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The Cartoonist’s Cartoonists: Dave Coverly

Editor’s note: Each week I invite a cartoonist to list 10 or so other cartoonists whose work he/she admires or has influenced their own work. This week’s featured cartoonist is Dave Coverly. Click on the cartoonists’ names to explore more about them and their work.

Jim Borgman – There’s mastery in his brushwork, a deceptive gentleness in his skewering, and so much wisdom in his ideas. Every single drawing seems fully formed; every single thought seems fully dissected. I think he sees more clearly and renders more completely than almost anyone.

Sergio Aragones – He’s unbelievably prolific and remarkably fun to watch draw. His cartoons today are as great and original as they were three decades ago when I got hooked on Mad Marginals. He can do more with less, and does it over and over.

Quino (Joaquin Lavado) – This guy is a pantomime genius and his vision is staggering. Like Sergio, he’s working in the toughest possible style, creating visual gags, and his ability to direct the reader’s eye is the best in the business. He always knows just the right amount of detail needed to tell the joke, and has the draftsmanship to pull off whatever works best. There’s nothing he can’t draw, so his scope is unlimited.

George Booth – He’s seemingly oblivious to any cartoonist that came before him, and has created a brilliantly crazy parallel universe that is sort of recognizable but uniquely his own. Even his art has that quality – the linework looks like it was drawn on old typing paper on top of a bumpy wooden picnic table. I think he’s quite possibly the most natural cartoonist ever.

J.J. Sempé – His drawings just float off the page. On the one hand, they seem very simple, but when you start really looking at the execution and the layout and the balance, they’re incredibly beautiful. His color work kills me, too, because it’s a heady balance of light lines and weighty shadows held together by a perfect palette.

B. Kliban – Still the best oddball, single-panel cartoonist to put pen to paper. Kliban did so much work that defies description, and while it was much too dark and grimey for newspapers, he set the standard for all us panel people who followed. While we try to draw cartoons that come out of left field, he was in a different stadium altogether.

Virgil Partch – To me, the beauty of Partch isn’t so much the jokes, it’s the sensibility. His work is incredibly distinctive, and very much of a time. I’m also in love with his vaguely modernist lines and nonsensical shapes. There’s a sort of drunken whimsy to the cartoons that’s endearing and fun and totally his own.

Jim Unger – Jim was my first real influence. His drawing style appealed to me, but more than that, he was the first panel cartoonist that consistently made me laugh. And laugh hard. His “Herman” collections were the first cartoon books I ever bought with my own money, and my sister and I read them so often we nearly had them memorized. To this day we spontaneously quote them. “Don’t play with grandpa’s greasy hair before dinner” is a regular refrain during the holidays now…

Jack Ziegler/Arnie Levin – Two guys I can’t separate because their work came to me at the same time in high school when my journalism teacher gave me a stack of New Yorker magazines. Jack and Arnie quickly became a couple of favorites, in part because they both have an easy, quick style, but mainly because I found them to be the most consistent. Sometimes funny, sometimes witty, sometimes clever, they’re always simply excellent. And I still have the massive photo album full of their cartoons that I clipped way back then.

Community Comments

#1 josh s.
@ 10:58 am

I really like this feature. I like the commentary on cartoonists whose work I am familiar with, and I also like looking up those I’ve never seen.

A friend once showed me a book by Quino; it made me wish I knew Spanish!

#2 Richard Thompson
@ 2:27 pm

Can I add all these guys to my list? Booth can be on it twice.

#3 Rich Diesslin
@ 8:52 pm

Thanks for sharing these Dave. Interesting stuff. I never bothered to look and see who did the marginal gags in MAD, but I loved them. Now I know! I guess I’ll have to look back and find out who did Spy vs. Spy back in the 60s and 70s … those were always fun too. Keep up the great work with Speed Bump!

#4 Garey Mckee
@ 10:30 pm

Gotta love those Kliban cats!

#5 Guy Gilchrist
@ 12:44 pm

Dave is consistant, and one of the best artists out there.His attention to detail, and his compositions are first rate!Oh…and he’s funny.

#6 Chris H.
@ 10:33 pm

This is a very engaging feature. Thompson’s list was interesting to read because it touched upon some of the best of the best, even if some were pretty well-known, but Coverly’s list was interesting to read because I did not know the majority of the cartoonists on the list, and I had to check out their work.

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