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.
Last week in this spot I noted and silently wondered about the latest issue of The New Yorker (dated October 29) barely touching on Halloween (other than a witches and broomstick drawing by Seth Fleishman). This week’s issue, dated November 5, solves the mystery with its trick-or-treating Trumpian cover. I think we’ve now seen enough of him on the cover to expect a New Yorker Book of Trump Covers. I believe his first appearance was on the double issue of Dec. 28, 1992/Jan. 4, 1993. Artist: Robert Risko.
New Yorker history aficionados will note that what’s inside that issue (produced during Tina Brown’s era as editor) is of great interest: a lengthy piece, “Remembering Mr. Shawn: friends and colleagues recall the years with Shawn” — it’s essential reading, and includes photographs of Shawn taken by James Stevenson.
Sidenote: the 1992/1993 issue contains the work of 35 cartoonists It also contains an Artist’s Notebook by Benoit van Innes (full page, color), An Artist At Large spread by Philip Burke (4 1/4 pages, color), another Artist At Large, with Ronald Searle (a full page), an Artist’s Sketchbook by Gerald Scarfe (3 1/2 pages, color), a full page cartoon by Roz Chast and a color column by Danny Shanahan. Most of the single panel cartoons were placed in a space greater than a quarter page, with many running a half-page. There are 22 illustrations, with three full page. One of the things you’ll hear from colleagues who worked at The New Yorker during Tina Brown’s era (I was one of them) was that she knew how to throw a great party (and she did). I’d like to expand that to: …and she knew how to throw a great graphic party.
And now back to the future…
This new issue contains the work of 11 cartoonists (a bump up from last week’s ten) and 21 illustrations ( 6 1/2 pages of those are full pages). Of the 11 cartoons, one, by the wonderful Victoria Roberts, could be said to be nearly exclusively a Halloween drawing. There is another drawing — it features a ghost — but as it’s a telling scary stories around a campfire scenario, it could’ve been published at other times during the year.
For the record, here are the contributing cartoonists in this issue:
I believe — but could well be mistaken — that the last on the list, Sarah Ransohoff, is making her New Yorker cartoonist debut in this issue. People who know better: please advise if this is incorrect. If this is correct, then Ms. Ransohoff is the 7th new cartoonist this year and the 19th cartoonist overall to be brought in under the cartoon editorship of Emma Allen since she took over in May of 2017.
Adriane Tomine returns with a cover steeped in dreams. Read about it here. The cover appears related, in color palette and style, to last week’s cover, by Chris Ware. They even share a large circular object hovering along the right side of the frame (Mr. Ware’s is a tree, Mr. Tomine’s a logo).
Two pieces of good news. There are 18 cartoons in the issue. We haven’t seen this many in an issue since May 14th, when there were 19. Perhaps the surge to 18 is a result of this being the “Entertainment Issue” –or maybe it’s just one of those things.
The other piece of good news is that many of the cartoons — more so than in any issue in recent memory — are given a lot of breathing room on the page. P.C. Vey’s cartoon is a good example, as is Zach Kanin’s, Seth Fleishman’s, Tom Chitty’s, and Barbara Smaller’s. Most of the other cartoons also seem to occupy more space than has been the case; just a few seem squeezed in.
If the Spill was in the business of handing out blue ribbons like they do over on the Cartoon Companion, one would be pinned on Bruce Eric Kaplan’s drawing (p. 61). Also of note: Lars Kenseth’s log flume ride drawing (p.78).
Kadir Nelson‘s cover (a tribute to Aretha Franklin) was posted last week. Not mentioned here at the time (but noted on the New Yorker‘s Table of Contents): the image was inspired by Charles W. White’s Folksinger.
The new issue’s “Fall Preview” accounts for the abundance of arts ads and illustrations.
Now we’re talkin’: sixteen cartoons in this issue vs last week’s nine. A number of the sixteen cartoons stand out for various reasons. Two of them (I won’t single them out) are beyond me. Not long ago I would’ve emailed Jack Ziegler to explain them to me. It was always comforting when Jack didn’t understand a drawing either. Often he’d respond with a variation of, “I don’t know what the hell it means.”
Now for some others that stood out (these I understand): Seth Fleishman‘s mirror ball drawing cements his reputation as the New Yorker‘s mirror ball guy. Funny drawing. Also very funny: Joe Dator‘s “hunny” sniffing Pooh airport scenario. And then there’s David Borchart‘s sea-faring koala drawing. Oh my my my. I mentioned Jack Ziegler before. I think Jack would’ve loved these drawings — they’re wonderfully in his ballpark of way-out-there. A Spill round of applause.
A thought here about the placement of every cartoon in the issue: none seemed pressed for space, in need of breathing room. Victoria Roberts‘ doctor’s office drawing (p.69) and Ellis Rosen‘s (p.42) are good examples. The reader can really enjoy the fine drawing going on in these pieces (and in others).
This issue includes the debut New Yorker cartoon by Caitlin Cass. Ms. Cass is the seventeenth new cartoonist brought in since cartoon editor, Emma Allen was appointed in the Spring of 2017. Ms. Cass’s style — mostly the way she handles faces — reminds me of a New Yorker cover artist from the Golden Age: Christina Malman. Oddly enough, while looking through Ms. Malman’s twenty-four covers for the magazine I came across one (shown below) thematically linked to Ms. Cass’s drawing of children looking at art in a museum.
A final thought before Rea Irvin’s classic missing masthead shows up at the end of this post: I’m wondering if Emma Hunsinger‘s funny caption for her drawing on page 77 would’ve also worked if the word “aren’t” was “are”…and if that’s so — if it’s so — how often it happens in cartoon captions that a word completely flipped can still work with the drawing. In this case, substituting “are” for “aren’t” would radically change the intent. Ms. Hunsinger’s use of the word “aren’t” suggests the parents are concerned their child’s behavior is unusual. By using “are” the parents would instead be hopeful that their child’s behavior might make for a viral video.
For the record, here is the list of cartoonists in this issue: