Children’s Illustrators and The New Yorker
My husband Matt pairs well with me for a number of reasons. Amongst them is our mutual inclination to collect things we love. As such, Matt has systematically been holding onto all his issues of The New Yorker ever since he got his subscription in college. Over the years these issues have piled up piled up piled up. I was a Serials Manager before I got my library degree and one of the perks of the job was getting lots of lovely magazine holders. For years these holders graced the tops of our bookshelves and even came along with us when we moved into our current apartment a year ago. Yet with the arrival of our puir wee bairn, we decided to do the unthinkable.
Yes. We ripped off all their covers.
Well, most anyway. We have the complete run of New Yorker text on CD-ROM anyway, and anything published after the CD-ROM’s release would be online. Thus does the internet discourage hoarding.
In the meantime, we now are the proud owners of only three boxes worth of New Yorker covers. They’re very fun to look at. I once had the desire to wallpaper my bathroom in such covers, but that dream will have to wait (as much as I love New York apartments and all . . .). For now, it’s just fun to flip through the covers themselves and, in flipping, I discovered something. Sure, I knew that the overlap between illustrators of children’s books and illustrators of New Yorkers was frequent. I just didn’t know how frequent it was. Here then is a quickie encapsulation of some of the folks I discovered in the course of my cover removal.
Zoom and Re-Zoom continue to circulate heavily in my library, all thanks to Banyai. I had a patron the other day ask if we had anything else that was similar but aside from Barbara Lehman all I could think of was Wiesner’s Flotsam. Banyai is well known in a different way for New Yorker covers, including this controversial one. As I recall, a bit of a kerfuffle happened when it was published back in the day.
Author and illustrator of many many picture books, it’s little wonder that the Art Editor of The New Yorker, Ms. Francoise Mouly, managed to get the man to do a TOON Book (Luke on the Loose) as well. And when it comes to his covers, this is the one I always think of first.
Blitt’s been doing more and more children’s literature lately, one of his 2011 efforts being The Adventures of Mark Twain. I wasn’t necessarily going to include him here, but when I saw this cover . . . well, how could I resist?
He always makes me laugh. Whether it’s his version of Never Tease a Weasel or Starlight Goes to Town, the man’s a hoot. Doesn’t do many covers, mind you, but that’s okay. Hoot.
It’s a bit of a stretch including Chast here since her forays into children’s books haven’t been all that numerous. Still, once in a while she’ll give children’s book illustration the old college try, and we respect her efforts … with the possible exception of that woeful Steve Martin book… bleagh. Give me a cover like this over a book like that any day.
Here’s one of the first big surprises. Colon doing a New Yorker cover? Indeed he did it at least once. Hard not to recognize the man’s style. I’d pick it out of a line-up anywhere.
Peter de Seve
He’s done the odd book here and there (no odder or better than the beautiful Duchess of Whimsy with his wife Randall de Seve). But New Yorker covers? They abound! It was very hard to pick and choose amongst them but for today my favorite will have to be this:
I confess to you that this is just the first of several New Yorker cover pieces I’m thinking of doing. And if I get around to them, the first I’ll do will be a piece on Ian Falconer. Long before his Olivia became famous, Falconer was a New Yorker staple. Olivia came out in 2000, so I’m sure more than one kid had a sense of deja vu when they spied this cover sitting on their parents’ coffee tables:
That was a real shock. This is the only Hall cover I’ve been able to locate, but it’s proof enough that the man has at least one to his name. You’ve probably seen his work on books like Karma Wilson’s The Cow Loves Cookies and Lee Bennett Hopkins’ City I Love. Neat.
These days he’s conquering the world of picture book apps. Long before that, though, Joyce used to do New Yorker covers. No longer. He still does children’s books, though, most notably this year’s The Man in the Moon. Still, I miss the days when getting The New Yorker could yield something like this:
I wasn’t surprised that Ms. Juan (the genius behind The Night Eater and illustrating this year’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making) did the occasional cover. In my search, however, I found that she’s done a lot of “meaningful” ones that I wouldn’t normally associate with her name. This will be explained in a future post. In the meantime, dig that style:
The author of the Max series as well as this year’s collaboration with Daniel Handler on the YA novel Why We Broke Up, Kalman has done several covers over the years. But were you aware that New Yorkistan was hers?
He’ll always be a cartoonist first and foremost to me, but Koren has certainly done his fair share of books like the upcoming Alan Katz title Poems I Wrote When No One Was Looking. Interestingly, he hasn’t a lot of covers to his name.
Yep. Gary Larson did a cover. Just take that in, won’t you?
Until I had a pile of them sorted before me I had no idea that McCall was as prolific a New Yorker artist as he was! The man’s a veritable one man cover factory! When he’s not illustrating books like Marveltown, that is. I picked this image because I like that it features the same little fireboat as you’ll find in the picture book Fireboat illustrated by the aforementioned Maira Kalman. It all ties together.
There’s a surprise! Niemann has a tendency to hide his signature on his covers, so it took me an awfully long time before I realized that the author of books like Subway and this year’s That’s How has a roster of New Yorkers to his name. I like the already dated quality of this one.
It’s a toss-up to say whether Sempé, Blitt, or Bruce McCall have done the most New Yorker covers out of any children’s author/illustrators. I think Sempé (at least partly responsible for the charming Nicholas novels for kids) has an edge in this contest, though. I chose this cover partly because it’s a lovely example of his simple storytelling, often involving children.
Didn’t know he did a cover? Neither did I. Though it resembles nothing so much as an ad for his We’re All in the Dumps With Jack and Guy (which, looking at the date, isn’t too surprising) it still makes for a neat cover. It’s the only one I found too. Apparently it was a one time deal (unless he did one prior to this, which is possible).
When your wife’s the Art Director it’s inevitable that you’ll be roped into a cover or two. Spiegelman has done his own fair share of picture and TOON Books for kids. This cover has an equally kid-friendly feel. I just like how well it sums up the month of March too.
Bob’s one of those guys that I encountered as a picture book author/illustrator long before I realized that I’d been seeing his covers for years. This is a pretty atypical Staake, but I like the feel and flow of it.
Ah, it’s hard not to miss him. His picture books guarantee his immortality (long after the movie of Shrek has faded from our minds, the book will remain) but his work with the New Yorker should be remembered for as long as humanly possible. Sometimes they just feel good.
Not trying to be comprehensive I’ve certainly left off some folks like Sorrel, BEK, and Viva, though they’ve done children’s books as well. Consider this a vague overview more than anything else.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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