Christopher Guest calls the cartoons in The New Yorker “the best cartoons in the world,” and for the past 17 years the person responsible for picking them all (and drawing some of them) has been cartoon editor Bob Mankoff. And in his new memoir How About Never?- – Is Never Good For You?: My Life in Cartoons, which goes on sale Tuesday, the Bronx native recounts how these popular comics are made and even the secrets to winning the magazine’s caption contest. Mankoff delves not just into his own process, but also others he’s worked with such as Saul Steinberg and Carl Rose.
“[The New Yorker cartoons aren’t] America’s Funniest Home Videos in ink, you know? If you’re watching America’s Funniest Home Videos you never say, ‘I don’t get it.’You’re not saying, ‘Ok, a guy fell off a chair. Can someone explain that to me again?’,” Mankoff said in a 2006 with The Huffington Post. “But if you’re looking at a Danny Shanahan cartoon in which there’s two praying mantises — one male and one female and the male is missing his head and the female is saying ‘You slept with her, didn’t you?’ There’s something to piece together. There’s a slight delay where these different sort of competing ideas come together — mesh and produce laughter.”
In addition to showing the the processes to illicit comedy inside The New Yorker, Mankoff delves into his past to find where his passion for comics and comedy came from. He also recalls the 500 rejected submissions he undertook before being first accepted by The New Yorker in 1977.
Here’s a sample of some of Mankoff’s work to get a feel for what’s inside How About Never?–Is Never Good For You?: My Life in Cartoons: