The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of May 28, 2018

Gayle Kabaker‘s charming cover kicks off summertime ’18 (you can read about the cover here).

Just for fun I’m showing the cover of every last issue of May from 1925 through 2015, one from each decade.

May 30, 1925: Ilonka Karasz; May 25, 1935: Constantin Alajalov; May 26, 1945: Constantin Alajalov; May 28, 1955: A. Birnbaum; May 29, 1965: Arthur Getz; May 26, 1975: Robert Tallon; May 27, 1985: Gretchen Dow Simpson; May 29, 1995: Mark Ulriksen; May 30, 2005: Peter de Seve; May 25, 2015: Carter Goodrich

And now to the new issue.

From the Department of Just Sayin’ : There are 18 cartoons and 17 illustrations (3 of the illustrations are full page)…  Rea Irvin’s classic  Talk of The Town Masthead is still a-missin’. It’s a thing of beauty. This is what it looks like:

I’m going to mention just one drawing from this issue (if you want critical writing on the cartoons I suggest you head over to Cartoon Companion, where each drawing is discussed and rated from 1 – 6).  Charlie Hankin’s drawing (it’s on page 61) reminded me of Jack Ziegler’s work. That of course is a very good thing. Mr. Hankin gives us a lovely (and large) drawing of the Metropolitan Opera House —  obviously there’s more to it than that; you can see it here, along with all the other drawings in the issue.  Mr. Ziegler’s was a cartoon world created to amuse himself; his way-out-there graphic and humorous takes on just about everything were his cartoon calling card. It’s good to see someone (Mr. Hankin in this case) give us such a fun drawing to look at and live with.

Finally, some paperwork.  A new cartoonist in this issue:  Jessica Olien.   If my record keeping is correct, Ms. Olien is the 15th new cartoonist — the 4th this year — brought on board since Emma Allen took charge of the magazine’s Cartoon Department in May of 2017.

Here’s the list of cartoonists in this week’s issue:

You might notice a co-credited cartoon: Kaamaran Hafeez and Al Batt.  It’s not the first time a cartoonist has shared credit with a gagwriter, but it’s still a rarity. 

— See you next week

A New Yorker Cartoon Book Oddity

If you like things organized, then here’s another book for you, as odd as it is.  It contains a chronological listing of all the television-related cartoons in the New Yorker from 1950 through 1990, with a brief description of each cartoon. The book was published in the early days of the internet before this kind of information was as easily available as today (although I would argue that this information is actually still not as fully available on the internet). The search feature on the New Yorker‘s digital edition does not list work in this way (an example is shown below). You can go on to the magazine’s cartoon bank site and enter “television” into the search box; you’ll receive a truckload of cartoons related to television, but you will not receive a full accounting and the work will not be in chronological order . The book contains a Cartoonist Index as well as a Subject Index. If you want to know if there was a television-related cartoon about Dictators (and there was only one, according to the author) the Index points you to a Donald Reilly cartoon from May 11, 1981. 

An interesting footnote: reading through the Introduction, we learn that the author, who taught television criticism at Fordham University (and according to Fordham’s website, is currently Associate Vice President of Continuing Education and Professional Development), went to a cartoonists lunch with Jack Ziegler and a few other cartoonists. The only drawing in the book is one specially drawn for the book by Mr. Ziegler (it’s shown above). 

Interview of Interest: Sam Gross; Cartoon Companion Rates the Latest New Yorker Cartoons; Lots More E. Simms Campbell on Attempted Bloggery; Jack Ziegler: Calmly Zany

Interview of Interest: Sam Gross

Yesterday Jane Mattimoe gave us an audio snippet of her recent interview with the great Sam Gross.  Today we get the whole print interview right here.

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Cartoon Companion Rates the Latest New Yorker Cartoons

The CC”s “Max” and “Simon” return with their up-close takes on each and every cartoon in the new issue (y’know, the issue with the brain on the cover).  Read it all here.

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Lots More E. Simms Campbell on Attempted Bloggery

Above is just a sample.  To see more, go to Stephen Nadler’s wonderful blog here.

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Finally, it was exactly one year ago today that we lost Jack Ziegler, one of the New Yorker‘s cartoon gods. I’m posting something I wrote, in tribute, shortly after he passed away. It has never been published til now.

Jack Ziegler: Calmly Zany

The New Yorker hadn’t seen anyone like Jack Ziegler – or more precisely, like Jack Ziegler’s cartoons — when he began submitting his work in the early 1970s. The craziest art the magazine had allowed in was perhaps Edward Koren’s furry, or fuzzy creatures, and of course, Saul Steinberg’s figurative flights of fancy.  Jack brought in a completely different bag of tricks filled with a sensibility borne out of the Mad magazine school of art, but with a firm grasp of New Yorker art history in mind.  He knew what he was doing, and in the great tradition of the magazine’s best artists, he was doing it for himself, to amuse himself. He was not trying to be like a New Yorker cartoonist; he was doing Jack Ziegler cartoons that he wanted to see published in the New Yorker.

His cartoon-like sensibility found hilarity in, most famously, hamburgers and toasters, and, of course, human beings. For Jack, the backyard hibachi was turned into a shrine-like thing of beauty in a Mt. Rushmore like setting complete with Japanese inspired cloud-work.  The regular guy he added to many of his drawings – he called him his “onlooker”  — was always slightly surprised to find himself looking at, say, an enormous hamburger on a beach. I imagine the onlooker was actually Jack, within his own world, not particularly shocked, but accepting of whatever freaky thing he’d come upon in a given cartoon panel.

Jack’s world was a calmly zany world, gleefully shared with all of us.  His work was like the man himself: calmly zany.  He had a wonderful little burst of  laughter when it occurred to him that one of life’s little moments was hysterical. He recognized so many of them in these past forty-three years.  Here’s to sinister Mr. Coffee machines, and giant toasters, and sensitive cowboys, and superheroes losing their shorts, mid-air!

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of March 26, 2018

The cat, or, uh, cover’s been outta the bag for several days now, so we can move right on to the cartoons in the issue. (I’ll mention Rea Irvin‘s missing masthead later on in this post).

Roz Chast has the first drawing (p.19). The setting of several folks lined up on a sofa hard up against a wall seems to belong to her.  It’s her signature, as much as George Booth’s guy-in-the bathtub scenario is his. 

Six pages later a Zach Kanin cozy-under-a-blanket-by-a-fire drawing (coincidentally, the action in the drawing is set on a sofa). The cartoon is anchored by the use of the word “breasts” in the caption.  A quick online search shows a modest number of New Yorker breast-related cartoons, with very few actually mentioning breasts in the caption. One that came readily to mind is this classic courtesy of Jack Ziegler from November of 1997.  

  Nine pages later, a fun Seth Fleishman drawing (captionless, of course. His specialty).  Succinct clean lines and ideas. The same could be said for the very next cartoonist: William Haefeli. Unlike Mr. Fleishman, he works with a caption. This particular drawing is textbook Haefeli. Even the inconsequential fruit in the bowl (in the foreground) is rendered as if it is essential to our grasp of the entire piece.

On the very next page is a grand drawing from Charlie Hankin, well-placed on the page. A crime scene by P.C. Vey is on the opposite page. I love how he’s drawn the victim. This compact set of drawings is one of my favorites in quite awhile (the set consisting of Fleishman, Haefeli, Hankin, and Vey).

Five pages later, the second New Yorker drawing from Bishakh Som, who delivers the magazine’s weekly subway drawing. Subway drawings are now certifiably the new crash test dummy drawings.  [a second subway drawing, by this cartoonist, appears as this weeks Caption Contest challenge] 

Fifteen pages later (following a photo spread) is a colorful and intricate drawing by Peter Kuper. An excellent piece of work. Five pages later, Carolita Johnson takes us to a concert hall. I like that she’s brought us somewhere we typically don’t go much (anymore) in New Yorker cartoons. Ms. Johnson’s handled the scene well, with the audience, drawn in grey, driving our focus to the sniffling quartet. I am curious about the tiny dash and “c”  appearing next to her signature:

Three pages later a well-drawn Tom Cheney cartoon (is there any other kind?).  NYC apartment seekers who don’t have money to burn will find this drawing especially hilarious. On the very next page, Emily Flake brings us a demographic not often seen in the magazine: senior citizens. It appears the fellow’s had enough and is taking a walk.  He can’t be planning on being away very long: he has no coat or jacket, and just one piece of luggage not much bigger than a bowling ball bag.

The last drawing in the issue (not counting those on the Caption Contest page) is by Edward Koren, who will, this May, celebrate his 56th year of contributing his drawings to The New Yorker.  No one draws birds like Mr. Koren, and, need I say it (sure, why not) — no one draws like Mr. Koren.

 Link here to see all of the drawings referenced in this issue.

And don’t forget to check out The Cartoon Companion (they usually post at week’s end) for their rated take on all the issue’s cartoons.

— See you next week

ps: Couldn’t help but notice that Rea Irvin’s iconic Talk of the Town masthead is still a-missin’.  There’s a substitute in its place.  This is what the real deal looks like:

 

 

 

Many Moons Ago At The New Yorker

A departure this Sunday from previous Sundays in that the book above contains only New Yorker covers, and zero cartoons. However, of the thirty-six cover artists represented in the book, twenty-eight also contributed cartoons. This seemingly lop-sided representation of the magazine’s cartoonists doubling as cover artists was not at all out of the ordinary in the pre-Tina Brown days (Ms. Brown inverted the cartoonist/strictly-cover artist ratio, reducing the percentage of cartoonists on the cover to a minimum. Non-contributing cartoonists have been in a wide majority since).   

The book, published in 1984 by United Technologies Corporation, with the heavy lifting done by the National Academy of Design, is a must have for any library stocked with New Yorker collections. It’s a coffee table book that doesn’t need a coffee table (measuring 10″ x 13″, but just 160 pages).

The folks at the National Academy did a splendid job of designing the book, taking great care to present us with not only the covers as they appeared as New Yorker covers, but full page, sans New Yorker logo. The book is divided into the four seasons; the only non-seasonal cover is the magazine’s very first (by the incomparable Rea Irvin) beautifully reproduced on the page just before we enter Spring. 

The bonus material is right up front of the book.  Two introductory pieces: Brendan Gill’s “A morning light” and Charles Saxon‘s “A special moment, fleetingly observed.”

A declaration of interest from Mr. Gill:

“There is…no such thing as a New Yorker cover…If one can say there is no such thing as a New Yorker cover, one can at least say that there are three or four types of art work that appear with considerable frequency on the covers of The New Yorker: those that are purely decorative, those that are topical or seasonal, and those that contain a mild satiric swipe or possibly a small, covert joke.”

My my, how times have changed.  The are still “three or four types of art work” but covers that “contain a mildly satiric swipe” are now a thing of the past.

And from Charles Saxon, another that was then declarative:

“Artists are invited to submit their work. Nothing is assigned, nothing is directed. The work is welcomed or it is not.”

 

 

On a personal note, I was just into my seventh year as a New Yorker contributor when I received an invitation to attend the gallery exhibit of some of the covers in the book. Here’s a very short excerpt about my visit to the opening from my still in-the-works/ongoing New Yorker journal.  At the time I was living in upstate New York after having somewhat recently moved from Greenwich Village.

May 31, 1984

Perhaps missing some of Manhattan’s hubbub, I decided to attend the Seasons At the New Yorker opening at the National Academy of Design on 5th Avenue hard by Central Park — new-ish territory for me, other than my infrequent visits to the Metropolitan Museum. I was half-a-block from the party when I noticed the New Yorker writer Brendan Gill holding court out on the sidewalk. He was wearing a dark suit and looked to be holding a glass of champagne. 5th Avenue! Champagne! Brendan Gill! THE Brendan Gill — the man whose book, Here At the New Yorker helped drive me to this magazine. The idea of introducing myself to him that evening was out of the question: just to be here at this party was more than enough excitement.  

Surveying the crowd as I walked into the gallery I immediately felt out-of-place — I was dressed casually, in sneakers, jeans, a faded red shirt and a thrift shop seersucker jacket. Everyone else  was dressed, as my mother would say “to the hilt.”

After rounding the exhibition looking at the framed covers, I sat down for a moment on a circular stuffed sofa next to a very nice woman, somewhat older than me.  After some initial pleasantries, I discovered that she had been married to Robert Kraus, a former New Yorker cartoonist (and later owner and editor in chief of his own publishing house, Windmill Press, publishers of William Steig’s children’s books).

Eventually I made one more pass around the gallery space and found myself walking into the New Yorker’s art editor, Lee Lorenz and his (then) wife. I knew Lee wouldn’t know me by sight — we’d only met once before, but I thought it would be silly not to speak with my editor. As I suspected, Lee looked confused and slightly unhappy when I walked up to him, but was relieved and seemingly amused when I told him my name. Lee looked me over and said, “You look like an ice cream salesman.”  And perhaps following up on the theme, his wife said, “Oh, you’re the one who does all the ice cream cartoons.” My self-confidence at once damaged and lifted, I made small talk, then drifted back out to 5th avenue, and back upstate.

Below: From the Spill‘s files, the invitation (my friend, Jack Ziegler didn’t call me the “boy archivist” for nuthin).