Exhibit Of Interest: Peter Steiner’s Recent Paintings
Peter Steiner, a person who wears many hats (cartoonist, novelist, teacher, painter) will show recent paintings at the Hotchkiss Library of Sharon in June. All the info here (including an expanded bio).
The cartoonistSeth Fleishman, is, along with John O’Brien, one of The New Yorker‘s few steady practitioners of the captionless cartoon (a far more difficult form, I’ve always believed, than the captioned cartoon). Mr. Fleishman and Mr. O’Brien have done wonders with captionless cartoons in recent times.
When Mr. Fleishman learned of the passing of Nurit Karlin, an earlier master whose entire New Yorker run of cartoons was, by far, captionless, he sent along this photo of himself, sans text.
From Publishers Weekly, “Book Deals: Week of April 29, 2019” — news of a two-book deal for Will McPhail. The first, a graphic novel, “In, The Story of Nick” will be out in 2020. The second, Collected Cartoons, will be just that.
I came away from a recent visit to my favorite (used) book store, Rodgers Book Barn in Hillsdale, New York with the brochure handed out at Brendan Gill’s memorial back in 1998 (see the details of the tribute below). I’m indebted to one of my book store haunting friends,Mark Burns for digging the brochure out of a box of ephemera and placing it right in front of my face (for the record, my other co-haunters wereDanny Shanahan and John Cuneo). Frank Modell’s drawing of an exuberant Brendan Gill was new to me, and an obvious must-have, must-buy.
For more on Mr. Gill, I highly recommend his oft-reprinted Here At The New Yorker (the William Heinemann 1990 edition shown below). And for more on Mr. Modell there’s his collection Stop Trying To Cheer Me Up! as well as James Stevenson’s terrific The Life, Loves and Laughs of Frank Modell.
The above cover does not appear on the New Yorker‘s 94th Anniversary issue; note the date and price. I’ve posted it — the very first New Yorker cover — because sentimental me misses seeing Rea Irvin’s iconic curiously curious Eustace Tilley, dressed in his oddly compelling finery. He hasn’t shown up since 2011 (below)…that seems like such a long time for him to be away. Sometimes it’s good to go back, before, you know, you drift too far from shore (to read about Kadir Nelson’s Tilley-inspired take-off on the cover of the current issue, go here).
It has made my week seeing George Booth’s drawing in the issue (p.47). It’s classic Booth. And no small thing, it inhabits the perfect space on the page — it is where it should be and it looks as it should look. And… it looks great. I could, and will, say the same for Edward Koren’s drawing (p.80).
Two of our cartoon gods delivering the goods, continuing to share their worlds, a half century or more since they began contributing to The New Yorker (Mr. Koren began in 1962, Mr. Booth in 1969).
Of interest to the weedsy cartoon folks: there is not just one caption-less cartoon in the issue — there are three (Seth Fleishman, Will McPhail, and Ed Steed). By caption-less, I should clarify that I mean a cartoon that appears without assistance from words in a box, or a title, or a thought balloon.
Finally, I end as I began: by mentioning the work of The New Yorker artist Rea Irvin. His beautiful masthead — the one that ran for most of the magazine’s 94 years but went missing in the Spring of 2017 (read about it here) is also still out of sight this anniversary week (well, two weeks, as it’s a double issue). It appears here once again, as it always does on Mondays, until someone tells me to cut it out (so to speak) or until it reappears in the magazine (and wouldn’t that be great).
Two weeks in to the new year without a Trump cover! Anna Parini makes her cover debut (it’s titled “A New Leaf”; not for the last time, I wonder why we need titles for the covers.
Viewed online, various elements of the cover are animated. Snow blows, wind blows the woman’s hair and ruffles a few pages of her book. Silhouetted figures walk by in the background. It’s a lovely image but I found myself wondering if people really stand on city streets reading books on cold snowy windy wintry days.
The only image I can readily conjure up that incorporates a similar situation is of holiday carolers holding up their song books as they stand singing on street corners.
I’m at a disadvantage this morning as the digital issue has yet to appear. That means we’ll dispense with counting illustrations as well as even beginning to think about how the cartoons are placed on the pages. A pity. Instead I’m relying on the slideshow of cartoons provided on newyorker.com.
The cartoonists in this issue: David Sipress, Will McPhail, Jason Adam Katzenstein, Pia Guerra, Zach Kanin, Roz Chast, Mike Twohy, P.C. Vey, Tom Cheney, Carolita Johnson, Sophia Warren, Frank Cotham, Trevor Spaulding, Danny Shanahan, Ben Schwartz, Liana Finck, Tom Toro.
Some thoughts on the cartoons:
Graphically, Frank Cotham’s drawing of the soldiers atop a castle tower is quite striking. As one who has studied the castle work of the master, Charles Addams, and as one who has drawn many a castle myself, I was taken by the dramatic angle Mr. Cotham has given us. Bravo!.
Of note is Danny Shanahan’s desert island drawing. It made me think about the resurgence of what once seemed a played-out scenario. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the recent past we’ve seen a number of desert island drawings, all clever as can be, and all proving that anything works in the cartoon universe if it works well. Mr. Shanahan’s works well (and lest we forget, a few years ago he had a cover of…a desert island). Here’s a quick look at some desert island cartoons courtesy of the BBC.
I really enjoyed Liana Finck’s damsel in distress tied to railroad tracks. Ms. Finck’s heavy use of black recalls Charles Barsotti’s expert use of contrast, and more recently, Seth Fleishman’s. I particularly like that she didn’t get involved in a detailed drawing of the tracks. She’s given us what looks like a ladder on the ground, and it works! Best of all: the eye contact she’s captured between the villain and the woman. Excellent.
— Finally, here’s to Rea Irvin’s beautiful missing masthead, replaced in May of 2017. Read about it here, and see it below:
A Charles Addams Birthday Tribute
To celebrate Charles Addams birthday, here’s a lovely piece by Steve Stoliar. My thanks to him for allowing it to appear here.
this day in 1912, Charles Samuel Addams was born in Westfield, New
Jersey – and I think we’re all more than a little better off because of
it. Chas Addams’ delightfully dark cartoons brightened up innumerable
issues of ‘The New Yorker” from 1932 (!) until his death in 1988 – a
more than fifty-five-year run. And, of course, his family of macabre
relatives was the basis for “The Addams Family” TV series and later
films (though the characters had no names before the TV series, which was produced by Groucho’s longtime friend, writer Nat Perrin).
I first met Addams in 1978 – on the same day I first met Dick Cavett
– backstage at the PBS Cavett show, when the subject of the show was
“New Yorker” cartoonists. Addams signed a copy of “Addams and Evil”
that I “happened to have” brought along in the event our paths crossed.
About five years later, when I was living in New York and writing for Cavett at HBO, I spotted Chas striding in my direction up Sixth Avenue. Another path-crossing! I stopped him and asked, “Excuse me – aren’t you Charles Addams?” He smiled and replied, “Yes, but how did you recognize me? Most people think I’m Walter Matthau!” [see photo below] I tossed off some sort of compliment and off we went in our separate directions.
Not long thereafter, I picked up this delightful original ink-and-wash Chas Addams drawing – for a whopping $300 – because some guy with a bunch of vintage original “New Yorker” cartoons was remarrying and his wife didn’t like “all those old cartoons” on their walls. His loss; my gain. I wrote to Addams about the drawing c/o “The New Yorker” and received this lovely note in return. He is missed – but at least we have his prolific outpouring of drawings to remember him by.