Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Lee Lorenz and Peter Arno

It's Tuesday -- the traditional New Yorker cartoon "look" day, when cartoons are reviewed by cartoon editor Bob Mankoff. I was just going to drop off a batch of cartoons last week, but then I had a chance to meet a cartoonist I had always admired ....

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

(Above, a Peter Arno cartoon)

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.


Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,
I Love Arno and grew up fondly gazing at his cartoons (among many others) in a couple of old collections my parents owned (the New Yorker War Album and another).
I really enjoyed this article.

I'd love to talk with you about a couple of things if you get a chance. I'm not too familiar with blogs just yet. Perhaps you could e-mail me at rich@richpowell.com

I'm a fellow member of NCS and thought I might find your e-mail address there but, no. So I'm trying this!


Mark Anderson said...

I just love both Lorenz and Arno. Two of my all-time faves.

BTW, I'd also like to talk to you about a couple of things. Most importantly why you keep sending me pictures of yourself in a hula skirt and sombrero.

Opa said...

Thank you for your appreciative notes about Lorenz -- a giant whose wit and wisdom are doomed to elude more and more of the New Yorker readers for whose sensibilities most of today's New yorker cartoons are pubished.
Example: Lorenz on page 76, New Yorker of June 25,07:
(a) a great cartoon, (b) for and out of another world than that of all other drawings in the issue.