The Monday Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue Of May 4, 2020

The Cover: In Francoise Mouly’s Q&A with this week’s cover artist, Chris Ware, she informs us that the issue is anchored by “a kaleidoscopic account of a single day in New York.”  And so we see a cover, in Mr. Ware’s patented style, loaded with snapshots of the city —  a cover nearly devoid of people.

The Cartoonists:

Liza Donnelly, Robert Leighton, Amy Hwang, Roz Chast, Mick Stevens, Liana Finck, Julia Suits, Frank Cotham, Lars Kenseth, Peter Steiner, Karl Stevens, Edward Steed, Elisabeth McNair, Ali Solomon

The Cartoons:

First thing I noticed zipping through this week’s cartoons (via the slideshow on newyorker.com) is that 9 of the 14 drawings contain non-humans. Is this unusual? I don’t know; haven’t kept track of the human/non-human ratio of the cartoons over the years [if anyone has, please let me know — I’d love to see the numbers]. What may be unusual are the three drawings in a row containing two animals apiece: Ed Steed’s two cows, Elisabeth McNair’s pig and squirrel, and Ali Solomon’s two seals.

The remaining half-dozen cartoons featuring non-humans: Peter Steiner’s shark (fins), Lars Kenseth’s multitude of rabbits, Roz Chast’s cow, Liana Finck’s dog(?), and Amy Hwang’s snails. This week’s lead cartoon, by Liza Donnelly, is a direct nod to NYC’s shut-down (it features a none-too-pleased caged subway rat).

The high percentage of animals in the issue reminded me of this passage from Brendan Gill’s Here At The New Yorker:

“Once, Geraghty [the magazine’s Art editor from 1939-1973] mentioned to me that the art department ‘bank’ contained a deplorably high number of jokes featuring conversations between animals. I proposed that the artwork of an entire issue of the magazine be devoted to talking-animal jokes, thus reducing the bank and just possibly causing our readers to lose their minds.  My proposal was accepted, the issue came out, and as far as the magazine could judge, the prank went largely unobserved.” 

Other Cartoons That Caught My Eye:

It seemed pre-ordained that Roz Chast would do a panic buying drawing. Love her (signed) photo drawing of “Der Bingle.” Mick Stevens’s me time drawing is a fine/fun piece of work; applause applause for the way Frank Cotham handled the damned in his splendid media attention drawing. I’ve no idea how Mr. Cotham’s cartoon is sized (I don’t have access to the digital edition yet) but this cartoon would certainly work beautifully on a half-page.  (Update, now that the digital issue is available:  Mr. Cotham’s drawing has been run a bit larger than most of the issue’s cartoons…not a half-page tho.)

The Rea Irvin Talk Masthead Watch:

Without having the digital issue in front of me I’ve no idea if Mr. Irvin’s classic Talk masthead (below), shown the door, and replaced by a redraw in the Spring of 2017, has finally returned.  Here’s more information on it.(Update: the redraw still appears. The classic remains in storage)

Behold the real deal!

 

 

 

 

David Preston’s Three New Yorker Covers; Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon

David Preston’s Three New Yorker Covers

This grey day seemed like a good time to recall David Preston’s three New Yorker covers — all of them from the pre-buzz era when “quiet” New Yorker covers were plentiful. Below is Mr. Preston’s bio as it appeared at the 2015 Westport Historical Society exhibit, Cover Story: The New Yorker In Westport.

And here, courtesy of Sarah Geraghty Herndon, is a photo from late 1965 taken at James Geraghty’s home in Westport, Connecticut.  Mr. Preston is seated far right. Standing next to Mr. Preston is Charles Saxon. Partially obscured behind the young fellow in the white shirt is Whitney Darrow, Jr..

Further info from the Spill‘s A-Z:

Whitney Darrow, Jr. Born August 22, 1909, Princeton, NJ. Died August, 1999, Burlington, Vermont. New Yorker work: 1933 -1982. Quote (Darrow writing of himself in the third person): …in 1931 he moved to New York City, undecided between law school and doing cartoons as a profession. The fact that the [New Yorker’s] magazine offices were only a few blocks away decided him…” (Quote from catalogue, Meet the Artist, 1943)

Charles Saxon (Born in Brooklyn, NY,  Nov 13, 1920, died in Stamford, Conn., Dec 6, 1988. New Yorker work: 1943 – 1991 (2 drawings published posthumously). Key collection: One Man’s Fancy ( Dodd, Mead, 1977).

 

James Geraghty * (photo: Geraghty in his office at The New Yorker, 25 West 43rd St., 1948. Used with permission of Sarah Geraghty Herndon). Born Spokane, Washington, 1904. died Venice, Florida, January, 1983. While not a cartoonist, Geraghty’s contribution to the art of the New Yorker was substantial. He contributed material to cartoonists before and during his association with The New Yorker, where he served as art editor from 1939 until 1973, when the title passed to Lee Lorenz. In Geraghty’s NYTs obit (Jan 20, 1983), William Shawn said: “Along with Harold Ross, who was the first editor of the magazine, Geraghty set the magazine’s comic art on its course and he helped determine the direction in which the comic art would go and is still going.”

____________________________________________________________________________

Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon

Mort Gerberg on politics and news. Mr. Gerberg has been contributing to The New Yorker since 1965.

Visit his website here.

From The Archives: The Humble New Yorker Art Department Office Supply; Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon; Today’s Daily Shouts Cartoonist

Here’s a fun oddity: the stamp/envelope moistener that once sat in The New Yorker‘s Art Department at the magazine’s 25 West 43rd Street address. The moistener, sold by Chicago’s Wilson Jones Company, seems have been manufactured in the 1940s. It was in use at The New Yorker until 1991, when the magazine moved south across 43rd Street to modern digs and more modern means of correspondence.

When I began contributing to The New Yorker in the 1970s, cartoonists either went into the office to drop off their weekly batch of drawings, or they mailed in their batch. If you sold a drawing, it would arrive by week’s end in a 10″x13″ manilla envelope with a glued flap.  I can’t help but think of the humble part the moistener –a  simple heavy object — played in the process of every New Yorker cartoonist’s life back then. It was part of a chain of events that began with the cartoonist’s creation of a drawing; the drawing then sent or brought to the magazine’s offices where it passed by the eyes of the art editor (James Geraghty, until 1973, and then Lee Lorenz).  If it made that first cut, it moved on to the art meeting, and shown to the editor (Harold Ross until 1951, William Shawn until 1987, then Robert Gottlieb). If the editor Oked it (and the fact checkers cleared it), the Oked cartoon was placed in a New Yorker envelope, sealed (!) and returned to the cartoonist. Trumpets didn’t blare upon its homecoming, but it was always a heart-racing “moment” seeing that envelope and unsealing it to find which of your drawings was now a New Yorker cartoon.

____________________________________________________

Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon

Help remembering 2020 by Avi Steinberg.

Mr. Steinberg began contributing to The New Yorker in 2012.

___________________________________________________

Today’s Daily Shouts Cartoonist

“Torture Devices Designed By My Inner Monologue”

by Irving Ruan, and cartoonist Eugenia Viti, who began contributing to The New Yorker in in June of 2019.

 

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)

 

 

 

Today’s Daily Cartoon & Daily Shouts Cartoonist; Recalling A New Yorker Giant: Charles Saxon

A Hamburglar cartoon by Farley Katz, who began contributing to The New Yorker in 2007. Mr. Katz has also contributed today’s Daily Shouts.

_____________________________________________________

Recalling A New Yorker Giant: Charles Saxon

Over this past weekend a number of visiting colleagues paused to look at a Charles Saxon original drawing that hangs on a wall here at Spill headquarters. The Saxon drawing is displayed because it amuses and inspires (the same goes for the several dozen others also on our walls by various New Yorker artists past and present; the earliest drawing, by Alice Harvey, was published October of 1925, the most recent, by Ed Steed, was published in April of 2019). Saxon’s drawings have long been considered a high bar by his peers — a reminder of how elegant (a word used by one of the visitors) cartoon art can be (I’ve always felt Thurber’s drawings to be another kind of high bar).

Looking closely at the originals in the Spill‘s archives, I see no under -drawing, no pencil marks. The work, in grease pencil(?), appears to be in the school of — as Edward Sorel would describe it — direct drawing.  The lines seem effortless, energetic, lovely, and of course, humorous; it’s an immediately identifiable style. As with so many of his contemporaries, including Robert Weber, Lee Lorenz, James Stevenson and Frank Modell, there’s a joy to the work.

Saxon’s world, both New Yorker covers and cartoons, published from the mid 1940s through the late 1980s, will forever be linked to Connecticut country club country, where he lived (Mr. Saxon, along with his colleague William Hamilton, had that upper-crusty world down). The New Yorker readership from that social strata apparently loved seeing themselves poked and prodded, just as they loved what Peter Arno had done with them and to them in the magazine’s earlier decades. 

Right: a Saxon New Yorker cover: effortless, energetic, humorous

I was fortunate enough to meet Saxon in February of 1986, when New Yorker cover artist Roxie Munro threw a small post-New Yorker anniversary party. Trudging downtown from the Pierre Hotel to Ms. Munro’s mid-town apartment on lower Park Avenue, I was one of the first to arrive. Walking into the living room I found a short man, in dark suit and tie, standing with his back against a living room wall. I introduced myself, not knowing who I was about to shake hands with. I had always imagined Saxon as quite tall — a powerhouse figure. In truth, he was perhaps a half-foot shorter than me. He was also remarkably soft spoken, and extremely polite. I’d always expected that he’d have one of those personalities that would roll right over me. It was quite a nice gift, to able to have perhaps fifteen minutes with this cartoon god, all to myself. 

 

Photo: Charles Saxon, center, with The New Yorker‘s Art Editor, James Geraghty at the magazine’s offices, 25 West 43rd Street, New York City, c.1960s.  Photo courtesy of Sarah Geraghty Herndon.

Book: Oh, happy, happy, happy!  The earliest Saxon collection, published in 1960 by Golden Press.