Nurit Karlin 1938-2019: “I Used To Doodle, Then Something Would Be There.”

Word has reached us that the New Yorker cartoonist Nurit Karlin has passed away in Israel. Ms. Karlin’s first New Yorker cartoon ran in the issue of March 18, 1974.  At the time she was the only female cartoonist whose work was appearing in the magazine (the last before her was Mary Petty, who passed away in 1976, but whose final contribution to the magazine was in the issue of March 19, 1966). Ms. Karlin was the only female cartoonist in the pages of The New Yorker from April of 1966 through July of 1978 when Roz Chast’s first cartoon was published. Ms. Karlin went on to draw 77 cartoons for the magazine.  Her last was published October 24, 1988.

Above: Nurit Karlin’s first New Yorker drawing.

According to Liza Donnellys Funny Ladies: The New Yorker’s Greatest Women Cartoonists and Their Cartoons, Ms. Karlin, born in Jerusalem…always drew as a child…after a few years of art school (The Bezalel School of Art) she came to the United States in 1964 to study animation [at The School of Visual Arts]tg. She began working for The New York Times in the Book Review and Op-ed sections.

In 2005 she told Ms. Donnelly: “I don’t think I thought of being a cartoonist. I did these things, and The New Yorker never crossed my mind.” She called the magazine, expecting to get an appointment with [Lee] Lorenz [The New Yorker‘s art editor], but was told to drop off her work. “With me, you know, if they hadn’t taken one from the first batch, I wouldn’t have gone back.”  With that first submission, Lorenz asked to see her.  Donnelly asked Karlin how she got her ideas: “If I knew where they came from, I would be the first in line! I used to doodle, then something would be there.”

 Nurit Karlin (on the right) in Tel Aviv, June, 2017 with Liza Donnelly.  Photo by Daniel Kenet

It is quite understandable, as Ms. Donnelly wrote in Funny Ladies, that Karlin’s work was in the “same realm” as Steinberg’s. Both shared the love of the possibilities of the pen line itself. With Ms. Karlin the results were often more resolved with the one-two punch delivery of the single panel cartoon. Showing her roots in animation, she sometimes used a series of drawings to deliver the punch (I’ve always thought of Ms. Karlin on the outskirts of the school of Thurber although I have no idea if she saw her work that way. The one occasion I had to speak with her, many years ago at a Playboy cartoonist function, the subject didn’t come up).

What is certain about her work is that it was firmly in the school of visual art. If you look through her 1978 collection, No Comment, you’ll be hard pressed to find a captioned drawing  — there isn’t one.  She used words in her cartoons, but sparingly, as in the drawing below from the issue of September 4, 1978.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Yorker’s First Fourth

 This stunning Ilonka Karasz cover graced the New Yorker‘s first fourth of July issue. Ms. Karasz  contributed a remarkable 187 covers to the magazine; her first was on the 7th issue, April 4, 1925, her last appeared on the issue of October 22, 1973. Of note within the issue: this Helen Hokinson drawing appearing on the Talk of The Town’s lead page:

In 1925, Ms. Hokinson, newly arrived in New York (from Chicago) enrolled at Parsons School of Design. According to Liza Donnelly’s book Funny Ladies:

One day [Hokinson’s] instructor sent the students out to sketch in the streets of New York. Hokinson drew an elderly woman waving goodbye to a departing ocean liner. Upon her return to the classroom, her teacher, Howard Giles, laughed and suggested she take this and other drawings to the new magazine down the street.

This simple drawing of a woman waving immediately won over Harold Ross and Rea Irvin. Her work had an ease to it: Ross recognized the humor in her line quality, but also in what she chose to draw. Ross purchased her first submission and invited her to return every Tuesday  with more sketches for consideration.

Advertising Work by New Yorker Cartoonists, Part 3: Barbara Shermund

We continue with the Spill’s special presentation of Warren Bernard’s collection of ads by New Yorker cartoonists. My thanks to Mr. Bernard for all the elbow work collecting these.

Today we see four Barbara Shermund ads.  Ms. Shermund is surely one of the most important (and sadly, overlooked) early contributors to the magazine.  To read a whole lot more about her consult Liza Donnelly’s Funny Ladies: The New Yorker’s Greatest Women Cartoonists and Their Cartoons.

Here are the dates for the ads: Pepsi Cola: 1945; Ry Krisp: 1938; Phillips: 1966; Wings Sportswear: 1944

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s Ms. Shermund’s entry on the Spill’s A-Z:

 

 

 

 

Barbara Shermund (self portrait, above) Born, San Francisco. 1899. Studied at The California School of Fine Arts. Died, 1978, New Jersey. New Yorker work: June 13, 1925 thru September 16, 1944. 8 covers and 599 cartoons. Shermund’s later. post-New Yorker work was featured in Esquire. (See Liza Donnelly’s book, Funny Ladies — a history of The New Yorker’s women cartoonists — for more on Shermund’s life and work)