I recently finished Bob Mankoff’s How About Never — Is Never Good for You?: A Life in Cartoons and it’s an absolute delight
Bob Mankoff is the cartoon editor of the New Yorker, given his editing skills I wasn’t in doubt how this book be. It starts off with Mankoff’s early childhood and goes on to how he became the cartoon editor of one of the world’s most prestigious publications. The books is littered with hundreds of cartoons, most from New Yorker a few that didn’t make the cut. If you think the humor comes only from the cartoons then you’d be in a surprise by how smooth and humorous Mankoff’s writing is.
Not only do we get a good glimpse at Bob’s life, but he also delves into what it needs to become a Newyorker cartoonist. The book is very reverent towards the New Yorker institution. Mankoff pays his respects to all the editors he worked under, the ones that encouraged him, let him develop his own style and become one of the regulars. He talks about all the styles that makes a Newyorker cartoon and the time he spent analyzing them.
The latter part of the book is about how he started the cartoon bank and how he negotiated into his position as the cartoon editor. He gives a very good explanation of how the Newyorker cartoons are picked out, his mental process as he goes through them and then the final say from David Remnick. He also provides tips on how one can win the Newyorker caption contest. The analysis that goes into understanding a good joke, a good caption, one that makes you think.
All in all, wonderful book, a very quick read, definitely worth your time.