Danny Shanahan – RIP

Magazine cartoonist Danny Shanahan has passed away.

Daniel Patrick (Danny) Shanahan
July 11, 1957 – July 5, 2021 


Michael Maslin is reporting the death of Danny Shanahan:

The cartoonist, Danny Shanahan, who contributed drawings to The New Yorker from September of 1988 through last year,  died early this morning, according to his wife, Janet Stetson. He was 64, just days shy of his 65th birthday. His death was due to complications from surgery.

An autobiographical short from A Case For Pencils in 2017:

I’ve been cartooning for over 30 years. I started, back in the 80s, as the unofficial cartoonist for the United States Tennis Association, thanks to a good friend who was an editor for World Tennis magazine. Thankfully, he saw a glimmer of possibility in this Bleecker Street bartender’s Kliban and Larsen knock-offs. And Mark McEnroe, then an intern at the magazine, also helped, showing me that cartooning was my true path, mostly by kicking my ass up and down a tennis court.

It took my moving from Brooklyn to Albuquerque to sell my first cartoons to The New Yorker, (eye-catching return address) and after 7 years of self-imposed work/exile, my family and I moved back east to Rhinebeck, NY, where I remain to this day. I’ve worked for dozens of other publications, some of which are still, surprisingly, being published. Four collections of my own work, loads of anthologies, blah, blah, blah. My work hangs all over the place: galleries, museums, my studio, refrigerators, restaurant bathrooms, etc.

From Michael Maslin’s Ink Spill:

“I always loved the Thurber Millmoss cartoon, one of my all-time favorites. It was approaching the Christmas holiday, and gift cartoons were in my head (as were “return” cartoons). I came up with the Thurber tribute, the “return” of Millmoss, but didn’t know if it would fly with Lee [The New Yorker’s art editor, Lee Lorenz]. He loved it, The New Yorker ran it, so not long after I decided to keep it going...”

cartoons © Condé Nast

From a 2015 Flex Your Memory interview:

Brent: Do you usually come up first with the visual or the words?

Danny: I’m a word guy, primarily a comic writer, I suppose, so I nearly always work with the captions first, the drawings following. I write in a sketchpad because I like to immediately rough out the ideas I come up with. Sometimes these ideas are half-formed, but if I get them sketched out, they might eventually be more fully realized the following week, or the week after.

Brent: So creating a visual helps flesh out the final product. Please say more.

Danny: An example of this would be the couple on the beach. I can’t quite remember what the guy was originally saying to his wife, but it just wasn’t funny enough. Weeks later, looking back through my sketchbook, I noticed that in my haste, I had inadvertently drawn the sun inside the horizon line. I realized I had something there, and “That can’t be good” was born.

Certainly his years at The New Yorker (1988 – 2020) sealed his cartooning fame, but he also contributed to other publications including: Time, Newsweek, New York Magazine, Fortune, Playboy, Esquire, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, and others.

Danny’s last years had seen some troubles but he had hoped to regain his career when this tragedy struck.

July 8 update:

The New York Times obituary:

The cause was multiple system organ failure, his wife, Janet Stetson, said. He had been living in Mount Pleasant, S.C.

From 1988 through last year, Mr. Shanahan published about 1,000 cartoons in The New Yorker. Drawn with a casual style and an absurdist’s eye, they were populated by a panoply of characters, including clowns, snowmen, praying mantises, cats, dogs, cave men, elves, monkeys, athletes, businessmen, politicians, Santa Claus and Elvis.

CartoonStock has a gallery of nearly 1500 cartoons by Danny.

One thought on “Danny Shanahan – RIP

  1. I loved LOVED Shanahan’s work. One of my favorites, that I believe was a New Yorker cover, was a woman using a walker, approaching four strategically placed banana peels on the sidewalk.

    After my extensive knee surgery (and not a knee replacement mind you!) I gave a copy of this cartoon to my orthopedic surgeon.

    Rest in peace, Danny. The world that knew you, loved you.

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