An ice skating cover (titled “Figured Skaters”) on this week before the magazine’s 93rd birthday issue. On the way to the cartoons I’m sensing less graphics and more text in the Goings On About Town section. Or is it just my imagination. Take away the weekly near full page photograph and the magazine seems edging to its graphic roots. For an idea of what I’m getting at, here’s a GOAT section from the March 14, ’59 issue atop a couple of GOAT pages from the new issue.
Now on to the cartoons and cartoonists. The very first cartoon, by Ellis Rosen, takes us to familiar territory for many a New Yorker cartoonist (including this one): the wise man on the mountaintop. Mr. Rosen gives us a competitive situation that includes further incentive for prospective wisdom seekers. I would love to see what the other mountain top looks like once the pizza oven is installed.
Four pages later, Liana Finck takes us to medieval times with another cartoonist favorite: King and castle. Even better: King, castle and moat. I can’t quite make out what is in the castle window. Is it the Queen, or a kitty? Maybe it doesn’t matter. A drawing that looks as if it might be in color (the moat), but run in b&w.
Five pages later, a Will McPhail drawing and it’s yet another cartoonist fave scenario: the house mouse. This is the first white house mouse cartoon in my memory (versus the usual grey mouse) And I believe it’s also the first cartoon that shows a house mouse wearing what appears to be eye makeup (the makeup makes sense what with the lighted vanity mirror). Then there are the high heels visible through the mouse baseboard hole. A lot of elements to pause and consider here, but I’ll leave that to the Cartoon Companion guys when they post their take on the new cartoons later this week. That minimal caption is short and sweet.
Ten pages later we are taken even further back in time than Ms. Finck’s drawing with a cave drawing by this cartoonist. It’s a mash-up. On the opposite page a William Haefeli drawing bookstore drawing. I’m a big fan of bookstores and bookstore drawings — glad to see this cartoon. On the very next page a David Sipress domestic scenario — the subject is the upcoming Super Bowl. I don’t know anything about the Eagles or the Patriots (other than the headlines) but this drawing seems to be playing to the Greater Metropolitan NYC area football fan base. Could be wrong. (I feel badly for the child on the sofa. He doesn’t appear to have a drink or snacks for the big game).
Five pages later, a Roz Chast woman on a sofa drawing. She shows us a stressful time, long long ago before we were able (sometimes) to know who was calling without answering the phone. Caller ID: great invention.
Three pages later perhaps my favorite Frank Cotham drawing ever. Jack Ziegler once said to me “it’s always nice when cartoonists know how to draw and give us something pleasant and fun to look at.” Well Mr. Cotham has given us that. Atmosphere to spare, and a splendid caption. Bravo.
Five pages later a Bruce Eric Kaplan drawing. Politics finally enters into a cartoon in the issue. Mr. Kaplan’s caption well-honed, as usual. On the very next page is a Pia Guerra drawing (she’s a newbie, but not a brand new newbie). Curiously, a Terminator drawing. I confess I had to check on the name, Sarah Connor after initially forgetting that that is the name of a main character in the series (sorry, my Terminator recall is rusty). Two pages later, Emily Flake gets all religious with a priestly drawing. Clergy drawings were once a staple in the cartoonists kit (think Charles Addams and Peter Arno, among many others). As with looking up Sarah Connor I looked up “sleeve” as it’s used in the caption. Never really thought about how communion wafers were packaged. You live, you learn.
Three pages later, Jeremy Nguyen does a take on an iconic television ad. I like the way Mr. Nguyen has approached this drawing: clean and simple: books, typewriter, the ubiquitous potted house plant, the writer(?) sprawled on the floor.
Six pages later a debut drawing by Olivia de Recat, whose work has appeared in the Daily Shouts in very recent times. This has the feel of a postcard (see the cover of Bruce Springsteen’s first album, Greetings From Asbury Park). It has ripped edges, so maybe an old post card? Having just read the large NYTs piece on postcard collectors, I have them on my mind ( postcards and the collectors).
Finally, the last cartoon (not counting the caption contest): Paul Noth does a bang-up job on a ventriloquist drawing. I love drawings that come outta nowhere (well, it actually came from Mr. Noth, but you all know what I mean).
–see you next week for the big double anniversary issue. Will Rea Irvin’s classic Eustace Tilley return to the cover? Pressing our luck, wouldn’t it be great to see Mr. Irvin’s classic Talk of the Town masthead return. Here’s what it looks like so you’ll know it when you see it: