The Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue Of January 14, 2019; A Charles Addams Birthday Tribute

Two weeks in to the new year without a Trump cover! Anna Parini makes her cover debut (it’s titled “A New Leaf”; not for the last time, I wonder why we need titles for the covers.

Viewed online, various elements of the cover are animated. Snow blows, wind blows the woman’s hair and ruffles a few pages of her book. Silhouetted figures walk by in the background. It’s a lovely image but I found myself wondering if people really stand on city streets reading books on cold snowy windy wintry days.

The only image I can readily conjure up that incorporates a similar situation is of holiday carolers holding up their song books as they stand singing on street corners.

The Cartoons

I’m at a disadvantage this morning as the digital issue has yet to appear. That means we’ll dispense with counting illustrations as well as even beginning to think about how the cartoons are placed on the pages. A pity. Instead I’m relying on the slideshow of cartoons provided on newyorker.com.

The cartoonists in this issue: David Sipress, Will McPhail, Jason Adam Katzenstein, Pia Guerra, Zach Kanin, Roz Chast, Mike Twohy, P.C. Vey, Tom Cheney, Carolita Johnson, Sophia Warren, Frank Cotham, Trevor Spaulding, Danny Shanahan, Ben Schwartz, Liana Finck, Tom Toro.

Some thoughts on the cartoons:

Graphically, Frank Cotham’s drawing of the soldiers atop a castle tower is quite striking. As one who has studied the castle work of the master, Charles Addams, and as one who has drawn many a castle myself, I was taken by the dramatic angle Mr. Cotham has given us. Bravo!.

Of note is Danny Shanahan’s desert island drawing. It made me think about the resurgence of what once seemed a played-out scenario. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the recent past we’ve seen a number of desert island drawings, all clever as can be, and all proving that anything works in the cartoon universe if it works well. Mr. Shanahan’s works well (and lest we forget, a few years ago he had a cover of…a desert island). Here’s a quick look at some desert island cartoons courtesy of the BBC.

I really enjoyed Liana Finck’s damsel in distress tied to railroad tracks. Ms. Finck’s heavy use of black recalls Charles Barsotti’s expert use of contrast, and more recently, Seth Fleishman’s. I particularly like that she didn’t get involved in a detailed drawing of the tracks. She’s given us what looks like a ladder on the ground, and it works! Best of all: the eye contact she’s captured between the villain and the woman. Excellent.

Finally, here’s to Rea Irvin’s beautiful missing masthead, replaced in May of 2017. Read about it here, and see it below:

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A Charles Addams Birthday Tribute

To celebrate Charles Addams birthday, here’s a lovely piece by Steve Stoliar. My thanks to him for allowing it to appear here.

On this day in 1912, Charles Samuel Addams was born in Westfield, New Jersey – and I think we’re all more than a little better off because of it. Chas Addams’ delightfully dark cartoons brightened up innumerable issues of ‘The New Yorker” from 1932 (!) until his death in 1988 – a more than fifty-five-year run. And, of course, his family of macabre relatives was the basis for “The Addams Family” TV series and later films (though the characters had no names before the TV series, which was produced by Groucho’s longtime friend, writer Nat Perrin).

I first met Addams in 1978 – on the same day I first met Dick Cavett – backstage at the PBS Cavett show, when the subject of the show was “New Yorker” cartoonists. Addams signed a copy of “Addams and Evil” that I “happened to have” brought along in the event our paths crossed.

About five years later, when I was living in New York and writing for Cavett at HBO, I spotted Chas striding in my direction up Sixth Avenue. Another path-crossing! I stopped him and asked, “Excuse me – aren’t you Charles Addams?” He smiled and replied, “Yes, but how did you recognize me? Most people think I’m Walter Matthau!” [see photo below] I tossed off some sort of compliment and off we went in our separate directions.

Not long thereafter, I picked up this delightful original ink-and-wash Chas Addams drawing – for a whopping $300 – because some guy with a bunch of vintage original “New Yorker” cartoons was remarrying and his wife didn’t like “all those old cartoons” on their walls. His loss; my gain. I wrote to Addams about the drawing c/o “The New Yorker” and received this lovely note in return. He is missed – but at least we have his prolific outpouring of drawings to remember him by.


The Monday Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue Of September 17, 2018

The cover

If you haven’t already seen the school busses on the road, or the signs posted everywhere advising that school is back in session, Chris Ware’s cover is yet another reminder that it’s back to school time.

The cartoons

Here, for the record, are the contributing cartoonists in the issue:

A quick survey of each drawing: Ms. Suits gives us a cactus drawing (are cactus the new crash test dummies — this being the second cactus drawing out of the past three issues); Mr. Dernavich provides us with an end of summer roller coaster drawing with some unintentional(?) graphic trickery concerning the track itself; Ms. McNair’s couple have neighborly dinner date issues; Farley Katz takes us to a sturdy cartoon scenario of parent reading to a child at bedtime; William Haefeli up next with his trademark drawing style and an excellent caption; an Edward Koren drawing — allowed a wonderful space on the page. Very nice all around!; Ben Schwartz plays with Rodin’s The Thinker; Ed Steed plays around with a clown and a banana peel (and it’s in color); Zach Kanin visits a game of spin the bottle (a scenario we rarely see); Frank Cotham allows us a peek into a room full of sweaty frock-coated gentlemen; Sara Lautman takes us up up and away to the sky god’s territory; Joe Dator’s drawing of a symphony hall is splendid; Kim Warp’s trash-in-the-sea drawing arrives with trash-in-the sea much in the news.  And finally, a nod to the advent of Fall baseball with a meeting at the pitcher’s mound courtesy of Tom Toro.

The issue arrives sans Rea Irvin’s classic masthead. Here it is:

I can’t let mid-September slip by without mentioning the issue of September 11, 1925 (cover by the aforementioned Mr. Irvin).  

New Yorker history buffs will recall that the magazine was nearly put to rest in the Spring of its first year of publication. If not for an overheard remark, the New Yorker would’ve been a magazine that lasted less than half a year. Instead of killing the magazine, it was decided to coast through the summer,  putting renewed energy into the issue of September 12th. You can read about the specifics on content here courtesy of A New Yorker State of Mind.

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch, the New Yorker Issue of September 10, 2018; Cartoon Happenings At The New Yorker Festival

 “The Style Issue”  with a Kadir Nelson cover — the second Nelson cover in three weeks. It’s titled “Savoring Summer” (and again, I question why the New Yorker‘s covers need to be titled. Shouldn’t covers speak for themselves, so to speak? This cover certainly does). 

The cartoons:

Thinking there’d be a bevy of cartoonists in this mid-September issue (last week’s issue had fourteen), it was a surprise finding nine single panel cartoons this week (there’s a multi-panel “Sketchbook” by Roz Chast).  

Lately the Monday Tilley Watch has moved away from looking at every cartoon in each issue, but that doesn’t mean each and every cartoon in each and every issue doesn’t receive my undivided attention. Often I look at a cartoon like I eat popcorn.  But sometimes I linger on a particular drawing, savoring the art, or the caption (if there is a caption); in the best of times, I linger because I’m happy to be looking at something that works, that really works.  Other times I linger out of puzzlement — wondering what I’ve missed about the drawing — how, to my eyes, it went awry (or how my cultural antenna have failed me). It is far more exciting to come across a drawing that soars than one that fails.  Take for instance Joe Dator’s three part Beauty and the Beast cartoon in this new issue. I believe the drawing hits the high bar.  It’s drawn well (it reminds me of Lee Lorenz’s confident energetic art), and it measures up to Peter Arno’s characterization of a good cartoon, landing a one-two punch. A Spill round of applause is in order.

Some impressions from the issue:  Frank Cotham’s cartoon — it leads off the issue, sitting in a good-sized space following the Table Of Contents.  I mentioned Mr. Lorenz’s confident drawing; in Mr. Cotham’s quarter century of contributing to the New Yorker, he’s shown no fear in taking on the big picture, and handling it well. Alex Gregory’s line (his drawing is on p.93) is always a welcome sight.  Ed Steed’s bee-hive wielding doctor drawing (p.55) seems like a follow-up to Zach Kanin’s memorable “I can feel the baby kicking” cartoon from 2008.

The Caption Contest:

Cartoon caption contest drawings aren’t mentioned here much, but I did note that Mick Stevens’ drawing this week echoes one of mine (captioned as you see) published in The New Yorker, August 23, 1982.

Finally, let us not forget Rea Irvin’s missing classic Talk Of The Town masthead. I sometimes picture it propped up in a closest someplace in the magazine’s offices, waiting to be rediscovered and returned to its proper place. Until that time, if it ever comes, here it is:

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Cartoon Happenings at The New Yorker Festival

Held October 5, 6, and 7th. So far, here’s what’s up at the festival, cartoon-wise:

Saturday, the 6th: Sh!t Show: A Parenting Comedy Revue (with, among others, Emily Flake, and Roz Chast).

Sunday, the 7th: Cartoons & Coffee (with Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell and Farley Katz)

Here’s the homepage for the Festival

 

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of April 9, 2018

Here’s  Bruce McCall speaking about his gluten-free-gluten cover, along with three cover sketches (a nice touch).

And here are the cartoonists in the issue:

A slightly different Monday Tilley Watch this week…I’m listing my first response as I (electronically) flip through the issue, as if the drawings are flashcards.

Bruce Eric Kaplan…rodents and a tiger — I really like the tiger.

Lars Kenseth…a Snidely Whiplash reversal.  Funny that the train is a toy (shades of Charles Addams).

Tom Cheney…internet mischief in olden times.

John Klossner…support food. Wonder what kind of animal is being served.  

Harry Bliss…Jake LaMotta on ice.  A very outta left field drawing.

Roz Chast…a wicked queen’s magic mirror, updated.

Paul Noth…a patient prefers male doctors.

Pia Guerra…a sacred cow & more

Ed Steed…strong strange man drawing, or strange strong man drawing.

William Haefeli…a lesson in capitalization.

Seth Fleishman…a turkey display, with color.

Joe Dator…a NYC tour bus. Finally, a comment on those noisy things that rumble around the great metropolis. 

Frank Cotham…a witness explains. 

Teresa Burns Parkhurst …an egg ponders. A candidate for The New Yorker Book of Poultry Cartoons.

Mike Twohy…a doggy snow globe.  I can’t get enough of dogs and snow globes. 

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Keen-eyed observers will note that Rea Irvin’s classic Talk of The Town masthead is still in absentia. Here it is:

and here’s the stand-in:

To read more, go here.

 

 

 

 

A Visit to “Jim’s Bench”; Cartoon Companion Rates The Latest New Yorker Cartoons; Tilley Watch Online; Live New Yorker Cartoons Part VI on Late Night with Seth Meyers

A Visit to “Jim’s Bench”

The filmmaker Sally Williams recently asked me if I’d like to meet with her at “Jim’s bench” on Central Park West and 77th Street, right across the street from the Museum of Natural History. I couldn’t possibly resist the invitation. Ms. Williams has been working on a documentary about James Stevenson for quite some time now; we’ve had numerous conversations over the years about Mr. Stevenson and, of course, The New Yorker. 

 Mr. Stevenson is on a long list of New Yorker cartoonists who have lived and worked in New York City (some still do) and whose work reflected their city. I think also of Steinberg and Alan Dunn as cases in point.

Sitting on this bench near where Mr. Stevenson lived I couldn’t help but imagine him experiencing the traffic, the sounds, sights, types of individuals bicycling by, walking by, running by; the dogs and dog-walkers, the flurry of activity at the museum. I could see it all in Stevenson’s style: gracefully casual, with spark. Ms. Williams confirmed that Mr. Stevenson was, like so many cartoonists, a watcher (I once likened cartoonists to sponges. Consciously or subconsciously, we take everything in).  

If you find yourself near the Museum of Natural History, you might want to take a seat on Jim’s bench and spend a few moments watching Manhattan go by, Stevenson-style. 

  The bench is the one closest to the Humboldt StatueIt bears a small plaque:

 (I’ve written about Mr. Stevenson here on the Spill a number of times.  Here’s one piece which might be of interest). 

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Cartoon Companion Rates the Latest New Yorker Cartoons

Messrs. Max and Simon are back with thoughts & ratings on work by Frank Cotham, Carolita Johnson, Drew Dernavich, Avi Steinberg, Emily Flake, Roz Chast, Olivia de Recat, Mike Twohy, Bob Eckstein, Edward Koren, and Darrin Bell.  Read it here!

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Daily Cartoons this week by: Paul Noth, Mary Lawton, Kim Warp, David Sipress, and Lars Kenseth (4/5ths of the drawings were Trumpian).

And the contributing New Yorker cartoonists on Daily Shouts:  P.C. Vey, Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell, Liana Finck, Emily Flake, and JAK (with Hartley Lin).  

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Live New Yorker Cartoons Part VI on Late Night with Seth Meyers

The New Yorker‘s editor, David Remnick returns to Late Night with Seth Meyers in the best segment yet. Cartoons by Carolita Johnson, Charlie Hankin, Will McPhail, Maddie Dai, and Ellis Rosen brought to life.   See them here!