What Print Cartoons Still Do Best

As The New Yorker reaches its 85th anniversary, its art editor praises the advantages of still drawings over animation.
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TRANSCRIPT

Question: What changes are you making to the New Yorker?

Francoise Mouly: So it’s [the] 85th anniversary for a magazine started in 1925 by Rea Irvin. The first image was, Eustace Tilley was a mascot where this image had became a mascot of The New Yorker, and even when I came in, I’ve been there 16 years, there was a tradition of running that image every year for February for the anniversary issue and now we’ve started playing with that and this year it’s very exciting because I got four different artists. We have four different covers on the magazine. What is really exciting to me is that once again using the means of mass reproduction, this is just a regular piece of paper printed as the cover of the magazine. The depths of ideas and content and allusions to each other’s image, and we worked all together as a kind of like rolling ball consortium exchanging ideas where each image is individually understandable, but they also when you see all of them you can make the connection between them. That is one of the things that I find very exciting about print as opposed to moviemaking or animation or any of the other visual mediums is that the reader has the time to spend with any one image and find the layers and layers. You can actually… It doesn’t just flash at 24 frames a second. It just is held there however long you want to spend on it. So many of the images that I work on have different layers of reading, even the children’s books can have… can be seen at first glance. You read them once and then you get the story, the story juice out of it, but then most children actually when they really get into books reread them and they are phenomenally apt readers. They really know how to read a book over and over again and they get all of the embedded like things in the background because it’s a laborious art to draw by hand and to be a cartoonist. You spend so many hours at your drawing table. You can’t help putting a lot of yourself into the image and when it’s printed the reader can spend hours getting it out.

Recorded on January 26, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen