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Afternoon Delight: Making the Cover of 'The New Yorker'

by Jerome Weeks 2 May 2012 12:58 PM

Oh, it’s nothing more than trying to make a provocative, sophisticated weekly icon — choosing the cover of The New Yorker. That’s what Francoise Mouly has done the past ten years.


Afternoon Delight is a daily diversion for when you’re just back from lunch, but not quite ready to get back to work. Check back weekdays at 1 p.m. for another one.

I once met Francoise Mouly — the art editor of The New Yorker, the person who chooses the famous covers each week — at a book convention where she was on a panel about graphic novels. She and her husband, cartoonist Art Spiegelman, had started what was turning into a series of Little Lit books, graphic novels for children. And my daughter, a budding cartoonist, had loved the first one and had been fascinated by Spiegelman’s Maus, of course.

I told her all this. Mouly had the galleys or mock-ups of the next Little Lit in her hands, and un-prompted by me, promptly handed them over. She gave them to an out-of-town book critic whom she’d met 10 minutes before. We exchanged business cards and I promised to ship them back to her. That gesture — its directness, generosity and eagerness to share — has stuck with me ever since.

Of course, a week later at the Morning News, I was getting slightly frantic calls from her, but still …. as far as I’m concerned, she can do no wrong. CBS News did a nice feature on the making of a provocative, sophisticated weekly icon —  how Francoise Mouly chooses The New Yorker covers — on the occasion of Blown Covers, her new book about the ones that didn’t make the cut.

You may have to sit through an ad for the wretched Goldman Sachs. My apologies. It’s worth it.