My cartoon in this week’s New Yorker originally started out, I think, as a wealthy couple deciding they didn’t want to spend money on each other. I’m not even sure I know what I meant by this sketch below: “We need to see cheaper people.” Evidently, I realized that having no money is a lot funnier, which is something I’m sure we all can attest to. I laugh about it all the time. And so you can see how I changed it up to what you see in the current issue.
It wasn’t until I sent in the finished art for this cartoon that I realized that it was kind of a sequel to this cartoon by my friend Matt Diffee. Of course, his idea in no way influenced my drawing in the first place, because us cartoonists produce 100% original ideas that are completely without precedent and are singularly unaffected by anything else in the culture. Except when they’re not, which is basically all the time. But you knew that already.
My cartoon in this week’s New Yorker is about a subject which I consider myself to have a lot of expertise in: napping. The great part about napping is you can do it anywhere: home, work, on the train, a Congressional hearing, playing third base for the Yankees in the playoffs. I wish America was as advanced in napping culture as Europe. They say New York is the city that never sleeps, but I wish they would go curl up somewhere and just stop saying that for five minutes. It would make them feel a whole lot better.
Here is how this drawing evolved:
Here is the sketch that was approved for the magazine:
And here is the preparatory sketch for the final version. If at this point you’re thinking this isn’t just a cartoon but it’s like a James Audubon field guide to all the different kinds of nappers and their native positions, you’re right. Why is there a picture on the windowsill in the previous drawing but not in this one? It’s part of the realism of the situation. People steal stuff from you when you’re napping. But we wouldn’t have it any other way.
And, here is the final version.
I would write a description of our night showing rejected cartoons from the New Yorker at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco from this past Tuesday night, but Dan McSweeney has already done the job. Follow the link to Dan’s blog. Thanks to all who came out that night, and thanks to the museum’s Michael Capozzola for putting it together.
Our latest Fisticuffs! went down last week without a hitch, only because we don’t consider technical screw-ups, opossum humor, and audience groaning to be hitches. That’s me on the left, pictured with Dan Piraro, Doogie Horner, Farley Katz, and Rina Piccolo. I can’t describe it except by saying that you had to be there, but we’ve got two bloggy kind of photo reviews: one on the official Fisticuffs blog, and one on Rina’s blog. Maya Wainhaus of the 92Y Tribeca put up some great, and occasionally frightening, photos of the event on their Flickr page. Our next cartoon improv smackdown takes place on April 27, also at the 92Y Tribeca. Come and join the fun!
It’s on, comrades! On Thursday, November 18, the Tribeca 92Y will be the location of our brand-new cartoon improv show entitled FISTICUFFS!
Well, it’s not entirely brand new. You may have seen us do this last year at the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, or at the NCS convention this May, or maybe even at Humor on the Slopes in the Vail valley in Colorado. We’re rounding up cartoonists, putting them into teams, and letting them battle it out the only way cartoonists know how to battle: by drawing cartoons. The format is simple: the audience provides the topics, and the cartoonists let it rip. It’s like Iron Chef, but the secret ingredient is punchlines instead of asparagus. Cartoonists don’t often perform in public without having the benefit of their usual crutches: a comfortable desk, oodles of time, bathtubs full of whiskey. So this is a rare opportunity. There will also be a surprise musical guest for your entertainment, just in case you actually need more entertainment.
Participating in this epic battle are: David Sipress (the New Yorker), Michael Kupperman (Tales Designed to Thrizzle), Emily Flake (Lulu Eightball and the New Yorker), Paul Noth (“Pale Force” and the New Yorker), Matthew Diffee (the Rejection Collection), Zach Kanin (The New Yorker), and myself.
Ticket info is here. Hope to see you there!
Filed under Cartoons, events
I love this little device:
It’s a wall-mounted sensor that measures time spent in front of a particular artwork versus the total time of the exhibit. The more time people spend in front of the piece, the more compelling it must be. It makes a lot of sense, right? Everything else today is quantified and commodified. The sweater table at the Gap is placed where it is because of years of marketing research and science about crowd flow. Why not art? Why can’t we determine empirically that a piece of art is, officially, a piece of crap? Continue reading full post
A few years ago I stumbled upon (electronically, because somebody left it right there in the middle of the internet) the blog of the British illustrator Michael Renouf, who challenged himself to post one drawing a day, more or less. He stated that they were supposed to be silly, with no particular theme.
He made me question my definition of “silly,” because these drawings are expertly crafted visual puns. Some are topical or illustrate a certain editorial idea, some are purely for fun, and a lot of them require a rewarding second look in order to spy the subtle “joke.” But they’re almost all clever and inventive, especially considering how many he did – several hundred, until pausing in December. Anyone who has tried their hand at illustration or political cartooning knows how hard it is to truly combine familiar images or icons in a fresh way (Bob Staake’s cover for this week’s New Yorker is another example of how to do it right), and so I’ve been amazed at how ingenious and how effortless some of these are. But enough of my yapping. I’ve posted a few random ones below, but you should go to Michael’s blog and spend some time sorting through them yourself.
Click here to view all images
If you’re lucky enough to be dining with cartoonists on your birthday, and if you’re also lucky enough to be dining at a restaurant where they don’t mind people drawing on the tablecloth and ripping it apart, then you might get some gifts like this. Sam Gross, Sidney Harris, Karen Sneider, and Bob Eckstein all drew me some cake, “colored in” with coffee and wine. Thanks, lady and gents. Notice how nobody actually wrote my name on any of them? I am so going to regift these to other people.
Last night is one of the reasons I love New York, because it’s one of the few places that you can see stuff like this (even from my, umm… less than optimal view, below). Lincoln Center hosted a free performance of “A Checkroom Romance,” the story of a man so obsessed with coat checkrooms that he decides to convert his daughter’s room into one, written by Ben Katchor and Mark Mulcahy. Katchor’s inimitable comic artwork formed the visuals for the story, and Mulcahy and band performed the score.
Mark has long been one of my favorite musicians and he’s simply getting better, providing a lively and evocative narrative without being melodramatic or show-tuney. Katchor‘s drawings are great, and the oddball story was clever, satisfying and affecting. It’s a shame that they are doing so few performances. Guys, you gotta take this thing on the road. I’ll make sure there’s a coat check.
Recently I have been enjoying Fantagraphics’ second volume of comics by Fletcher Hanks, the mysterious man who wrote and drew an impressive number of comics all by himself from 1939-41, then abruptly quit. Hanks’ own son never even knew that he had been a cartoonist. If you’re not familiar with these reissues, they’re irresistible reading. Hanks’ wrote primitive sci-fi stories with some kind of impending armageddon in every panel. His wild and imaginative characters speak in hilariously stiff dialogue, and his powerful compositions and amped-up color schemes showcase “action” figures that are drawn in the most awkward and artificial poses. It’s a fascinating combination.
One of the things that’s making me chuckle is his obvious use of repetition. When Hanks had a face or a pose that he liked, he would seemingly cut corners by tracing it and using it over and over again. Now, I’m a big fan of cutting corners, and like most cartoonists, I basically draw the same nondescript face in every cartoon, because that’s part of what helps the gags to work. But Hanks uses the same face for all of his protagonists: Big Red McLane, the hero of one comic, basically changes his clothes to become Stardust, the hero of the next. Still, it’s great fun. Here is a gallery of his main character (notice how I did not make that word plural):
Big Red McLane, King of the Northwoods
Whirlwind Carter, of the Interplanetary Secret Service
Stardust, the Super Wizard
Yank Wilson, Super Spy
But wait – how do you draw a bad guy? Wait for it…. wait for it….
add the mustache, and he becomes the evil scientist!