If anyone is entitled to pepper his memoir with New Yorker cartoons, it’s the cartoon editor of The New Yorker. So Bob Mankoff’s new book is half prose, half illustrations and tirelessly playful. But the artwork and text work together to tell a fizzy, jokey story about a long and busy career. Its title, How About Never — Is Never Good For You? comes from a famous Mankoff cartoon that depicts a businessman on the telephone, dodging a lunch date. Now around 70, Mankoff depicts himself with a big grin and a lipstick mark on his forehead, saying those words to the Grim Reaper.
How About Never — Is Never Good for You? My Life in Cartoons By Bob Mankoff. Illustrated. 285 pages. Henry Holt and Co. $32.50 (1,050 baht).
Mankoff submitted hundreds of cartoons to The New Yorker before selling one. He was a freelancer for the magazine for 20 years before stepping into the cartoon editor’s shoes, even though the previous cartoon editor of 24 years, Lee Lorenz, was still in them. (“I was an ingrate.”) In 1992, he founded the online Cartoon Bank, which licenses and sells New Yorker cartoons, and even edited the gargantuan 2004 anthology of the magazine’s cartoons. He developed a pointillist drawing style that is as distinctive as that of other long-time New Yorker artists. And he read endless cartoon submissions. He rejected Norman Mailer’s, which wound up in Mailer’s book Modest Gifts. (“Let’s just say it was a very apt title.”) When David Mamet sent him a batch of cartoons with a letter beginning “Congratulations!”, Mankoff replied that he had taken the liberty of sending him a play.
This article is older than 60 days, which we reserve for our premium members only.You can subscribe to our premium member subscription, here.