Roz Chast has the first drawing (p.19). The setting of several folks lined up on a sofa hard up against a wall seems to belong to her. It’s her signature, as much as George Booth’s guy-in-the bathtub scenario is his.
Six pages later a Zach Kanin cozy-under-a-blanket-by-a-fire drawing (coincidentally, the action in the drawing is set on a sofa). The cartoon is anchored by the use of the word “breasts” in the caption. A quick online search shows a modest number of New Yorker breast-related cartoons, with very few actually mentioning breasts in the caption. One that came readily to mind is this classic courtesy of Jack Ziegler from November of 1997.
Nine pages later, a fun Seth Fleishman drawing (captionless, of course. His specialty). Succinct clean lines and ideas. The same could be said for the very next cartoonist: William Haefeli. Unlike Mr. Fleishman, he works with a caption. This particular drawing is textbook Haefeli. Even the inconsequential fruit in the bowl (in the foreground) is rendered as if it is essential to our grasp of the entire piece.
On the very next page is a grand drawing from Charlie Hankin, well-placed on the page. A crime scene by P.C. Vey is on the opposite page. I love how he’s drawn the victim. This compact set of drawings is one of my favorites in quite awhile (the set consisting of Fleishman, Haefeli, Hankin, and Vey).
Five pages later, the second New Yorker drawing from Bishakh Som, who delivers the magazine’s weekly subway drawing. Subway drawings are now certifiably the new crash test dummy drawings. [a second subway drawing, by this cartoonist, appears as this weeks Caption Contest challenge]
Fifteen pages later (following a photo spread) is a colorful and intricate drawing by Peter Kuper. An excellent piece of work. Five pages later, Carolita Johnson takes us to a concert hall. I like that she’s brought us somewhere we typically don’t go much (anymore) in New Yorker cartoons. Ms. Johnson’s handled the scene well, with the audience, drawn in grey, driving our focus to the sniffling quartet. I am curious about the tiny dash and “c” appearing next to her signature:
Three pages later a well-drawn Tom Cheney cartoon (is there any other kind?). NYC apartment seekers who don’t have money to burn will find this drawing especially hilarious. On the very next page, Emily Flake brings us a demographic not often seen in the magazine: senior citizens. It appears the fellow’s had enough and is taking a walk. He can’t be planning on being away very long: he has no coat or jacket, and just one piece of luggage not much bigger than a bowling ball bag.
The last drawing in the issue (not counting those on the Caption Contest page) is by Edward Koren, who will, this May, celebrate his 56th year of contributing his drawings to The New Yorker. No one draws birds like Mr. Koren, and, need I say it (sure, why not) — no one draws like Mr. Koren.
And don’t forget to check out The Cartoon Companion (they usually post at week’s end) for their rated take on all the issue’s cartoons.
— See you next week
ps: Couldn’t help but notice that Rea Irvin’s iconic Talk of the Town masthead is still a-missin’. There’s a substitute in its place. This is what the real deal looks like:
The latest New Yorker is the “Spring Style” issue (it says so right at the top of the Table of Contents). The huge feathered Carol Channing-esque hat on the cover (by Maira Kalman) sets the tone, or theme. There’s a lot of color in this issue (ads, illustrations, and one cartoon) — more so than usual, I think. Makes sense: Spring = color.
Was hoping Rea Irvin’s iconic masthead (below) would be reborn for Spring, but alas. Had it popped up in this issue, it would look exactly like this.
And now off to the cartoons. The first, on page thirty-three, is by Carolita Johnson. For those visiting New York, or living in New York, Ms. Johnson’s titled drawing, Dressing For the Manhattan Climate, will ring true any time of year. Six pages later a Harry Bliss drawing. Mr. Bliss’s single panel cartoons are instantly recognizable — they’re always in a box. I’ll be curious to see how the fellows at the Cartoon Companion dissect this drawing.
Five pages later, Joe Dator brings us a variation of pin the tail on the donkey. For me, Mr. Dator’s drawings belong in that category of cartoonists work that amuses at first sight, even before the caption is read. Four pages later, a Roz Chast drawing that drove me to a dictionary. The drawing is titled Deux Ex Caffeina. I recognized it as a play on deus ex machina — a phrase I know but never bothered (til now) to understand. Here’s how Mirriam -Webster defines it:
The New Latin term deus ex machina is a translation of a Greek phrase and means literally “a god from a machine.” “Machine,” in this case, refers to the crane that held a god over the stage in ancient Greek and Roman drama.
Got it now. Very nice drawing.
Opposite Ms. Chast’s drawing is a P.C. Vey drawing. With a caption that concerns paper shredding and includes the words “incriminating documents” there’s a heavy overtone of criminality. By the way, both Ms. Chast’s drawing and Mr. Vey’s sit well on their respective pages, sized and balanced well off each other.
The next two pages contain two cartoons as well. Mary Lawton’s, with a cat hogging a shaft of late afternoon sun and Paul Noth’s comment on gun control (or lack thereof). Following a few pages later is a drawing by relative-newbie Olivia de Recat with another in her series of word-based cartoons. Time will tell if this is her specialty.
Two pages later a Will McPhail bathroom drawing. I found the terror of the fellow in the tub very funny, but I do wonder why the text, in horror typeface, is within the drawing itself. This is the kind of big cartoon question that keep some of us awake at night.
Opposite Mr. McPhail’s tub terror is Bishakh Som‘s debut in the New Yorker. For those keeping track, Mr. Som is the fourteenth new cartoonist to make their debut since Emma Allen assumed the position of cartoon editor in May of 2017.
Three pages after Mr. Som’s drawing is one by this cartoonist, putting to use perspective I learned in a high school Mechanical Drawing class. Thank you, Mr. Minchin.
Two pages later Ed Steed employs a bit of color in a drawing featuring little identical gentlemen. At first I thought Mr. Steed had joined the cartoon tiny wind-up toy people club (Charles Addams did a lot of those drawings). But closer inspection reveals these tiny folk to be real cartoon people and not toy cartoon people (you can tell they’re not toys because they lack wind-up keys). It being an Ed Steed drawing I don’t suppose it makes any sense to wonder why these dapper miniature men are tiny and identical and appear to have some Snidely Whiplash characteristics (the hats and mustaches). Funny is funny.
Three pages later, an Emily Flake family in crisis drawing, followed thirteen pages later by a Liana Finck drawing. Ms. Finck’s style, like the aforementioned Mr. Dator’s style, is immediately welcoming (and, of course, humorous).
Eight pages later, the last drawing in the issue (not counting the Cartoon Caption Contest drawings) and the newest entry in the New Yorker‘s cartoon subway series. This one is by newbie (though not debut newbie) Sharon Levy. Having never been out west, I needed someone with left coast experience to explain it to me. Okay then.
Note: all of the above cartoons can be seen on the New Yorker‘s website here. Scroll down to Cartoons from the Issue
–See you next week
A Visit to “Jim’s Bench”
The filmmaker Sally Williams recently asked me if I’d like to meet with her at “Jim’s bench” on Central Park West and 77th Street, right across the street from the Museum of Natural History. I couldn’t possibly resist the invitation. Ms. Williams has been working on a documentary about James Stevenson for quite some time now; we’ve had numerous conversations over the years about Mr. Stevenson and, of course, The New Yorker.
Mr. Stevenson is on a long list of New Yorker cartoonists who have lived and worked in New York City (some still do) and whose work reflected their city. I think also of Steinberg and Alan Dunn as cases in point.
Sitting on this bench near where Mr. Stevenson lived I couldn’t help but imagine him experiencing the traffic, the sounds, sights, types of individuals bicycling by, walking by, running by; the dogs and dog-walkers, the flurry of activity at the museum. I could see it all in Stevenson’s style: gracefully casual, with spark. Ms. Williams confirmed that Mr. Stevenson was, like so many cartoonists, a watcher (I once likened cartoonists to sponges. Consciously or subconsciously, we take everything in).
If you find yourself near the Museum of Natural History, you might want to take a seat on Jim’s bench and spend a few moments watching Manhattan go by, Stevenson-style.
The bench is the one closest to the Humboldt Statue. It bears a small plaque:
(I’ve written about Mr. Stevenson here on the Spill a number of times. Here’s one piece which might be of interest).
Cartoon Companion Rates the Latest New Yorker Cartoons
Messrs. Max and Simon are back with thoughts & ratings on work by Frank Cotham, Carolita Johnson, Drew Dernavich, Avi Steinberg, Emily Flake, Roz Chast, Olivia de Recat, Mike Twohy, Bob Eckstein, Edward Koren, and Darrin Bell. Read it here!
Daily Cartoons this week by: Paul Noth, Mary Lawton, Kim Warp, David Sipress, and Lars Kenseth (4/5ths of the drawings were Trumpian).
And the contributing New Yorker cartoonists on Daily Shouts: P.C. Vey, Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell, Liana Finck, Emily Flake, and JAK (with Hartley Lin).
Live New Yorker Cartoons Part VI on Late Night with Seth Meyers
The New Yorker‘s editor, David Remnick returns to Late Night with Seth Meyers in the best segment yet. Cartoons by Carolita Johnson, Charlie Hankin, Will McPhail, Maddie Dai, and Ellis Rosen brought to life. See them here!
Hooray for Hollywood? This week’s cover (artist: Chris Ware) reminds us — not that we need reminding –that Tinsel Town is a troubled town.
Shout out to the Cartier folks for the pretty street lamp that greets you as you open the magazine. Nice also to see the photo of David Bowie (however much I disagree with this current usage of the Goings On About Town opening page, i.e., with a nearly full page photo. It never fails to trick me into thinking I’m seeing an ad).
Speaking of being in disagreement, the stand-in remains in place for Rea Irvin’s iconic design for the Talk Of The Town.
Here’s what the original looks like:
And here’s the stand-in:
Alrighty then, on to the issue’s cartoons.
The very first cartoon is by David Sipress. A somewhat retired theme (torture) returns. Torture rack drawings popped up more ages ago, replaced (if my unscientific memory search is slightly accurate) with another kind of torture: prisoners hanging by handcuffs up on dungeon walls. I feel for the fellow in Mr. Sipress’s drawing who is about to undergo the “procedure.”
Five pages later a couple of “Casablanca”-era Humphrey Bogart-like fellas at the end of a pier, courtesy of Carolita Johnson. As discussed last week (Frank Cotham’s drawing of thugs planning just such a pier push) this is a standard situation a lot of cartoonists are attracted to (including this one). Here’s one more — a personal favorite of mine.
On the very next page, a robot drawing by Navied Mahdavian, whose debut drawing was last week. I recall Zach Kanin bringing robots back into usage a few years ago (or maybe it was Roz Chast…or was it someone else. New Yorker cartoon robot aficionados please advise). In this particular case I was a bit worried that the scientists had their backs to the dancing duo. Perhaps it was this portion of the caption: “They [the robots] don’t appear to want to take over…” [bolded words mine]. Hmmm, if there’s any doubt, any doubt at all as to the robots’ intentions, perhaps it’s best to observe them in an fortified isolation booth or something.
Three pages later a Danny Shanahan drawing. Fun drawing perfectly synced with a wonderful Shanahan-esque caption. If I was awarding ribbons as they do over on the Cartoon Companion, I’d pin one on this drawing (and on the P. C. Vey drawing that we’ll get to in a minute).
Eight pages later, a Roz Chast NYC-centered alien “take us to your leader”-type drawing. I enjoyed examining the screens on the aliens’ chests. Would love to see Chastian aliens in color.
On the very next page (and I should say, very nicely sized and placed on the page) is a terrif Chris Weyant drawing. The caption’s sterling construction reminds me of captions once written by the likes of James Stevenson, Donald Reilly, and Charles Saxon. Applause applause!
Two pages later, a real gem by P.C. Vey. A cave couple. Mr. Vey’s world is such a fun treat (and isn’t that why we love cartoons?). I find it hysterical that:
1. The cave woman looks nothing like a cave woman (her hair’s perfect and she’s wearing a somewhat stylish shift).
2. The cave man is so well-groomed (both hair and beard).
The next two drawings (the first by newbie Pia Guerra, and the next by veteran-newbie Will McPhail) reminded me, in their construction (not style) of ancient friezes:
If you placed a ruler along the base of the feet in each drawing, you’d see that every foot (and one paw) touches the edge of the ruler (with the exception of Ms. Guerra’s wolf’s right paw, and a kicked-up foot on the person to the extreme right of Mr. McPhail’s drawing). There is no reason to note this other than that I don’t recall ever seeing two frieze-like drawings back-to-back before.
Four pages following the second frieze cartoon is a Maggie Dai Atlas drawing that sent me to the search box. Now I know what “leg day” refers to. On the very next page, the instantly recognizable style of Drew Dernavich, who delivers an Oscars drawing.
Three pages later a delightful Barbara Smaller drawing. Nice to see bigger picture work by her. On the very next page, an Ed Steed sports drawing (basketball). Five pages later Paul Noth references fine art. I recall that Roz Chast handled Venus on a cover not too very long ago. My memory is that Addams liked to work with Venus too. Am I wrong, but aren’t bathtubs the preferred bathroom fixture for home births rather than sinks? Of course, it being cartoonland and all, anything’s possible.
Case in point: the last drawing of the issue, by JAK (otherwise known as Jason Adam Katzenstein). We see a card game with a Wolf Blizter-like guy in an open collared rumpled shirt, a well dressed woman (she’s wearing pearls), and a wolf(?) in a tuxedo.
The popped eyes and slack jaw suggest animation as inspiration, like so:
Cover Update: The New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons
If you’ve been following the Spill ‘s coverage of cover art (or lack of) for The New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons (due in October from Black Dog & Leventhal) you might find it interesting that we now have the below image to contemplate: