When I posted that clever photo of the books whose titles spelled out a message about the COVID-19 virus, I didn’t know who created it. Now I know the source so I need to give credit to the artist. It’s Phil Shaw; here’s his website.
Last Tuesday evening I Zoom-ed into a chat with Roz Chast, the great New Yorker cartoonist and her collaborator, Patty Marx, hosted by the novelist Jean Hanff Korelitz. Roz and Patty were, of course hilarious, even playing their ukuleles briefly for us. Chast and Marx have collaborated on several recent books, including the funny and poignant Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant.? Their new book is You Can Only Yell at Me for One Thing at a Time: Rules for Couples. What we all wanted to know is how the two collaborate but I don’t think that there’s really an answer to that. Chast said that the words come first, but whose words? For two such creative minds, I imagine that it’s like constant brainstorming, the two of them riffing off each other. Their editor, Deb Futter, was on the chat and she said her meetings with the two were “not like any other meetings I have.” I can only imagine. Regarding her process, Chast commented that “if you get an idea that is good, you have a responsibility to it and you need to take that responsibility seriously.”
One piece of interesting information from Chast was that she doesn’t like the New Yorker cartoon contest. She feels it demeans the work and suggested that Alice Munro wouldn’t leave her stories unfinished, to be finished by her readers’ suggestions. I’ve never seen a Chast cartoon in the contest; now I know why. Here’s a link to Chast’s website with some of her inimitable cartoons.