New Yorker Cartoonists Remember Gahan Wilson; The Monday Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue Of December 2, 2019; Library Of Congress Interview With Thurber Expert, Michael Rosen; Meet The Artist (1943): William Gropper; The Tilley Watch Online, November 18-22, 2019

New Yorker Cartoonists Remember Gahan Wilson

The  New Yorker cartoonist community is quite small. Our numbers are great enough to field a softball team, but not enough to fill your average sized auditorium.  Whether we knew Gahan well, or very little, or not at all, we know his work, and feel the loss of one of our family.

What follows are a number of Gahan’s colleagues sharing their thoughts on the man and his work.

Edward Koren: Whenever a unique visionary and talented  and irreplaceable artist like Gahan leaves us, we are further diminished in assessing our own lives through his eyes and ears. He was one of the masters of our curious art form, and we all learned from him, as a benchmark of imagination, to follow the example of his path when we showed up at our own work each day .

Christopher Weyant: For my generation of cartoonists, Gahan was our Charles Addams. His dark, macabre, parallel universe seemed much more interesting than the one I occupied growing up in New Jersey. His artistic talent was breathtaking. As a kid, I first discovered Gahan’s cartoons in National Lampoon, and later, Playboy and the New Yorker. Although Gahan is known for his one-panel gags, I was a huge fan of his cartoon strip, “Nuts” that ran in the Lampoon. Growing up, my family moved often. Through all of the moves, one of the few things I held onto was a notebook in which I had pasted all of my favorite cartoons – “Nuts” being my favorite. In that strip, Gahan had somehow captured what it felt like to see the world through a kid’s eyes, or at least, how it looked to me. It had an irreverence and honesty that made me want to be a cartoonist. Years later, getting to know him was a true thrill and we talked about those strips and how much they meant to me. Gahan said that he was that boy in the strip, and joked, “but aren’t we all?” He’ll be missed.

Ellis Rosen: I never met him but I loved his work so much. In 2015 when I decided to draw cartoons I went through all the NYer cartoonists I could find and studied them.  Wilson was the first one I got hooked on. I even foolishly tried to draw like him before quickly realizing that was impossible. I have tons of drawings attempting (and failing) to be as wonderfully textured, studied, playful, and as devious as his were.  In a field full of distinctive voices his must be the most unique.

Robert Leighton: Long before I knew of Gahan’s single-panel work in The New Yorker, let alone Playboy, I loved his endlessly varied work in National Lampoon. In 1973 I encountered “Strange Beliefs of Children,” one of the many pieces he wrote and illustrated for that magazine. I can still remember (no, reverse that—I cannot forget) his illustration for the belief that “Swinging over the bar is to be avoided at all costs for it will turn the swinger inside out.” Think a pink mass of flesh, with ribs and eyeballs, still in the shape of a child, sitting on a playground swing and still clutching the chains with inside-out hands.

Gahan frequently, and masterfully, drew on his inner child. In my few conversations with him, I saw that he’d never lost a childlike awe of the world; even his macabre observations didn’t seem to come from the eyes of a jaded adult but rather reflected a kid’s shock that life is indeed nasty, brutish, and short.

For me, his masterpiece was the sustained comic strip for the Lampoon, “Nuts.” Gahan honestly depicted the way the world confounds and disappoints when you’re a powerless kid: seeing a 3-D movie that’s scarier than you anticipated, visiting a surgical supply store, getting the gift of a pet chameleon that’s dead in the morning. Just like its ostensible model, “Peanuts,” the adults were always off-screen; you never saw them (except their gnarled fingers and unless they were dead).

In 2003 Gahan spoke to Comic Book Artist magazine about how he mined his own life experiences to write Nuts. “The Great Joke in life,” he said, “is that there are no secrets; we all share a common experience.”

He was one of my very favorites. So long, Gahan Wilson.

Joe Dator: The impossibly great cartoonist Gahan Wilson left us last week. Long before I ever ventured into the New Yorker, I grew up reading his cartoons in Playboy and the National Lampoon. I met Gahan many times at the New Yorker’s old Times Square office, and he was always very kind to me, regarding me as a peer, though he was a towering giant. One time I was coming out of the cartoon editor’s office after a particularly good meeting, and, seeing Gahan was waiting to go after me, I said “Good luck.” As if he needed any of that from me!

Peter Kuper: I can’t begin to express the impact Gahan’s work had on me. My mind exploded the first time I saw his art in a collection from Playboy — long before I was legally allowed to get the magazine. Playboy published it, but the cover image was the opposite of sexy (and the woman at the drugstore counter allowed me to buy it without embarrassment). It was a soldier standing in the middle of an apocalyptic battlefield, with the caption, “I think I won!”

Images like this formed my idea of what a gag cartoon could be. Chas Addams on LSD! He brought a unique vision to everything he drew. His work got in my blood stream and changed my world view. I return to his books again and again to be reminded of the possibilities of this form: humor with a gut punch. Horror that brings peels of laughter.

I feel honored to have crossed paths with him and more honored that he acquiesced to write the introduction to my book Speechless back in 2000. He is a giant of cartooning and may his beanstalk ever grow in all of us.

 

Ken Krimstein: Before I moved back to the Chicago area from New York City, I used to run into Gahan in the waiting room at The New Yorker. When I told him I was moving to Evanston he would recount stories of his childhood there, and his days at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, seeing Basil Rathbone almost fly off the “L” train, and more. I reached out to Lisa Wainwright, then head of the School of Art Institute where I was teaching, and suggested they give Gahan an honorary degree. She was more than thrilled. When I asked Gahan if he’d be interested, he said, “I love honors,” or something like that. Anyhow, a few months later, there he was, on the stage at Millennium Park, dressed in full regalia — cap and gown —  as the President of the School, Walter Massey, placed a gigantic medallion around his neck and shook his hand. Gahan then turned to the audience, grabbed one end of the silk ribbon holding the medallion and hoisted it over his right shoulder, canting his head to the left, lolling out his tongue, bulging his eyes, and transforming a solemn moment into a priceless Gahan gag. The crowd loved it. 

Liza Donnelly: Gahan and I would run into each other from time to time in the offices of The New Yorker. He was a sweet gentleman — our interactions were lovely; I always enjoyed talking to him. Gahan did not seem totally at ease with chit-chat, but he was good at it, peppering what he said with humorous anecdotes and oddities. We would laugh at the absurdity of it all. Once for a public event, I was tasked with putting together and moderating a panel of cartoonists, and I invited Gahan to be on the panel. He clearly loved cartooning, as witnessed by the stories he told.  While in one sense it’s clear that Gahan’s work is uniquely Gahan, I never ever saw in him any of the macabre one often sees in his cartoons. In the actual person that I knew I only experienced kindness.

Mick Stevens: I only met the man once or twice, but I’ve been seeing his work since I was a baby cartoonist. He and his work were very lovable and inspiring.

Felipe Galindo: I first saw Gahan’s cartoons in my native Mexico, when I was a teenager. I found a book of his cartoons for Playboy and what struck me was that they were not about sex or women, but rather they featured ordinary characters whose lives had taken a surreal or ghoulish turn.
After I moved to New York, I met Gahan at The New Yorker cartoonists lounge while we waited to show our cartoons to the editor. He was gentle, smart and kind, always with a smile on his face.
We developed a “weekly” friendship and shared stories at our cartoonist lunch at Pergola’s.
Once, he invited me to an exhibit of German art from the Weimar era at the Metropolitan Museum; we both loved art and had a great conversation while contemplating the paintings.
Years later, he kindly wrote a quote to be published in my cartoon book, I will always treasure his generosity.
His work was sweet and grim, his cartoons and illustrations were always fun and fresh, and his captions were almost poetic. His National Lampoon’s Nuts strip was a gem.
A priceless piece of advice he gave me (and I guess many others) was to be patient. Cartooning is like fishing he said, let small ideas go, and focus on catching the big ones.
Gracias y adiós, amigo Gahan!

_________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

 

 

The Cover: An arty cover.  Here’s a Q&A with Kadir Nelson, the artist.

The Cartoonists:

The Cartoons: you can see a slideshow of the latest cartoons here (scroll down a bit).

Noted: the lead cartoon is by Gahan Wilson, his passing mentioned on the Contributors page.

___________________________________________________________

The Tis A Pity Department:

The above classic design by Rea Irvin disappeared in the Spring of 2017, replaced by…gasp!… a redraw.  Read about it here

____________________________________________________________________

Library Of Congress Interview Of Interest: Thurber Expert, Michael Rosen

From The Library of Congress, November 22, 2019,  “‘Humor At First Sight’ as James Thurber’s Art is celebrated for his 125th birthday”

— this interview with Michael Rosen, who has edited a number of Thurber-centric books including the latest, A Mile and A Half of Lines: The Art Of James Thurber Thurber *

*full disclosure: both my wife, Liza Donnelly, and I contributed to the book.

_______________________________________________________

Meet The Artist (1943): William Gropper

Another in a series of self portraits of New Yorker artists included in the Meet The Artist catalog published by the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in 1943.

Mr. Gropper’s entry on the Spill‘s A-Z. The small red top-hatted icon beside his bolded name indicates that  Mr. Gropper is a member of the Spill‘s One Club, meaning he had but one cartoon published in The New Yorker during his lifetime:

William Gropper (Self portrait from The Business of Cartooning, 1939) Born, December 3, 1897, NYC. Died, January 6, 1977, Manhasset, NY. 1 drawing, April 11, 1942. Quote:”I owe a great deal to the east side of New York. I was hit on the head with a rock in a gangfight…that’s how I became an artist.” [Quote from catalogue, Meet the Artist, 1943]. For a brief bio of Gropper “the workingman’s protector” visit: http://specialcollections.wichita.edu/

___________________________________________________________________

The Tilley Watch Online, November 18-22, 2019

A delayed end of week listing of New Yorker artists who contributed to newyorker.com, including The Daily Cartoon and/or Daily Shouts

The Daily Cartoon: J.A.K., Brendan Loper, Lila Ash, Sara Lautman, and Robert Leighton.

Daily Shouts: Julia Wertz, Jeremy Nguyen, Emily Flake (with Marissa Maciel), and Olivia de Recat (with Julia Edelman).

All of the above, and more, can be found here.

Barry Blitt’s Kvetchbook.

and a Postscript: The Beautifully Macabre Cartoons Of Gahan Wilson.

 

Cartoonists On Abbey Road; Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon; Kurzweil’s Daily Shouts; Next Week’s New Yorker Cover

Cartoonists On Abbey Road

As today is the 50th (!) anniversary of the photo shoot for the cover of The Beatles Abbey Road album I thought it was a good time to link to a piece I wrote back in 2011 about the Abbey Road live webcam (the piece appeared on The New Yorker‘s site).  Today’s a great day to visit the action.  Last I checked in there was a fellow dressed all in white, ala John Lennon on the album cover, posing for pictures as he accompanied visitors back-and-forth across the street. It’s a happy scene all around.  But of course what else would you expect from a Beatle event.

Since Ink Spill is a site dedicated to New Yorker cartoonists, I dug out a couple of photos of New Yorker cartoonists crossing Abbey Road in March of 2000.  That’s me in the top photo and Liza Donnelly in the bottom photo. Our two Beatlemaniac daughters were with us.

 

 

________________________________________

Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon

Beach reading by Felipe Galindo (aka Feggo).  Mr. Galindo began contributing to The New Yorker in 2002.  Visit his website here.

 

 

_________________________________________

Today’s Daily Shouts

Amy Kurzweil’s  “How Long Have I Had That”  — Ms. Kurzweil began contributing to The New Yorker in 2016. Visit her website here.

 

____________________________________

Next Week’s New Yorker Cover

As happens from time-to-time, The New Yorker gives us an advance look at an upcoming cover. Here’s next week’s Toni Morrison tribute by Kara Walker.

A Q&A with Kara Walker here about her cover.

The Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue Of July 1, 2019; Talk Of Interest: Dana Fradon; Today’s Daily Cartoonist: David Sipress

The Cover: Summertime is very much here. I confess to being puzzled by the columns on this new cover but figured all would be revealed if I went to the now-standard Q&A with the cover artist (and all was). I guess I need to spend more time in Brooklyn. 

The Cartoonists

Last week I mentioned a collaborative cartoon effort; this week there are two sets: Pia Guerra & Ian Boothby, and, Seth Roberts & Brian Hawes. 3/4ths of the collaborators are making their cartoon-connected print debut (everyone but Pia Guerra, who has been contributing since 2017).  If we accept that each team contains at least one artist (i.e. someone had to draw the cartoon), then there is at least one new name to add to the newbie list. The addition of one new cartoonist from the group brings us to the 17th new cartoonist of the year (I’ll sort out who is who eventually).

But wait! Emily Bernstein is also making her debut in the print magazine, so just-like-that we’re now up to 18 new cartoonists added this year.  18 newbies this year, and 44 newbies in all under Emma Allen’s watch as cartoon editor (she began in May of 2017).

The Cartoons

 There are two kinds of cartoons that have always fascinated me. One is the drawing I linger over because I’m not at all enjoying that moment from the cartoonist’s world. The other kind is the drawing I linger over because I’m thoroughly enjoying that moment from the cartoonist’s world,  wanting to hang out with it, explore it, and learn from it. The best cartoons are shorthand graphic short stories. P.C. Vey‘s death on the beach drawing (p.18) is solidly the latter kind — a wonderful addition to the magazine’s archive of beach cartoons. It’s a drawing where everything works.

Also working is Liana Finck‘s one-two punch take on the devil and angel on one’s shoulders scenario (p. 24). I found myself studying the framework around the character — an unusual blending of box and body.

The Felipe Galindo drawing on page 70 is a fun twist on the lion tamer scenario crossed with the small but growing canon of cat scratch cartoons (a personal cat scratch favorite is this Mike Twohy classic from June 5, 1995). 

The Caption Contest Cartoonist: Liza Donnelly

Rea Irvin’s Talk Masthead

Still in storage: Mr. Irvin’s iconic Talk masthead design, replaced in Spring of 2017 by a redraw(!). Below is Mr. Irvin’s drawing for those who don’t know what they’re missing, and for those who do know what they’re missing.

_______________________

Talk Of Interest: Dana Fradon

A New Yorker Cartoonist Mt. Rushmore:  From left to right: Charles Saxon, Former New Yorker Art Editor, James Geraghty, Dana Fradon, and Whitney Darrow, Jr.. Westport, Connecticut, 1982. Courtesy of Mr. Geraghty’s daughter, Sarah Geraghty Herndon).

Mr. Fradon, the subject of a lengthy Spill piece in 2013, will speak this Fall at Western Connecticut State University.  Here’s a chance to see one of the cartoon gods of The New Yorker‘s golden era.  Everything you need to know about the event here.

Mr. Fradon’s entry on the A-Z:

 

Dana Fradon Born, Chicago, Illinois, 1922. Studied at the Art Institute of Chicago prior to service in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. Following his service, he attended the Art Students League of New York, New Yorker work: May 1, 1948 – . Collection: Insincerely Yours (Scribners, 1978).

 — My thanks to Warren Bernard for bringing Mr. Fradon’s event to the Spill’s attention.

________________________

Today’s Daily Cartoonist/Cartoon

A Trump cartoon by David Sipress, who has been contributing to The New Yorker since 1998.

Ken Krimstein’s New York Times Book Review Sketchbook; Exhibit Of Interest: Felipe Galindo’s ‘Washington Takes Manhattan’; The Tilley Watch Online

Ken Krimstein’s New York Times Book Review Sketchbook

From The New York Times Book Review, May 12, 2019, “How Questioning Hannah Arendt Made Me Question Myself”

Mr. Krimstein on writing his latest book,The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt: A Tyranny of Truth Mr. Krimstein began contributing to The New Yorker in 2011.  Visit his website here.

 

 

_________________________

Exhibit of Interest: Felipe Galindo’s ‘Washington Takes Manhattan’

An exhibit of work at the Morris Jumel Mansion by Felipe Galindo (aka feggo), who began contributing to The New Yorker in 2002. Visit his website here.

 

 

 

___________________________________

A round-up of work by New Yorker cartoonists appearing on newyorker.com

The Daily Cartoon: Tim Hamilton, Peter Kuper, Tom Chitty, Avi Steinberg, and Teresa Burns Parkhurst. Not one, but two castle drawings this week!

To see all the above and more go here.