Eli Stein — Gag Cartoonist

For over 50 years my stuff has appeared in practically all of the major and minor cartoon outlets (no, not The New Yorker — Cartoon Editor Bob Mankoff has convinced me that my "Saturday Evening Post" drawing style has no place within its pages). But I haven't given up — maybe if I bring him cartoons drawn with my left hand, or with the pen between my toes or in my mouth . . . who knows what might happen. I'm sure it's not the gags that are deficient, considering some of the gags that have appeared in the New Yorker since the William Shawn era.

Anyway, I've been entertaining people over the years at The Wall Street Journal, The National Law Journal, Barron's, Good Housekeeping, The Saturday Evening Post (YES!!), King Features Syndicate, First, Woman's World and National Review, just to drop a few names. And I plan to continue doing just that.


  1. comment title
    Just discovered your site from a link on The Comics Reporter (comicsreporter.com). I must admit to being unfamiliar with your work but my first thought was, “Ah, he must be a New Yorker cartoonist.” Alas. Though it is clearly the New Yorker’s loss. You’ve done some really wonderful, absurd, funny stuff and I anticipate many hours of lost productivity at work, while I peruse your archives.
    Thanks for sharing!
    -Philip in Seattle

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    Hi Eli, I’ve followed your work from the 60’s and it had a certain amount of influence on my own work . . I’ve always liked your clean lines, no clutter and great gags . . . As for Mankoff, when is he going to connect the dots?

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    Roy — So great to hear from you! I’ve been an admirer of your work for years — and I’ve always loved your ongoing cartoon jibes at Mankoff, like the recent “The New Yorker Book of Cartoons Nobody Understands”. (Don’t get me started on Mankoff, please.) I’m pretty sure we met at the WSJ 50th Anniversary exhibit, didn’t we? Keep up the good work!– Eli

  4. comment title
    Hey, Eli Thanks for the kind words. My ‘jibes’ at Mankoff is only editorial cartooning satire for satire’s sake . . remember, that’s what we do . . it’s amazing . . it’s not meant to be mean-spirited . . The reaction to my ‘jibes’ so far has been 99% on my side and only one guy, Pat Byrnes who really got bent out of shape . . and went on to ‘jibe’ ME . . when he told the world . . ” Roy Delgado will never sell the New Yorker because he’s not smart enough. ” You meet the nicest guys in this business, don’t you?

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    Hi. Finally got to look over your website and I am impressed. Of course I know you outside of the funnies so I can honestly say you are terrific on and off paper.

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    Eli, Mr. Mankoff said your cartoons are too Sat Eve Post . . He said my stuff was too Reader’s Digest . . I wonder why he didn’t say my stuff was too Harvard Business Review or too ‘Barronsy’, ( where I appear 10 times more in, than Readers Digest . . ) The answer is simple and plausible and maybe believable if he mentioned Readers Digest, but would not make any sense if he mentioned HBR and Barrons, (where 95% of the cartoonists are NYer cartoonists ). I’m not supposed to notice this . . what are you, NUTS ? The same thing as your case, many of your Wall Street Journal cartoons and other sophisticated cartoons you did for other magazines were indistinguishible from many which appeared in the NYer. . . ask anyone who knows anything about magazine cartoons! One of my favorite sayings: ” Look, you B.S. YOUR friends, and I’ll B.S. mine, but let’s not B.S. each other, okay ? “

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    Just a note from a fan to say I love your work. This is a very nice site. I have enjoyed it very much. Thank you.

  8. comment title
    I just found your blog courtesy of Mike Lynch, but needless to say I’ve seen your work for years. It’s amazing how sharp the earliest cartoons feel, like razor blades still fresh in their packages. Your style and wit is timeless.

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    Nice gags, Eli. Funny stuff. Sometimes I think about writing and drawing again and sending stuff out, but then I remember how much WORK it is, and pop another DVD in the player.
    Keep ’em coming!
    Howard Margulies

  10. comment title
    Greetings! from one cartoonist to another. . I find that the smaller markets such as The Federal Lawyer and other trade publications keep the pen wet. I have also shifted from a gag cartoonist to illustrator for magazines such as Scott Stamp Monthly. Face it, you have to invent your own employment and that means research, research, research. A set of books I chip away at is Gales Guide to Publications. It is huge and lists thousands of magazines and newspapers. Eli, love the site – learned a lot! Have bookmarked your site…..

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    Thanks for the kind words, Kitty. How true it is about the smaller markets. I’m familiar with The Federal Lawyer and may even have sold a cartoon or two to them — either that, or they’re still “holding” some cartoons of mine, going back many, many years. Best of luck. Eli

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    How much we can thank you for your creativity? Not enough…Thanks for your talent and special humor we been able to bright our readers with so much more. We appreciate your generosity in sharing your art with us (ideas4solutions) and Mexico, Latin America and the world. thanks!

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    Very laconic, very wise and very funny! I love your style! Any cartoon like a small piece of very interesting film! Vladimir Nenashev, Rossia

  14. comment title
    Hi Eli:
    As a total novice, I submitted some cartoons to the New Yorker and felt bad about being rejected. After seeing a lot of your work, I don’t feel bad at all. I find most of your cartoons funny, some extremely so. Your style is precise and uncluttered and you offer rich variation in facial expressions. Maybe Mankoff wants it to be a bit kinkier (as you say, try drawing with the wrong hand).
    There certainly are some devilishly funny cartoons in the New Yorker, but it seems that many of them are not intended to make people laugh. Like puns, the intention could be wit, so instead of laughing, one responds by raising an eyebrow or uttering a knowing murmur. I prefer humor.
    My drawing skills are very limited; however, I do come up with gag ideas. Do you know of any cartoonists who sometimes partner up with a writer?
    Peter DavisrnToronto, Canada

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    Rejected by The New Yorker, Peter? Welcome to the club — a very large club. But why give up? If you honestly feel you’re doing New Yorker-worthy stuff, send or show Bob Mankoff your best. New, unknown cartoonists DO get in there, so everybody’s got a chance.
    As for your question about cartoonists using gagwriters, here I’ve got to be a little discouraging. Even in the glory days of magazine gag cartooning (50 or 60 years ago), when there were a few cartoonists who sought gags, I don’t think that gagwriters did very well financially with their 25% take of a cartoon sale price. These days, with practically no cartoons being published any more, and with print publications folding at an alarming rate . . . well, I think you get the idea.
    In the old days, there were readily available lists of “Cartoonists Seeking Gags”. I used to work hard to keep my name off such lists, since I didn’t want gagwriters sending me gags on speculation.
    It’s my gut feeling that nowadays 99% of the published cartoonists do it the same way I do — they dream up their own gags and have a lot of fun doing it.

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    I don’t speak(and write!)very well american but I want say you it’s a very good artwork for a french admirateur (?) …We have Sempe,ungerer, and many other unknown in USA but the masters of cartoons are still now in your country and you are indisputably one of them ! bravo et merci …

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    We know each other from another life! I.e., how long does it take to get a requested book from Stack 5 up to the Main Reading Room at the NYPL?
    Beyond that, I know I have a greeting card/notice that you sent to friends celebrating your discharge from the Army, circa 1954, that I think I still have. (I will find it, once I get organized).
    Congratulations on a great career, as embodied by your most entertaining website.
    Anybody for a game of H-O-R-S-E?
    Ed Smith

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    Terrific stuff, Eli! A great body of work. It is always interesting to see how styles evolve over the years. I began writing gags for card companies in 1972 and cartoonists in 1976, and didn’t start to draw toons, myself, until 1979. But I grew up perusing the work of the great cartoonists of the ’50’s and ’60’s, yourself among them. I miss those days….when there were dozens and even hundreds of excellent cartoon-using publications on the market. Thanks for taking me back to that happy time with your amazing archives!
    Best Regards, Tom Wuthrich (SWISS)

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    Thanks for writing, Tom. It’s good to hear from someone who’s almost a contemporary (although I guess I’ve been around for a few more years than you). I appreciate your kind words and also want you to know that I checked out your Swisstoons site and liked everything I saw there.

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    Hi Eli – Keep up the great work. Am I big fan of your work. Have been studying with Roy Delgado. Check out our new web comic. Peter Plum Roy Delgado

  21. How about those New Yorker
    How about those New Yorker Tuesdays? I think it’s time for a visit — Can I tag along?

  22. Well, Sharon, it’s been a
    Well, Sharon, it’s been a long time since my last New Yorker Tuesday. But if I do go, you can certainly tag along. Guests stay in the waiting room, of course — Bob Mankoff’s office is strictly for cartoonists with cartoon roughs in hand.

  23. Hi Eli,
    Hi Eli,

    I’ve had your site bookmarked for years. Great stuff. I always admired your work and managed to sell to a few good markets myself (WSJ, SEP, Forbes, etc.) between, mostly, 1997-2002 before wearying of all the ‘on spec’.

    But what specifically brings me here tonight is a Facebook post on a group I’m in. A cartoon of yours is posted with a long caption that begins with a radio announcer saying, “Will short interest reach a new high for the year?…”

    And someone responded:

    “The artist may be the same as did a cartoon I saw at a station in the early 70’s. It showed an announcer at the microphone, slouched in his chair and seemingly VERY bored, doing the outro for an EBS test: ‘If this had been an actual emergency, you’d never know what hit you.’ I’ve looked but can’t find it anywhere. It would look great in my radio shack.”

    Just wondered if this ‘actual emergency’ cartoon the person mentioned was indeed yours.


    Shannon Burns

  24. Thanks for your note, Shannon

    Thanks for your note, Shannon, and for your kind words. The cartoon you cited on Facebook is indeed mine — it appeared in The Wall, Street Journal in 1968. The “actual emergency” cartoon is definitely not mine — too bad, it made me laugh.

    Since you’re a “retired” cartoonist, maybe you might enjoy participating in my Cartoon Caption Contest??

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Welcome to the Eli Stein Cartoon archive. To begin, read my introduction and personal notes, and then please look at the cartoons, which are categorized by either decade, publication name or topic. I’ve included some personal comments, memories and photos below many of the cartoons. I’ll be adding cartoons, memories and photos ad infinitum. Remember, your comments are appreciated (just click on the “comment” link at the bottom of each post).