The Monday Tilley Watch (Part 1)

Double issues (as we’ve just experienced) have a way of creating the impression it’s been ages since the last new issue. So, yay, finally: the late August New Yorker (dated, for the record:  August 21, 2017). There are a lot of cartoons in this issue, so the Monday Tilley Watch will be broken up into two parts. I’ll post the second half in a few days…possibly tomorrow (a Tuesday Tilley Watch?)

The cover, by Adrian Tomine, is certainly summery (and a sort of summary of some summers). 

Skipping through the front of the magazine (this is, after all, a look at the drawings in the issue) I pause to note that Rea Irvin’s classic Talk of the Town masthead is still on holiday (wishful thinking that it might’ve returned!).  Now on to the cartoons:

The first, Mr. Tator Tot, is descended from the world of Mr. Potato Head and is pure Danny Shanahan.  I can see these being sold in nice little packages wherever toys are sold (with a warning that they should be kept out of the hands of small children).  As a side note, when Mr. Shanahan was discussing this drawing with me not long ago we went off into a brief recounting of the various potato-related drawings we’d both done.  Someone should do a New Yorker book of potato cartoons.  The next drawing (I’ll shorthand it as “hip disease”)  is by Jason Adam Katzenstein, who is closing in on his third anniversary of appearing in The New Yorker. I’m a big fan of doctor office drawings. The eye chart in this one really caught my…eye (sorry). I’d say someone should do a book of New Yorker doctor cartoons, but it’s been done, and done well. 

A few pages later we come to a summertime baseball in the park drawing by yours truly. For those who keep track of things, this is my second major appliance-related drawing in the magazine (there was at least one cartoon of mine featuring a small appliance (a blender) back in the 1980s).  Seven pages later we come to a Tom Toro desert island drawing (Mr. Toro was profiled here on the Spill not long ago, talking about his new book Tiny Hands, among other things). The desert island fellow, judging by his look, has somehow managed to survive on the island for a very long time. Good for you, island guy. I’m a little worried about the cruise ship being so close to shore, but then remind myself that this is a cartoon. (fyi: Mr. Toro’s been contributing to The New Yorker since 2010).  Next up is a drawing by newish-comer, Kate Curtis (she’s been contributing to the magazine for about a year-and-a-half).  I love set piece cartoons (folks sitting at a dining room table or a kitchen table, people in bed or sitting on living room sofas, etc.). Challenging, and so much fun when they work out well, as this one has. Several pages later is another newcomer, Maddie Dai (Her first New Yorker cartoon appeared this past June).  A hopscotch drawing! We don’t see many of those.  This one has a Charles Addams-ish flavor to it.  And speaking of Mr. Addams, who did a number of wonderful gingerbread house drawings in his time, our next drawing, by Liana Finck, is of a house made of kale.  Worth noting here: as has been the case for at least the past five issues of the magazine, the placement and sizing of most drawings has been splendid. (Ms. Finck’s first cartoon appeared in The New Yorker, February 2013). The next drawing, by Sara Lautman (first cartoon in The New Yorker: March, 2016) is a blast of color…and madras (!) — making for an exciting visual. A few pages later, and again, well-placed and sized, is an Ed Steed cartoon. Love the child-like house on the horizon. Mr. Steed’s first appearance in the magazine: March 2013. There’s a Sketchbook by Will McPhail a few pages following Mr. Steed’s drawing.  The use of the Sketchbook — and I could be very wrong — goes back to the Tina Brown era. Next up is a drawing by Emily Flake (like Mr. Toro, she was the subject of a piece on The Spill not long ago). Ms. Flake has been contributing to the magazine since September of 2008. This is a set piece drawing, with a lot of emotion.

Part 2 of The Monday Tilley Watch coming later this week…


  1. Dear Mr. Maslin –
    I am a loyal fan of your cartoons, your blog and your bio of Peter Arno. However, I confess I am a bit disappointed in your latest cartoon on page 26 of The NY. The caption would be much funnier if it were just “He’s wearing oven mitts.” The longer caption was not necessary. Brevity is the soul of… Oh well, you get my point.
    Best wishes,
    Paul M

  2. Dear Mr. Merklein,
    Thanks so much for your loyalty. Much appreciated!
    Regarding the oven mitts caption: if I went with what you suggest there’d be zero backstory; you wouldn’t know that some action had occurred. It would simply be a guy in a park holding an oven. I preferred that his buddy threw the oven to him. Sometimes more is more.
    All the best, Michael

  3. Dear Mr. Maslin,
    Thank you for your reply. As a cartoonist, I am of the “less is funnier” school. For instance, the hopscotch cartoon on page 38 of The NY does not need any caption. The drawing itself hits the bullseye.
    Of course, there are a few exceptions. George Booth’s drawings are hilarious with or without a long caption.
    So I think we can agree to disagree.
    Briefly yours,
    Paul M

  4. Dear Mr. Merklein,
    This may come as a surprise, but I’m not especially looking for funny when I work. I’m not sure what I am looking for, which is why working continues to be so much, well…fun. I know that Charles Addams thought highly of captionless cartoons — he was a master, of course. But I find that working with words and drawing is the challenge I like best. I did once have a New Yorker cartoon with the caption, “Too?” — that’s as pared down as I’ve managed (other than the captionless drawings that appear from time-to-time). Anyway, always nice to meet a fellow cartoonist. All the best to you!

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