Somewhere in midtown, the smell of chlorine hung heavy above the heads of a group of New Yorker cartoonists. They were at the bar at the Hotel QT, drinking free wine and vodka and celebrating their failures. Most of them were included in the second edition of The Rejection Collection: Cream of the Crap, a compilation of cartoons that didn't make the cut. Also there was Hendrick Hertzberg, who looks like Robert Redford and Warren Beatty and who, when Tina Brown was editor The New Yorker, was the cartoon editor. His friends call him Rick. I called him Rick. Am I his friend? Is he on Facebook? Provisional not yets on both questions. Also, if you, like me, thought the life of a New Yorker cartoonist was all doodling and fat paychecks, the gathered company was quick to disabuse us of that notion. Nikola Tamindzic was disabused too. So hard.
Matt Diffee, who edited both Volumes One and Two, explained how it works:
There are 30-50 of us regular contributors. Each week we are supposed to come up with 10 ideas. On Tuesday we submit our cartoons to Bob Mankoff [the man in the picture who isn't Andy Borowitz or Rick—Ricky!—Hertzberg], the cartoon editor. Bob shows Remnick. Remnick is the decider.
Diffee says if you get 1/10 in you're lucky. In his first three years, he didn't get any in. Whatever, so that was interesting.
Lime Rickey Hertzberg (because he's so fresh!) told me he once got in a fight with this guy named Mort Grerberg, who is an old time cartoonist, about whether the cartoons were political. Slick Rick said they are. Mort said, "You gotta be kidding me." He said that in during the Vietnam war, the magazine used to run anti-Vietnam cartoons with regularity, but that these days, political opinion is confined to the text. Rick rejoined that when he was editor, he approved a cartoon that cost the magazine a year's worth in advertising. It was this one:
Apparently Barnes and Noble CEO Steve Riggio thought it was anti-Italian and he pulled his company's ads from the magazine for a year.
Also, most of the cartoonists have second jobs. For instance, Carolita Johnson, one of the few lady cartoonists who isn't Roz Chast, is a fit model. "I'm a contemporary size six!" In many ways, the party itself was like a New Yorker cartoon. I kinda got it and kinda didn't, but I laughed anyway.