Monday, July 20, 2015

Book review: How About Never--Is Never Good for You?: My Life in Cartoons by Bob Mankoff

It was so hard to actually read this book and not flip through it and just read all the cartoons first! That was of course my introduction to The New Yorker. As a kid, my parents' subscription seemed so dense and difficult I never tried reading any of it... except for the cartoons. Although, to be honest, I'm not sure that I understood even half of them. Later, as an adult living in New York with my own subscription, I did get 99% of the cartoons, and although I read the magazine cover to cover (except for the short story and the poem), the cartoons remained the best part.

So it was fascinating to find out what happens behind the scenes. How different editors over the years have affected the style and type of cartoons featured. How the cartoon marketplace has changed how the cartoon editor mentors young cartoonists. How no one understands how the cartoonists are paid. And Mankoff goes back also to his own childhood to tell of how he got started in cartooning.

This isn't a traditional memoir--you don't find out about his first two marriage except in a throwaway line regarding his third marriage. There isn't a lot of insight or deep thinking about his past. It's fairly strictly about cartooning, all the way. We might not even have heard about the third marriage except that wife helped to found and run The Cartoon Bank, Mankoff's brain-child website devoted to selling cartoonists' other (read: rejected) works so they can more easily make a living (since acquired by The New Yorker and Conde Nast and now also featuring New Yorker cartoons and their other magazines.)

I loved how he used cartoons throughout to illustrate points and to explain who different people in the business are and to show the evolution of The New Yorker cartoons (and this is particular to The New Yorker cartoons, not cartooning in general.) Suffice it to say that if you are a fan of these, you'll love the book, which is an easy read.

I checked this book out of the library.

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