howThis weekend I attacked a four foot stack of magazines that had been piling up over the past few months. I usually plow through them at a rapid pace. I pull out articles I want to read later, make notes for things I want to explore further, and clip items to send to my friends and family. The latter carrying on a tradition started by my “clip happy” grandmother.

Inevitably, I end up with a stack of The New Yorker magazines as issues take some time to absorb. My stack of clippings also ends up with dozens of cartoons from the The New Yorker which are always favorites. I have long been a fan of The New Yorker’s cartoons (I know, not very original) but I had never really thought much about the process of developing and sourcing the magazine’s signature feature. But that all changed when I came across How About Never–Is Never Good for You?: My Life in Cartoons by Bob Mankoff.

Mr. Mankoff, the cartoon editor for The New Yorker, brings us a memoir of a life and career at the pinnacle of the cartoon world and it is as entertaining as you would hope it to be.

About How About Never–Is Never Good for You?: My Life in Cartoons by Bob Mankoff: “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 in the world. With the help of myriad images and his funniest, most beloved cartoons, he traces his love of the craft all the way back to his childhood, when he started doing funny drawings at the age of eight. After meeting his mother, we follow his unlikely stints as a high-school basketball star, draft dodger, and sociology grad student. Though Mankoff abandoned the study of psychology in the seventies to become a cartoonist, he recently realized that the field he abandoned could help him better understand the field he was in, and here he takes up the psychology of cartooning, analyzing why some cartoons make us laugh and others don’t. He allows us into the hallowed halls of The New Yorker to show us the soup-to-nuts process of cartoon creation, giving us a detailed look not only at his own work, but that of the other talented cartoonists who keep us laughing week after week.”

Less of a memoir (Mr. Mankoff glosses over many personal challenges) and more of an insider’s view of a world we don’t know much about, How About Never–Is Never Good for You? is a worthy read about a worthy profession you can only dream to aspire to.

How About Never–Is Never Good for You?: My Life in Cartoons by Bob Mankoff is available from Amazon and other fine book retailers.