In the wake of Leo Cullum's passing last week, Comic Riffs noted that the sublime gag cartoonist had seen more than 800 of his works published in The New Yorker -- 819, to be precise.
This week, in fitting tribute, that tally reaches 820.
The first cartoon in this week's New Yorker is vintage Cullum: a confident-looking dog in coat-and-tie, sitting officiously behind a desk, is telling a man of like size, eye and snout: "I do corporate, divorce, and malpractice, but I'm most familiar with leash laws."
Efficiently funny, easy on the ear and pleasing to the eye, the cartoon serves as its own one-panel tribute to Cullum. Fortunately, though, the same page gifts us also with a prose postscript to the commercial pilot-turned-cartoonist.
New Yorker cartooning colleague Roz Chast told Comic Riffs last week: "Leo Cullum was one of the most consistently funny cartoonists that I knew. Even when he used the traditional set-ups of magazine cartoons, his take on them was always fresh. I will miss him and his work enormously."
Chast expands on her sentiment in this week's elegant New Yorker postscript, writing in part:
Leo's cartoons were a perfect marriage of drawing and caption. His visual style was straightforward and economical. He drew with an efficient medium-weight line -- not particularly bold and brash, but not anxious and self-effacing. And his gags were truly out there: unexpected and completely loopy."
In lauding Cullum as that rare cartoonist whose personality she would trust as her pilot, she goes on to add: "He was competent, calm but not overbearing ... I would have happily boarded any plane that he was in charge of."
In entering both his cartoon world and his commercial airliners, you were in the surest of hands.