THE FIRST New Yorker cover, featuring the iconically monocled character Eustace Tilley, landed on news stands 92 years ago this month.
Now, in a nod to both the anniversary and our modern geopolitical times, the magazine’s mascot has been transformed into “Eustace Vladimirovich Tilley,” who turns his glassy gaze toward a small, fluttering Donald Trump.
Next week’s cover is by topical artist extraordinaire Barry Blitt, who famously depicted his radicalized, dap-happy Obamas for the magazine’s “The Politics of Fear” cover in 2008. His latest illustration pays homage to that initial 1925 Rea Irvin cover, while also fronting an issue that includes the Trump-Putin investigative piece “Active Measures,” by Evan Osnos, Joshua Yaffa and editor David Remnick (who won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1993 book “Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire”).
“Every once in a while, there’s a perfect storm to produce an image,” Françoise Mouly, the New Yorker’s art editor, tells The Post’s Comic Riffs. “Here, while David Remnick, an expert on Russia, was co-authoring a major report on the Trump-Putin dynamic, Barry Blitt knew just how to utilize the aplomb shown by Rea Irvin’s dandy.”
“But the one who has been most reliable in letting us plan such a cover,” Mouly says, “is President Trump, who has remained unwavering in his admiration for a dictator who — among much else — is notorious for the way he makes pesky journalists disappear.” (According to PolitiFact, based on data from two organizations, at least 34 journalists have been slain in Russia since 2000.)
How great is Putin’s reach, let alone his political “butterfly effect”? Blitt tells The New Yorker: “I’m boning up on my Cyrillic.”