The Cover: The ninth coronavirus-themed cover out of the last ten issues. Here’s a Q&A with cover artist, Christoph Mueller.
From the Dept. of Broken Records: sorry, but do New Yorker covers really need titles? This one would be fine standing all by itself.
Let Us Now Praise George Booth’s Auto Repair Shop Cartoons
In a departure for the Monday Tilley Watch, I’m going to talk about just one of this week’s cartoonists, and his garage-centric drawings. When one thinks of New Yorker car drawings, there are at least two possible candidates that come readily to mind: the late great Joe Mirachi* and the singularly sensational soon-to-be-94 year old George Booth. As you see in the above list of this week’s contributing cartoonists, Mr. Booth leads off the issue. What a kick to see this cartoon! What fun! The drawing is of a garage mechanic telling a customer, “We found a dangling participle in your carburetor, Professor.” In Mr. Booth’s fifty-one year history of contributing to The New Yorker, his garage mechanic drawings rank up there with, among others, his guy in the claw-foot bathtub, his cave people and, of course, his dog and cat drawings.
When I think about New Yorker artists who have been with the magazine for some time — Mr. Booth’s first appeared in 1969 — I’m always curious to see when it was that one of their special interests began. With Booth, it didn’t take long at all for his first car mechanic cartoon to appear. Below is his third New Yorker drawing (it appeared in the issue of March 7, 1970).
I don’t have access to an up-to-the minute accounting of Booth’s New Yorker work, so I’m unable to give an accounting of how many garage mechanic drawings the magazine’s published (if you type in “car” on the magazine’s database in association with George Booth’s name, 65 results are returned. But the database is good only up to February 14, 2005). Here are just a few of Booth’s classic additions to The New Yorker‘s cartoon car canon, beginning with a favorite from January 13, 1973.
And from March 25, 1974:
Finally, this beauty from May 27, 1991:
It’s tempting to remark on the detail you see in all of Booth’s repair shop drawings, but heck, detail has been Booth’s middle name throughout his more than eight hundred-and-fifty cartoons published thus far. His love of the scene found inside (and outside) the garage is obvious — all those golden graphic opportunities. We are fortunate Booth finds the elements in and around the shop worthy of pen and ink examination: the mechanics themselves in their well-worn grease-splotched coveralls, and then of course, the puzzled customers and their cars (what great cars!) and the ever-present Booth cats (and/or dogs).
I’ve spent a lot of time waiting in auto repair shops; it’s always a bit of a Boothian experience, looking around, noting the “stuff” — seeing it as Booth sees it. I owe George Booth plenty for his love of capturing the car shop — it clearly inspired my repair shop drawings, and “inspired” is putting it mildly as is clear in the below drawing of mine from The New Yorker issue of December 24, 1984.
Hats and caps off to Booth!
* Below: a Joe Mirachi New Yorker car cartoon, published November 24, 1986