Friday, June 20, 2014
How About Never - Is Never Good For You? by Bob Mankoff
Before I met the man who would become my husband, I had a few dates with a guy I did not want a few more dates with. Whenever he called, I would say that I wasn’t free. Finally one time when he demanded to know just exactly when I would be free to go out, I blurted, "Never. I can never go out with you."
Remembering my outburst, I laughed when I read the title of Bob Mankoff's book. A cartoonist as well as the cartoon editor for the New Yorker for the last 17 years, Mankoff took the title from the caption of one of his most famous drawings for the magazine. In that cartoon, a businessman who is on the phone talking to someone with a terrible case of the "can't-get-the-hints" says, "No, Thursday’s out. How about never - is never good for you?"
The ratio of cartoons to text in Mankoff’s book is about 70/30, similar to the narrative split between information about the New Yorker and autobiography. The illustrations, of course, are very funny, but so is the text, such as when it recounts Mankoff’s boyhood as a Jerry Lewis wannabe, or when it details the efforts of Seinfeld’s Elaine trying to crack the code of a New Yorker cartoon that she doesn't "get" (the editor just "liked the kitty").
The author pays homage to numerous famous cartoonists at the New Yorker, and his book also serves as a wonderful guide to anyone thinking about a career in cartooning. Some cartoonists, Mankoff says, are "head cartoonists" who have great ideas, while others who are wonderful draftsmen he calls "hand cartoonists." The goal, of course, is to be both, as most of the magazines' cartoonists are now. Mankoff reviews about 1000 submissions a week that come in by hand, mail, e-mail, and fax. "Very few arrive by sea these days,” he says. When will the submissions end and the evolution of cartoons at the New Yorker end? "How about never? Never is good for me," Mankoff proposes.
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