August 20th, 2014
When I was around six or seven, I was home sick from school and in an effort to make me happy, my mother gave me a pencil, a stack of paper and a book of cartoons. She knew I loved to draw, and knew this would help me get through the sick days. The book of cartoons she gave me was called Thurber Carnival, a collection of work by the renowned New Yorker writer and cartoonist James Thurber. His drawings are very simple, almost childlike, and I took to them immediately. I started tracing them. Soon, I realized this made my mother smile. I was hooked. From there, I started to draw my own cartoon characters. This is how I became a cartoonist.
So it is especially wonderful for me to be a finalist for the Thurber Prize this year for my book Women On Men (Narrative Library). It is the sole award in America for written humor, and is annually given out by Thurber House (the birthplace of James Thurber and an active literary center in Ohio). Thurber was a master humorist in both the written word and the cartoon, working primarily for The New Yorker in mid-century 1900′s. Past winners have included Jon Stewart, Calvin Trillin, Christopher Buckley and David Sedaris. The other finalists that were nominated along with me are David Letterman and Bruce McCall for their book “This Land is Made For You And Me” and John Kenney for “Truth in Advertising.” We will gather in New York City at Caroline’s Comedy Club on September 30th, where we will all do a reading and then they will announce the prize.
Ironically for me, one of the things that made some of Thurber’s cartoons so notable with the public were their misogynistic tone. Thurber was married twice to strong women, and had a daughter, but his cartoons sometimes betray befuddlement and often hostility towards women, as did his wonderful humorous essays. Who knows if he personally was a misogynist (some say he was), or that he just used it as a comedic tool, not uncommon in the humor of his time.
As a child, I remember that his cartoon women perplexed me and scared the heck out of me. I thought, is this what I have to be when I grow up? A hag, an angel, a delusional waif, a love object…and nothing in between?
Maybe deep down, this is why I wrote Women On Men, a book about women relentlessly making fun of men. Lovingly. My tribute to James Thurber.
July 1st, 2014
This cartoon was originally published in Medium’s The Nib
July 1st, 2014
In 2013, I was honored to be invited to deliver a talk at the Distinguished Lecture Series at the University Of Michigan. It is a lecture series called Penny W Stamps Lecture Series, and the speakers are always in art and design. So my talk focused on the creative process. Below is their description of me:
“Known for her acute observations on cultural and political issues, Liza Donnelly’s cartoons have been appearing in The New Yorker magazine for over three decades. In Donnelly’s view, humor is serious business, helping us laugh at our failings, and working to make changes in ourselves and the world. Donnelly is an author of fifteen books, columnist for Forbes.com, and a cartoonist for Women’s Enews, among other places. She travels the world as a Cultural Envoy for the US State Department, speaking about women’s rights and freedom of speech, and she delivered a very popular TED talk in 2010 She is the founder of WorldInk.org, a site that promotes international cartoonists and their work, and is a member of Cartooning For Peace, PEN and the Writer’s Guild. She is at work on a screenplay based on being a woman cartoonist.”
July 1st, 2014
I was extremely honored to receive an honorary degree from The University of Connecticut Graduate School this May, and to be invited to deliver their commencement speech. It was an amazing experience to be in the huge auditorium (where they play their famous basketball) and to speak to 9,000+ students, family and friends. We had a great time– it was a very festive atmosphere. Above is a video of the full 2014 commencement ceremony–you can catch my introduction by the president of the University, Susan Herbst at 7:00 min, followed by my address. I tried to be humorous and serious, not an easy task. Particularly without my cartoons to help me!
June 10th, 2014
This cartoon originally appeared on Medium, a relatively new blog platform started by the by Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone. Every Monday morning, they publish a cartoon/comic of mine on politics for a section of Medium called The Nib. Go check it out! Lots of cartoons there all week long.
March 3rd, 2014
This is the cartoon that started it all. I began drawing snarky women, women who are funny and sarcastic, in The New Yorker in the 1990?s, and while it’s not all that I draw, it is a favorite topic of mine. In fact, I have a whole book of cartoons and commentary on this subject, called Women On Men. You can take a look at it and order it here. Or contact me and I offer a personally signed (with drawing inside) soft cover hard copy for a discount! email@example.com