Last month I was invited to have lunch with a bunch of New Yorker cartoonists and the film director, Gus Van Sant. Gus directed of some of the greatest films of the past 20 years: "Good Will Hunting", "Milk", "Drugstore Cowboy", and has just released another brilliant film about the cartoonist John Callahan, "Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot."
The invitation came from the Cartoon Editor of the New Yorker, Emma Allen, at our weekly Tuesday cartoon meeting. I was flattered to be asked, and to say the lunch was surreal is an understatement. I was more starstruck by some of the other cartoonists who showed up than I was by Gus!
The lunch took place at the decades-long traditional weekly 'cartoonists lunch' which usually takes place following the Tuesday cartoon meeting at the New Yorker. We shuffle up to Pergola Del Artistes in the Theatre District and talk shop over duck salad and cheap red wine.
6 of us ordered the gigantic duck salad and noshed away as Sam Gross held court, telling stories of his experience with Callahan and with other New Yorker cartoonists. Gossip and scandal aplenty! At one point I scribbled a quick portrait of Sam on the tablecloth and pitched a gag caption for one of his cartoons to a tableful of eye-rolls. Emma wrote up the goings-on at the lunch in this week's New Yorker in the "Talk of The Town" section.
You can read the rest of the article here:
This one may well take the record for longest New Yorker cartoon caption ever...
This caption is, by the way, verbatim. We have not altered this actual speech by President Trump at all. The poor proof-readers and fact checkers at the New Yorkerhad to parse it word for word. Thank you, team.
As always, you can hear Scott Dooley and I coming up with these silly gags on our weekly podcast, Is There Something In This?
Forgot to post this last week! Here is a cartoon I did for MAD to 'celebrate' chef Guy Fieri getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame...
A new report finds that Bitcoin could “bring the Internet to a halt.” Bitcoin won’t confirm, but the report hints that the plan will involve a champagne glass strategically balanced on Bitcoin’s butt.
From Emma Reynolds at News Ltd:
Australian comedians draw Donald Trump’s attention with cheeky cartoon
TWO Australian comedians have drawn Donald Trump’s attention with a cheeky New Yorker cartoon.
A PAIR of Australian comedians have attracted Donald Trump’s attention with a cheeky political cartoon published in the New Yorker.
A pile of media clippings is delivered to Mr Trump every morning and afternoon, and on this occasion, their cartoon was near the top of the pile, the lobbyist told them after attending a White House meeting.
“He was like, ‘I really like this,’” Jason tells news.com.au. “I guess he just saw himself and he liked it.
“He’s got tiny little hands ... but he obviously just sort of went, ‘Yeah that’s me, I love it.’”
The cartoon is not particularly flattering, showing Mr Trump watching the gun march on television and blaming video games — a parody of Republican remarks on deaths by firearms.
“It sucks because that’s the biggest insult a cartoonist can get,” says Jason, who spent ten years drawing for local and national papers in Australia. “You ask any political cartoonist, if the person you’ve drawn likes it, you’ve failed, dismally.”
The 34-year-old says he was much happier when Mr Trump blocked him on Twitter earlier in the presidency, after Jason asked the former reality star if he was drunk.
Scott, on the other hand, says he was “rapt” that the President liked their cartoon and told his mum.
The stand-up comics have had great success with their satirical New Yorker drawings, and have now started recording a podcast based on the cartoons. Their images have covered almost every Trump scandal, from the Stormy Daniels saga to the Syria missile strike.
While Mr Trump’s presidency has provided a rich stream of material for humour, they have also delved into topics including Kanye West’s outburst, the Met Gala, Mark Zuckerberg and bitcoin.
When the pictures are too edgy for the popular American magazine — one was a cartoon of a death-row inmate taking an Instagram photo of his last meal — they sell them to Australian publications including MAD magazine.
“Every Friday, we hear back from the [New Yorker] editor whether we got in or not,” Jason says. “I go in on a Tuesday morning and sit with the editor and she gives her feedback. There would be roughly 25 people who slip in throughout the morning and it goes on into afternoon.
“It’s the last open-call cartoon meeting in the world.
“It’s so competitive. They get thousands of entries each week. They choose about 16.”
The pair sold their first cartoon to the magazine around the year ago — a surreal joke about “Vlad the Employer”.
They also write and appear on stage and television — although Scott, 38, says one American told him “Aussies don’t talk like that” when he auditioned for an Australian character.
The twosome are now preparing to turn the podcast Is There Something In This? into a live show, sketching out audience suggestions in real time. “I’m just glad two white male comedians have finally made a podcast,” jokes Scott. “For so long it’s been crying out for that — it’s a hole in the market.”
He says he doesn’t have the answers to the political problems of our time. “If I did, I wouldn’t be here writing jokes.”
But he adds: “You don’t want to pick a side necessarily. I think finding the logic for it is more important than trying to have a really right-on moment.
“We’re in danger of just finding ourselves in heated agreement with people we like and then as a result, when you meet people you disagree with, it becomes a very combative exchange.
“I always feel like any political discussion, you’re only ever one move away from being called Hitler or a snowflake. I don’t think that’s a great way to end a conversation.
“It’s also interesting to see what people think is the big news story because on any given day now — I feel like I’m longing for a decade ago — but you’d go, that is today’s story. Whereas now at 9am, you’re going right, it’s one of the following three or four, and that’s if there’s not some terrible shooting.”
Jason begins his stand-up routine by telling the audience: “I’ve wanted to live in America my whole life. I feel like I’ve caught you at a weird time.”
He moved to New York several years ago when Barack Obama was President. “As soon as I started living here, it turned to this,” he says. “And so I’m very angry, I feel like I’ve been short-changed. I feel like finally I’m in this land of opportunity and it’s turned into Russia.
“Some of the crap he says is beyond parody, so it has become very difficult for us to find a gauge, to make something seem silly, because it already is silly.
“We’ll be like, what’s the Trump angle and how do we make this funny without just showing what happened? So what’s our take on it, so we’re trying to develop a unique voice in the process.
“I guess we’re outsiders looking in, in a way. We’re Aussies in America, so we do have a unique take on American politics.”
Today I spoke to Gen and Lewis on Triple J about the new pod, drawing Larry David and being a cartoonist in the Trump era. Click image above to listen to the interview.
Aussie New Yorker cartoonist Jason Chatfield on caricaturing Trump
Gen and Lewis were joined down the line by ‘Australia’s most widely syndicated cartoonist’, Jason Chatfield, only to be lightly roasted by the magic of cartoons.
Jason’s work has been seen in over 120 newspapers in over 30 countries around the world and you might have seen his work on Ginger Meggs, MAD Magazine and the New Yorker. He’s also recently started a podcast with triple j alum Scott Dooley where they workshop ideas for New Yorker. He joined us to talk through how he got here and one Trump doodle in particular.
One of Jason’s career highlights to date (/highlight of his life, in general) was when he was asked to draw Larry David for the wall of Sardi’s Restaurant (a New York institution). At the time he wrote: ‘I don’t know quite how to describe how much I revere Larry.’ It was a big moment. So, how did he get here? How did he go from Perth to caricaturing his “spirit animal” for the world’s most legendary wall of caricatures?
According to Jason, it was a relatively classic tale: he used to get in trouble doing it in school until someone paid him to draw a teacher and he was off. Also, says Jason, “It was really just the only employable skill I seemed to have — you know, makin’ jokes — so I pretty much just did it as a hobby until it became a job.”
He’d previously been working as a printer during the day and doing caricatures at night. “I was burning myself out, burning the candle at both ends, so I decided to ditch the full-time job when I was like 19 or 20.” So after transitioning into officially being a cartoonist, how did he start making money? “It isn’t easy, I’ll give it that,” says Jason. “You’ve kind of gotta be able to do everything. You’ve got to be able to do political cartoons, and comic strips, and caricatures, and illustrations, and animations, and everything so you become a bit of an all-rounder.”
But by working in America, Jason says, he’s been able to specialise “because there’s enough work to go around.” Having said that, Jason is currently writing for MAD, doing cartoons for the New Yorker, writing Ginger Meggs everyday, doing stand-up at night and podcasting with Dools, so his work is being spread far and wide.
‘Is There Something In This?’ began because they were already workshopping ideas for cartoons at the pub anyway. So at some point, Scott suggested it might make a good podcast. To which Jason replied: “Absolutely not. There’s no way that anyone wants to listen to us talk about a visual medium but we did it and I’m being proven an idiot every week because it’s become very popular over here.”
One of the cartoons they workshopped, which was eventually bought by the New Yorker, was of Trump around the time of the National School Walkout to protest gun violence. It got back to Jason, through a lobbyist friend who was in the White House on the day it came out, that Trump actually liked it. “It was the worst day of my life,” says Jason.
“The best thing for a cartoonist is if someone doesn’t like your cartoon if you drew them. If you do a political cartoon and the politician hates it, then you’ve really done your job.”
"Apparently he just didn't read the tag and he just saw his face and must have loved it. He blocked me on Twitter a while ago, though, so I haven't actually been able to read his tweets for a while. It's bliss."
I scribbled up a comic for MAD Magazine today, written by Peter-John Byrne.
The friendly gang at Stand Up New York kindly featured me to their flock this week. I'll be there this Saturday night, 6pm and again on 4/25 for the 8pm show.
See you there!
Last October I landed in Manchester after a 9-hour flight that took what felt like a week. When we boarded, the President had levelled a characteristically pompous threat across the Pacific, telling the so-called "Rocket Man" he had better watch himself. Rocket Man was not happy.
As the passengers all woke from our nervous slumber, the flight attendant's Northern accent honked over the speaker, "For your safety and comfort, please remain seated with your seatbelt fastened until the Captain turns off the Fasten Seat Belt sign. This will indicate that we have parked at the gate and that it is safe for you to move about."
She then continued, "Cellular phones may only be used once the Fasten Seat Belt sign has been turned off."
The seatbelt light extinguished with a polite Bong!
Like ravenous greyhounds launching after a hare, everyone swung out their smartphones and desperately took them out of Airplane Mode, opening Twitter en masse to see if the stable genius in chief had doomed us all...
I don't remember a flight I've been on in the last 10 years where the symphony of notification sounds didn't immediately penetrate the whirring of the winding down engines.
And don't get me started on clapping when the plane lands...
See more of my New Yorker Cartoons on their website at:
I'm deeply ashamed to announce I'm now officially one of the Usual Gang of Idiots at MAD Magazine.
I don't know what I did to deserve this, but my name will now be tarred with the same brush as Al Jaffee, Sergio Aragones and Mort Drucker. Yecch!!
When I was just a little kid, I picked up my first copy of MAD from the floor of a recently extinguished house fire and distinctly remember thinking, "Wow! What a steaming pile of crap!" before tossing it back into the smouldering ruins.
Furthermore, I'm mortified to have to drag the reputation of my dear friend and writing partner, Scott Dooley through the mud in having his name tarnished alongside mine in our first (and hopefully last) piece in this (cheap!) rag.
I can only hope nobody buys a single copy of the brand new issue #1, available at all failing newsagents and bookstores from April 18th.
PS. Don't worry, Ginger Meggs won't be appearing in the magazine. I wouldn’t drag his image into such disrepute. This is just a scribble I did to give myself nightmares. I'll post the actual cartoon when the magazine is on sale.