Nurit Karlin 1938-2019: “I Used To Doodle, Then Something Would Be There.”

Word has reached us that the New Yorker cartoonist Nurit Karlin has passed away in Israel. Ms. Karlin’s first New Yorker cartoon ran in the issue of March 18, 1974.  At the time she was the only female cartoonist whose work was appearing in the magazine (the last before her was Mary Petty, who passed away in 1976, but whose final contribution to the magazine was in the issue of March 19, 1966). Ms. Karlin was the only female cartoonist in the pages of The New Yorker from April of 1966 through July of 1978 when Roz Chast’s first cartoon was published. Ms. Karlin went on to draw 77 cartoons for the magazine.  Her last was published October 24, 1988.

Above: Nurit Karlin’s first New Yorker drawing.

According to Liza Donnellys Funny Ladies: The New Yorker’s Greatest Women Cartoonists and Their Cartoons, Ms. Karlin, born in Jerusalem…always drew as a child…after a few years of art school (The Bezalel School of Art) she came to the United States in 1964 to study animation [at The School of Visual Arts]tg. She began working for The New York Times in the Book Review and Op-ed sections.

In 2005 she told Ms. Donnelly: “I don’t think I thought of being a cartoonist. I did these things, and The New Yorker never crossed my mind.” She called the magazine, expecting to get an appointment with [Lee] Lorenz [The New Yorker‘s art editor], but was told to drop off her work. “With me, you know, if they hadn’t taken one from the first batch, I wouldn’t have gone back.”  With that first submission, Lorenz asked to see her.  Donnelly asked Karlin how she got her ideas: “If I knew where they came from, I would be the first in line! I used to doodle, then something would be there.”

 Nurit Karlin (on the right) in Tel Aviv, June, 2017 with Liza Donnelly.  Photo by Daniel Kenet

It is quite understandable, as Ms. Donnelly wrote in Funny Ladies, that Karlin’s work was in the “same realm” as Steinberg’s. Both shared the love of the possibilities of the pen line itself. With Ms. Karlin the results were often more resolved with the one-two punch delivery of the single panel cartoon. Showing her roots in animation, she sometimes used a series of drawings to deliver the punch (I’ve always thought of Ms. Karlin on the outskirts of the school of Thurber although I have no idea if she saw her work that way. The one occasion I had to speak with her, many years ago at a Playboy cartoonist function, the subject didn’t come up).

What is certain about her work is that it was firmly in the school of visual art. If you look through her 1978 collection, No Comment, you’ll be hard pressed to find a captioned drawing  — there isn’t one.  She used words in her cartoons, but sparingly, as in the drawing below from the issue of September 4, 1978.









Exhibit of Interest: “Funny Ladies At The New Yorker: Then and Now” at The Society of Illustrators; Fave Photo of the Day: Sam Gross & Bob Eckstein; Case For Pencils Follows-Up on Roz Chast’s Search For a Pen; Profile of Interest: Emma Hunsinger

Exhibit of Interest: “Funny Ladies at The New Yorker: Then and Now” at The Society of Illustrators

Something to look forward to mid-summer! The Society of Illustrators will exhibit a survey of the women cartoonists of The New Yorker, as well as a panel discussion you won’t want to miss,  moderated by the show’s curator, Liza Donnelly.  Some info here, with more to follow. Drawing above by the great Nurit Karlin.


Fave Photo of the Day: the incomparable Sam Gross with the World’s Greatest Snowman Expert, Bob Eckstein, looking over sketches at the New Yorker‘s art department.  My thanks to  The Surreal McCoy for use of her photo.


Case For Pencils Follows-up on Roz Chast’s Search For a Pen

Ms. Chast asked for pen suggestions.  Case For Pencil readers responded.  Read here.


Profile of Interest: Emma Hunsinger

From Wake Forest Magazine, June 14, 2018, “So You Want To Be In The New Yorker?” — this profile of one of the newer New Yorker contributors, Emma Hunsinger (her first cartoon appeared in the issue of November 27, 2017).

 (photo by Peri Hofmann)


The Monday Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue of June 4 & 11, 2018

The Fiction/Childhood Issue? Well that’s what it says, in red and black on the Table of Contents:

First, the paperwork:

See that beautiful masthead just above?  It was drawn and designed by Rea Irvin.  It’s been missing since Spring of last year after appearing in the New Yorker for 92 years. It was replaced last year by a redrawn version (redrawn by Christoph Niemann). Here’s hoping that one day Mr. Irvin’s work will be returned and replace the replacement. If  you wish to read more on the original and the replacement and see their elements compared side-by-side, link here.

From the Dept. of Just Sayin’

There are 22 Illustrations in this week’s issue (that includes photographs, but does not include Tom Bachtell’s wonderful drawings appearing in the Talk of The Town, nor does it include the Spot drawings appearing throughout the issue).  6 of the illustrations are full page.  There are 14 cartoons (none full page).

And now to the issue’s cartoons. Here are the cartoonists whose work appears this week:

As is becoming customary, I’m going to mention just a few cartoons instead of looking at each in the issue. The first, by Robert Leighton, is a particular favorite. I won’t show it, but you can see it here among all the others just published  (just scroll down to the heading “Cartoons from the Issue”). Mr. Leighton, whose classic Escher drawing was profiled here awhile back, has given us a charming and delightful drawing somewhat reminiscent of Frank Modell‘s work with a bit of Nurit Karlin tossed in (I’d link you to Ms. Karlin’s fabulous work, but sad to say that the New Yorker‘s Cartoon Bank site does not seem to have archived it).

Mr. Leighton’s drawing deserves a hearty round of applause.

It was just last week that a co-credited drawing (Kaamran Hafeez and Al Batt) was mentioned here as being somewhat rare, and now the very next week is another co-credited cartoon. This time it’s a drawing by Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell and Ellis Rosen. Suddenly co-credits are not so rare.

As usual, for those who want a critical take on all the cartoons, I’m pointing you to Cartoon Companion.  The site usually posts on Thursdays or Fridays.

Note:  The Monday Tilley Watch will return in two weeks as this current issue is a double.