Jack Ziegler has been sharing his unusual cartoon world with us in the pages of the New Yorker for close to 40 years. I recently asked him about his current drawing in the magazine.
MM: Your cartoon in this week’s issue of the man sitting on the edge of his bed watching toast, eggs, and bacon rise over the horizon sent me off to the New Yorker’s Cartoon Bank to search for “toast” – and guess what? Of the 59 cartoons that came up, the largest percentage of them are yours (Peter Mueller is, I think, second runner-up). This probably explains why, when I think of toast and/or toasters, I think “Jack Ziegler” (the same goes for hamburgers, but that’s for another post on another day). What is it about breakfast foods that keeps you coming back to them (for work, I mean)?
JZ: I’ve done a lot of toast cartoons over the years, many of which found their way into the NYer. Toast is inherently funny – white toast, basically – it’s the ultimate of bland. Not rye, whole wheat, pumpernickel, def. not english muffins. The current cartoon, however, is all about the eggs – sunnyside up. The toast & bacon are there to make the cartoon more readable & logical. Breakfast alone isn’t funny, whereas lunch is. Dinner/supper not funny at all.
MM: Are bacon, eggs, and toast funnier than lunch and dinner foods? Which is funnier: toast, eggs or bacon? Is orange juice funny?
JZ: See #1 above. Orange juice? Not funny. Tasty & a great way to start the day.
MM: This recent drawing of toast, eggs, and bacon rising like the morning sun — you referred to it as “sunnysideuprise” in an earlier email to me — I don’t suppose you recall how the idea came to you?
JZ: It was probably just a doodle of a guy getting up, staring out the window, trying to figure out what the day has in store. When I doodle, I just keep adding stuff & sometimes I like what I see. Most doodles, however, wind up in the trash. Or – sometimes I’ll hold onto one because I like something about the drawing & know there’s eventually going to be something there.
MM: I love the monumental toaster drawings you’ve done. Do you have a toaster? If so, has it inspired you? If so, how?
JZ: I do have a toaster which I haven’t used in over 3 years now. It’s there basically for toast-lovin’ guests. No inspiration there. When I was a kid, we used to have a toaster like the ones I draw & that’s always my reference. I like the way a lot of older stuff looks. Older antenna’d TVs are more fun to look at (in a drawing) than the giant flat screens of today. I also gravitate towards older parking meters, fire hydrants, cars. I used to do lots of public phone booths also, but kids these days probably wouldn’t know what they were. Hey, what can I say? I’m an old fart.
MM: May I ask what you had for breakfast this morning?
JZ: Raisin bran – but only because I ran out of blueberries to put in my corn flakes, which I much prefer. I only do bacon & eggs on the weekend – & that in a restaurant where someone else can clean up the mess. Oh, and toast.