I met Lee Lorenz (samples of his cartoons here) at The New Yorker magazine offices for the first time Tuesday, November 21, 2006.
Mr. Lorenz was cartoon editor of the NYer mag from 1973 to 1997, and still is a prolific cartoonist contributor with an estimated 1,500 drawings published.
At about 10am this past Tuesday, I had come in and set down my submissions on Bob Mankoff's assistant's desk. Mr. Lorenz had walked in just behind me. I don't know what he looks like, so I would not have recognized him. He started talking to somebody and mentioned he was Lee Lorenz, and was there to do something to a cartoon caption. Not sure. Anyway, I heard him say he was Lee Lorenz.
This person, an assistant I assume, unlocks this tall filing cabinet and pulls out an original Lee Lorenz and hands it to him. By this time, I've pulled my rejections from another file in another cabinet. I wasn't sure. Should I just walk over there and say, "Hi. You don't know me, but I love your work ... ?"
I thought that I might as well grab the moment. So, I introduce myself. I tell him I've been submitting to the magazine for a while, no sales yet. I tell him he's one of my favorite cartoonists. He thanks me.
I tell him about the time that Bob showed me some Lorenz originals, and was telling me, "THAT'S how you draw a crowd scene." Lee demurred, saying that if there ever was a master of the crowd scene, it was Peter Arno. Since Lee knew Arno, I asked if it was true that drawing the cartoon was his favorite part and was it typical that Arno would draw and redraw a cartoon dozens of times before producing a "final" version? Lee said, yes
I said that my wife loved his work, and (paraphrasing a line from ENCHANTED APRIL) that that was high praise, if you knew my wife! He laughed and asked what she did. I said she did computer graphics for a living. He said something like, she's in the right business -- it's all PhotoShop now!
As I was leaving he told me "good luck with this week's batch!" I smiled back and, I think, I blushed. "Thanks!"
Gee whiz. What a nice guy.
No buys from that week's batch, by the way. (And, yeah, even though it was that teeny 3 days week from before Thanksgiving, they were looking at cartoons that week.)
Lee Lorenz: Another one of those "the bigger they are, the nicer they are" kinda guys.
More Peter Arno cartoons here.