One of the first cartoons I ever submitted to the New Yorker was this one. Apparently, they didn’t think that an unfinished waiter asking a cross-eyed Mike Ditka a stupid question was going to work. Ah, they were probably right. I remember Bob Mankoff, the carton editor, asking me to explain it and I’m pretty sure I just shrugged my shoulders and said “I don’t think I can.”
Which brings us to the cartoon this week’s issue, which is here. I still had the remnants of this setup swirling around in my caffeinated brain when I thought of this idea. It would have worked if it had taken place on a desert island, as I had originally imagined, but then it might have gotten confused with that other piece of cartoon context, so it’s just the great generic outdoors.
As far as what it means, I’m still not sure, but I think the pictures below will explain it comprehensively.
I did my first magazine cover last fall, for this hotel trade magazine (which just went to press). It was a nice change to work in color instead of black and white, but it can be intimidating – there are almost twenty different colors out there that you can work with, I bet. back me up on this, illustrators! It was also refreshing in that I had to show something besides an obvious sight gag. So, no talking elephants at bars. The image had to match the tone of the article, which was a fairly straightforward piece about what American hotel chains are doing to appeal to foreign travelers.
A snapshot of the working process is below. At first I drew a single business traveler, then we decided upon a family instead. Also, my gestures (like the man with the remote) were initially a bit too overstated. And after dropping in the logo of a specific airline on the shopping bag, we decided it would be better to show a fictional airline, whose logo I had to create. My friend commented that it reminded her of Adrian Tomine, which I was pretty happy about. It all worked out in the end, don’t you think?
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I’ve never been to Burning Man, but my cartoon in this week’s New Yorker asks whether the festival has turned from a small countercultural freakfest into a corporate theme park of an event, as cited by this New York Times article from last year. Then again, all of these events are starting to feel the same, as the below pictures from this year’s Goldman Sachs annual board meeting show.
The other day while I was looking at the ol’ Star Spangled Banner I thought to myself, it’s also spangled with stripes, so why isn’t it called the Stripe Spangled Banner? And then I thought, why do we ever call it the Flag, which is the most boring term of all for the national symbol? So, here is a list of nicknames I’ve adopted for the red, white and blue. Happy Independence Day, everybody!
- Broadstripe & Brightstar’s Excellent Adventure
- The White Represents Sarah Palin and the Red Represents Michael Moore and the Blue Field is All the Rest Of Us Waiting for Them to Shut Up
- Suck it, Yellow, You Symbolizer of Stupid Stuff
- Navajo Nation (NOT! HAHAHA!!)
For the record, I’m not a snob. I don’t think the tastes and values of middle America (whatever that means) are a punchline, and I don’t dismiss anything just because it’s popular. Many years ago, when I saw a landscape by the ubiquitous Thomas Kinkade I concluded that it wasn’t really my thing, although I recognized the obvious talent. Also, I have an appreciation for somebody who can humbly dedicate himself to a particular craft. But shortly after, when I found about Kinkade comparing himself favorably with Monet, and the pseudo-Messianic sense of mission, and the brazenly manipulative marketing scheme, I thought – for real? This Godzilla full of clichés is clamoring for a retrospective at the Met during his lifetime? That’s fair game for abuse. He might be right about the failings of modernity, but he’s totally wrong about his own work.
The Kinkade empire has caved in on itself during the past few years, and yeah – it’s probably bad form to kick a guy when he’s down. Nonetheless, I saw the “Thomas Kinkade: Painter of Light” 2012 calendar while at Barnes & Noble last December, and decided that it would be great fun to do a monthly review, especially if I got to make a fancy title for myself like the “Reviewer of Light.” The Awl took me up on it. There you can see the April version and the previous months, and return for the rest.
My New Year’s Resolution this year was to take free-falling classes. Oh, good! They have them here locally.
This is not only what 5 MB of storage looked like years ago, it’s what 5 MB of storage looked like in the lap of one of those weird Victorian mothers who was conspicuously hidden in her own photo. You’re welcome.
One thing that’s always bothered me about the Christmas season is this overemphasis on commercialism, where everything has to be for sale. It’s so excessive.
The fact checkers at the New Yorker magazine are famous for their thoroughness, but they might have (spoiler alert: football analogy coming) dropped the ball on my most recent cartoon, which I think I drew during a power outage. I’ll detail these errors so that you, the readers, don’t have to. Where to start?
1) If you are an art student who has been instructed in the correct use of linear perspective, you might notice that the table kind of disappears at the far end. In fact, if you trace the edges of it, you’ll find that the table has this shape:
2) It’s pretty hard to drink a glass of wine through a football helmet’s face mask. They are just posing with them.
3) Oops! No silverware.
4) Nobody is Tebowing in the end zone, which means that it’s pretty obvious that the cartoon was drawn in early October, and therefore not in touch with the current national zeitgeist.
5) There are 12 men at the dinner table, which is one too many according to NFL rules, and clearly a penalty. This touchdown should have been called back. What’s ironic is that there’s no delay of game penalty. Because there’s no silverware, the meal is over pretty quickly.
6) You would never know this by looking at the cartoon, but it’s the 4th quarter, and the team that is celebrating is still behind in this game, 31-10. There is no reason for them to be celebrating.
7) This is also very self-serving of me, but the players aren’t actually talking about the game (maybe because they’re behind 31-10). They’re trying to think of captions for my last caption contest cartoon with the hippo. It’s so meta!