Tag Archives: Diffee

Life’s a batch!


The New Yorker has teamed up with radio station WNYC to create The New Yorker Radio Hour, a show which will be broadcast locally here in New York City and also available online or as an iTunes podcast. The intention is not to merely be an audio version of the magazine, but to be a hybrid sort of production that features stories, conversation, and audio that you can’t do in a magazine, and they’re off to a good start so far. Radio: who knew? (although I have professed my love for the medium of radio here.)

Matt Diffee is currently running a segment on the show called “Life’s a Batch.” The idea is that he talks with cartoonists while they are working on their weekly batch of submissions, which somehow start off as a scratchpad of doodles, as below, and if we’re lucky, eventually get selected for publication.


It’s a short little bit, somewhat of a palate cleanser in between longer pieces. I was guest Numero Uno! and you can hear us briefly on Episode One and then continuing the conversations on Episode Two. If you’re really impatient and just want to get to our short phone conversations, they take place here:

episode 2

and then here:

episode 2a

and then here.episode 2b

But you should listen to the whole episode, because it’s compelling stuff. Maybe next time they’ll get Seth Rogen and James Franco to play Matt and I, because: radio!

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Life Imitates Art

Never has life – my life – imitated art so perfectly as it did last week.

I drew up this cartoon earlier this year, which was published in last week’s New Yorker:

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 10.55.48 AM

As you can see from my sketchbook entry below, I didn’t get it right on the first try. I don’t really know what I was thinking on my initial doodle – “Would anyone like to give up your seats for an equally crowded flight later on?” It makes some sense but it’s not that funny. My next attempt – “Would anyone like a free voucher in return for helping us count seats?” – is funnier. Like an airplane above Newark airport, I was circling around the idea looking for a place to land. And I finally got there.


I have no idea why the airlines intentionally overbook flights. I mean, I do, but I don’t. I understand why they might have a policy which would allow for their frequent and well-heeled customers to make last-minute reservations, and then deal with the fallout from there, but it seems like an insane way to do business. A seat is a seat, right? If you’ve ever seen a live taping of a TV show, you know that they sometimes do something similar, in that they give out more tickets than they have seats. However, they solve the problem by making it first come, first serve. And it’s usually free. It’s not “let’s charge people hundreds of dollars on tickets that we can’t accommodate and then try to bribe somebody to change their plans at the last minute.”

Anyway, on the day after the magazine was published, I flew to Los Angeles to speak at the August meeting of the National Cartoonist Society’s LA chapter, among other things. (Jenny Fine snapped a shot of me presenting in front of the graffiti-covered wall at Stories.)

NCS LA August 2015 v2

My return flight home was Saturday at noon. As I was waiting to board, the gate agent repeatedly announced that they were looking for one person to volunteer to give up their seat in return for a $500 voucher. I usually don’t spring for things like that, but the next flight back to NYC was only three hours after, so I figured that was a small price to pay. I didn’t have to be back for anything, and as it was my seat was in the last row, so I didn’t mind giving that one up.

After letting the plane fully board and then approaching the desk to claim my reward, I was then told by the agent to hurry onto the plane. The deal was off. There were half a dozen passengers who hadn’t yet showed up, so I had to board the plane. At least I got a seat upgrade – I was sitting closer to the front of the plane, and some other sucker was in my former seat. But still. I wish I had had a copy of my cartoon with me to show the United gate agent. He would have been possibly the only person who wouldn’t have asked me “Where do you get your ideas?”

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Where did the last two weeks go?

Oh yeah – now I remember. I was in Austria, along with Matthew Diffee and Paul Noth. We were asked to come host a symposium in Wels with a bunch of other very talented cartoonists from Austria and Germany, and so we did, after one of us was – ahem – detained by the Swiss police over passport issues.

On the way there, we did our Fisticuffs! show in Linz, Austria, as part of the Next Comic Festival at the university.



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And although the battle was fierce, we all lived. (Which is true, but we also suffered head wounds from getting kicked by a large cartoon boot).


So we moved on to our symposium in Wels. It was an honor, but also somewhat intimidating, to be “teaching” to people who were pretty accomplished in their own right.

IMG_4728Luckily, there was no awkwardness whatsoever. I think we all appreciated everybody else’s talents and it became a big, goofy hangout session, which I thoroughly enjoyed. However, we had the theatre at the Medien Kultur Haus booked click here to finish reading this post


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Fisticuffs! Recap

Last Thursday, the 92Y Tribeca was the location for Fisticuffs!, the epic improv battle where cartoonists draw cartoons supposedly based on audience ideas, but which really are based on the things that are already contained in their warped heads. Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke provided the witty soundtrack to the night. It was a success, especially if you consider humor regarding infant libidos a success. Among other happenings, Paul Noth showed the few cartoons that he hadn’t spilled food on, Zach Kanin read a twisted version of his wedding vows, and the band actually turned in a nifty drawing of Baby Bjorn-sporting sumos.

Who won the fracas? I’m not at liberty to say, but there were lots of losers: silence, sincerity, good taste, gurus on desert islands, Southerners, and Philip Glass (don’t ask – out of context it makes no sense). Thanks to Maya Wainhaus who uploaded a bunch of pictures to the 92Y Flickr. We’re hoping to do it again early in the new year, and we hope to see you there! (until then, follow us on twitter: @fisticuffs_show)

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Steam Powered Drawing

At last night’s Steam Powered Hour at the Jalopy Theatre in Brooklyn, I had the privilege of joining a great Halloween-themed multimedia event: horror/suspense writer Jack Ketchum read one of his stories, and I did a live illustration for it, along with illustrator Natalie Ascencios. Kris Gruen and the Bowman sisters accompanied on music. Here’s a little teaser montage for the second of Jack’s stories, with drawing by Felipe Gallindo, Matthew Diffee, and R. Sikoryak, and music by Jacob Tilove, Rick Snell, Bridget Kearney, and the Party People:

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Snapshots from the Smackdown

There’s no reason you should be able to make any sense out of these hastily-taken cartoon photos I took at the conclusion of the National Cartoonist Society’s Reuben Awards at the Jersey City Hyatt last night. Suffice it to say that the indeflurkable (I just made that up) Mike Lynch and I were the “winners” of the Gag Cartoon Smackdown, in which we “competed” against fellow cartoonists David Sipress, Emily Flake, Michael Kupperman, and Jeff Stahler in an improv draw-off  hosted by the alleged “Matthew Diffee.” There were scenes of dominatrix snowmen and accidents involving Dunkin’ Donuts and disastrous French cuisine, and great music also. Thanks to Jeff Keane for letting it happen. It won’t be the last time we do this, so stay tuned.

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