The individual elements in this cover, from the slyly contented cat to the splendidly rococo desserts, are all graphic comic charmers in and of themselves. It all works even before we “get” the idea, which, in this case, I don’t completely. For myself, as a “head” cartoonist, the idea on this cover is actually somewhat confusing. Thought balloons in cartoons like this usually represent desire. Fair enough, the cat wants a fish. But does he desire a fish instead of these lovingly drawn desserts? Hmm. Then why does the cat have that slight smile running across his face? If this were just a simply drawn “head” cartoon, by someone like me, it wouldn’t merit much attention, but because it came from the outrageously talented hand of Ronald Searle, we remain transfixed and as contented as that cat.
- Cartoon Editor Bob Mankoff on cartoonist Ronald Searle (1920-2011). For more on the difference between a “hand” and a “head” cartoonist, and a selection of Searle’s New Yorker cartoons: http://nyr.kr/wxRBlD
Carter Goodrich first sent us a version of this week’s cover more than a dozen years ago. (The subway angel was reading a newspaper.) Goodrich also draws children’s books; the second volume in the “Zorro” series will be published in May, and he’s at work on a third. He also does character design for animated films, including “Shrek,” “Finding Nemo,” and “Brave,” which Pixar is set to release in June. Designing animated characters is a lot like drawing a New Yorker cover, he says, in that “a single image must convey several layers of information, or storytelling, in order to be successful.”