Celebrating Sam Gross’s 50th New Yorker Anniversary

The most recent Sam Gross cartoon in The New Yorker appeared August 5th, 2019.  Mr. Gross’s very first New Yorker cartoon appeared August 23, 1969. Do the math and you’ll find we are in the year, month, and exact day of Mr. Gross’s New Yorker golden anniversary. With today being the date of publication of his debut New Yorker cartoon, I thought I’d check in with Mr. Gross and ask him about that very first sale to the magazine. My call caught him during his morning exercise routine, but he was gracious enough to pause and chat with me for a few minutes.

When I asked him if he recalled the moment when he learned he’d sold to the magazine, he replied, as I knew he would, “Of course I do.” I haven’t met a cartoonist yet who doesn’t remember their first OK (“OK” is New Yorker cartoon lingo for a sold cartoon); in this cartoon world, that moment is a life-changer.  Before telling me of his first OK, he said that he’d actually been selling ideas to The New Yorker for Charles Addams since about 1963. He also sold an idea for Otto Soglow, of Little King fame, but mostly the ideas were for Addams.

And now the story:

It begins with a lunch that included the renowned French artist J.J. Sempe. Mr. Sempe, not yet a New Yorker contributor, had come to town to do a piece on behalf of L’Express.  While in the city, Mr. Sempe was asked to lunch with James Geraghty, then The New Yorker‘s art editor. Mr. Geraghty was interested in having Mr. Sempe submit work to The New Yorker. Originally, Mr. Geraghty’s art assistant, Barbara Nicholls, was to accompany them to lunch as the interpreter, but she had to cancel. In her stead Mr. Geraghty asked the multi-lingual cartoonist Peter Porges to come along. Mr. Porges told Mr. Geraghty he would only go if his friend, Mr. Gross could accompany him.

And so, at lunch, Mr. Gross found himself seated to the left of Mr. Geraghty. Mr. Geraghty asked Mr. Porges to ask Sempe if he would submit work to The New Yorker.  Sempe, through Mr. Porges, replied “he says he’s too busy — has too much work to do.”  Mr. Geraghty then asked Mr. Porges to ask Sempe “if he would consider submitting rejects.”  To which Sempe replied, through Mr. Porges, “What are rejects.”

Shortly, after sipping some wine, Mr. Geraghty leaned over to Mr. Gross (also drinking wine) and said, “Instead of buying the idea [of a recent submission by Mr. Gross] we’re going to buy the whole drawing.” And Mr. Gross replied, “That’s great, thanks.”  Mr. Gross went on to say, “And then, after Geraghty had had another glass of wine, and I had had another glass of wine, he leaned over and said, ‘Oh, and we’re going to buy another one too.'” 

Above: The first Sam Gross New Yorker cartoon

Mr. Gross had heard from Mr. Porges that Mr. Geraghty would “drive cartoonists crazy” with editorial changes to cartoons. Back at the New Yorker’s art department following lunch, Mr. Geraghty handed Mr. Gross the rough drawings of the two bought cartoons [most cartoonists submit “rough” drawings.  If bought, the cartoonist will then do a “finish” — the drawing that will be published].  Mr. Gross tells us what happened next:

“So with that particular drawing [the first published cartoon], he gave me the drawing, and I stood there with it, and said,I’m not going, Mr. Geraghty until you specifically tell me what you want in the drawing.’ So he said, ‘put the kid here, dispense with the awning’ and he was very specific on what I had to do.  Afterwards, with all the other drawings I sold, I never had any problem with him. Every time I sold something he told me exactly what he wanted.” 

I said to Mr. Gross, “That’s a big deal, selling two your first time.” to which Mr. Gross replied, “I can credit the wine for it.”

So here’s to one of The New Yorker‘s cartoon giants. It is quite a feat to sell just one drawing to The New Yorker.  To continue on for fifty years (and counting) is another kind of feat. Mr. Gross is one of a select group of cartoonists with a thumbprint style — i.e., no one else has drawn like him, and he draws like no one else (true, as well, of George Booth, also celebrating his New Yorker golden anniversary this year). Feeling in a oh-what-the-hell Grossian spirit, I’ll say too that no other cartoonist even comes close to thinking like him.

 

Further reading:

For an extended interview with Mr. Gross I highly recommend Richard Gehr’s I Only Read It For The Cartoons, published in 2014, by New Harvest. Mr. Gross is one of a dozen New Yorker cartoonists interviewed.

If you want to listen to Sam Gross being interviewed, there’s this wonderful podcast from Gil Roth’s Virtual Memories Show.

All of Mr. Gross’s cartoon anthologies are must-haves in any cartoon library.  A quartet of them are shown:

An Elephant Is Soft And Mushy (Dodd, Mead & Co. , 1980)

More Gross (Congdon & Weed, 1982)

I Am Blind And My Dog Is Dead (Dodd, Mead & Co., 1977.  Reissued by Harry N. Abrams, 2007)

No More Mr. Nice Guy (Perigee, 1987)

 

 

 

The American Bystander’s Michael Gerber Wants To Save MAD Magazine; Bob Eckstein’s NY Daily News MAD Op-Ed; MAD Cartoonists Vs. New Yorker Cartoonists; Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon; Gil Roth Interviews Karl Stevens; 5 Questions: Rich Sparks

The American Bystander’s Michael Gerber, Wants To Save MAD Magazine

 Michael Gerber, the man behind the curtain at American Bystander, is proposing to rescue MAD Magazine.  Below: two Tweets from Mr. Gerber sent out yesterday:

 

 The New York Times called  The American Bystander “…an essential read for comedy nerds”.   Anyone who loves comic art and writing will cheer on Mr. Gerber’s effort  to rescue MAD.

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Bob Eckstein’s N.Y. Daily News MAD Op-Ed

New Yorker cartoonist Bob Eckstein weighs in, via a New York Daily News Op-Ed, on MAD Magazine.  Mr. Eckstein began contributing to The New Yorker in  2007. Visit his website here.

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MAD Cartoonists Vs. New Yorker Cartoonists

Bittersweet.  This on Comic-Con International’s 2019 schedule:

In one corner, the New Yorker magazine, top of the cartoon heap, king of the single-panel, and undisputed peak of the artform. In the other corner, MAD magazine, the magazine most humorists cite as their biggest influence. Which magazine is the better patron saint of cartoonists? Who has funnier cartoons? And, most important, who would win in a fight between Eustace Tilley, the fop from the NY’er, and Alfred E. Neuman, the MAD magazine mascot? Distinguished panelists from both magazines duke it out in a free-for-all discussion. May the funniest one win.

All the info here.

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Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon

  Chris Weyant’s gives us sunblock on wheels.  Mr Weyant began contributing to The New Yorker  in 1998. Visit his website here.

 

 

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Gil Roth Interviews Karl Stevens 

Gil Roth adds Karl Stevens to his remarkable list of interviewees (including a goodly number of comics and cartoonists).  Mr. Stevens began contributing to The New Yorker this year.

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5 Questions: Rich Sparks

From Esthetic Lens, July 4, 2019, “5 Questions: Cartoonist Rich Sparks”— like it sez.

Mr. Sparks began contributing to The New Yorker in 2016.  His book, Love and Other Weird Things is out the last day of the year. Visit his website here.

 

The Wednesday Watch: Gil Roth Interviews Seth; Stand-Up Of Interest: Emily Flake, Jason Chatfield; Today’s Daily Cartoonist: Brendan Loper; Today’s Daily Shouts By…Olivia de Recat

Gil Roth Interviews Seth

Here’s Gil Roth, who has assembled an impressive list of interviews with cartoonists, speaking with Seth at the Strand bookstore in Manhattan.  Seth (real name: Gregory Gallant) began contributing to The New Yorker in 2002.

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Stand-Up Of Interest: Emily Flake, Jason Chatfield

The Weekly Humorist sponsored “Guaranteed Delivery!” comedy show includes two New Yorker contributors, Emily Flake and Jason Chatfield All the details here!

Ms. Flake began contributing to The New Yorker in 2008; Mr. Chatfield began contributing in 2017.

— Thanks to my colleague, Bob Eckstein for bringing this event to the Spill.

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Today’s Daily Cartoonist/Cartoon

One way of keeping ’em focused…by Brendan Loper. Mr. Loper began contributing to The New Yorker in 2016.

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Today’s Daily Shouts By…

 

Olivia de Recat, who has been contributing to The New Yorker since 2018. See her Daily Shouts piece here.

Today’s Daily Cartoonist: Eli Dreyfus; Liza Donnelly Curates MoCCA Int’l Cartoon Exhibit “Drawing Across Borders”; Seth At The Strand

Today’s Daily — basketball plus — is by Eli Dreyfus ,who first contributed to The New Yorker (as part of a duo, with Dan Abromowitz) in 2015.

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Donnelly Curates Int’l Cartoon Exhibit: “Drawing Across Borders”

Liza Donnelly has curated an exhibit of work by a number of international cartoonists from the organization, Cartooning for Peace. The work can be seen in the Gallery at the upcoming MoCCA Fest.  All the info here.

And Note: There’ll be panel discussion, moderated by Ms. Donnelly,  at noon on Saturday.  Panelists: Michel Kichka, Jeff Danziger, and Ann Telnaes. (Info found through the above link).

Further Reading: here’s an article from Bedford + Bowery about the exhibit

(drawing above by the celebrated French artist, Jean Plantu)

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Seth At The Strand

Gil Roth (whose Virtual Memories Show podcast has included a number of cartoonists) will interview the cartoonist, Seth (aka Gregory Gallant) May 7th ( the occasion is his release of Seth’s latest book, Clyde Fans).  Info here!

 

Out Today: Ultimate Cartoon Book Of Book Cartoons; Interview Of Interest: Ed Steed; Podcast Of Interest: Mark Alan Stamaty Talks With Gil Roth; Flake’s Daily Shouts Piece; Today’s Daily Cartoonist: Brendan Loper

It’s always a good day when a cartoon anthology is published. Today’s one of those days. The Ultimate Cartoon Book of Book Cartoons, edited By Bob Eckstein and published by Princeton Architectural Press, is officially out today. Cover art by the great Sam Gross and cartoons by some of the New Yorker‘s greatest artists, including George Booth, Edward Koren and Jack Ziegler.  Here’s a brief interview with Mr. Eckstein about the collection.

                                           Below: the back cover, listing the contributors.

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Interview Of Interest: Ed Steed

  Richard Gehr, who gave us I Only Read It For The Cartoons (New Harvest, 2014) interviews Ed Steed (one of the contributors to the Ultimate Cartoon Book mentioned above). Mr. Steed began contributing to The New Yorker in 2013.  See some of his work here.

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Podcast Of Interest: Mark Alan Stamaty Talks With Gil Roth

From Gil Roth’s Virtual Memories Podcast, this conversation mostly centered around the 40th anniversary reissue of Mr. Stamaty’s MacDoodle Street, but there is a fleeting mention about his New Yorker work. Listen here.

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Today’s Daily Shouts

Beginning today, The Spill will note Daily Shouts pieces when the contributor is a New Yorker cartoonist.  First up: Emily Flake’s The Real Florida Man, posted early this morning.

Ms. Flake has been contributing to The New Yorker since 2008.  Link here to her website.

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Today’s Daily Cartoonist/Cartoon

Today’s Daily: keeping secrets, Washington, D.C. style, courtesy of Brendan Loper. Mr. Loper has been contributing to The New Yorker since 2016. You can see more of his work here.