Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The New Yorker and Bob Mankoff Rethink Cartoons, 1997

Twenty years ago, Bob Mankoff was named cartoon editor of the New Yorker. The New York Times business section covered it as "Tradition on Trial As New Yorker Rethinks Cartoons." This week, Mr. Mankoff retires as cartoon editor of the venerable magazine. In hindsight, the problems cited in the Times article about the business of cartooning at the New Yorker and elsewhere seem more entrenched than ever.

"Tradition on Trial As New Yorker Rethinks Cartoons," Constance L. Hays, The New York Times, June 9, 1997

Cartoons by William Steig, Charles Addams, Lee Lorenz, and Bob Mankoff
"Tradition on Trial As New Yorker Rethinks Cartoons," Constance L. Hays, The New York Times, June 9, 1997

In the first column, Ms. Hays cites a Jack Ziegler cartoon from the June 9, 1997 issue as one "so dependent on the moment that [it] may not last." It's twenty years later now. Has it really aged that badly?
Jack Ziegler, The New Yorker, June 9, 1997, page 71

In the final column of the piece, semiotics professor Marshall Blonsky singles out another cartoon from the issue which "particularly disturbed him." He says, "...it's got the wrong caption. No one wants to make pie crust any longer." You can decide for yourself whether Michael Maslin's cartoon has held up better than Marshall Blonsky's criticism of it:
"If I told you the secret of making light, flaky piecrust, it
wouldn't be much of a secret anymore, now would it?"
Michael Maslin,
 The New Yorker, June 9, 1997, page 50

Note:  As of next week, Emma Allen will be the New Yorker's new cartoon editor. For handy reference, here is the magazine's roster of art editors and cartoon editors. From Mr. Geraghty's time to 1993, the art editor was responsible for covers and cartoons. Since 1993, the art editor has been responsible only for covers and the cartoon editor has been responsible only for cartoons.

Rea Irvin, art supervisor, 1925-1939; art director, 1939-1951

James Geraghty, art editor, 1939-1972

Lee Lorenz, art editor, 1973-1993; cartoon editor, 1993-1997

Françoise Mouly, art editor, 1993-

Bob Mankoff, cartoon editor, 1997-2017

Emma Allen, cartoon editor, 2017-

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives:

Bob Mankoff

Tina Brown

The New Yorker

The New York Times

Charles Addams

Edward Koren

Peter Kuper

Lee Lorenz

Michael Maslin

William Steig

Jack Ziegler


  1. I met Bob Mankoff at his office and had the honor of him critique and reject my cartoons. I can't wait to meet the new cartoon editor. A good cartoonist does not despair.