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Posted at 6:00 PM ET, 11/ 1/2010

This week in The New Yorker: LEO CULLUM's final cartoon

By Michael Cavna

In the wake of Leo Cullum's passing last week, Comic Riffs noted that the sublime gag cartoonist had seen more than 800 of his works published in The New Yorker -- 819, to be precise.

This week, in fitting tribute, that tally reaches 820.

The first cartoon in this week's New Yorker is vintage Cullum: a confident-looking dog in coat-and-tie, sitting officiously behind a desk, is telling a man of like size, eye and snout: "I do corporate, divorce, and malpractice, but I'm most familiar with leash laws."

Efficiently funny, easy on the ear and pleasing to the eye, the cartoon serves as its own one-panel tribute to Cullum. Fortunately, though, the same page gifts us also with a prose postscript to the commercial pilot-turned-cartoonist.

New Yorker cartooning colleague Roz Chast told Comic Riffs last week: "Leo Cullum was one of the most consistently funny cartoonists that I knew. Even when he used the traditional set-ups of magazine cartoons, his take on them was always fresh. I will miss him and his work enormously."

Chast expands on her sentiment in this week's elegant New Yorker postscript, writing in part:

Leo's cartoons were a perfect marriage of drawing and caption. His visual style was straightforward and economical. He drew with an efficient medium-weight line -- not particularly bold and brash, but not anxious and self-effacing. And his gags were truly out there: unexpected and completely loopy."

In lauding Cullum as that rare cartoonist whose personality she would trust as her pilot, she goes on to add: "He was competent, calm but not overbearing ... I would have happily boarded any plane that he was in charge of."

In entering both his cartoon world and his commercial airliners, you were in the surest of hands.

By Michael Cavna  | November 1, 2010; 6:00 PM ET
Categories:  Gag Cartoons  | Tags:  Leo Cullum, Roz Chast, The New Yorker  
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