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 Tilley Watch: A Collaboration; A Correction

A Correction: The original Spill post under “Papaerwork” [I’ve left it intact below] incorrectly stated that the appearance of Tadhg Ferry’s cartoon in this latest issue was his first cartoon in the magazine. Jane Mattimoe, of a Spill favorite blog, A Case For Pencils,  has sent me a cartoon of Mr. Ferry’s that appeared in the September 19, 2016 issue. My apologies to Mr. Ferry, and my thanks to Ms. Mattimoe for setting the record straight (the good news is that Mr. Ferry’s name was added to the A-Z, albeit belatedly. This bit of information about Mr. Ferry led to the addition of one cartoonist to the #218 below, making it 219 new cartoonists brought in from 1997 through 2017; at the same time one cartoonist is subtracted from Emma Allen’s total thus far, from 19 to 18).  

Paperwork: a new cartoonist in the issue (it’s the “Money Issue”…well, okay) of October 22, 2018:  Mr. Ferry is the seventh new cartoonist added this year, and the nineteenth new cartoonist added since Emma Allen became the magazine’s cartoon editor in May of 2017.  Her predecessor added two hundred and eighteen new cartoonists in his close to twenty year stint, or approximately eleven new cartoonists a year. His predecessor, Lee Lorenz, added approximately forty-five new cartoonists in his twenty-four years as art/cartoon editor, or approximately 2 a year.

 Noted: a rare co-credited cartoon in the issue: Joe Dator & Dan Yaccarino. For more on the subject of New Yorker cartoon collaboration, go here and here.

Rea Irvin: Mr. Irvin’s classic Talk masthead is still stuck in a drawer somewhere at the New Yorker‘s offices, having been replaced by a redrawn (!?) version in the Spring of last year.  Read more here. Below: what the shelved masthead looks like, lest we forget:

 

 

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

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Price Playbill; Ziegler’s Letterman Appearance; A Couple of Hokinson Dachshunds

A Price Playbill

Without generous donors, the Spill‘s archives would be so much poorer.  Here’s the latest addition: a Playbill with cover art by the great George Price. Stalag 17 premiered at the 48th St. Theatre in May of 1951.  Mr. Price’s work, as a spot artist, premiered in The New Yorker in 1929. In his book, The Art of The New Yorker: 1925-1995, Lee Lorenz, the magazine’s former Art/Cartoon editor (who called Price one of the magazine’s great stylists, along with Helen Hokinson, Peter Arno, William Steig, and James Thurber) described Price’s transition from spot artist to cartoonist:

 After purchasing a few spot drawings from Price, Katharine White invited him in for an interview. She encouraged him to try his hand at cartooning. George was reluctant at first.  He was not an idea person. Mrs. White promised to supply him with gag writers, and on this condition George was persuaded  to begin submitting to the magazine.

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Ziegler’s Letterman Appearance

I’ve linked to this video before, but just happened to see it again last night.  Broadcast June 20, 1983, here’s the late very great Jack Ziegler’s Late Night with David Letterman appearance.  See it here.

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A Couple of Hokinson Dachshunds

I didn’t know that dachshunds were at one time called “liberty hounds” — did you?  Read more  here on Attempted Bloggery about a 1947 Helen Hokinson drawing featuring two of them.

 

 

 

“A Search For Work ‘Funny, Beautiful, and True'”

In its final issue of 1992 the New Yorker published a remarkable piece, “Remembering Mr. Shawn”; thirty-three contributors recalling the late editor of the New Yorker who had passed away earlier in the month (one of them, Edward Koren, provided a drawing). I’ve read and re-read the piece a number of times and always come away with something by one of the contributors I’d missed before. But one recollection stuck from my first reading. Lee Lorenz, who served as Art Editor of the magazine from 1973 through 1997 (his title morphed to Cartoon Editor in the last five years of that span) wrote, in part, of his weekly art meetings with Mr. Shawn:

In a letter he [Shawn] wrote to me after he left the magazine he referred to these meetings as a search for work that was ‘funny, beautiful, and true.’ By “true” he meant not just true in its perception of the human condition but true to each artist’s vision.

I think Mr. Lorenz framed it perfectly.  When I think of “the New Yorker cartoon” as a distinct subset of American cartooning, and why it’s recognized as such, it’s due to the magazine’s long history of supporting its cartoonists and their work.

Of course there is and always has been disagreement over what is funny, and what is beautiful (and lately, more than ever, what is true).  For the four decades I’ve contributed to the New Yorker I’ve heard it said, at times, all along the way, that the cartoons aren’t as funny, or aren’t as good, as they used to be. I heard it said in the late 1970s, when I began contributing, and I hear it today.  Here’s a snippet from an article that popped up in my Google search just the other week:

Is the New Yorker magazine on the skids, or is it my brain that has lost whatever sharpness it may have had? I re-subscribed to the magazine a few months ago, and I seem to have detected a lower quality in its cartoons, which have always been its main attraction for persons of questionable intelligence, such as me.

What quality is, is also, of course, debatable. For every person who finds a particular New Yorker cartoon awful there’s another who finds it a work of genius (want to see for yourself? Go to the comments under any New Yorker cartoon posted on the magazine’s Facebook page).

Overlooked in all this public qualifying of what is funny, beautiful and true is the simple transaction between the artists and their editors: cartoonists do what we do as well as we can do it and send it to the magazine — the editors buy it or they don’t. The beauty of the New Yorker cartoon world is that cartoonists draw what they want. They are not assigned ideas by the editors. This total freedom allows the readership to see the work the cartoonists believe is funny, beautiful and true (i.e., their vision). It’s the not-so-secret formula for the now 93 year old success of the New Yorker cartoon.

Above: The inaugural issue of The New Yorker, cover by Rea Irvin; William Shawn, the magazine’s second editor; Lee Lorenz.  Photograph of Mr. Shawn by James Stevenson.