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Rall: The New Yorker is bad for cartooning

Ted Rall:

The New Yorker is terrible for cartooning because it prints a lot of awful cartoons, and uses its reputation in order to elevate terrible work as the profession?s platinum standard.

They pay pretty well. Which prompts too many talented artists, who under a better economic and media model would produce interesting, intelligent, great cartoons (and did so, in the alternative weekly newspapers of the 1990s, for example), to pull their satiric punches and stifle their creativity. Of course, not every cartoonist follows the siren call to Mankoff?s office in the Condé Nast building. It is possible to make a living selling cartoons to other venues. I do. Still, the New Yorker casts a long shadow, silently asking a question one fears is heard by art directors everywhere: If you?re so smart and so funny and so talented, why aren?t you in The New Yorker?

Classic Rall drivel. Note his standard conclusion that alt weeklies are where great cartoons are found and the injection of himself as being superior (e.g. selling cartoons in a more successful venue than New Yorker cartoonists). Let translate what he’s really saying: “I’ll never get into the New Yorker, so it sucks.”

Community Comments

#1 Mike Peterson
April/2/2014
@ 4:15 am

“Never speak disrespectfully of Society, Algernon. Only people who can’t get into it do that.” — Lady Bracknell, “The Importance of being Earnest” (Oscar Wilde)

#2 Mike Lester
April/2/2014
@ 7:19 am

Alan, Shouldn’t you disclose that Ted can’t defend himself from your remarks (and any others) because you banned him from TDC? Seems only sporting.

#3 Tom Falco
April/2/2014
@ 8:23 am

I have to agree with Rall to some degree, as I don’t often understand the gags in the New Yorker cartoons. I felt stupid at first, but it seems to be a common thing with so many people. Didn’t they just joke about it themselves in an interview recently about having at least one cartoon in an issue that no one gets?

Other than that, I don’t think they are bad for cartooning, on the contrary, if only all the magazines (and newspapers) respected cartoons as much.

#4 Andertoons
April/2/2014
@ 8:32 am

Much. Ado.

#5 Terry LaBan
April/2/2014
@ 8:34 am

You can’t blame the New Yorker for being, in essence, the last magazine standing that still buys gag cartoons. I also don’t think NOT being in the New Yorker is a black mark, though it’s certainly true getting into it is a plus. Ted doesn’t do New Yorker-style cartoons anyhow. I agree(!) with Mike Lester, though–you should let him on here to respond if you’re going to criticize him.

#6 Mike Lester
April/2/2014
@ 9:36 am

When I saw this wince inducing cartoon from a regular contributor a couple weeks before the 60 Min. story I thought -well I thought exactly what you’d expect:

http://imgc-cn.artprintimages.com/images/P-473-488-90/76/7683/2371300Z/posters/robert-mankoff-watch-out-for-his-right-hook-new-yorker-cartoon.jpg

#7 Mike Gols
April/2/2014
@ 11:15 am

I agree with Rall. And The New Yorker’s cartoon merchandising machine really screws cartoonists. But, more to the point, the comment “Let translate what he?s really saying: ‘I?ll never get into the New Yorker, so it sucks.'” is petty… and inaccurate. Rall’s work has been in a number of top-drawer venues; he doesn’t need The New Yorker any more than the doddering old rag wants him. The comment is beneath the dignity of this site.

#8 Nate Fakes
April/2/2014
@ 11:16 am

Yeah, there are a lot of cartoons I sometimes ‘don’t get’ in the New Yorker, but I appreciate any publication that uses cartoons as a medium to draw (no pun intended) in a readership.

I wish more publications would do the same….

#9 Joe Groshek
April/2/2014
@ 2:46 pm

I understand the majority of the gags or punchlines in their cartoons, but I have to assume their cartoon submissions guidelines require cartoon formatting to be drawing with your opposite hand, and sign it with the most illegible signature possible. Now I’m not saying this about every cartoon, but to some of the Cartoonist……come on, is this really the best artwork your capable of?? (no disrespect intended)…..in fact, more power to them….having a cartoon published in the New Yorker would look great on a resume.
It’s a safe assumption the New Yorker prioritizes the Gag/punchline first, and the artwork secondary, but I appreciate good quality drawings to enhance a gag. If I could get paid for doing just a rough thumbnail sketch with a quality gag. and having it published in the New Yorker (or any publication for that matter), I would gladly pump out a hundred of these a day without consideration to the quality of the art…..well maybe not.

#10 Brian Fairrington
April/2/2014
@ 3:53 pm

Just curious- 60 Minutes did not elaborate and Ted did not give out a number, but does anyone know what they pay for cartoons?

They use so many of them and it is such an integral part of the New Yorker that I hope they show their love for the art form with rates inline with what the Manhattan party crowd pays the help.

#11 Terry LaBan
April/3/2014
@ 8:22 am

@Brian Fairrington
It’s my understanding that the New Yorker pays in the area of $600-$700 per cartoon for a newbie. Which is a lot. But you have to take into account that to place one cartoon you usually have to submit hundreds.

#12 Gerry Mooney
April/3/2014
@ 3:10 pm

Not to split hairs but there are a lot of cartoons that I don’t get, period. The comics pages of the NY Post and Daily News can be cringe-inducing. The New Yorker is a pretty easy target in this respect, but if they would just publish MORE cartoons they’d raise their average!

#13 Jeff P.
April/3/2014
@ 3:29 pm

“Doddering old rag”? The New Yorker still has some of the finest political and social writing in American print media. Regardless of the cartoons, I hardly think it’s “doddering”.

#14 Pete McDonnell
April/4/2014
@ 2:08 pm

I imagine Rall could get into the New Yorker if he tried…maybe he has tried. The 60 minutes extras had an interview with David Sipress, who submitted stuff for 25 years before making a sale. That might be the answer; perseverance. And pithyness. Keep trying Ted! You know you want to be in there. As far as the quality of the cartoons, it’s certainly a mixed bag. I appreciate the work of some of the contributors and have very little to grudging respect for others.

#15 Mark Caplan
July/2/2014
@ 10:15 am

Rall is right that The New Yorker prints a lot of awful, amateurishly drawn cartoons. The verbal captions are often much better than the drawings. Still, as long as they’ve got a Robert Weber cartoon in most issues, I can’t be too critical.

#16 Deb Willis
August/20/2014
@ 11:06 pm

Rall is often obnoxious and egotistical, but I’m afraid he’s spot-on here. The New Yorker is synonymous with milquetoast banality.

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