Here’s a look at Garden State born New Yorker contributors (including its current editor) as well as New Yorker contributors (all cartoonists) not Jersey born, but currently living there. Also included: New Yorker contributors who, though not native-born, grew up there and/or lived there for a good while. If anyone out there has others I’ve missed (and I’m sure I have) please contact me. (click on the map to enlarge).
It’s silly to rate cartoonists, but around here, as anyone who follows Ink Spill knows, James Thurber is the #1 New Yorker cartoonist. Thinking about him on the eve of his birthday (he was born in Columbus, Ohio, December 8, 1894) I stood in front of the Thurber paperback section of our cartoon library, looking at title after title. After taking several of the books down and thumbing through, I realized that there’s no better way to celebrate the man than by simply showing his work (or, in this case, some of it). Not all his titles are in the photograph, but the span of his career is represented (in paperback form) from Is Sex Necessary (co-authored with E.B. White) all the way up to the last book published while he was alive, Lanterns & Lances (it came out in April of 1961, just seven months before he died).
There are no favorites here, but I confess a fondness for the low-key graphics of the Penguin English paperbacks, with their vertical orange borders (there’s a Japanese copy of The Last Flower in the photo as well — I suppose it would be fun to start collecting Thurber editions from around the world).
What doesn’t surprise me after all these years of looking at Thurber’s work is that his drawings never disappoint. The seal in the bedroom never seems less than a miracle; the present Mrs. Harris on the bookcase continues to baffle in the best way; the naive domestic burgundy continues to amuse, the War Between Men & Women never truly ends, and Dr. Millmoss has yet to be accounted for.
And…a little more Thurber:
William Shawn, The New Yorker‘s second editor (he presided over the magazine from 1952 through 1987) died on this day in 1992. Here’s a short piece marking the day.
If you have the double issue of the New Yorker dated December 28 1992 & January 4 1993, this would be a good day to take another look through. It contains a wonderful section, “Remembering Mr. Shawn” wherein you’ll find short pieces by, among others, Charles McGrath, Calvin Trillin, John Updike, Lee Lorenz, Kennedy Frazier, Philip Hamburger, Roger Angell, Andy Logan, Mark Singer, John McPhee, William Maxwell, Daniel Menaker, Lillian Ross, and Brendan Gill. There are also a number of b&w photos of Shawn taken by James Stevenson.
Pat Crow, a colleague at The New Yorker and a neighbor—he lived down the street —died last week at the age of seventy-one. Pat was the elder statesman among us local upstate New Yorkers, having made his way to The New Yorker in 1967. In an 2001 interview with the Arkansas Gazette, Pat recalled that William Shawn hired him even though “I think he didn’t know what to do with me.” Pat went on to edit New Yorker contributors Andy Logan, Elizabeth Drew, Calvin Trillin, John McPhee, among many many others.
My wife and I came to know Pat a little more than twenty years ago through a serendipitous conversation in the parking lot of a local Quaker Meeting house. Pat’s then wife Elizabeth struck up a conversation with us, saying she’d heard we worked for The New Yorker, adding she’d worked there once, and that her husband, Pat, still did. After a little more chit-chat we realized we lived right down the street from each other, barely a five minute walk.
When those blurry days arrived at the time Tina Brown was transitioning from editing Vanity Fair to editing The New Yorker, Pat was fond of informing us outliers of what he was hearing and seeing at the office. I was once able to return the favor when a number of other of cartoonists were invited to the office to hear Tina share her thoughts about the cartoons. Tina told the assembled cartoonists she’d like to see, “Cutting edge cartoons — not fuzzy.”
Afterwards as I wandered The New Yorker’s hallways trying to find an exit, Pat pulled me into his office by the elbow, closing his door behind us. John Bennett, another senior editor was also there. Pat wanted to know, “What happened? What did she say?” It was as cloak-and-dagger as The New Yorker ever got for me, and, it was a whole lot of fun.
Pat became our Deep Throat, passing along news he’d heard as part of Tina’s circle of senior editors. Before most of the world knew that Tina Brown had chosen an Ed Sorel drawing for the first cover of her refurbished New Yorker, my wife and I learned the news from Pat. Running into Ed around that time I mentioned the cover and Ed looked startled: “How’d you know that?!” But, of course, I couldn’t reveal my source (until now).
My few lengthy chats with Pat revealed a genteel man, full of mischief. Whatever he had to say he said with a small smile. He seemed amused by conversation, especially concerning anything having to do with the magazine. He was a no-nonsense guy, usually but not always willing to cut to the chase. Reading his lengthy 2001 interview with the Arkansas Gazette I was struck by the way he summed up his approach to the work that came across his desk for thirty years at The New Yorker, saying simply, “You make it good.”
New Yorker lure is filled with tales of staff members passing each other in the magazine’s hallways for years with perhaps just a nod – sometimes a “hello.” Over the years as my wife and I walked our dogs down the road past the hay fields that separate Pat’s home from ours, we’d see his olive green Suburu wagon coming our way. Sometimes he’d pause and we’d chat for a moment; sometimes he’d cruise by and offer a wave. It seemed we were all holding up our end of an Upstate New Yorker tradition.
Read: John McPhee on Pat Crow in the current issue of The New Yorker.