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How About Never—Is Never Good for You?: My Life in Cartoons
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How About Never—Is Never Good for You?: My Life in Cartoons

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,030 ratings  ·  238 reviews
Memoir in cartoons by the longtime cartoon editor of The New Yorker

People tell Bob Mankoff that as the cartoon editor of The New Yorker he has the best job in the world. Never one to beat around the bush, he explains to us, in the opening of this singular, delightfully eccentric book, that because he is also a cartoonist at the magazine he actually has two of the best jobs
Hardcover, 287 pages
Published March 25th 2014 by Henry Holt and Co.
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This book started off a little odd--a little too much detail about the early life of someone I'd barely heard of--someone who does seem pretty self-congratulatory and full of himself--but then again, The New Yorker IS The New Yorker.

However, it quickly turned around with chapter upon chapter explaining what makes a cartoon funny (chart included!), how artists develop, how the Cartoon Bank and the cartoon caption contest came to be, how to win the cartoon caption content, that episode of Seinfel
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star-books
I received a review copy of this book.

Unsurprisingly, this is a very charming book in which Robert Mankoff, a cartoonist and cartoon editor for The New Yorker magazine, shares anecdotes from his personal life and from his professional life and also shares insights about his craft. He does this with grace, with humility and, of course, with humor. He explores the history of the New Yorker cartoon world and his odyssey in that world and that of his fellow cartoonists--some that preceded him, many
Dec 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Mark, Janet, Carol, Jo Ann, Eric, Bobbi, everybody!
Bob Mankoff has been the cartoon editor for The New Yorker for almost 20 years. This book is part memoir ("you can't have a memoir without "moi"), part history of cartooning and The New Yorker and completely hilarious. His humor pervades his text as well as his cartoons.

He, however, is wrong about one thing. According to him, a three person panel decides which cartoons are selected each work for the magazine because people don't laugh out loud when by themselves. I should have been afraid the pe
Dec 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads, 2014
I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.

I don't read The New Yorker Magazine but I know about its famous cartoons. This book is written by the cartoon editor of The New Yorker and he gives lots of tips about creating a good cartoon and getting it published. He also adds a chapter on how to win the magazine's monthly caption contest.

This is a quick, fun and educational read. LOTS of cartoons so I smiled and giggled all the way through. Thanks to Mr. Mankoff and Henry Holt.
Jake Goretzki
Oct 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Thoroughly personable and effortlessly readable. I mean, could there be a more perfect formula? I give you: humorous writing (good) on humour (good) from a consummate New York (good) Jewish (good) humorist (good), inside the New Yorker (good). You're in pretty world class company, frankly. And what company: Thurber, Addams, BEK... and my own current New Yorker favourite, Edward Steed (who is just stylistically awesome) even gets a mention.

I'd actually seen the documentary 'Very Semi-Serious' ea
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
This book was hilarious. I was somewhat familiar with Bob Mankoff, but this gave me a completely different perspective. Mankoff is the epitome of the success story for a cartoonist, at least in the traditional sense, and as a fan of graphic novels and cartoons in general it was neat to see how he made his way to be the editor. There’s a lot more that goes into the creation of those cartoons than you’d think!

I don’t think that everyone will find the biographical aspect as interesting as I did, bu
Michael Delaware
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Mankoff has put together a brilliant biographical account of his own work in this entertaining book spanning his career. The humor is a mix of snide, witty and uproarious at times. I loved the layout and the graphic presentation. It definitely is an interesting book that will keep you turning pages for hours.

What could be more entertaining that following an illustrator capturing his life and career in cartoons? Fabulous!
Mar 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
This memoir by Cartoon Editor for The New Yorker is both insightful and entertaining with an abundance of comics thrown in to exemplify his points. He covers his formative years, how he got the job as cartoon editor, what the job entails, his formation of The Cartoon Bank, how the caption contest came about (and suggestions on how to win it) and more.
Mark Schlatter
Dec 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I'll start with the not-so-good stuff. In my eyes, a little bit of Mankoff goes a long way. (I'm talking specifically about his writing, not his cartooning, which I find top-notch.) It's not surprising that someone who takes Jerry Lewis as a role model might be a bit grating. Mankoff loves the verbal gag, but the book goes a bit too far with it. For those reasons, I wasn't a big fan of the first part of the book which covered Mankoff's early years.

However, besides the biography there's some real
Amy Rae
Jul 27, 2014 rated it liked it
I was surprised to find that the biographical aspects of this book were fairly boring for me. Bob Mankoff is a fine cartoonist, but he doesn't seem like all that great a guy; I would have preferred the book be a look at cartoons in The New Yorker in general rather than a book about him particularly. Moreover, the parts about his life feel awkwardly and often inconsistently shoved into the narrative; by the end of the book, they've been dropped entirely.

The rest of it, however, is pretty fascinat
Apr 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, memoir
Bob Mankoff has the enviable job of being the cartoon editor for the New Yorker. This book is part memoir, discussing his own path to becoming first a cartoonist and then an editor, as well as founder of the online Cartoon Bank. It also includes a decent history of the art of cartooning in publishing, tracing its development as influenced by society as a whole and also the quirks of the editors who selected the cartoons.

As one might expect of a book about cartoons, it's pretty enjoyable to read.
Elisha Condie
Jan 31, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a memoir written by the editor of cartoons at the New Yorker. He uses the history of the magazine's cartoons intertwined with his own personal history and how he became a cartoonist and eventually in charge of the whole deal at the New Yorker.

It was funny and really fun to read. I like that Mankoff was careful to explain (several times, actually) that making cartoons at all, especially for the New Yorker isn't for the faint of heart. It takes lots of people hundreds of rejections befo
Jun 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was a very pleasant change of pace for me. Bob Mankoff is the Cartoon Editor of The New Yorker magazine. Mankoff writes about his experiences as a cartoonist and especially as Cartoon Editor. This is a very funny book. Not only are there numerous New Yorker cartoons throughout, but. Mankoff writes in a very numerous manner. His insights are most interesting. For example, he shows how a cartoon is transformed from an OK one, to one that is good enough to make it into the New Yorker.

I r
Betsy Robinson
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book. It starts as a memoir, which is really interesting stuff: learn the personality traits of a person who submitted thousands of cartoons to the New Yorker before getting an acceptance and then had the balls to demand somebody else's job ... and eventually get it. But it quickly becomes "New Yorker Cartoon College." This is a must-read for New Yorker readers, people who want to see the inner workings of the place, and cartoonists. Bob Mankoff is one really smart, funny, and determin ...more
Oct 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
I picked this up after watching (and liking) Very Semi Serious, a documentary about humor and the cartoons in the New Yorker magazine. The book is a fascinating and funny look at the same topic. There were some glimpses of New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff's life, but I would welcome his memoir should he decide to write one.
Olivia Woods
DNF, just because the project was over and I have so many other wonderful things to read that I didn't feel like finishing it. Still a really well written book, if you're interested in The New Yorker and it's cartoons, but I have more TBR things on my list to finish, so I'm skipping ahead.

Also, this is the first time I've ever decidedly not finished a book. I'm kind of... Proud?
May 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Note to my HR department: it is nice to value the old folks while at the same time developing and encouraging the next generation. You can do both at the same time!
Jul 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, humor
Interesting with lots of cartoons
Melissa Clemmons
Apr 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I really like good cartoons, so this book was an interesting look at how professional cartooning works. (Some off color cartoons that weren’t necessary.)
Mar 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Sat Sep 26, update:
Fun, funny film. Interesting to meet Bob Mankoff and see him at work accepting and rejecting cartoons at The New Yorker. We also meet many New Yorker cartoonists, who range in age from twenty something to seventy something. Roz Chast makes several appearances. We also meet the page-layout editor who decides which cartoons run where in each issue. … This documentary screens at the Chicago Film Festival on Oct 18 and 25 before an HBO airing on Dec 7. …
Mar 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Nice- fun to see the drawings, and get the inside story on how the industry works. Sometimes the analysis of why certain things work was a bit too long for my taste, but it was a fun read.
Sep 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Pretty funny and an interesting glimpse into New Yorker cartoon world. A very fast read (many cartoons) and a sense that Mankoff might be kind of an asshat but a funny asshat.
Glencoe Public Library
If you're a reader of The New Yorker then surely you've come across a brilliant cartoon and thought "I could have written that!". Or maybe you've stared at their famous cartoon caption contest and have been unable to come up with anything worthy to say. Or maybe, like Elaine Benes, you've tried in vain to understand the punch line of a particularly obtusely delivered drawing. Anyone who has spent time enjoying The New Yorker cartoons should look forward to reading How About Never - Is Never Good ...more
Erdogan Cesmeli
Aug 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit too much self-love hidden by the jokes.

Enjoyable reading. Mixing the text with the cartoons were very apt and made the reading easier and more fun.
Could have shared some more insights about his kind of humor.
Feb 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, humor
Bob Mankoff is the cartoon editor for "The New Yorker" magazine, for which he has also personally contributed over 900 cartoons. This is obviously a man who loves his work and is happy to tell you all about it; luckily for the reader, he is very good at both of those things.

Mr. Mankoff states "The New Yorker valued distinctiveness in both ideas and style..." This is also an apt description for his memoir "How About Never -- Is Never Good for You?: My Life in Cartoons". Because drawing cartoons
Jul 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
It was so hard to actually read this book and not flip through it and just read all the cartoons first! That was of course my introduction to The New Yorker. As a kid, my parents' subscription seemed so dense and difficult I never tried reading any of it... except for the cartoons. Although, to be honest, I'm not sure that I understood even half of them. Later, as an adult living in New York with my own subscription, I did get 99% of the cartoons, and although I read the magazine cover to cover ...more
Jul 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An insider look at one of the greatest magazines in the United States, a detailed look at the cartooning business, and -- as a bonus -- a lot of great cartoons. What's not to love about this book?

I've heard of cartoonists who spend literally decades submitting dozens of cartoons each week, hoping to get their first one published in the New Yorker. But Bob Mankoff explains that, more often than not, this is normal for most cartoonists. As editor of the cartoons for the New Yorker, Mankoff has a s
John Millard
Growing up in New Jersey I knew nothing of The New Yorker. My parents were from the Midwest. Many of my neighbors where from Brooklyn and some were Jewish so I grew up hearing Yiddish words often but the mystery remained in that few of the kids my age could explain it to me. So, i did enjoy the explanation of sorts which lies within these illuminating pages (with pictures - I only read for the pictures).

"Oy gevalt is Yiddish, loosely translated into English as "Oh goodness," but you really can'
Jan 04, 2016 rated it liked it
I watched an HBO documentary called Very Semi-Serious, about The New Yorker cartoons and the process behind choosing them. In it, this author, Bob Mankoff was featured throughout. He's The New Yorker cartoon editor and also one of their cartoonists. This was the book he was working on at the time, and in the documentary you see him and his editor discussing it.

Okay, so I find New Yorker cartoons funny in an amusing, clever way, not a laugh-out-loud way, and I always also end up somewhat baffled
Roz Warren
May 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Bob Mankoff, the “The New Yorker‘s” cartoon editor since 1997, has written a new book with a title inspired by his own most popular cartoon: “How about Never? Is Never Good For You: My Life In Cartoons.”

It’s part memoir, part cartooning how-to, part (dishy!) behind-the-scenes look at the magazine, and 100% fun.

Mankoff not only shares the story of his own life and cartooning career, but throws in a concise and illuminating history of cartooning itself, with a special focus on the evolution of t
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“I have entered the New Yorker's Cartoon Caption Contest almost weekly virtually since it began and have never even been a finalist. I have done more writing for free for the New Yorker in the last five years than for anybody in the previous 40 years. It's not that I think my cartoon captions are better than anyone else's, although some weeks, understandably, I do. It's that just once I want to see one of my damn captions in the magazine that publishes the best cartoons in the world."
- Roger Ebert
(By the way, in 2011 Ebert finally won, after 107 tries.)”
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