And now an explanation of why I signed many recent cartoons with just my initials "ES", instead of "STEIN" (not the cartoon above, but you'll find it on a few of the cartoons already posted in the "2000" decade, and you'll be seeing more, intermittently, in future postings).
A few years ago, I started going to the offices of The New Yorker on Tuesdays, to see cartoon editor Bob Mankoff in person. He often reminded me that my retro Saturday Evening Post cartooning style was not the image that The New Yorker was striving for. Nevertheless, each Tuesday he would hold two, three, four, sometimes even five of my submissions. I always felt that this was just a perfunctory gesture, and of course I never got the Thursday phone call to tell me that Mankoff and David Remnick had decided to purchase any of them.
Sure I tried to change my style, and I also tried to bring Mankoff more cartoons with nondescript drawings — cartoons with no identifiable characters, that could have been drawn by anyone (like the shark cartoon above, which Mankoff held, but ultimately rejected). But that still left the problem of my signature. I knew from many years of studying New Yorker cartoons that the magazine prided itself in discovering "new" talent — so why did I need that extra baggage of a name that's been around for, literally, fifty years? So somewhere along the way, I decided it would be a good idea to get rid of the name "STEIN" and adopted the new signage, "ES".
Was it a paranoiac thought? Probably. Anyway, it didn't make a damn bit of difference and I'm glad to say that I've come to my senses and have returned to my old signature (unless it's a cartoon that I would submit ONLY to The New Yorker — but I'm drawing fewer and fewer of those these days).
It just occured to me that, since this is an "archive", there should be some explanation as to why I went from "ELI STEIN" to just "STEIN" in the early 1980's. Simple enough. When I started out, there was a very famous gag cartoonist named Ralph Stein. And besides being an active cartoonist, Ralph was also for a long time the cartoon editor of This Week, a weekly newspaper supplement. So the use of my first name was a no-brainer. When Ralph was no longer in the picture, I dropped the first name.
Right now, as far as I know, there are no other gag cartoonists named Stein. There's an Ed Stein, who is a political/editorial cartoonist, but we hardly ever get mixed up. I did once receive a letter intended for him — I returned it to the sender and set him straight.