The American Bystander’s Michael Gerber Wants To Save MAD Magazine; Bob Eckstein’s NY Daily News MAD Op-Ed; MAD Cartoonists Vs. New Yorker Cartoonists; Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon; Gil Roth Interviews Karl Stevens; 5 Questions: Rich Sparks

The American Bystander’s Michael Gerber, Wants To Save MAD Magazine

 Michael Gerber, the man behind the curtain at American Bystander, is proposing to rescue MAD Magazine.  Below: two Tweets from Mr. Gerber sent out yesterday:

 

 The New York Times called  The American Bystander “…an essential read for comedy nerds”.   Anyone who loves comic art and writing will cheer on Mr. Gerber’s effort  to rescue MAD.

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Bob Eckstein’s N.Y. Daily News MAD Op-Ed

New Yorker cartoonist Bob Eckstein weighs in, via a New York Daily News Op-Ed, on MAD Magazine.  Mr. Eckstein began contributing to The New Yorker in  2007. Visit his website here.

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MAD Cartoonists Vs. New Yorker Cartoonists

Bittersweet.  This on Comic-Con International’s 2019 schedule:

In one corner, the New Yorker magazine, top of the cartoon heap, king of the single-panel, and undisputed peak of the artform. In the other corner, MAD magazine, the magazine most humorists cite as their biggest influence. Which magazine is the better patron saint of cartoonists? Who has funnier cartoons? And, most important, who would win in a fight between Eustace Tilley, the fop from the NY’er, and Alfred E. Neuman, the MAD magazine mascot? Distinguished panelists from both magazines duke it out in a free-for-all discussion. May the funniest one win.

All the info here.

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Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon

  Chris Weyant’s gives us sunblock on wheels.  Mr Weyant began contributing to The New Yorker  in 1998. Visit his website here.

 

 

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Gil Roth Interviews Karl Stevens 

Gil Roth adds Karl Stevens to his remarkable list of interviewees (including a goodly number of comics and cartoonists).  Mr. Stevens began contributing to The New Yorker this year.

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5 Questions: Rich Sparks

From Esthetic Lens, July 4, 2019, “5 Questions: Cartoonist Rich Sparks”— like it sez.

Mr. Sparks began contributing to The New Yorker in 2016.  His book, Love and Other Weird Things is out the last day of the year. Visit his website here.

 

Today’s Daily Cartoonist: Barry Blitt; Where Else Are They Now?; Today’s Daily Shoutist: Julia Wertz

Today’s Daily Cartoonist/Cartoon

A Trumpian intervention, Blitt-style. Barry Blitt has contributed to The New Yorker since 1992.  Visit his website here

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Where Else Are They Now?

Looking at a Weekly Humorist post this morning it occurred to me I was seeing a good number of New Yorker cartoonists represented.  With the stable of cartoonists at The New Yorker on the verge of a record-setting year, population-wise (once a stable of approximately 40 regular cartoonists, there are now, according to the magazine’s cartoon editor, Emma Allen, about 100) the number of cartoons bought per week remains at the mid-teen level (slightly more or slightly less). 

Let’s just play with made-up numbers for a moment to give you an idea of the odds these days for those submitting their work. Let’s just say each of those 100 cartoonists submits 10 cartoon ideas a week.  That’s 1000 cartoons. 1000 cartoons vying for the 15 (or so) weekly golden tickets (i.e., the bought cartoon, or in New Yorker cartoonist parlance, the O.K.). That leaves approximately 985 rejected cartoons with almost no place to go. And remember: that’s just one week’s worth of rejected work.  Most cartoonists send in a “batch” weekly, every week of the year there is an art meeting.

Supply has always well exceeded demand at The New Yorker, but with a more than doubled regular supply, things become more complicated for those submitting.  As has been the case for decades, cartoonists sell to other print magazines that are cartoon-friendly, but those avenues are few, as are the number of cartoonists used per issue (see Playboy, and Esquire).  There are at least three places where one can find a healthy population of work by New Yorker artists.  A semi-highly unscientific survey indicates that most New Yorker cartoonists (who flock anywhere) flock to these publications. 

Funny Times

The current issue includes these New Yorker artists: Darrin Bell, Harry Bliss, J.C. Duffy, Martha Gradisher, Peter Kuper, Mary Lawton, Carol Lay, P.S. Mueller, Drew Panckeri, Rina Piccolo, Ward Sutton, Tom Tomorrow, Chris Weyant, and Shannon Wheeler.

 The American Bystander

Issue #10) includes these New Yorker artists: George Booth, M.K. Brown, John Cuneo, Ivan Ehlers, Emily Flake, Drew Friedman, Sam Gross, Lars Kenseth, Ken Krimstein, Peter Kuper, Sara Lautman, Jeremy Nguyen, Rich Sparks, Tom Toro, and the late Charles Barsotti. 

 The Weekly Humorist.

Scroll down and you’ll find work by these New Yorker artists: Ellis Rosen, Peter Kuper, Bob Eckstein, Ivan Ehlers, Drew Panckeri, Evan Lian, Joseph Dottino, Lars Kenseth, Jason Chatfield, Rich Sparks, Ali Soloman, Eugenia Viti, Pat Byrnes, J.C. Duffy, and David Ostow (among others).

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Today’s Daily Shoutist: Julia Wertz

“Conversations With Ma: Prenatal Vitamins And Owl Pellets”

Julia Wertz has been contributing to The New Yorker since 2015.

TedxYale Talk Of Interest: Amy Hwang; NY Comics And Picture-Story Symposium Of Interest: American Bystander; Today’s Daily Cartoonist: Lila Ash; Today’s Daily Shouts…By Sophia Warren

Amy Hwang To Speak At TedxYale Tomorrow

Amy Hwang, who began contributing to The New Yorker in 2010, will speak at TedxYale tomorrow.  All the info here (scroll down for Ms. Hwang’s info).

Link here to Ms. Hwang’s website.

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American Bystander Panel at The New York Comics and Picture-Story Symposium

The American Bystander‘s Publisher, Michael Gerber tells the Spill that his panel will include, among others, the following artists:  Drew Friedman, Sam Gross, Emily Flake, and Stephen Kroninger.

All the info here.

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Today’s Daily Cartoonist/ Cartoon

A Coachella-centric drawing by Lila Ash. Ms. Ash began contributing to The New Yorker in December of 2018. Visit her website here.

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Today’s Daily Shouts

Love & art supplies via Sophia Warren.  Ms. Warren began contributing to The New Yorker in November of 2017. Visit her website here

Publication Of Interest: American Bystander #9

The American Bystander has become home away from home for numerous New Yorker artists, past and present. In the AB #9, just arrived in today’s mail (cover by Rick Geary) you will find more work by Eustace Tilley contributors than you can shake a Micron pen at. In this issue: Lila Ash, Charles Barsotti, George Booth, M.K. Brown, Roz Chast, Tom Chitty, Joe Ciardiello, Olivia de Recat, Nick Downes, Bob Eckstein, Emily Flake, Drew Friedman, Sam Gross, Tom Hachtman, Kaamran Hafeez, John Jonik, Ken Krimstein, Peter Kuper, Sara Lautman, P.S. Mueller, David Ostow, Ellis Rosen, Rich Sparks, Tom Toro, P.C. Vey, Shannon Wheeler, and Jack Ziegler.

For more info on American Bystander, including how to subscribe, go here.

Checking In: Lars Kenseth Talks About “Deodorant People” and His First New Yorker Cartoon

I won’t lie to you Spill visitors, the first time I saw a Lars Kenseth drawing in the New Yorker, I was both baffled and intrigued. No one draws like Mr. Kenseth. He is one of the newest of the newest wave of cartoonists who have broken into and onto the pages of Harold Ross’s now 92 year old weekly. Mr. Kenseth’s first drawing appeared last Fall and those that have followed have not lost their peculiarity. That’s a good thing.

Happily, I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Kenseth this past Spring when he was east.  Meeting him was in a weird way like meeting his cartoon world; cartoonists who seem like their worlds fascinate me (two of the New Yorker cartoonists he mentioned in our discussion qualify as perfect examples: Sam Gross and Charles Addams). 

With the recent publication of another Kenseth cartoon in the New Yorker it seemed like a good time to check in with him…

Michael MaslinAccording to your website bio you are a very very busy cartoonist.  So, what are you up to these days? 
 
Lars Kenseth: The project that’s giving me the most stress dreams right now is an animated show I created for Adult Swim called Chuck Deuce. It’s about this sketchy, burnout surfer from Santa Cruz who is terrorized by a bevy of weird, pervasive hallucinations. We did a pilot and it’s about to go into “testing” which means they’re going to screen it for a roomful of people in Union, New Jersey who will then decide if I should be on the TV. Fingers crossed.
 
At the same time, I’m trying to sell four other TV projects and a movie. The thing about Hollywood is… nothing is real. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told something is a sure thing only to see it fall apart. Which is why I’m always working on new material. The upside is I’m usually employed. The downside is I’m more panic attack than man. But that’s just great cartoon material.
 
On the cartoon side, I’m doing my batches every week and trying to get better. And I’m investigating other outlets to sell to — the rejects. They just hang around the house all day doing nothing. Meanwhile I’m out there busting my butt. I’ll tell ya…
 
I’ve also started writing short comedy pieces, a la Shouts & Murmurs. I’ve always loved short form stuff like that. I’m a HUGE Jack Handey fan. Anyway, it’s something I’ve always wanted to try. And I just sold one to The American Bystander! That was exciting. I love that magazine.
 
MM: You’re a west coaster, and you’re also involved in television.  Do you ever interact with other west coast New Yorker cartoonist / television colleagues such as Alex Gregory,  Bruce Kaplan, and Zach Kanin?
 
LK: I haven’t met Alex or Bruce yet. Although I would love to, I’m a giant fan of them both. I’ve met Zach Kanin once – very nice guy and also insanely busy out here. And I know Sam Marlow’s out here, too – I need to reach out to him. Sam, if you’re reading this, drop me a line.
 
Matt Diffee and I are great friends and we see each other often. We are both members of The Order Of Cornelius (the NCS – L.A. Chapter) where we do secret handshakes and wear plaid and talk about cartoons. It’s fun! Matt was a huge help as I was shaping my drawing style.
 
MMYou have one of the most unusual styles of all contemporary New Yorker cartoonists. Can you talk about your style.
 
LK: Can I just say, I LOVE hearing people try to describe the characters I draw. I’ve heard everything from deodorant roll-on people to egg people to blobs to Weebles to gel caps to jellybeans to lozenges – it’s like the way every clan of survivors in The Walking Dead has a different name for “zombies”.
 
Ever since I was a kid I’d always drawn friendly looking characters, it’s what I like to do, but when I started working in TV animation that clean, big eyed look really snaked more and more into my drawings – because if I wanted to sell an animated show it would have to look like what’s on TV. When I finally got the courage to start submitting to The New Yorker, I knew I had to switch up my style. Matt Diffee put me through a kind of cartoon boot camp – feeding me different reference material. Weird Iranian cartoons, 18th century French doodles, etc. I just took it all in and started grinding away on a new style. I started drawing these strange little characters – my lumpy guys, I called them. They were squat, blobby characters with long pointy noses, bags under their eyes and I was using a rough, glitchy line quality. I thought I found something kind of interesting.
 
Eventually I flew out to New York to meet Bob [Mankoff, the New Yorker’s cartoon editor from August 1996 – April of 2017], introduce myself and get some face-to-face feedback on my stuff. Bob liked my jokes, but he HATED my style. It was the pointy noses that really did it.
“You need to get rid of that…” he searched for a descriptor, “aviary proboscis.” I’ll never forget that – so funny. And such a Bob Mankoff thing to say. Bob was sympathetic, “I’m sure you’ve been drawing this way your whole life.” I laughed, “More like three weeks.” 
I left that initial meeting unsure of where I stood. All I knew was my style wasn’t there yet. To quote Peter Arno, “Well, back to the old drawing board.”
 
When I got back to L.A. I took a hard look at my cartoons. The thing that I realized was these characters I was drawing weren’t me. They were mean and tired looking. It didn’t fit with my jokes or my personality. What I did like was the line quality. So I kept that. But from there I went friendlier, softer and pulled back on all the extremes. And that was that. After a month I’d rehabilitated my style to something that, thankfully, has found favor at the magazine… or at least enough favor to get the occasional OK. And I love it.
 
MMI think you may have made New Yorker cartoon history by including the words “New Yorker Cartoon” within the cartoon itself, and (unless I’m wrong), it was your first New Yorker cartoon.  Can you talk about that cartoon, and about that “first” moment?  Every cartoonist remembers that moment of the first OK.  Can you share your memory? 
 
LK: What a delightful shock that was, haha. I still have to pinch myself sometimes. As far as that first cartoon goes – I can’t believe I even sold that one. The whole “creepy clown” phenomenon was so odd – and not “New Yorker” at all. But, it’s a therapist’s office scene, so that’s the tether I suppose. It’s fitting that was my first one because some of my favorite New Yorker cartoons marry the surreal with the everyday. I’m reminded of that Charles Addams cartoon where a security guard locks eyes with a minotaur in the center of a labyrinthine museum. I need to sell a minotaur cartoon.
 
I got the OK on a Friday in late October of last year. I was eating fancy burgers in this Hollywood gastropub with a friend of mine. We were wrapping up dinner and about to walk over to The Wiltern to see a heavy metal concert. I was at the urinal checking my phone – because I’m classy – and saw I got an e-mail from Bob. And there it was in the subject line, “OK”. Everything after that is a blur – really hope I zipped up before I ran out of the bathroom to tell my buddy and call my wife and parents. My mom never swears but when I told her she was talking to a New Yorker cartoonist, she came close, “Shut the front door!!” 
For a kid whose father started feeding him Charles Addams and Sam Gross cartoons at a frightfully young age, this was a landmark moment.
 
Note: I asked Mr. Kenseth if he wouldn’t mind drawing a deodorant guy for the Spill.  He happily obliged and sent what he called “a little self portrait” — it appears at the very top of the post.