Emdashes—Modern Times Between the Lines

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Before it moved to The New Yorker:
Ask the Librarians

Best of Emdashes: Hit Parade
A Web Comic: The Wavy Rule


Or whatever you want to call a motley stew of simmering links about upcoming events (3), no-longer-missing critics (1), cartoonists (4 or 5, if we count the cover artist), poets (2 or 3, if we count Alice Quinn, who I figure must be a poet herself; anyone know?), Seattle bands (1), and sobering movies (1). Here goes:

Roz Chast feels nervous about Halloween, so do something much more fun with her next week and see her at Symphony Space talking about her big, glimmering new collection, Theories of Everything: Selected, Collected, and Health-Inspected Cartoons, 1978-2006.

On Monday at the Barnes & Noble Union Square’s Upstairs at the Square, Nell Freudenberger and Howard Fishman (who debuted at the Algonquin once upon a time, and has been known to play Pete’s Candy Store) chat with Katherine Lanpher, 7 p.m. This is going to be a crazy night—man, I love Fishman’s music, haven’t read Freudenberger’s novel yet—so get there early. The last one was packed and not a little giddy.

Here’s Stephen Holden’s Times review of The Bridge, the documentary about Golden Gate Bridge suicide jumpers that has its roots in Tad Friend’s 2003 story “Jumpers.” As I’m sure you remember, Sleater-Kinney were also inspired by Friend’s piece.

Speaking of Tad Friend, I’m overjoyed to report that Nancy Franklin is just fine, and was just taking a well-deserved vacation. She’ll be back on TV (reviewing it, that is) shortly. That is great news. Again, no disrespect to Friend, whose writing I admire and enjoy. But there would have been riots if Franklin had left for some reason, and I would be at the head of them, brandishing old TV antennae and a large banner with two sad drama faces on it. That’s how ugly it could get, so thank goodness we don’t have to see anything like that, or be jailed for obstruction of editorial administration. (I’ve been in jail once before, so I could take it if I had to, but those plastic handcuffs are chafey.)

Alice Quinn talks to one of my favorite poets and teachers, Galway Kinnell, and they both talk to Philip Levine (with whom I didn’t study), in an interview that appears only on the New Yorker website. There’s even audio of a Phil and Galway reading. I get to say “Phil and Galway” because I paid NYU quite a few dollars for the pleasure of their company for three years. And well worth it, too.

The family of classic New Yorker cartoonist Whitney Darrow Jr. just donated more than 1,000 of his original drawings to Princeton, which I just visited for the first time last weekend. Now I’d better go back and see both those archives and the Virginia Snedeker show, which is up till November 26, so we can all go.

More about this later, but remember that funny Talk by Ben McGrath about The Corduroy Appreciation Club? There’s a corduroy-appreciating party coming up in New York on November 11, 11/11 being “the date which most closely resembles corduroy.” Stay tuned for more.

Finally, comedian and newly anointed New Yorker cartoonist Pete Holmes was recently interviewed on Gothamist. Here’s an excerpt:
I read on your site that you’ve been submitting cartoons to The New Yorker. What other places have you been submitting to or been featured in?
I just sold a couple holiday cartoons to Cosmo Girl, which is such a different audience. I think the average New Yorker is a person with a beyond college education, and now I’m looking at readers that are either not beyond junior high or creepy forty-year-olds reading Cosmo Girl. It gave me confidence in cartooning because that was my first real magazine sale. But, this past Thursday, The New Yorker bought my first cartoon, which is a huge milestone.
You were submitting to the New Yorker in person, but I imagine that most of their submissions are unsolicited.
My friend Matt Diffee, who’s a cartoonist over there, told me people send in blind submissions. So there’s some guy in Wyoming sending in cartoons. I can’t say this with any authority, but I think that that submission has less of a chance of getting in. There’s a huge advantage to living in New York and being able to go in face to face with the editor. It allows you to get feedback and, I don’t do this, but maybe you could push more for him to reconsider something that he doesn’t like. Thirty years ago you couldn’t walk into the New Yorker. That’s a huge privilege and it’s certainly helped me along my way. Every week I got guidance, art lessons, and critiques from some of the best cartoonists in the world.
What sort of feedback would they give?
With me, it was, “We like the jokes, it just looks like you drew it with your foot.” They had a hard time with my drawing. It got to the point where, every week, I’d come in with a different style. It’s like stand up comedy: they don’t want anybody to force anything. They want your voice to be true and they want your drawing style to match your joke style.
How long have you been drawing cartoons in general?
I loved drawing as a kid, but never considered it as a profession until I got into college. In college, it’s the most accessible foray into comedy. You can be at home, you draw, it’s supposed to be funny, and you give it to the newspaper. It’s a safe way to start. When I got into stand up and Improv, I became more interested in the immediate, risky, and exciting world of live comedy. When I met Matt Diffee at a show at UCB, I figured, “Why not try and get back into it.” It meshes well with the stand up lifestyle. If you have a show at ten o’clock on a Friday, that’s all you have to do. You work from ten to eleven, so why not sit around the rest of the day thinking of something absurd and draw it?

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2008 Webby Awards Official Honoree