Robert Grossman, Illustrator, Cartoonist Extraordinaire: 1940-2018; The Tilley Watch Online

Robert Grossman, Illustrator, Cartoonist Extraordinaire, 1940 – 2018

  Robert Grossman a multi-talented artist with an instantly recognizable style, has passed away. Mr. Grossman enjoyed a spectacular career as an illustrator and cartoonist with his work appearing on the cover of numerous major publications. For far more information please go to Drew Friedman’s 2013 piece about Mr. Grossman’s career. 

In the early 1960s Mr. Grossman worked briefly as an assistant to the New Yorker‘s Art Editor, James Geraghty. He contributed two cartoons in the Geraghty years: January 13, 1962 (seen above) and December 22, 1962. His work returned to the magazine in the Tina Brown years in the form of six comic strips; his last contribution ran under David Remnick’s editorship.

( Mr. Grossman’s Yale Record parody cover of the New Yorker appears at the top of this piece)


Trumpian cartoons were in the majority again this week in the Daily Cartoon slot:  a reflection on teachers & guns-in-the-classroom by Avi Steinberg, Stormy weather by Kim Warp, March Madness by Lars Kenseth, a tribute to Stephen Hawking by David Sipress (that was a ‘bonus” Daily), Trump & school walkouts was a team effort by Jason Chatfield and Scott Dooley.  The week ended with Ellis Rosen‘s nod to the nationwide closing of the Toys r Us chain. 

Contributing cartoonists appearing on Daily Shouts: Emma Hunsinger, Will McPhail, and Ben Schwartz.

All the work (and more) can be seen here.

Article of Interest: A Wave of New Yorker Cartoonists; Cartoon Companion Rates Latest Cartoons; The Attempted Bloggery E. Simms Campbell Fest Continues

Article of Interest: A Wave of New Yorker Cartoonists

Graham Techler’s article in Paste, March 1, 2018,  “The Exciting New Wave of New Yorker Cartoonists” spotlights eight cartoonists — all veteran newbies (meaning they are not among the very latest cartoonists appearing in the magazine), and a few cartoonists who’ve moved beyond the newbie classification (I’ve provided the year each began contributing to the magazine): Charlie Hankin (2013), Paul Noth (2004), Jason Adam Katzenstein (2014), Tom Toro (2010), Amy Hwang (2010), William McPhail (2014), Maddie Dai (2017), Emily Flake (2008).  For what it’s worth, the eight mentioned are among the 128 cartoonists that have debuted since 2004, the year of Mr. Noth’s first New Yorker cartoon. More a New Tsunami than a New Wave.

A couple of Spill footnotes on the below segment of Mr. Techler’s piece:

“They [the cartoons] were never actually bad (I mean, come on, each era of the magazine was represented by everyone from Peter Arno to James Thurber to Bruce Eric Kaplan—legend has it that the improved quality of the cartoons in the 1940s was attributed to office boy Truman Capote throwing away the ones he didn’t like); they were just perceived as a little out of touch with what the rest of the comedy world was embracing.”

First: “…legend has it that the improved quality of the cartoons in the 1940s was attributed to office boy Truman Capote throwing away the ones he didn’t like)”:

Perhaps it’s time to retire the myth that Mr. Capote was throwing away drawings he didn’t like.  Mr. Capote worked as a copy boy at the New Yorker for approximately two years in the early 1940s (he was hired sometime in 1942 and left the magazine sometime in 1944). One of his responsibilities was going through the unsolicited drawings in the slush pile looking for anything with promise. The drawings with some promise were then gone through by the art editor, James Geraghty.  If he found anything worthy he’d bring it along to the art meeting. If you go to page 73 of Gerald Clarke’s biography, Capote (Simon & Schuster, 1988), you’ll hear find this passage with Mr. Capote talking about the lost drawings:

 “Sometimes I would get the cartoons all messed up and confused.  Then I would just throw them into one of those holes and say to myself, ‘Well, I’ll straighten that out later.’ I managed somehow to to lose about seven hundred of them that way. I didn’t deliberately destroy them, and I don’t know how I lost track of them. But I did…”

Second: “they were just perceived as a little out of touch with what the rest of the comedy world was embracing.”

I’m not exactly sure what Mr. Techler means.  Which era or eras is he referring to?  A specific era? All eras?  When were they “perceived as a little out of touch” (and who was doing the perceiving?).

(If Mr. Techler wishes to clarify, The Spill will gladly post his remarks). 


Cartoon Companion Rates Latest Cartoons

If it’s Friday (and it is), then a brand new Cartoon Companion awaits. The CC boys “Max” and “Simon” have run their trusty fine tooth combs through the cartoons in the latest New Yorker. Read it here.


The Attempted Bloggery E. Simms Campbell Fest Continues

Stephen Nadler has posted a lot of interesting pieces in the last few days, including cartoons appearing in a small promotional Esquire booklet (or sampler); a bunch of work by Dorothy McKay, and of course more work by his current fest focus: E. Simms Campbell. Go look!

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

Dorothy McKay ( Self portrait above from Meet the Artist, 1943; Photo from Cartoon Humor, 1938) Born c.1904, died June, 1974 New York City. New Yorker work: 1934 -1936.

“The Brightest Thought of Many Bright Minds”: The 1940 New Yorker Album

From the inside flap copy of this album: “The brightest thought of many bright minds”…well, heck, I’m not going to argue with that. Published by Random House in 1939, and using Peter Arno’s New Yorker cover from January 1938, this is the last of the Albums produced before the Unites States entered WWII.  The cover depicts a Cafe Society moment, an Arno specialty that faded as the war years began.


The flap copy shown below tells the story of what to expect, cartoon quality-wise (and “Spot” drawings–wise). These are the founding mothers & fathers of the New Yorker single panel.  In just a few years, and throughout the 1940s, they’d be joined by a number of additional giants of the field, including  Steinberg, Frank Modell, Sam Cobean, Dana Fradon, Anatol Kovarsky, Roberta MacDonald, Mischa Richter, and Charles Saxon. This album also, in a way, marks the end of the earlier incarnation of the magazine’s art department and the beginning of the editorship of James Geraghty. His hiring in 1939 led to the organization of the art department into an actual department, with an editor (Geraghty) devoted to the artists (all the artists: cartoonists, cover artists, spot artists). That model stayed intact under Mr. Geraghty, and then his successor, Lee Lorenz, until Tina Brown split the art department in 1993, creating  the titles, Cartoon Editor (Mr. Lorenz’s new title), and Art Editor (Francoise Mouly was hired and given that title, with the responsibility of overseeing the cover art).  

Being a Thurberite I can’t help but mentioning that two of my all-time favorite Thurber drawings (actually, I love all of his drawings) are included in this volume:

“Ooooo, guesties!” (shown in this link, upper right of the page).

“Well, if I called the wrong number, why did you answer the phone?”

There is no introduction to this album, nor any flap copy other than that shown above. The production is top-shelf, with heavy paper and a flawless lay-out. This album is easily found on for very little. The back cover, shown below, is given over to a drawing by the great Helen Hokinson.


The New Yorker Cartoon Album 1975 – 1985

With the publication of The New Yorker Cartoon Album 1975-1985, the word “Cartoon” makes its second appearance on an Album cover and in an Album  title (the first was on the cover of The Album of Sports and Games: Cartoons of Three Decades).  The magazine’s 60th anniversary not only saw this anthology published, but the magazine’s fans were treated to a fabulous show of cartoons and covers, curated by Barbara Nicholls, a former art assistant to James Geraghty (Ms. Nicholls went on to establish a gallery representing many of the New Yorker’s artists). 

Mounted at the New York Public Library, this was the show for anyone who loved the magazine’s art.  Following its run in New York, the exhibit went on the road across the country, and across the big pond. Here’s the brochure:

But now back to the anthology. You can see by the cover that the design is solidly in the school of the understated. The is no introduction within, no foreword, no dedication. Compare the cover to the cover of the 90th Anniversary Book of Cartoons (the Spill will eventually get to that on another Sunday) — you’ll see how graphic decision-making has changed.

The 1975- 1985 Album leads off with a spectacular full page drawing by Robert Weber, and it ends with a full page Charles Addams drawing.  In between you’ll find a rich array of the grand masters of the form: Steig, Steinberg, George Price, Dana Fradon, Warren Miller, Frank Modell,  the aforementioned  Weber and Addams, Henry Martin, Booth, Koren, Ed Arno ( but not Peter Arno, who had passed away in 1968), Whitney Darrow, Jr., James Stevenson, Ed Fisher…the list couldn’t go on and on — it was, after all, finite, but you get the idea.  Also in the Album, a new wave of cartoonists, including Mick Stevens, Leo Cullum, Liza Donnelly, the two Roz’s: Zanengo and Chast, Tom Cheney, Michael Crawford, Richard Cline, Bill Woodman, Peter Steiner, and Mike Twohy, among others (including yours truly). Jack Ziegler, who I’ve dubbed “The Godfather of Contemporary New Yorker Cartoonists”  was a late entry in the 1925-1975 Album (his first New Yorker cartoon was published in 1974. He’s represented in the 1925-1975 Album by one cartoon)Here, in the 1975-1985 Album his genius is on full display.  

This Album would be the last published during William Shawn’s editorship.  The next Album would not appear until the year 2000, the magazine’s 75th anniversary (in between was Lee Lorenz’s Art of The New Yorker: 1925- 1995). 

Below: the back cover of the The New Yorker Cartoon Album 1975-1985:

And the inside flap copy:



Fave Photo of the Day; Appearance of Interest: Robert Grossman; Pond Pencilled; PR: Chast, Ware

Fave Photo of the Day

Courtesy of New Yorker cartoonist colleague, Jeremy Nguyen, this photo taken last Monday of a cartoon event at Brooks Brothers.  Beginning at the bottom ‘o’ the stairs and heading up: Emma Allen, the New Yorker‘s cartoon editor, and cartoonists Drew Dernavich, Liana Finck, and Jason Adam Katzenstein (aka J.A.K.). And unless I’m mistaken, that’s the classic Brooks Brothers Vintage Bomber Jacket (in Khaki)* just behind Ms. Allen .

*unpaid advertisement


Appearance of Interest: Robert Grossman

One of the greats, Robert Grossman, will appear at the New York Comics and Picture-Story Symposium on November 28th.  All the information here.

Mr. Grossman, widely known for his illustration, was, in the earliest stage of his career, an assistant to James Geraghty (the New Yorker art editor from 1939- 1973).  Mr. Grossman’s first New Yorker appearance (below) was published January 13, 1962.



Pond Pencilled

Mimi Pond is the subject of Jane Mattimoe’s latest Case For Pencils post wherein the cartoonist discusses her tools of the trade.  (above: Ms. Pond’s work area).   See the post here!


…From Comics DC, November 12, 2017,  “Roz Chast, ‘Going To Town’ Recorded at Politics & Prose”

Here’s the video of Chris Ware’s appearance on The Charlie Rose Show. Mr. Ware is currently making the rounds promoting his new book, Monograph By Chris Ware (Rizzoli).