“Frank Modell told me, ‘For the New Yorker, you have to draw better than you know how to.'”
Liza Donnelly joins the show to talk about her careers as a New Yorker cartoonist, women’s rights activist and live-drawing legend! We get into the weird overlap of respectability, responsibility and cartooning, as well as her work for Cartooning for Peace, the joys of drawing on the subway, how she benefited from Tina Brown’s love of snarky women, why she’s considering (but is daunted by) making a long-form comic, the evolution of her feminist consciousness, her trouble drawing George Clooney, and more! BONUS: my interminable intro takes up the first 13 minutes! Give it a listen!
“Social media is an extension of what drew me to cartooning initially; I was shy and I didn’t like to talk, and I was drawing to make my mother laugh. Drawing was communication, and sharing.”
We also get into the significance of The New Yorker (and New York), her book on the magazine’s women cartoonists, the TED swag that changed her life, the mentor/mentee relationship, the contradictions of meticulously developing a carefree style, how the internet has given her a platform, and more. Now go listen to the show!
“It becomes a matter of paring back your style, learning how to let go of detail, learning how to draw simply, making it look like you just whipped this drawing off, even if it took 25 attempts.”
About our Guest
Liza Donnelly is a writer and cartoonist with The New Yorker magazine. She is also a sought after public speaker and also does live drawings of events, covering the 2016 Democratic National Convention for CBS News and the presidential debates. She recently joined CBS This Morning as contributing cartoonist. She is a columnist and cartoonist for Forbes.com, specializing in politics and women’s rights. Donnelly draws a political cartoon for Politico and Medium, and she is a contributor to many other national publications. Donnelly was a finalist for the 2014 Thurber Prize, the only award for written humor in the United States.
Donnelly is a Cultural Envoy for the US State Department, traveling around the world speaking about freedom of speech, cartoons and women’s rights. As a public speaker, Donnelly has also spoken at TED (Technology Entertainment and Design), the United Nations, and The New Yorker Festival, as well as colleges, universities and corporate venues, among other places.
Donnelly was profiled on CBS Sunday Morning, NBC and BetterTV, and has been interviewed on radio and in numerous magazines, newspapers and online. Donnelly’s cartoons and commentary can be seen on various websites: the NewYorker.com; Politico.com, CNN.com; HuffingtonPost.com; Salon.com; DailyBeast.com; NarrativeMagazine.com. Her work has appeared in print publications, including The New York Times, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, The Nation and The Harvard Business Review.
Donnelly is the author/editor of sixteen books. Her most recent book is titled Women on Men, published by Narrative Magazine. Some of her other books are When Do They Serve the Wine?: The Folly, Flexibility, and Fun of Being a Woman, Funny Ladies: The New Yorker’s Greatest Women Cartoonists And Their Cartoons, a history of the women who drew cartoons for the magazine, Sex and Sensibility: Ten Women Examine the Lunacy of Modern Love…in 200 Cartoons and Cartoon Marriage: Adventures in Love and Matrimony by The New Yorker’s Cartooning Couple (with Michael Maslin). Donnelly’s book, When Do they Serve the Wine? was optioned by Mark Gordon Studios for an hour long comedy for television; and the book she wrote with her husband, Cartoon Marriage, has been optioned by Jennifer Garner for ABC Studios. Donnelly has written and illustrated numerous children’s books for Scholastic and Holiday House.
She is the New York Director of the international project, Cartooning for Peace, helping to promote understanding through humor; and is president and co-founder of USA FECO, the US chapter of the international cartoonists’ organization. Her work has been in numerous exhibitions globally, and she has curated exhibits of international cartoonists, here and abroad. Donnelly taught at Vassar College and the School of Visual Arts and is a member of PEN and the Authors Guild. She is the recipient of an honorary degree from the University of Connecticut, and received a Ruben Award, the Salon St. Just International Prize, AAUW Women of Distinction Award. Liza was a member the jury of the World Press Cartoon Prize in Lisbon, the Cartooning for Peace Prize in Geneva and the Aydin Dogan Cartoon Competition in Turkey.
Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission of the artist. The conversation was recorded in Ms. Donnelly’s kitchen on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. Blurry photo of Ms. Donnelly by ???.
“I’ve read enough Roland Barthes and Foucault to know it’s all fiction, man.”
Richard Gehr’s new book, I Only Read It for the Cartoons: The New Yorker’s Most Brilliantly Twisted Artists (Amazon/New Harvest), profiles a dozen New Yorker cartoonists. We talk about the genesis of that project, lament the dearth of cartooning in print and online, bond over Abe Vigoda, and ponder why it is that so many New Yorker cartoonists had teachers or educators for parents. We also get into Richard’s history in the arts-journalism racket, the joys of Robert Walser, his time in the Boy Scouts with Matt Groening, how he built a career out of his oddball enthusiasms, and the most mind-blowing “Which celebrity did you totally melt down around?” story in the history of this podcast. (Seriously.) Give it a listen!
“I love New Yorker cartoons, but they might be the whitest form of art ever conceived.”
About our Guest
Richard Gehr has been writing about music, culture, and travel for quite a while. He has been an editor for the Los Angeles Reader, Spin, and Sonicnet/MTV Interactive. He currently writes for Rolling Stone, Spin, The Village Voice, Relix, AARP: The Magazine, and other publications. He was a senior writer for the book Alt. Culture: An A-To-Z Guide to the ’90S – Underground, Online, and Over-The-Counter and co-authored The Phish Book with the Vermont quartet. His new book is I Only Read It for the Cartoons: The New Yorker’s Most Brilliantly Twisted Artists. He resides in the Brooklyn arrondissement.
Credits: This episode’s music is Homesickness by Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou (because I’m on the road for a week). The conversation was recorded at Mr. Gehr’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. The intro and outro were recorded on the same setup in a hotel room in San Diego, when my voice was shot from a three-day podcast-athon in Los Angeles. Processing was done in Audacity and Garage Band. Photo of Mr. Gehr by me.
“One thing I tell young cartoonists: a magazine is like going out on a date, and a book is like getting married. If you’re going out on a date, you don’t need a lawyer. If you’re doing a book, you get a lawyer.”
Sam Gross’ gag panels warped me at a young age (see above), so it was an honor to get him on mic to talk about his nearly six-decade cartooning career. We sat down in his studio to discuss the serious business of gags, how he went from drawing a Saul Steinberg nose to drawing a Sam Gross one, how he continues in his 80s to come up with a week’s worth of new gags for Look Day, how he once got a Vanishing New York tour from Charles Addams, how he revels in the “humor of the handicapped”, and the magazine he misses the most. Give it a listen!
“I don’t know where I’m gonna go next. I’m not a finished product.”
About our Guest
Sam Gross has been publishing cartoons since the 1950s. His cartoons have appeared in The New Yorker since 1969. He served as the cartoon editor of National Lampoon and Parents magazines, and was president of the Cartoonists Guild. He has published numerous collections, including I Am Blind and My Dog is Dead. You can buy reproductions of his art at the Conde Nast Store.
Credits: This episode’s music is Funny Little Frog by Belle & Sebastian. The conversation was recorded at Mr. Gross’ studio on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. The intro and outro were recorded on a Blue Yeti USB Microphone. Processing was done in Audacity and Garage Band. Photo of Mr. Gross by me.