Issue 136, Fall 1995
To provide an art portfolio for this issue devoted to humor, the editors asked a number of leading cartoonists if they would contribute a work they considered representative along with a description of the thought-process that went into its making— all of this very much in keeping with one of the primary ideas behind the magazine's on-going interviews on the craft of writing, namely to seek out and have explained the genesis of a particular work. Surely one of the questions that bedevils cartoonists-indeed far more than it does writers—is, "How on earth did you come up with the idea for that latest cartoon of yours?" It was a question, incidentally, that George Price, who was one of the New Yorkers most prolific artists (he died at the age of 93) never had to answer since his ideas were supplied by so-called "gag writers" provided by Katharine White. Only one idea of his own ever appeared—a cover of a gaggle of department store Santa Clauses standing in a subway car, staring rather shame-facedly at each other. This nugget of information comes from a delightful volume entitled The Art of The New Yorker 1925-1995 (Knopf) edited by Lee Lorenz, the New Yorker's art editor from 1973- 1993 and its present cartoon editor, as well as being a distinguished cartoonist in his own right. We went to him for advice in putting together the portfolio which follows; we are grateful for his assistance.
Safely behind the plate-glass window of the pet store this cat is making faces at that stupid looking canine bully. There's a lot of me in that cat. That's why it's one of my favorite cartoons.
I was an only child, and if you're going to be a cartoonist that helps. I can remember long before I knew what funny was, my father getting angry…"Pay attention to me when I'm speaking to you," he would shout leaning his face close to mine. He was an excitable man, who could without warning burst into laughter or fly into a temper tantrum. Whenever any of this was focused on me he needn't have worried that I wasn't paying attention. I was. He had already gotten his message across. I was studying the way his anger worked on the topography of his face inches from mine Th is was not the arena in which I felt I could safely express my feelings. I became a cartoonist.