Dec. 12, 1997: Drawing laughter: The cartoonists of The New Yorker magazine

The cartoonists of The New Yorker magazine talk about what makes a successful cartoon.
18:30 | 04/04/17

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Transcript for Dec. 12, 1997: Drawing laughter: The cartoonists of The New Yorker magazine
There this if you analyze it too closely absolutely nothing funny about the cartoon which shows the condemned man kneeling under the do you team. As the executioner a holding two baskets asks. Paper or plastic. And yet the cartoons of Tom Cheney have amused millions of Americans. For many years. The cartoons of Charles Adams equally ghoulish of evolved. Into a hugely successful television series and then more than twenty years later into a couple of hit movies featuring the Addams Family. There is especially at this time of year something both whimsical and satisfying. About mr. Adams family. Tipping her cauldron of boiling oil on a hapless chorus apology Karen Hughes. It is not something we would ever do over or even want to do but it strikes a coal. Which in the final analysis is what a successful cartoon always doubts. It taps into the jumble of cliches and inside its frustrations and resentments. The swirl around inside each of us and produces that rare combination. A recognition. And humor. Which is why when freelance producer of Dora Miller Tara came to us from propose that we devote a program to a special edition of The New Yorker. Devoted entirely to its cartoonists. We immediately latched onto the idea and Astoria to help us do it. You'll look like you're going to appear in federal departed we have the top hat ladies you may have viking helmet please give my model. Over here. Can I have your attention please let. Why Blu-ray. 42 New Yorker Magazine cartoonists have gathered at a Manhattan photos to review for a class photo of sorts. The class has grown during the last half century and a few of the subjects from this 1947. Photographs. Are on hand today. I was. I started in nineteen. I'm totally feeling it won't come to be photographed for the first issue devoted internally to the subject of cartoons. A celebration the single criminal magazine current two. A form created by The New Yorker in 1945. What its first issue. It's a fun look back but also the turning point. Napster they all come to me. New Yorker editor Tina Brown is appointing Bob my Inco office staff cartoonist for twenty years. As the new cartoon editor so. Lisa you and with that all of you hit today. I'm proud reveres the magazine's traditions but is already bringing in a few. Digital age touches. In The New Yorker history. It's. Published in 88000. Cartoons. 58000. Cartoons which. I have right here. On this desk which is virtually Kim. Back. Question but my uncle because I find his cartoons for stock some of the best that we haven't by. As the manufacture did cactus at a bad time. Try to keep my people with expressionless as possible that constantly. He's got a very edgy. Very content pre very original very funny very risky cunning human. And I found I was always find his stuff. No I don't want to play chess. I just want you to read eat the lasagna. Personally. I like the New York Times in color. They can't see right now would you like a bottle lying awaiting. The cartoonists official equipment at the epic Graham expects. You know the one a lot of that the sum up a mood for a world view if it's downright hasn't universality that that the best wit can achieve. It's a way of dealing with the complexities. Of the world by reducing them. To a comic situation rather than a 42 paid government reports. And that's where very few cartoonists are in government next. As cartoon editor man come off now presides over the New Yorkers Tuesday morning ritual in which the staff artists like religion is so applicants. Bring in a full week's work hoping that just one current tuned we'll find favor. We schmooze. The only one of the things about being a cartoonist and I have yet to get put up with is. Constant. Reject the cost 95%. Where it's being rejected. And I gotta say it's easier rejecting. And they can be checked the and to add to the cartoonists agony man cough usually scans their work. With a stone face she. And how it's quiet but in inside my mind is ricocheting with laughter. Laughter. Is about surprise and let's face it. Q become very hard to surprise. When you seem you know 50000 cartoons you always become a little bit like humor mechanic. But every now and then. If that kept the pat fish. What lottery he got a laugh at everybody Dalton. The cartoon also passes the leftist at the final art meeting. Direction I think very. KP gag in and buy you a pair of underpants. Laughing. Is the prime reason we IDs content it delicious we can't pass them up. You know we got it we gotta eat this will Bom ba. And then went what the hell will finish the press box. And Bob Manning cough has gorge on a lot of cartoons he loves them knows the history and could rattle off favorites. Wicker cartoon computer Jackson. He glitter from facial cartoonists get over 700 cartoons published in the magazine. And with you one of his. If what occurred in the naked guy the air is actually from a cartoon where he's looking in a closet. And the only thing on the hanger. North a leaf has called simpler times. Think of a wonderful wonderful cartoon is called January 3 at Rockefeller Center. Just the idea that the day after Iraq goes then to be just like everything else. Leo column we are mr. Greifeld for dog from dogs thing. Of the Scotch and Toro war. Res screen issue react hysterically funny game Wilson cartoon and as a guide a pizza place job. His mouth is enormous. There's. Addition food and grudging cut in New York funded and peaches if you don't mind the clear he's just. Cobra Saudi I don't know what repeat the pots that he thought the phone. Anything from pushy you crazy bastard how body. There's a funny kidney ARRIS cartooning lecture death comes who door refused shorten. Small call and and things got to worry I'm just too sore throat. How dare cartoon which had death but he and elect a Hawaiian shirt and Bermuda is on everything you guys saying you call this that would thing. Movement pupils are. Cartoons deal directly with death and act and they should edge humor. I mean you can't make any jokes after you so I mean you know make fretted that death is gonna make funny you know all of which brings us to The New Yorker magazine's the cartoon graveyard. All the cartoons in scrapbook form the river appeared in the magazine. Each artist has a book in which on the on the spine of the book is the year you started 1977. They wait for you die. Then they put in the final numbers so here these are. He's great scrapbook sort of like tombstones. That exist for our creative careers and if all the places the final resting place. When I'm ready to go that you are good enough for me. When we come back life want to frame at a time inside the world of three new Yorker cartoons. The whole idea things have been called a cartoonist it's. And dignified and freakish. Actually seeing him stride down park avenue the last thing you would take William Hamilton for is a cartoons. He looks every inch the accretion wants all six feet five inches. He could be one of his own up repressed character. Only his socks. Give him award. I think people naturally draw who they are within within. And want Hamilton knows. Of the foibles of the Rick. I draw up privately educated people month bumbling through life but I have no idea. Where she came from or who she is which it does look. A little office. As I think this interview will prove being unaware of your own pomposity is. He's always finance. He's. There are few things that always can return after one is to fight off a couple of old goats talking to each other and in very expensive suits. All I have to do is think you of something enormously childish for them to say to each other and it's funny. Timers are ruthless driven unfeeling some of a bitch. And it worked out extremely well. I sold martialed for about a tenth of what the damn things are going for now. Oh yes we knew then we hate. That whole world he described a whole world. Of social interactions in that yes we know them we. I think the greatest cartoonist. Create their onion of us and a cost of characters and a way of looking in the world becomes immediately identify those that I think today Ross cast has the same kind of unit since Iowa. Ros chests cartoon universe is rooted in her real world that the average suburban mom. Only the wild Halloween decorations on her family's house market as the residence of a cartoonist. And a lifelong fan of Charles Adams ghoulish Addams Family. Everybody has there. Their family if people like cats and these are mine. And from her drawing board come off kilter his scenes of the middle class shot through with you rose sees. And fraught with domestic pero. Midlife crises have appliances. Just you know appliance has been that way they fit that difficult stage in life. Between birth and death. Rods actually invites us in it's like you're donning these after while these virtual free now that he rides classes. Analysts had used in her world I do finding citing very very very funny mental baggage claim. Oh there's my hypochondriac coming out right now. Lifelong regrets about stopping ballet lessons and I was ten those are mine. Excuse me. I believe I see my resentment of physical beauty. I love very serious science articles those articles about. Scientists discovering. The universe is twice is why it is we thought lives and thinking how well I didn't think it's. Scientists discover the gene for heterosexuality. And men. Stoic indifference to Judy gar a fear of asking direction urged to join shrine her desire to eat steak and eggs for. First it's a very. Fine line used to mean you know being absent terrified of something obituaries. And defining incredibly hilarious how terrifying it is. Three years your junior. Five years Schorr senior. Exactly your age. Your rage. On the dot. Italy. I go to bed at usually six or 7 in the morning and it's try to get up by new moon. Michael Crawford is going to work and his upstate New York farmhouse got to work he does. But this is some say it not some runners. And he keeps a cartoonist schedule not farmers around us. He sees this great six hours slot where are basically good paying completely undisturbed or else. Is up. Years ago I was in for musicals on. Everything as longs as well. Aidan preposterous why it's just the question is are nice times going to be inevitable. I don't think I'm ever gonna be a virtuoso is the idea is really get the basic information is few lines as possible. Lately Michael Crawford has been upsets. In his painting and his new Yorker cartoons. Where is organized crime fix. The mob and that I'm portraying as a lot more glamorous and some sense I mean obviously served for nearly everybody. Looks great but. When you actually see mobsters in the papers today there it distancing talking students you know it's. It's a real to support. It's pretty simple to me we gig if somebody scream and then through Europe there is. You got a problem with that. Dorman two masked gunman. Will we know what this is regarding. We've got a very suave. Hit man derived. Certainly. The wecht and that is judges don't touch those up. But. Michael Crawford obsession with the mob is not gonna do many good he's gonna come to a bad hit at eleven mob that. It's tissue romance. Everybody can understand that. When. We have a great tradition. The outcome is going back that many of these artists and writers of New York used to have plenty of famous Algonquin round it will. New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Bancroft reveres the magazine's past. An homage to the celebrated woods who gathered at the hotels roundtable in the 1920s and thirties he has created in cartoonists roundtable. With the artists come together to dine trade quips and talk shop. If you're pure cartoon editor I am now what would what would you do differently I would get ready well that. But Bancroft is also bringing current tuning into the digital V cast of thousand. Or at least for the cover of the special cartoon issue macro used a computer. The construct a collage of cartoonists characters from the 1920s. To today. As George Booth. Dog over here. Is sort of slimy Michael Crawford Carrick the putting the moves on a William Hamilton watch speak out Peter Rondo and James Stephens then so all the artist almost the entire history of the magazine. You know I was gonna be represented past and present in this cover. We've got to have ruled new removals as stocks move we're very famous cartoon. It's it was the first all cartoon issue main card and editor Tina Brown looked to celebrate a comic art form. That has become the signature of the magazine. I think should be classics for a time some. Just make it two spreads. Things that you know that since they know people are gonna laugh. The cartoons are such that national treasure that people what's taken for granted. And it seemed that a good idea to. In a way with one special issue remind people of just how much can not these cartoons. I never Mother's Day rolls around. I regret having eaten my young. Before I forget Dietrich here's the dental plan. Congratulations. It's some rich. Would you please remove your license from your color. A. Nick's friends who Matthews on the psychiatrist's care. Matthew got hell with it with. And to us and did look a raft. Where she ran. I did a cartoon in 1984. Which had a guy on an island and took up the whole Asian and thinking. No man is an island. But I come pre. I Olson's malignant. Cat. Haq supporters say your flock I record the all of them the most terrible surprise you could be. Welcome to New York. Just kidding. Home. Loan. Exit. Sunday minimum find a piece from the U school my machines. Miracle really did invent the magazine cartoon it's something that have to be nurtured. And kept alive and in and and a I have every confidence it will it would actually be you know a tragedy for comedy. This that there.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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