Amy Hwang On “Asian Babies: Work From Asian New Yorker Cartoonists”

Here’s The New Yorker cartoonist Amy Hwang writing about the current Pearl River Mart Gallery exhibit: “Asian Babies: Work From Asian New Yorker Cartoonists”

When I started drawing cartoons for The New Yorker in 2010, I did not think much of the fact that I was possibly the only cartoonist of Asian* descent contributing at the time. It was hard enough to get into the magazine, so I was mainly focused on staying in it by consistently sending in cartoon batches hoping that more would sell. Eventually, I realized I was an anomaly. Being the only Asian New Yorker cartoonist contributing at that time, I felt pressure to keep producing cartoons as if I was an endangered species.

My cartoons are not explicitly “Asian” in topic or style, and without seeing my surname at the bottom corner of my drawings, most people probably wouldn’t think that I am Asian-American at all. I decided from the beginning to sign my cartoons legibly with my full name so that anyone seeing them would surmise that I was both female and Asian, both of which are underrepresented groups among cartoonists. I did this in hopes that there might be some recognition of that fact even if it was subconscious. I also did this so my friends wouldn’t ask me which cartoons were mine. But they still did.

Asian Babies
Jeremy Nguyen, Christine Mi, Amy Hwang, Suerynn Lee, and Joanne Kwong (President of Pearl River Mart) are shown L to R.

Nearly ten years later, there are now several New Yorker cartoonists of Asian descent currently contributing to the magazine. Many, like myself, are based in the United States: Colin Tom, Jeremy Nguyen, Christine Mi, Suerynn Lee, and Evan Lian. Alice Cheng and Hartley Lin are in Canada, and Maddie Dai is a Kiwi living in England. All of them seem young to me. Or rather, I feel old next to them. But I am still caught off guard when any of them will mention my work as if it has been around forever. The passage of time is funny that way. I was well into adulthood when my first cartoon was printed in the magazine, but many of them were practically kids.

Jeremy Nguyen approached me a little over a year ago to curate Asian Babies with him. He had the idea to have a group show featuring New Yorker cartoonists of Asian descent, and the Pearl River Mart Gallery was the perfect venue for our small group. The exhibition developed organically. When we started planning, we had about five cartoonists. In late 2018 and into 2019, four more had their first cartoons printed in The New Yorker, so we added them. There is no way of knowing if we included every cartoonist of Asian descent in the show, but we tried our best by looking at everyone’s surnames which certainly isn’t 100 percent foolproof.

Jeremy Nguyen, Nicolette Leung Renz (granddaughter of Monroe Leung – with her baby), Amy Hwang are shown L to R.

One month before the show was slated to open, Jeremy came across the name Monroe Leung. He was listed with other cartoonists who had had only one cartoon published in The New Yorker. His cartoon was published in 1949. Jeremy was able to contact Monroe’s daughter Corinne Leung Katow with the help of cartoonist Michael Maslin, and we secured permission to include Monroe’s New Yorker cartoon and other works of his in our show. I think people will be as surprised as we were when they discover his works among the others. In my view, he was years ahead of his time.

©Monroe Leung, The Sun

Monroe passed away in 2004, several years before my first cartoon was printed in The New Yorker. And while he may have been the only New Yorker cartoonist of Asian descent in his lifetime, I take comfort in knowing he is no longer alone today.

*Asian in this article refers to East Asian and Southeast Asian

— By Amy Hwang

Asian Babies: Works from Asian New Yorker Artists
Pearl River Mart Gallery
395 Broadway, NYC
Open every day, 10 a.m. to 7:20 p.m. Free and open to the public.

Note: this piece originally appeared on a commercial site. It appears here through the kind permission of Ms. Hwang.

 

Photos & Video Of Interest: The Asian Babies Exhibit; Attempted Bloggery: A Saxon Drawing Done In By A Fact-Check?

Below, photos from Friday’s celebratory party for the up and running exhibit, Asian Babies: Works From Asian New Yorker Cartoonists at Pearl River Mart.  The exhibit runs til January 12, 2020.

     

Above, left to right: New Yorker cartoonists Jeremy Nguyen, Christine Mi, Amy Hwang, Suerynn Lee, and President of Pearl River Mart, Joanne Kwong.  Ms. Hwang and Mr. Nguyen co-curated  the exhibit.

 

Emma Allen, the magazine’s cartoon editor was in attendance as well as these New Yorker cartoonists: Johnny Dinapoli, Tim Hamilton, Maggie Jane Larson, Sofia Warren, Ellis Rosen, Joe Dator, and David Ostow.  Also there: Nicolette Leung Renz, granddaughter of New Yorker cartoonist Monroe Leung*

And There’s Video!… NY1 covered the opening. Here’s a link to the video piece.

*The Spill‘s A-Z entry for Mr. Leung:

Monroe Leung New Yorker work: one drawing, January 22, 1949.  Born, 1915, Los Angeles, California.  Died 2004, Los Angeles. According to his daughter, Mr. Leung was one of the first published Chinese American cartoonists. Mr. Leung served in WWII in the 360th Army Air Force Band (as a drummer) and assigned to the 18th Army Air Force Base Unit, the First Motion Picture Unit in Hollywood to draw cartoons for the Air Force. He went on to a profession of architectural rendering (in watercolor) for several advertising companies in Los Angeles. Mr. Leung’s method for submitting cartoons: “As soon as I draw up a few cartoons, I show my dear wife, Rosie. If she laughs, I send them to the magazines. If she thinks they’re lousy, I send them anyway.” (all information as well as the photo courtesy of Mr. Leung’s daughter).

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Attempted Bloggery: A Saxon Drawing Killed By A Fact-Check?

Did a Syd Hoff drawing do in this Saxon drawing? Read Attempted Bloggery for more

Interviews Of Interest: Amy Hwang, Jeremy Nguyen; Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon

Interviews Of Interest

Here are three interviews: from Jane Mattimoe’s Case For Pencils, a duo interview with Amy Hwang and Jeremy Nguyen;  from Pearl River Mart a solo interview with Ms. Hwang, and a solo interview with Mr. Nguyen. Their work appears in an upcoming exhibit, Asian Babies, which they co-curated.

Ms Hwang began contributing to The New Yorker in 2010.  Visit her website here.

Mr. Nguyen began contributing to The New Yorker in 2017. Visit his website here.

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Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon

Brendan Loper on Bop It!/Gop It! politics.

Mr. Loper began contributing to The New Yorker in 2016.

The Weekend Spill: Exhibit Of Interest “Asian Babies: Works From Asian New Yorker Cartoonists”; The Tilley Watch Online, Sept. 2-6, 2019; Profile Of Interest: Roz Chast

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Asian Babies: Works From Asian New Yorker Cartoonists

A must-see exhibit curated by Jeremy Nguyen and Amy Hwang.  All the info above!

Alice Cheng began contributing to The New Yorker in 2017; Maddie Dai in 2017; Amy Hwang in 2010; Suerynn Lee in 2019; Evan Lian in 2019; Hartley Lin in 2019; Christine Mi in 2018; Jeremy Nguyen in 2017, and Colin Tom in 2015.

You can see work by all of the above artists here on The New Yorker‘s Cartoon Bank site.

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The Tilley Watch Online, September 2-6, 2019

 

A gathering of the New Yorker cartoonists whose work appeared this week on The Daily Cartoon and/or  Daily Shouts.

Daily Cartoon: John Cuneo (a Bonus Daily), Ali Solomon, Tim Hamilton, J.A.K., and Jon Adams.

Daily Shouts: Avi Steinberg (with Irving Ruan).

…and Barry Blitt’s Kvetchbook

See all of the above and more here.

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Profile of Interest: Roz Chast

From Hamilton College, September 6, 2019, “Drawing On Fidgety Brilliance” — a short profile of Roz Chast.

Ms. Chast began contributing to The New Yorker in 1978. Visit her website here.