Join 3,432 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"Be Gentle. It's My First Time."
August 24, 2011 7:33 AM   Subscribe

Cartoonist and teacher James Sturm takes a crack at The New Yorker. Via

Also, profiles and interviews with Lee Lorenz, Roz Chast, Gahan Wilson, and Sam Gross, brought to you by The Comics Journal's regular feature, Know Your New Yorker Cartoonists.
posted by Alvy Ampersand (45 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
ANswer: I sold two cartoons to the New Yorker in 5 years after producing ten cartoons a week every week.

So it is about that hard.
posted by The Whelk at 7:36 AM on August 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


Oh and that Cartoonist Lounge is a fucking storage closet, I'm sorry but it is.
posted by The Whelk at 7:38 AM on August 24, 2011


Christ, what an asshole!
posted by Naberius at 7:42 AM on August 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sturm's problem is that they're not actually that funny. The first one I even thought was cute was the gorilla in the bathtub, and even that one had the EXACT GAG as the "snake was sick" one down a bit lower.
posted by Madamina at 7:45 AM on August 24, 2011


According to Matthew Diffee's book of unpublished New Yorker cartoons, The Rejection Collection, there are about 50 regular New Yorker cartoonists who submit ten cartoons each week. That's 500 cartoons vying for about 12 to 20 slots. That's not counting submissions from cartoonists whose work appears in the magazine irregularly or the thousand or so weekly unsolicited submissions (which stand almost no chance of getting in).

Wow. That's a lower team batting average than even the Seattle Mariners.
posted by three blind mice at 7:45 AM on August 24, 2011


Elaine Benes seemed to have no problem.
posted by cereselle at 7:46 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh hey I was rejected for the rejection collection!

Twice!

I am danish candy.
posted by The Whelk at 7:51 AM on August 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


The sad thing about New Yorker cartoons is that while the venues for one-panel gags has shrunk to almost nothing with the slow death of general readership magazines, the editorial breath of their cartoons has not expanded as the result of any influx of talent. Mankoff has whittled the subject matter to nothing but a sad parody of neurotic apartment-dwelling Manhattanite concerns and the style to can't really draw but trying hard. When you look at cartoons from the Harold Ross era you did get your fair share of desert islands and explorers in cannibal pots but you also got wild flights of fancy, beautiful draftsmanship, and styles that ranged wildly.
posted by Trace McJoy at 7:57 AM on August 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


"Mankoff said so many submissions he looks at are not even in the neighborhood and that I was in the neighborhood but that I was going to have to figure out what my work was about, how it was distinct. I had to decide what would make it exceptional."

Actually, I think this is helpful advice. Getting art in a major gallery, selling a manuscript, selling a cartoon - all very competitive fields. Once you think you're "good enough", you're toast.
posted by dutcherino at 7:58 AM on August 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I drew a doodle in high school that amused my English teacher. He thought I should submit it to The New Yorker. I did. Several weeks later, I got a rejection letter printed on a tiny slip of paper. I intended to save that letter as a souvenir, but it got misplaced and is surely gone for good.

I have no idea what point that anecdote was supposed to make.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:02 AM on August 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


Can anyone explain this?
posted by whir at 8:07 AM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sure. The mother is substituting for the gorilla. Because she works out of the home, she's not able to provide adequate mother for the children. Left to the care of a uncloaked superhero who happened to be passing by, the children are subjected to angry, if unfounded, taunts, thus scarring them for life. In a subsequent panel, a therapist who looks like Einstein (not, in fact, Freud) will scowl as he hands them each a lollipop.
posted by stevil at 8:16 AM on August 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


What a misunderstanding!
posted by OverlappingElvis at 8:16 AM on August 24, 2011


Why that looks like the very same cartoon they found pinned with a Bowie knife to Roz Chast's door.
posted by griphus at 8:17 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really liked the Sesame Street one.

Tim Krieder (previously) once posited that all New Yorker cartoons would be funnier if the caption was just "Fuck you."

That said, the only New Yorker cartoon that's ever really made me laugh out loud is this one:
http://www.cartoonbank.com/2007/if-i-could-do-only-one-thing-before-i-died-it-would-be-to-swim-with-a-middle-aged-couple-from-c/invt/130725/
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:22 AM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've always heard that it's a good life, if you don't weaken.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:26 AM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


He surely can draw... but his sense of humor is so subtle that it leaves me wondering what I'm not getting here more often than not. His graphic style reminds me of late Zbigniew Lengren.
posted by hat_eater at 8:27 AM on August 24, 2011


The police line-up one is the only New Yorker-style cartoon I've actually laughed out loud at. Sure, I've been been amused now an then over the years when I would see them occasionally, but I can't really recall ever actually laughing.

The others are hit and miss, but decent. How could Mankoff have not gone with the line-up one, though? Baffling.

Here's my cartoon about this, in an text format:
Drawing:
Me, with an irritated expression on my face, talking to a human-sized popsicle that is sporting gray hair, glasses, and a suit coat.

Caption:
"Excuse me, Mr. Mankoff, in regards to your sense of humor, is it something I would have to have a gigantic stick up my ass to understand?"
posted by chambers at 8:27 AM on August 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Here's a recent conference video of New Yorker cartoonists talking about their work, and even drawing some cartoons live on stage based on audience suggestions. Matt Diffee, who is mentioned in the Slate piece, speaks at the end.

Also: a 2005 video of New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff, talking about the structure of NYer cartoons.

Full disclosure, these are from a conference I run, just thought it might add to the discussion here.
posted by mark7570 at 8:27 AM on August 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Thanks for posting that. I like pictures with my words. I like the way he wrapped it up, too.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:30 AM on August 24, 2011


Previously, sorta related: Ebert wins The New Yorker caption contest.
posted by epersonae at 8:36 AM on August 24, 2011


obligatory
posted by en forme de poire at 8:40 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have no idea what point that anecdote was supposed to make.

Try: "I'm sorry; the gorilla was sick."
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:53 AM on August 24, 2011


Now I'm trying to remember if I've ever seen people of color in a New Yorker cartoon (without them being a like Indian Chief or Swami or something).
posted by shakespeherian at 9:00 AM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


The sad thing about New Yorker cartoons is that while the venues for one-panel gags has shrunk to almost nothing

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Viz Collection of Crap Jokes.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:06 AM on August 24, 2011


Are you asking me or is Bartholomew asking me?
That one made me laugh out loud, mostly because of the look on Bartholomew's face.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 9:14 AM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


"The {blank} called in sick" could be a funny series.
And I totally got/enjoyed the Ira Glass one.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 9:21 AM on August 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Are you asking me or is Bartholomew asking me?
That one made me laugh out loud, mostly because of the look on Bartholomew's face.


This will blow your mind: The MAN's name is Bartholomew.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:27 AM on August 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Shannon Wheeler of Too Much Coffee Man fame went ahead and published a book of his rejects.
posted by rouftop at 9:29 AM on August 24, 2011


My favorite.
posted by pianomover at 9:37 AM on August 24, 2011


hat_eater: His graphic style reminds me of late Zbigniew Lengren.

Dude, this Lengren guy is great! This one, in particular, is adorable.
posted by a small part of the world at 9:55 AM on August 24, 2011


For some reason, my favourite.
posted by progosk at 10:04 AM on August 24, 2011


A friend of mine has never had a cartoon printed in the New Yorker, but he has done three covers. I think that may actually be easier.
posted by CynicalKnight at 10:10 AM on August 24, 2011


The Sam Gross one is NSFW
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:14 AM on August 24, 2011


HA! HA!
posted by JBennett at 10:30 AM on August 24, 2011


I'm rather partial to this guy's work, especially this one.
posted by $0up at 10:50 AM on August 24, 2011


This is my life.
posted by Madamina at 11:02 AM on August 24, 2011


Seriously, those Lengren cartoons are fabulous.
posted by the bricabrac man at 11:06 AM on August 24, 2011


In its article on Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious, Wikipedia says the following about two types of humor recognized by Freud:

A benevolent superego allowed a light and comforting type of humor, while a harsh superego created a biting and sarcastic type of humor.

The New Yorker's humor is the first type--the benevolent superego type, the light and comforting type. It's the furthest thing from edgy humor; in fact it isn't even meant to be edgy at all, or even funny or humorous, or provoking of laughter, at all. The intended response to a New Yorker cartoon isn't a chuckle or guffaw, it's a feeling of contented reassurance--"Ah, Ira Glass. I know who she is, because I'm an in-the-loop, upper-middle-class American."

New Yorker cartoons are in-group cartoons in the extreme; they're meaningless to other cultures, even Anglophonic ones; and they die on the vine within a few years of printing. This wasn't always the case: in the thirties and forties, the wartime era cartoons were pithy and poignant, and they're still amusing, even if you don't get the context. But that's been replaced by extreme, grinding, uncreative myopia.

Of course, this is coming from a magazine with antiquated editorial standards. A magazine that still prints out nearly all numbers, causing agony to readers of numbers-laden scientific or economic articles. A magazine that still runs epic-length pieces padded with infuriatingly dull and irrelevant details. Every time I read a New Yorker article on the net, I'm astonished at how little it has changed in the past five decades. It's truly a dull, sclerotic, inflexible museum piece of a magazine.

And don't get me started on the fiction.
posted by Gordion Knott at 11:45 AM on August 24, 2011


Oh, Gordion Knott. Spoken like someone who doesn't realize that Ira Glass is a dude.
posted by Madamina at 12:12 PM on August 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


A benevolent superego allowed a light and comforting type of humor, while a harsh superego created a biting and sarcastic type of humor.

a Super Eggo would be a light and comforting, waffly kind of humor.
posted by storybored at 12:42 PM on August 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Spoken like someone who doesn't realize that Ira Glass is a dude.

Touché.
posted by Gordion Knott at 12:53 PM on August 24, 2011


Count me as another one who doesn't get the Mom cartoon. Little help?
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 3:05 PM on August 24, 2011


My guess, about the Mom one, is that the guy is supposed to be a burglar or something?

I'm dark, so I think the joke would have been funnier/worked if it were like, clearly a murderer. Like same image, just with bloodstains on the dude. THAT would have, well, made sense and been funny but really, really horrible. And probably NO WHERE NEAR the New Yorker offices.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 3:27 PM on August 24, 2011


"illustrated laughing squares"
posted by beefetish at 3:44 PM on August 24, 2011


« Older Tabletop: Analog Game Design - A commons licenced ...  |  Lynda Barry, cartoonist and au... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments