraps.  Spiegelman presents a talk and slideshow about his work and signs copies of CoMix for fans.


Thursday, Sept. 19th:

TOON Books All-Ages Comics Extravaganza. Join us to celebrate the US debut by Argentine comics star Liniers who will present The Big Wet Balloon and paint live on stage, with musical accompaniment by New Yorker artist Barry Blitt and his band, the Half Tones; AND featuring the following artists, on hand to sign their work: Liniers (The Big Wet Balloon), Françoise Mouly (In Love With Art by Jeet Heer), Art Spiegelman (Co-Mix), Jeff Smith (RASL), R. Kikuo Johnson (The Shark King), Frank Viva (A Trip to the Bottom of the World), Rutu Modan (Maya Makes a Mess), Dean Haspiel (Mo and Jo), Trade Loeffler (Zig and Wikki), and Gary Panter (RAW).  This all-ages event will bring together art and book lovers, comics fans, and the Hispanic community.

Saturday, September 21st:

Charlotte’s Web. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the beloved animated film adaptation of Charlotte’s Web, BAMcinematek will present simultaneous family matinee screenings of the 1973 (animated) and 2006 (live action) adaptations.

Location: Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Ave (btw. Ashland and St. Felix)

Sunday, September 22nd:

The Faces of Brooklyn: New York’s coolest borough is home to hipsters, people who dislike hipsters and literary stars—among them, Brooklyn enthusiasts Pete Hamill (The Christmas Kid), Adelle Waldman (The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.) and Adrian Tomine (New York Drawings). These powerhouses plant uniquely different characters in a nostalgic Brooklyn, a contemporary Brooklyn and a colorful Brooklyn that jumps off the page. Moderated by Penina Roth (Franklin Park Reading Series).

Also on Sunday:

Art Spiegelman and Jules Feiffer in Conversation: Pulitzer-Prize winning graphic novelist Art Spiegelman‘s newest release, Co-Mix, is a career retrospective that covers his work from Raw to Maus to the New Yorker (and Garbage Pail Kids in between). Joined by Jules Feiffer (Out of Line: The Art of Jules Feiffer), also a Pulitzer winner, they debate the purpose and impact of comics art, its history and development, and their visions of its future. Featuring screen projection.

Arts and Politics in Fiction: Art has always been a tool for political and social change. In these novels, it comes in the form of protest-pop songs, motorcycle photography and high-end fashion. Alex Gilvarry (From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant), Rachel Kushner (The Flamethrowers) and Nicholson Baker (Traveling Sprinkler) shed new light on the timeless relationship between art and politics. Moderated by Joel Whitney.

Mundane/Profane/Profound: What We Draw About When We Draw Comics. Gag cartoonists and graphic novelists talk about the weird, wonderful, and sometimes shocking choices they make in their craft. Ben Katchor (Hand-Drying in America) offers urban fables where daily details lead to socio/political revelations. Lisa Hanawalt‘s sexy/snarky one-pagers in My Dirty Dumb Eyes hinge on the vulnerability of showing it all. Miriam Katin‘s thoughtful, witty memoir Letting it Go explores profound loss and forgiveness in the context of teeth whitening and stomach troubles. Ulli Lust‘s punk travelogue This is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life lays bare body and soul. Moderated by Anne Ishii, translator, The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame. Featuring screen projection.  Special thanks to Goethe-Institut New York.

Art on the Mind: Comics and Education. Françoise Mouly (Toon Books) in conversation with National Book Award finalist Gene Yang (Boxers & Saints), R. Kikuo Johnson (The Shark King) and Professor Barbara Tversky of Teachers College. In this era of high-stakes testing, comics aren’t just a refreshing change of pace for students-they take on deep subjects and teach multimodal literacy, offering educators, librarians, and parents a new way to approach learning. Featuring screen projection.

Publish and Perish? E-books are killing publishing! The corporations are killing publishing! Self-publishing is killing publishing! While headlines continually bemoan the end of the literary world as we know it, others argue that the reports of publishing’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.  Janet Groth (The Receptionist) and Boris Kachka (Hothouse) take a look inside two of our most storied institutions—The New Yorker and Farrar, Straus and Giroux—and consider the past while taking the pulse of the literary world today.

 

 


 

Collaborating Cartoonists; Video: Charles Addams

 

 

 

 

 

Collaborating cartoonists have been on my mind recently. Who are they, why do they do it?  Does it double the fun?  A spate of collaborations in The New Yorker within the past year caused me to dig into the subject and ask a few questions.

 

To begin with, here’re a few words on the subject, written sixty years ago by Peter Arno :

 

The ideal collaboration – and I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in several – consists of sitting down together, with lots of paper and pencils, and digging; staring into the microscope from all angles, till suddenly the elusive germ is spotted. And sometimes that is only the beginning.

 

And here’s how James Reid Parker, the New Yorker writer who doubled as Helen Hokinson’s collaborator for 18 years, described how they worked together:

 

We set aside Friday afternoons and evenings as definite work periods, during which we examined each other’s files, outlined future work for Helen, and studied rejections to see how they might be made acceptable.

 

Hokinson brought her drawings to these Friday meetings –- she seemingly sketched endlessly through the week.  Parker brought slips of paper containing stray thoughts or overheard remarks.

 

I’m not sure there’s since been a collaboration quite like what Hokinson enjoyed with Parker.  There were gag writers, like Herb Valen, who tried to “think like” Arno or George Price or whoever, but they didn’t meet with the artists to work out completed ideas. The king of ideamen (and a cartoonist himself), Richard McCallister, sent his work to the cartoonists (George Price and Arno among them).

 

One could argue that there was weekly collaboration from 1925 through 1950, the years the magazine’s founder, Harold Ross edited the magazine. Drawings were discussed and often “improved” by committee (see Ink Spill’s February 18, 2012 post, The Art Meeting). After suggested changes were made by the artists, the work was brought back to the the Art Meeting, for further evaluation. The process, for just one drawing,  could sometimes repeat itself a number of times.  James Geraghty, the Art Editor from 1939 through 1973, might explain to an artist how he envisioned a  particular drawing. In James Stevenson’s  new book The Life, Loves and Laughs of Frank Modell, Geraghty is quoted instructing a cartoonist: “Make it more …beautiful.” Ideas were sometimes generated in the art office and passed on to the artists ( these are often labeled “Office Idea” in the magazine’s archives, with no one person receiving credit).

 

This variety of interaction gave way in 1973 when Lee Lorenz assumed the title of Art Editor. The cartoonists Lorenz brought into the fold showed up with the idea, the caption and the art.  This was an organic shift, tied into the times that were a-changin’, similar to the emergence of the singer-songwriter in popular music.

 

The influx of cartoonists with their own ideas was not the death of collaboration — collaboration continued on — but the notion that a cartoonist would regularly use outside help came to be seen, by cartoonists themselves, as somewhat unthinkable (Roz Chast likened it to “cheating”).

 

Throughout The New Yorker’s history, no ideaman’s/collaborator’s  name appeared on the work alongside the artist’s name.  When the magazine  opened up its Table Of Contents in the issue of March 22, 1969, listing its writers & artists, readers did not see ideamen co-credited with the artists.  Mischa Richter, for instance, continued to work closely with his long-time ideaman, Harald Bakken, but only Richter’s name appeared in the magazine’s Table Of Contents. Although a small handful of cartoonists continued collaborating,  collaborations weren’t noted on The Table of Contents until 1994, when Liza Donnelly and this cartoonist collaborated for a color strip about a visit to “Beatlefest” in the New Jersey Meadowlands.  Another married cartoonist couple, Robert Crumb and Aline Kominsky Crumb received co-credit the following year for the first of a handful of pieces (color spreads) they contributed.

 

In June of 2010, Sam Means & Kate Beaton  began a New Yorker collaboration (it turned out to be a trio of appearances). Although they signed their joint efforts “Beans” their respective names appeared in the Table of Contents.

 

Very recently, a slew of collaborations have been published in the magazine, or in one case, on the magazine’s website. In all but one case, the collaborations have been acknowledged on the New Yorker’s Table of Contents.  Bob Mankoff’s assistant, Marc Philippe Eskenazi, who so far has had one cartoon published under his own name, collaborated with cartoonist Ben Schwartz.  Mr. Schwartz also collaborated with cartoonist Liam Walsh on a color piece for newyorker.com.  Cartoonist Bob Eckstein worked with comedian Adam Corolla for a drawing published in the magazine, and also with the actor/comedian, Len Belzer (in this case, uncredited in the Table of Contents).

 

Realizing that magazine was suddenly awash in public collaboration, I asked Liam Walsh, Ben Schwartz, Bob Eckstein, and Marc Philippe Eskenazi about their collaborations, beginning with the obvious, “Why collaborate?”  (I offhandedly asked Liza Donnelly if she could remember why she and I collaborated on the Beatlefest piece and she replied, “Because we wanted to.”).

 

Michael Maslin: Why collaborate?

 

Liam Walsh: I didn’t think about this very much beforehand, although it’s a very interesting question. (And one that I’m thinking about in relation to whether it’s something I want to do in the future.) I think the obvious reason would be if each person brought a different strength to the table but that doesn’t really apply to Ben and me. I think there is some benefit in the pressure of not wanting to let the other partner down. I’ve found the weekly deadlines for New Yorker cartoons to be really valuable because a lot of times if I’m writing or creating something speculatively I find that productivity suffers from my not being a strict enough taskmaster. Marc and Ben and I have been experimenting a little bit with using each other to help us make and keep productivity goals. There is probably a teensy element of fear in my desire to collaborate at this early point in my career, in the same way I might like to have a friend by my side when I walk past the graveyard at night. I also think that, at its best, collaborating can take you to places, creatively, you might not have gone on your own. My mind has certain tracks that it tends to stay in and working with another person can force me to venture outside of my usual thought patterns.

 

Ben Schwartz: The best answer is probably the simplest: it’s fun.  Collaboration allows me to get out of my comfort zone, explore new ideas, and gain insight into the creative process of others.  Having an engaged partner to share the workload keeps the pressure down and the enthusiasm up, all while creating a sense of accountability that ensures what we started actually gets finished.

 

Bob Eckstein: There have been a few reasons I’ve collaborated with different people in the past, some good, some embarrassing. I thought of the six last people I worked with and came up with: friendship, writer’s block, fun, to learn from, being star-stuck and an ice-breaker to date someone.

 

 

Marc Philippe EskenaziIn our case [“our” being Liam Walsh & Ben Schwartz- ed.], I cannot draw very proficiently, and don’t really have the patience to tidy up a drawing the way I would develop and refine a piece of music or writing.  But looking through thousands of cartoons each week, I couldn’t help but develop a few ideas here and there.  So I’d sketch them out in a notebook I had since high school.

 

MM: “How did the collaboration begin..,i.e., who made the first move and why?”

 

Eskenazi: Ben, Liam Walsh, and I often went to get coffee or lunch, and we would help develop each other’s ideas, theirs for cartoons, mine for stand-up.  Eventually I showed them my terrible drawings, and they liked some of the jokes.  Ben and I sold two, and Liam and I have sold one which may run around Halloween next year if it survives the harsh Summer.

Walsh: Tom Toro’s piece for the Culture Desk was a big inspiration to me to try some sort of longer-form piece. The Kurtzman exhibition seemed a promising subject and since we were both interested and spend a fair amount of time together anyway it seemed natural to do it together. Ben and I have been talking about working together for a long time. We are both big fans of comics, which are massive collaborations of writers, editors, pencilers, inkers, letters, etc so we might have had a different attitude toward the idea than someone who was a novelist or a “fine art” painter.

Eckstein: I’ll focus on two that specifically resulted in being published in the New Yorker. Len Belzer and I became best friends partly from trying to make each other laugh. We both came from a comedy background and he hosted one of the most important radio comedy shows in the ’80s, interviewing the biggest comics like Carlin, Cosby, Seinfeld, Robin Williams, etc.  I was also very close to his recently deceased wife and all of us sometimes critiqued the cartoons in the New Yorker. We also occasionally read our writing to each other, anything we might be performing or publishing. One piece of Len’s was about a poet’s reading. I thought it was pretty good and suggested he call it “Hecklers on Poetry Night.” I then commented that it would make a neat NYer cartoon. So we worked on the heckles and I did a drawing of our friend (artist John Kascht on stage).

  I recently did a cartoon with comedian Adam Carolla. I listen to his podcast and he once said something which I thought was possibly a good cartoon idea. Normally I consider that simply a dead idea since it was someone else’s  but  my caption idea was different enough that I figured why not do a cartoon with him. I forgot how I was able to contact him but I know a few people from the show…I’m in touch with comic Larry Miller…I know Adam’s assistant….I used to work for his co-host Alison Rosen from my days at TimeOut NY. (yeah, I know, it is all who you know. But having an opportunity to collaborate is a perk from many, many years of working at many places). Anyhoo, he was like, “sure” and that was it. We met in New York City but the cartoon was already done by then.

Schwartz: With Liam: He got the ball rolling, having been inspired by a Tom Toro piece for the Culture Desk blog.  We had recently viewed the Harvey Kurtzman exhibit at the Society of Illustrators together, and he felt that we could turn that experience into a comic for the blog.  I agreed, and we went from there.

With Marc: Marc had been generating gag ideas on his own for a while, but he didn’t think he was yet ready as an illustrator to take them any further.  I don’t actually remember if he asked me to draw some up or if I volunteered.

The larger context that applies to both cases, though, is that Marc, Liam and I are all friends with broadly similar creative sensibilities, and we often gather to workshop our individual projects and ideas.  Collaboration seemed like a natural next step.

 

MM: How did you decide who drew the work?(this question didn’t apply to Bob Eckstein as he was working with non-cartoonists)

 

Walsh: That was a little complicated. We considered a few different possibilities, but since drawing is our mutual strong suit it was clear that we both wanted to be very involved in that part. I did some early sketches, then together we worked out the final sketches, then I penciled the piece and inked my character before passing it over to Ben to ink everything else and do the colors.

Schwartz: Liam had a few specific layout ideas that he sketched up and I immediately embraced, so that gave us our start. From there, we considered having him fully finish the drawings for the sake of efficiency, but we eventually decided that it would be fun to see both our styles merge on the page.  He ended up doing full pencils plus the finished inks for his avatar, while I inked the rest and provided colors.  Inking another artist’s work was a real treat, and something I had long wanted to do.

With Marc, our roles were pretty clear from the start—he was the writer and I was the artist.

Eskenazi: My contribution was only the idea, and the general layout of the image.  For our Oscars cartoon, I described the image and gave the wording of the caption.  For our caption contest, which Mayor Bloomberg purchased, I had drawn the image in the style of a third-grade

 

MM: Did you actually sit down across from each other and work things out, or was it done over the phone, or via the internet?

 

Eskenazi: I gave Ben my sketchbook, and he drew up a few, but the only ones that sold were from scans or emails.

Schwartz: Liam and I started by exchanging several emails discussing ideas and themes.  This was valuable, but we didn’t have a concrete plan until we sat down in person and mapped out our page together.

Marc and I worked together in a more assembly-line fashion.  He generated his ideas earlier, then passed them off to me.  He didn’t see the results until I was fully finished with the art.

Eckstein: With Len, I might show him what I’m working on when we get together. We play chess, we have lunch and sometimes we stop and he will help me with my sketches, throwing out a suggestion or two. Sometimes he’ll just come out with a great new caption I would have never thought of. We’ve been published in a few places. We[recently] had a cartoon in the Wall Street Journal and he called me with new cartoon idea he had which I’ll draw up and show him. Then we will decide what works and doesn’t work and I’ll make those changes before showing them to Bob at the NYer.

Walsh: We did some initial emailing, but it didn’t come together until we committed to sitting down and not leaving until it was done. We wound up writing every single word together.

 

MM: Any problems working together (decision-making; disagreements over what works, what doesn’t) or was it smooth sailing?

Walsh: Smooth sailing for us. We seemed to move pretty steadily forward–that is to say, each time one of us had an idea the other seemed to think it was an improvement over what we had so far. I’m sure this is not always the case. I can easily imagine having a great idea that I can’t live without and really having that bring things to a standstill; but it’s not like there is only one possible successful outcome and everything else is shit and you need to get there or fail. There are a million ways we could have done that piece and some are better, some are worse, and lots are probably pretty similar. If either of us had insanely brilliant ideas that didn’t make it into the piece I’m sure they will be put to use in some future project.

Schwartz: In both cases, it was nothing but a great experience.  With Marc, things were particularly easy because our roles were so well defined and we each allowed the other full control of his part.  Since Liam and I shared nearly every step of the process, we had more opportunities for disagreement, but it was never an issue.  I think we each had to give up a couple of ideas that we liked, but only because we believed that the other’s take was even stronger.

Eskenazi: I felt very detached and excited.

Eckstein: All the people I’ve been lucky to work with are very accomplished and very talented. I collaborate with Len so I can get better and learn how to be funnier. Our only problems (as far as I’m aware of!) are when one of us doesn’t get a reference the other is making but we just enjoy getting together whatever the circumstances.

 

MM: Did it turn out that one of you was stronger in the word department, the other in the drawing department?  By that I mean:  did either of you guide the text more than the art, and the art more than the text?”

Eckstein: In a perfect world I’d like to only do the writing and wish someone else would draw up the ideas.

Walsh: I’m not supremely confident about my writing skills so it was great to have an editor sitting right across from me. It was a true collaboration, 50/50, and I think we both agree that what came out of it was not something we would have come up with on our own.

Schwartz: I feel like Liam and I equally contributed to both the words and pictures of our piece, to the point where even I have trouble remembering which elements were his and which were mine.

Again, Marc had full control over the text for his gag, and I had full control over the visuals (though, of course, I had his text in hand to guide me).

Eskenazi: No we’re both equal on both fronts.  He[Ben Scwhartz] gets more credit as being a better artist, but it is very subjective.  I could draw as well as him if I wanted to, but I really just don’t care enough.  I could easily, though.  Easily.

MM: Are there plans to collaborate again?

Eskenazi: I hope so, I need the money.

Schwartz: I would love to do more collaboration with Marc and with Liam, and with Marc and Liam.  We’ve been tossing around ideas, so hopefully we’ll have something to show for it soon.

Walsh: I suspect so. Ben and I are working on something with Marc right now (because a two-person collaboration wasn’t complicated enough!) and I’m sure we’ll work together again in the future.

Eckstein: The pay a cartoonist makes does not make collaborating practical. Ideally I’d love to collaborate with some of the comedians who I was influenced by growing up but even a-one-time-thing — that’s problematic… I’d like to see more cross-over of people who love comics and people who love cartoons. I’d like to see Demetri Martin cartooning for the New Yorker.

I was [recently] talking to [comedian] Larry Miller with hopes of collaborating on a cartoon and we exchanged jokes and captions to try to come up with something.

 

 

 This piece began with a dip into New Yorker history, so why not end with it too.  It’s instructive to remember that  collaboration likely brought the art of James Thurber to The New Yorker.  Had Thurber not contributed his art to Is Sex Necessary, his collaboration with E.B. White, it’s possible Harold Ross may never have thought twice about allowing Thurber’s “goddam seal drawing” into the magazine.

 

And…

This twelve minute video, “You Rang, Mr. Addams”

(Thanks to Mike Lynch for mentioning this on FB)