Thursday, October 15, 2009

Jeff MacNelly

David Apatoff's Illustration Art blog showcases some of Jeff MacNelly's editorial cartoons.

Do read David's background on the self-taught, 3-time Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist. (He also won 2 NCS Reuben Awards.) The art is something to grapple with; powerful, lingering and, above all, MacNelly's own.

MacNelly's art was made for the eye to linger. There is so much understanding of form and shadow -- along with the tremendous, insightful writing.

I attended my first National Cartoonists Society Reubens convention in New York City in 2000. I was a freshly minted newbie. I had just been admitted to the NCS the month before. Didn't know a soul. I registered for the convention in a room off of the main lobby. I was given my badge and a goody bag. Also in this room: tables of flyers and posters and freebies to browse. Jeff MacNelly, to ill to attend, had drawn a full color poster, and as I approached it, looking at his Shoe characters, I heard a voice behind me: "Isn't he the best?" I looked at the guy who spoke. I didn't know who he was. Then I looked at the badge he was wearing. It said "Mike Peters, Editorial Cartoonist." I had not met Mike. We chatted for a minute. Mike, like always, treated me like an equal even though he had never heard of me. I asked about Mr. MacNelly's health. Mike was obviously worried about him.

And I could tell, just the way that other cartoonists spoke about him during that May weekend at the World Trade Center, that MacNelly was a giant. His presence was there.

Above: MacNelly's NCS bio.

And that's the thing about cartooning that gets a proverbial lump in the throat: all the pro cartoonists I have ever met are the most gracious, kindest people.

I wish I had met Jeff MacNelly. I'm glad that David Apatoff shared some of his wonderful editorial cartoons. Thanks, David.

Related: Jeff MacNelly's official site.


John Platt said...

I had the great pleasure of meeting Jeff and seeing him work when I interned at the DC offices of the Chicago Tribune. I was astounded that he could ink in his drawings with barely the hint of pencils underneath. "I've drawn tanks so many times, I don't need to pencil them first," he told me.

He was also incredibly generous and encouraging about my own cartooning (I was drawing editorial cartoons for my school paper at the time). He kind of blew me off the first time I asked him, but then he felt guilty and sought me out to show him some of my work. I was an amateur and a kid, but he took me seriously, and I'll never forget that.

Brian Fies said...

Look at all the lush duotone in that editorial cartoon! Really well done. They just stopped making that stuff very recently; I still have some stashed under my desk somewhere. Just another lost art in the craft of cartooning....