Beginning To Take It Personally: The New Yorker Cartoon Album 1975- 1985

The other day I wrote about the New Yorker Anniversary album: 1925-1975.  Following up on that, here’s a little something about the Album that immediately followed it, The New Yorker Cartoon Album 1975- 1985.  In the entire run of Albums, this one would have to rank #1 in understated covers. A bit of trivia (or maybe it’s not so trivial): this is just the second time an Album title referred to the magazine’s drawings as “cartoons” —  (the first was 1958’s New Yorker Album of Sports & Games: Cartoons of Three Decades. Non-purists might argue that the special issue Armed Services New Yorker War Cartoons with The Talk of the Town, published in 1945 was the first instance, but it was not an Album, nor was it, as you see in the title, purely cartoons).

Of note: 1975-1985 is the first Album since the early 1930s not designed by Carmine Peppe.  The design and layout is credited to a trio of New Yorker staffers: John Murphy, Bernard McAteer, and Joseph Carroll (who succeeded Mr. Peppe as head of the make-up department. Mr. Carroll was also a published New Yorker cartoonist, with one drawing, in the issue of January 16, 1984. That one and only appearance qualified him as a member of the Spill‘s One Club).

Of further note: this was the last Album published during William Shawn’s long tenure as editor of the New Yorker. It was published the year The New Yorker‘s ownership changed hands from the original owners, the Fleischmann family, to the Newhouse family. Mr. Shawn, who was appointed editor in 1952, was replaced in 1987 by Robert Gottlieb.

 

Admittedly, I have affection for this Album out of some self-interest: it was the first that included my work.  But it also included, for the first time in an Album, work by the wave I came in with — that included, among others, cartoonists such as Mick Stevens, Thomas Cheney, Peter Steiner, Richard Cline, Leo Cullum, Roz Chast, and Liza Donnelly. 

Truly exciting were the number of established cartoonists we kids found ourselves in the company of. To be included in this volume (and later Albums) with them was, and still is somewhat unbelievable. 

As with previous Albums, the cartoon choices are excellent.  The Album begins with an exquisite Robert Weber full page drawing (full page in the Album, and run as a full page in the magazine in the issue of July 2, 1984)…

…and ends with a classic Charles Addams drawing (a fellow is installing yet another of many locks — and bolts — on his door. At his feet is a semi-circle made by an active saw blade coming up through the floor). In between these two cartoon gems is an accurate reflection of the state of the magazine’s cartoon world in that decade.  As with previous Albums, the balance of work placement and selection is superior. There’s enough work by Booth, Steinberg, Koren, Saxon, Steig, George Price, Addams, Stevenson, Levin, Modell, Lorenz, both Martins (Henry, and Charles) to please anybody, but also well-represented are the large number of artists who flourished just out of range of the spotlight. 

Along with the publication of the Album was a touring exhibit of work.  I wrote about this Album and that exhibit a year ago, but in a slightly different context. You can see that earlier post here

 There was no official album a decade later (instead we were gifted Lee Lorenz’s Art of The New Yorker), and ten years after that was the The New Yorker 75th Cartoon Collection, which bears a cover opposite the understated cover of the 1975-1985 album.   

A Go-To New Yorker Cartoon Book: The New Yorker Album Of Drawings 1925 – 1975

With a new entry in the New Yorker cartoon collection in the market place, the weighty and curious New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons, I thought it might be time to swing the spotlight another way — to a favorite New Yorker cartoon-related anthology, The New Yorker Album Of Drawings 1925 – 1975; a proven time-tested book that never ever fails to thrill and inform  — I learn something whenever I look through it. 

 My collection of New Yorker cartoon anthologies began with this book, given to me the year it was published, two years before I began contributing to the magazine. I’ve spent more time with it than any book I ever had in school. If I was teaching a class about New Yorker cartoons, this would be  required reading/viewing.  As you’d expect, the book is a greatest cartoon hits from the magazine’s first 50 years, but it also thoughtfully digs into the archives for what could be the best representative work by the non-hits artists.

It’s not just the selection of work that lifts this anthology to a higher plane, it’s the balance of the work as well. All credit for that balance goes to The New Yorker‘s Carmine Peppe, (“the fabled Carmine Peppe” as Roger Angell tagged him). Mr. Peppe is credited with the book’s “design and layout.”  That makes sense as he was head of the magazine’s editorial make-up department since 1932. He was also credited with design and layout of every anthology beginning with the 25th Anniversary Album, published in 1950 (I think it’s safe to assume he also designed, uncredited, the Albums that were published since 1932). Mr. Peppe’s roots ran as deep as anyone’s at the magazine, having joined the New Yorker a few months into its run in 1925. Mr. Peppe will forever be linked to Jack Ziegler as it was Peppe who famously held up running Mr. Ziegler’s first drawings when he broke into the magazine in 1974. Mr. Ziegler told Richard Gehr in I Only Read It For the Cartoons, “He [Peppe] didn’t like my work, apparently…”

In the magazine’s obit for Mr. Peppe in 1985, William Shawn had this to say (in part) about Mr. Peppe’s substantial contribution to the magazine:

Carmine Peppe had the hands of a master craftsman, and he had the eye and the soul of an artist. He lived with love at home, and he worked with love at his demanding job…

His aesthetic instinct for what drawing should appear on what page and what its size on the page should ideally be was faultless. If, say, a drawing was an eighth of an inch too wide, he saw it as jumping off the page, and he was right. His meticulousness, his precision, his attention to detail were fanatical.  In the last analysis, it was Carmine who determined, early in our history, how the pages of The New Yorker should look, how the magazine as a whole should look. Since what he designed for us was appropriate to our intentions and was classic, we stayed with what he gave us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Of Interest: I Think, Therefore I Draw

Published a couple of weeks ago, I Think, Therefore I Draw: Understanding Philosophy Through Cartoons (Penguin) includes enough New Yorker cartoons (among a number of non-New Yorker cartoons) to mention here. The New Yorker cartoonists represented (in order of their appearance): Paul Noth, John McNamee, Tom Cheney, Danny Shanahan, P.C. Vey, David Sipress, George Booth, Avi Steinberg, Amy Hwang, Leo Cullum, Mort Gerberg, P.S. Mueller, John Klossner, Aaron Bacall, Sam Gross, “Bud” Handelsman, Lee Lorenz, Michael Maslin, Jack Ziegler, Edward Koren, Matt Diffee, Eric Lewis, Edward Frascino, and Charles Barsotti.

The authors have this (in part) to say in their introduction: “Here, then, is a collection of our favorite philosophical cartoons and our annotations about what they teach us about the Big Questions in philosophy.”

You can sample the text by going to the Amazon listing and clicking on the “Look inside” feature.

 

The Monday Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue of September 3, 2018

Again with an early release cover! Link here to see what the cover artist, Barry Blitt, had to say about his latest effort (shown above, right). 

The cartoons:

Fourteen cartoons in this first issue of September: seven by women, seven by men. No more mentions here of gender balance/imbalance unless/until there’s an all female cartoonists issue (or an all male issue returns).

It’s becoming a Spill habit to single out one or two or three cartoons per issue that especially grab my attention.  This issue it’s two cartoons.  Paul Noth’s tranquil fishing scenario (p.24) is lovely.  A perfectly written caption. One teeny tiny graphic quibble: the fishing lines are identically parallel, creating what looks to be two sides of a box (the kind of box that some cartoons sit within).  Anywho, a wonderful drawing, deserving of a round of applause.

The other cartoon of note (found on page 19): Carolita Johnson gives us a motorcyclist speaking to his passenger. Ms. Johnson’s caption reads:

As a long-time happily married motorcycling cartoonist, I suppose this is a golden opportunity to chime in about marriage and motorcycles; I’ll just stick with motorcycles.

Here’s a motorcycle drawing of mine that appeared in the New Yorker, May 27, 1985:

Motorcycles have been around in New Yorker cartoons for a long long time; the motorcyclists were often motorcycle cops. I’m not going deep into the history here, but just mention a few cartoonists who’ve given us some great drawings. Motorcycles and/or motorcyclists as the subject are numerous; even more plentiful are motorcycles/motorcyclists as part of the scenery. A Peter Arno cartoon in the issue of December 7th 1929  (“We want to report a stolen car”) that made waves for its sexual innuendo featured a beautifully drawn Indian motorcycle. Among colleagues past and present who’ve depicted motorcycles and/or motorcyclists : Roberta MacDonald, Garrett Price, Anthony Taber, Kim Warp, Carl Rose, Edward Koren, Farley Katz, Joe Dator, Leo Cullum, Trevor Hoey, Maddie Dai, Michael Crawford, Lee Lorenz, Jack Ziegler, Arnie Levin, and yours truly.  Of these cartoonists, two that I know of (other than myself) have ridden motorcycles: Mr. Crawford and Mr. Levin.  Mr. Ziegler had plenty of fun depicting motorcycle gang members “colors” ( patches on jackets that identify a motorcyclist’s club association). Here’s an evergreen of his from February 27, 1989:

— See you next week

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue of August 27th, 2018

  Kadir Nelson‘s cover (a tribute to Aretha Franklin) was posted last week.  Not mentioned here at the time (but noted on the New Yorker‘s Table of Contents): the image was inspired by Charles W. White’s Folksinger. 

The new issue’s “Fall Preview” accounts for the abundance of arts ads and illustrations. 

The cartoons:

Now we’re talkin’: sixteen cartoons in this issue vs last week’s nine.  A number of the sixteen cartoons stand out for various reasons. Two of them (I won’t single them out) are beyond me. Not long ago I would’ve emailed Jack Ziegler to explain them to me. It was always comforting when Jack didn’t understand a drawing either. Often he’d respond with a variation of, “I don’t know what the hell it means.”

 Now for some others that stood out (these I understand): Seth Fleishman‘s mirror ball drawing cements his reputation as the New Yorker‘s mirror ball guy. Funny drawing. Also very funny: Joe Dator‘s “hunny” sniffing Pooh airport scenario. And then there’s David Borchart‘s sea-faring koala drawing. Oh my my my. I mentioned Jack Ziegler before. I think Jack would’ve loved these drawings — they’re wonderfully in his ballpark of way-out-there. A Spill round of applause.

A thought here about the placement of every cartoon in the issue: none seemed pressed for space, in need of breathing room. Victoria Roberts doctor’s office drawing (p.69) and Ellis Rosen‘s (p.42) are good examples. The reader can really enjoy the fine drawing going on in these pieces (and in others).

This issue includes the debut New Yorker cartoon by Caitlin Cass. Ms. Cass is the seventeenth new cartoonist brought in since cartoon editor, Emma Allen was appointed in the Spring of 2017. Ms. Cass’s style — mostly the way she handles faces — reminds me of a New Yorker cover artist from the Golden Age: Christina Malman.  Oddly enough, while looking through Ms. Malman’s twenty-four covers for the magazine I came across one (shown below) thematically linked to Ms. Cass’s drawing of children looking at art in a museum.

A final thought before Rea Irvin’s classic missing masthead shows up at the end of this post: I’m wondering if Emma Hunsinger‘s funny caption for her drawing on page 77 would’ve also worked if the word “aren’t” was “are”…and if that’s so — if it’s so how often it happens in cartoon captions that a word completely flipped can still work with the drawing. In this case, substituting “are” for “aren’t” would radically change the intent. Ms. Hunsinger’s use of the word “aren’t” suggests the parents are concerned their child’s behavior is unusual. By using “are” the parents would instead be hopeful that their child’s behavior might make for a viral video.

For the record, here is the list of cartoonists in this issue:

And now, as promised, the missing Irvin masthead.

 — See you next week