The Monday Tilley Watch, The New Yorker “Cartoon Takeover” Issue Of December 30, 2019

The Cover: The “Cartoon Takeover” theme begins on Robert Sikoryak’s cover as cartoon characters whitewash text. Read a Q&A with the cover artist here.

The Cartoonists:

The Cartoons:

Right off the bat, it should be noted that this issue is unlike the “Cartoon Issue” once produced this time of the year beginning in 1997; that series ended after a fifteen year run. It is also unlike the “Best Cartoons Of The Year” series begun in 2011, and ended five years later. This Cartoon Takeover is unlike those in that it contains a ton of archival material (the issue carries the descriptive “A Semi-Archival Issue” on the Table of Contents). While elements from the Cartoon Issues, and Best Of series are here: the graphic spreads for instance, and a profile of a cartoonist — the old tropes features thankfully haven’t resurfaced. This Takeover is a new and welcome creature, with a pulse I associate with the very oldest issues of The New Yorker.  As befits the issue’s theme, The New Yorker‘s cartoon editor, Emma Allen, has taken over Talk’s “Comments” section, leading us into the action.

As you see from the number of cartoonists listed above, this new issue is packed with cartoons from a wide swath of the New Yorker‘s history, with work by such luminaries as Helen Hokinson, Barbara Shermund, James Thurber, William Steig, Gahan Wilson, and Steinberg represented. Nice to see Peter Arno’s ultra-famous, “Well, back to the old drawing board” included! Many cartoons from the archives are here as “favorites” selected by cartoonists and non-cartoonists. Free standing cartoons — what you normally see in every issue of The New Yorker — are also from the archives. I was very happy to see one of my favorite semi-modern cartoons included: Joe Duffy’s meta Care to join me in panel #3? (originally published, October 31, 2011).

Not whitewashed over by cartoon characters is a personal favorite John Updike piece (originally published in 1997) on his cartoonist roots, and terrif archival pieces, including two by two late-greats, Veronica Geng and Dorothy Parker. It’s an issue of a little something, and often a lot of something, for just about everyone who loves New Yorker cartoons.

The Rea Irvin Masthead Watch: Normally on the Monday Tilley Watch I woefully acknowledge another issue gone by without the return of Rea Irvin’s iconic masthead.  Since the Spring of 2017, a redrawn version has stood awkwardly in its place. This special Cartoon Takeover issue thankfully replaces the redraw with an Ed Steed take on the Irvin masthead. Mr. Steed’s playfulness is a refreshing delight, incorporating, to my eye, some Steigian/Steinberg elements.

With next week’s issue of The New Yorker the first of 2020, this would be the perfect opportunity to use Mr.Steed’s comic break as the moment to bring back Mr. Irvin’s classic masthead — and really now, why not bring it back?

Below, Mr. Irvin’s beautiful, now moth-balled masthead, and Mr. Steed’s fun take below it.

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