It makes sense that the shelves of the cartoon library of two New Yorker cartoonists would be sagging under the weight of New Yorker cartoon collections. But a large fragment of what makes up our cartoon library has little to do with New Yorker cartoons and a lot to do with work that initially inspired us, and with newer work that continues to inspire.
Pictured above is a condensed collection — a mini-library — of non-New Yorker books that I keep near my office (my wife has her own mini-library in her office). There’re a lot of books devoted to Superman and Batman, and that’s exactly how it should be. Those were my earliest influences along with a few Sunday Funnies, such as Blondie and Dick Tracy. And then, of course, there was Mad (I’m especially fond of Mad Cover To Cover).
The two Smithsonian collections pictured (Comic-Book Comics and Newspaper Comics) are essential cartoon library books. The R. Crumb books are there because his work acted as bridge connecting the years I devoted to comic books with my earliest days of discovering New Yorker cartoonists (Crumb himself began contributing to The New Yorker in the 1990s and then stopped contributing due to…well, let’s leave that for another post).
There’re a number of books devoted to graphic novels. I had the graphic novel fever for a while. The Marx Brothers Scrapbook in the photo sits next to Monty Python Speaks! Neither are cartoon collections, but it’s fitting that they are represented. Their work was and is as graphically inspiring as any of the others on the shelves.
A handful of New Yorker contributors books are part of this mini-library (Crumb, for instance, as well as Edward Sorel, Ward Sutton, Daniel Clowes, and Seth), but these books are from their other fields of interest.
The eagle-eyed will spot an actual New Yorker collection. It makes no sense that it’s there and I can only think it has to do with its origin — it’s a French collection.