How About Never—Is Never Good for You?: My Life in Cartoons by Bob MankoffMemoir in cartoons by the longtime cartoon editor of The New Yorker
People tell Bob Mankoff that as the cartoon editor of The New Yorker he has the best job in the world. Never one to beat around the bush, he explains to us, in the opening of this singular, delightfully eccentric book, that because he is also a cartoonist at the magazine he actually has two of the best jobs in the world. With the help of myriad images and his funniest, most beloved cartoons, he traces his love of the craft all the way back to his childhood, when he started doing funny drawings at the age of eight. After meeting his mother, we follow his unlikely stints as a high-school basketball star, draft dodger, and sociology grad student. Though Mankoff abandoned the study of psychology in the seventies to become a cartoonist, he recently realized that the field he abandoned could help him better understand the field he was in, and here he takes up the psychology of cartooning, analyzing why some cartoons make us laugh and others dont. He allows us into the hallowed halls of The New Yorker to show us the soup-to-nuts process of cartoon creation, giving us a detailed look not only at his own work, but that of the other talented cartoonists who keep us laughing week after week. For dessert, he reveals the secrets to winning the magazines caption contest. Throughout How About Never--Is Never Good for You?, we see his commitment to the motto Anything worth saying is worth saying funny.
How About Never--Is Never Good for You?
But the artwork and text work together to tell a fizzy, jokey story about a long and busy career. Now around 70, Mr. Mankoff depicts himself with a big grin and a lipstick mark on his forehead, saying those words to the Grim Reaper. Mankoff submitted hundreds of cartoons to The New Yorker before selling one. He developed a pointillist drawing style that is as distinctive as that of other longtime New Yorker artists. And he read endless cartoon submissions. Mankoff replied that he had taken the liberty of sending him a play.
Mankoff also writes with first-hand knowledge about the topic of laughter itself. He dares to ask the question, 'What makes something funny? Hi, this is me, Bob Mankoff.
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One is the creation of The Cartoon Bank , in , which, starting in , archived and made available the cartoons of The New Yorker , while also assuring that cartoonists would be paid when their cartoons where bought and reused. So, do them, me, and yourself a favor and use it. However, what I will be remembered for is the cartoon that stands as the title for my memoir:. I drew this cartoon back in , and now the phrase is firmly entrenched in the culture—so much so that it can be referred to as though it were an anonymous aphorisim. Nancy Pelosi did just that during the election:. That cartoon has also earned me the dubious distinction of being ripped off for t-shirts, decals, and this lovely thong:.
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How about never — is never good for you? In the mids, when he himself was already a graduate school dropout psychology and a published cartoonist Saturday Review but not yet a New Yorker cartoonist , Mankoff spent days in the New York Public Library poring over bound volumes of the magazine, all the way back to its birth in , in an effort to crack the code. Today there are probably more people alive who speak Gullah or know how to thatch a roof than there are first-rate panel cartoonists. However, now close could be good enough. That charge rankles Mankoff, and spurs him to a discussion of what makes a cartoon funny or not — potentially as arid a subject as the endless deserts cartoon protagonists still crawl across, one hand raised, in search of. There are plenty here as well, by Mankoff and his colleagues, past and present, illustrating various points about drawing, writing and editing.