New Yorker cartoonist Matt Diffee knows funny, almost as well as he knows good old-fashioned barbeque. Raised in Texas, the nostalgic taste of his youth is a little harder to come by these days on the bustling streets of Manhattan, "Which is why I've worked so hard to find barbeque joints that are similar to what I grew up with," Diffee laughs.
With a background in standup comedy and in the art world, Diffee—who still performs at small venues around the city when the mood strikes him—met his professional match when he merged his two obsessions and moved to New York after winning the famed New Yorker's cartoon contest eight years ago. "At that point I'd only sold one cartoon, but I was like "Ok, I'm legit, I have a reason to go," says Diffee.
Enthusiasm aside, cartooning isn't always that easy. Diffee actually estimates that nearly 90% of any cartoonist's work is rejected—but Diffee's happily given such snubbed work new life in The Rejection Collection: The Cream of the Crap. Now proudly out in its second volume, "It was an idea I had after gathering a pile of my rejected cartoons that I sort of still liked. There are always a few that you're like, 'Now that was funny, why didn't they buy that?' I knew that all those cartoonists who had been doing it for 50 years must have a huge pile of them so I got all their favorites," says Diffee who published their so-called "crap" and also features the artists themselves with questionnaires and portraits. "New Yorker cartoons are famous, but hardly anyone knows the cartoonists. So a big part of the book, for me, is to share these personalities and the way they think and the way they work."
Lucky for him, part of the way the Bushwick-dwelling Diffee works is simply observing the spirit of the city around him. "I get a tremendous amount of energy and inspiration walking around here. I always carry a pad with me in the event that something occurs to me. You see things and you're like, somebody needs to comment on that," he says. "The New Yorker is a magazine about New York, really. That's part of what people like about it, because I think people everywhere used to live here, or wished that they lived here, so we have a responsibility to report what's going on in New York in a comedic way," says Diffee. Maybe some of those wistful readers should enter a magazine contest.
See Diffee cartoons at the Cartoon Bank here.
Read an exclusive interview with Matthew Diffee on the official ontheinside.info blog here.
It's a style of comedy that's not commercial, it's not for everyone. It's maybe the New Yorker equivalent of stand up comedy: a little smarter, certainly weirder and very much about live comedy and interacting with the audience. …more
Blick is immaculately kept and I think they have more space and therefore more inventory. The service is great and you don't have to knock around asking "Do you have more of these?" because it's all out there. …more
You get slices of really good slow-cooked meat, but it's not slathered in sauce like you would expect at other places, which goes to show that barbeque sauce doesn't make good barbeque. …more