A Look Behind the Cartoons of ‘The New Yorker’ with Bob Mankoff

November 6, 2015

On Monday, November 9 at the SVA Theatre, the BFA Cartooning and BFA Illustration departments at SVA present a preview screening of the HBO documentary, Very Semi-Serious: A Partially Thorough Portrait of New Yorker Cartoonists (watch the trailer below), as well as a conversation with The New Yorker cartoonist and editor Bob Mankoff discussing his career and then signing copies of his book, How About Never—Is Never Good for You?: My Life in Cartoons (Picador). SVA Close Up asked SVA faculty member Keith Mayerson, host for the event, a few questions in preparation.

mankoff425Cartoons are one of the most popular and enduring features of The New Yorker? Why do they work so well?
The single panel gag cartoon holds all the secrets for art in general… Most of the source of humor is two or more things put together that normally don’t go together that create a fissure that is funny—this is also the “thesis statement” of most conceptual ideas of art historically.  Then, it’s about the aesthetic way the concept is brought about formally by the artist—how the composition of the image helps to support the argument of the gag. Most of art, whether it Goya or a Charles Addams cartoon follows the same formula, and when it has mystery, like much of the depth of the richness that can be the New Yorker cartoon, it can create a sublime affect upon the viewer that resonates.

How has Bob Mankoff and The New Yorker helped shape what people think of cartoons?
Bob represents, as only the third Cartoon Editor in The New Yorker‘s history, a new generation of cartoonists, with himself and Roz Chast as the leaders of a new kind of irreverent but relevant humor that has helped to bring The New Yorker into the Twenty-First Century

never200What are you most looking forward to on Monday night?
Bob is a terrifically funny, smart, and engaging personality and presence—he will be giving a very special short presentation about his own history, in conjunction with the softcover publication of his terrific memoir, and we will then have the privilege of viewing a sneak preview of a new documentary about New Yorker cartoonists that has already won much critical acclaim. I think it will be great for all those attending to be able to ask Bob questions about what it is to be the Zeus of the Mount Olympus of American cartooning, and to gain insight into this process.

Although the event is free and open to the broader public, Emily Flake, a wonderful strong female protagonist of The New Yorker cartoons, is now teaching a gag and short form cartoon class for SVA Continuing Education, and starting next year, a class for the undergrads, where at the end Bob himself will actually review their great work, so it will be neat for prospective students to get a taste of what is to come for them and their possible futures!

To learn more about this event, click here.

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