The life of a writer is a lonely and sad one. But that’s nothing compared to that of a single-panel cartoonist – the deformed little sibling of the common journalist.
Actually, I once wanted to be a political cartoonist. But then I realized that I generally loathe politics and have little to no artistic talent. So fuck those guys.
Still, for folks interested in the profession, HBO has just obtained the rights to Very Semi-Serious: A Partially Thorough Portrait of New Yorker Cartoonists, a documentary directed by Leah Wolchok and produced by Davina Pardo. It will debut Monday, December 7th at 9pm ET/PT on the network, following a limited theatrical run at Lincoln Plaza in New York, the Roxie Theater in San Francisco, and a TBD venue in Los Angeles.
“We are thrilled Very Semi-Serious has found a home at HBO,” Wolchok said. “The New Yorker cartoons bring insightful humor to the magazine weekly, and we hope the HBO audience enjoys meeting and spending some time with their creators.”
The deal was negotiated by Cinetic Media on behalf of the filmmakers, and a summary can be found below:
Leah Wolchok’s light-hearted yet poignant debut film, which had its world premiere at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, offers a window into The New Yorker, the undisputed standard bearer of the single-panel cartoon. Whether they leave readers amused, inspired or even a little baffled, the iconic cartoons have been an instantly recognizable cultural touchstone over the past 90 years.
VERY SEMI-SERIOUS is an unprecedented glimpse into the process behind the cartoons. The film follows cartoon editor Bob Mankoff as he sifts through hundreds of submissions and pitches every week to bring readers a carefully curated selection of insightful and humorous work.
In addition to interviews with New Yorker staffers, including editor David Remnick, VERY SEMI-SERIOUS includes interviews with legends Roz Chast and Mort Gerberg and young hopefuls like graphic novelist Liana Finck as they discuss their cartoons and go through the process of submitting them each week to the magazine. The documentary observes Mankoff as he strives to nurture new talent and represent the magazine’s old guard, while also considering how his industry must evolve to stay relevant.