I’m very pleased to say, my second cartoon is being published this week by the New Yorker, for their legendary Caption Contest! At the moment it is online, but my cartoon will be published in the June 10 issue, on the last page inside the magazine. You can see it now right HERE.
Anyone can submit a caption for this contest, so please go ahead and enter! The directions for submitting are linked on the Contest page.
As I wrote when my first cartoon was published, the New Yorker loomed large in my wonderful relationship with my father, who was also a cartoonist, and who always encouraged me in my art. He grew up during the Depression in Allentown, PA, a second-generation American, and saw the New Yorker as the embodiment of the wit, sophistication and insight of the country’s best writers and illustrators. I just know he is doing a little dance up in Heaven now.
I can’t let this post go by without including a cartoon, so here’s one I drew when my Dad was alive, using one of his captions.
I’ve been looking through the illustrations of Arthur Getz, one of my favorite New Yorker cover artists. Getz painted 213 covers for the iconic magazine between 1938 and 1988. In addition to illustration work, he painted cityscapes and landscapes – ‘fine art’ sold through galleries – although he sometimes signed them with his middle name, Kimmig, because at the time a fine artist was not supposed to cross the line into commercial art.
A particular favorite of mine is his cover from 1957:
The moment it captures is utterly American, isn’t it? To the left, the bustling, spangly city with silhouetted crowds in frenetic motion, and in the foreground the relaxed parking attendant, contentedly oblivious to the high life a few blocks behind.
The skill and techniques of this artist make the painting especially appealing to me. The blazing city lights in the distance are warm, but it’s cold moonlight fluorescing down on the garage attendant – that’s the opposite of what you’re taught in painting class! Warm colors are supposed to come forward and cools recede – but Mr. Getz makes this inversion work beautifully. The covers of the magazine our fellow’s reading are slightly brightened with the reflected light bouncing off the pavement – reflected light is a detail that a master’s eye notes, and novices often overlook. The splashes of neon red far off in the city are balanced by that rusty red wall to our protagonist’s left; there’s even the faintest red haze in the air above the cars in the garage, a delicate touch to offset all that chill October air.
And our attendant’s pose, balancing on the chair – another master stroke. Let me explain: when you draw a standing figure and you want it to look steady, not tipping over, you draw it so the supersternal notch – that’s the central notch between your left & right collarbone – is directly over the inner ankle of the leg bearing the weight of the body – this makes the figure looks solid. Well, Mr. Getz has this gent perfectly balanced: if you imagine where his supersternal notch is, and draw a line straight down, it’s directly over the spot where the chair leg bearing the man’s weight touches the pavement. This acrobatic bystander is not going to tip over!
The contrasts in tone all around our nonchalant hero seal the deal for me. After your eyes take in the whole scene, where does your attention go? To the crisp lightning-white page edges of that magazine and that tiny cusp of face and finger illuminated by the October moon. That’s intentional – they are painted with a razor edge and surrounded by blacks and neutral grays to draw your gaze like a pinpoint. The same goes for the swatch of city on the left, the contrast is so high between the yellows and blacks that you can’t not look at them – but even though those marks are skillful, they are vague, to give an impression of buildings and lights. The painting strokes in and around our parked friend’s figure, instead, are descriptive, deliberate and masterful.
There’s sometimes a bit of friction between illustrators and fine artists, over whether illustrations deserve the same esteem that framed paintings are given. If you ask me, this Garage Nocturne by Arthur Getz could hang in a museum next to Hopper’s Nighthawks any day.
“Sir, we’re getting ready to land–I’m going to need you to slide that under your seat.”
I started reading and chuckling at New Yorker cartoons in high school when my dad introduced its unparalleled humor to me. He and I shared many hours discussing our favorite gags and cartoonists, and, while Dad did land a great cartoon one time in The Saturday Evening Post, he never made it into Eustace Tilley’s grand library. He hoped someday I would. Dad passed away 8 years ago but I have the uncanny feeling he’s been pulling some strings.
Tonight, June 14, the Bucks County Gilbert & Sullivan Society pirates take the stage, along with Major-General daughters and policemen, to perform a play 140 years old that still delights with its wit and soaring music.
I’m very happy to be involved behind the scenes while my husband takes his turn as Major-General Stanley, a part he imbues with genuine humor and sings with uncanny precision. My illustration for the show has served well for the poster, program cover, and in movie theater and newspaper ads.
it will be wonderful to see the show in full sail, with a magnificent orchestra, costumes, set, makeup and the million other details that support a community theater project. If any of you reading this are local, I utterly recommend the show for top-quality singing, and orchestral accompaniment. And the story’s a hoot too.
I’ll leave you with some photos of dress rehearsal, and if you want more info I’ve put a lot on the group’s websiteHERE.Tickets are still available at the door or thru BrownPaperTickets.
I posted about my cartoon being published in the New Yorker Caption Contest last week, and now anyone can vote for the best among the many caption submissions they received. You can click HERE to go to the voting page, and as it scrolls through the captions you can rate each as Not Funny, Somewhat Funny, or Funny. When you have scrolled through enough cations, you click on Done.
I warn you, there are a LOT of submissions, but if you leave the tab open on your screen you can come back to it later and continue rating more captions. Interestingly, I found that many caption writers came up with similar jokes, even similar phrasing. There are others that use rather unique wording or twists, and those seemed to stand out.
I believe voting on this stage closes on Sunday, then this contest moves to the next stage – next week the cartoon will appear with the top three captions underneath, and you can again vote for what you feel is the funniest of the three contenders.
I’ll leave you today with another of my cartoons – again, this one has a caption written by my dear dad, one of the funniest writers I ever knew.
My latest assignment from Lodging magazine was an article about the difficulty in finding good employees in the hotel industry, and tips for holding onto those dependable and conscientious ones. I personally found the article lacking in solid solutions for these problems, which made finding an idea to illustrate more challenging.
I did think of two scenes leading up to the hiring of an employee, so I sketched them roughly in pencil. The first showed an interviewee being coaxed by other employees as well as the personnel manager to accept the new job.
The second showed a woman passing a lot of Help Wanted signs on a hotel, with a manager leaning out the door to tap her on the shoulder, and hopefully to tap her skills too.
The editor liked the second idea more, and asked me to switch the people so a female manager was leaning out to tap a male hire on the shoulder. I sent a revised pencil sketch.
I made a quick color sketch using colored pencils on a photocopy of the sketch.
I drew this onto cold press illustration board in black prisma pencil, then painted it with acrylic washes. The finish is below.
The Bucks County Gilbert & Sullivan Society is once again gearing up for one of the Victorian playwrights’ funniest, most lyrical and most popular creations, The Pirates of Penzance. I’m happy to again be illustrating the poster for this wonderfully fun musical. If you have ever heard the brilliant patter song I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General, this is the rambunctious show for which that song was written.
I started with a very rough pencil sketch of a group of the colorful characters – maidens, pirates, bobbies, the Major-General – in a classic triangle composition.
I defined the characters a bit more in the next sketch.
I scanned this sketch and did a rough colored pencil blocking in of the colors
I traced this drawing onto illustration board, outlined the characters and began to paint it in using acrylic washes.
And now the finished piece is dropped into the poster design, below. I hope you consider coming, this will be a terrific musical comedy!
I’m playing around with animated GIFs and would like to share this one I drew. Temple University’s graduation ceremonies are this Thursday, so please feel free to share this on social media or send in an email to a 2019 grad.
I’m very pleased to say I have joined the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce, a rousingly active organization of business people who are productively involved in every aspect of the Bucks County community. My good friend Debbie Wagner, who owns and runs the outstanding graphic design firm The Graphic Edge, described to me the CBCC’s great benefits to local business owners, and I felt it would enhance my work and connections to join.
Once a year the chamber hosts a business expo, and I welcome the chance to display my work and meet other business owners, so you will find me at my booth there. The CBCC Business Expo will be Tuesday, May 14, from 2 pm to 7 pm at the Student Center Exhibition Hall, Delaware Valley University. The University is at 700 E. Butler Avenue, Doylestown, PA. I designed the postcard below, featuring my illustration work, to hand out. The back has a few of my gag cartoons, and I’ve created a slideshow of my gag cartoons to run on my laptop throughout the expo.
In addition to meeting and learning about your local business owners, you can also enjoy some goodies from generous CBCC members, including Annie’s Water Ice, Tru-Brew Coffee and food from Applebee’s. Also, Fine Art Appraiser Lauren Travis will do free verbal approximations of value for a Fine or Decorative Art item from 2 pm to 5 pm.
Capping off the day will be the Chamber’s Largest Business Card Exchange of the Year – from 5 to 7 pm, in between networking with new colleagues, all can enjoy complimentary food courtesy of Chambers 19 Bistro & Bar with wine courtesy of Buckingham Valley Vineyards. Major event sponsors include Provident Bank, USI Affinity, My Benefit Advisor, NJM Insurance, and Delaware Valley University. This entire event is free and open to the public – I hope you stop by to see me!