New Yorker Cartoon Editor Bob Mankoff

May 13, 2014

Credit For Inspiration Only/flickr creative commons

From Faith Middleton:  He wrote one of the greatest cartoon lines ever, a sentence that rocketed through the country like a speeding train: How about never—is never good for you?

It is also the title of Bob Mankoff's cartoon-illustrated memoir, one of my favorite reads this year. Mankoff is cartoon editor of The New Yorker magazine, still the leading source of the best cartoons in the business.

Mankoff uses his own drawings (The New Yorker people don't call them cartoons), and those of his colleagues, to tell both his personal story, and describe the cartooning process at the magazine.

Some things I look forward to asking Bob: 

  1. Gene Wilder told me he felt he had to be “on” all the time to impress his wife Gilda Radner. Do you ever feel pressure to be funny in your personal relationships? 
  2. As editor, do you ever collaborate on the cartoon's words? Do the cartoonists want to kill you for this?  
  3. One of your popular cartoonists once told me that the cartoon contest is sort of an insult to the professionals, as if somebody suggested that we all try out being car mechanics at garages. This was understandable and surprising since the weekly contest makes me appreciate the talent it takes .to do one well. 
  4. Who had the bright idea to start the cartoon contest for readers? 
  5.  I used to get notes saying Faith Middleton, don't stop trying, which was nice but also made me feel pitied.  
  6. How political are you allowed to get? Could you do a cartoon, for instance, making fun of a Supreme Court justice? 
  7.  You are enlightening on the subject of what makes something funny, which is a dangerous subject, like trying to explain what laughter is. (I see this is not remotely like a question.)

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  • Bob Mankoff is a cartoon editor of The New Yorker, a cartoonist, and author of How About Never—Is Never Good for You? My Life in Cartoons.


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