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Bob Eckstein is an award-winning writer, illustrator, New Yorker cartoonist and world's leading snowman expert.
New Yorker cartoonist and author of The New York Times best-selling Footnotes From the World’s Greatest Bookstores. He has been speaking publicly against online shopping to raise awareness for independent bookstores. He is also a Creative Director, Contributing Editor at Bob Eckstein is an award-winning writer, Writer’s Digest and Adjunct Professor at NYU. Follow him on Twitter at @BobEckstein and Instagram at bob_eckstein.
BIO WITH CARTOON SLANT:
Bob Eckstein’s cartoons have appeared in Barron’s, MAD, McSweeny’s, National Lampoon, The New Yorker, The New York Times, New York Daily News, The Oldie, Playboy, Private Eye, Prospect, Reader’s Digest, SPY, The Spectator, Wall St. Journal and publications worldwide. He is a New York Times best-selling author, an award-winning illustrator, Erma Bombeck Humorist of the Month and nominated twice National Cartoonist Society’s Gag Cartoonist of the Year.
His work has been exhibited in the Cartoon Art Museum of San Francisco, Smithsonian Institute, The Cartoon Museum of London, Sordoni Art Gallery at Wilkes University. Eckstein has spoke in over a 100 TV and radio shows and at The Mount, Milford Readers & Writers Festival, Stroud Mansion, NYPL, Miami Book Fair, MOCCA Arts Festival, NCS, Norman Rockwell Museum, Yonsei University in South Korea, Millbrook Literary Festival, The Norman Rockwell Museum, and The Grolier Club.
He is the editor of the series The Ultimate Cartoon Book by the World’s Greatest Cartoonists, Contributing Editor at Writer’s Digest and teaches at New York University.
LONGER, FIRST PERSON:
I'm an illustrator, cartoonist, writer and snowman expert. I do cartoons for places like the New York Times, MAD magazine and The New Yorker. I wrote The History of the Snowman (Simon & Schuster, 2007) and Footnotes from the World's Greatest Bookstores (Penguin Random House, 2016) which became a NY Times bestseller. My work has been exhibited in: The Cartoon Art Museum of San Francisco, Smithsonian Institute, The Cartoon Museum of London and in 2018, The Sordoni Art Gallery at Wilkes University. I've been nominated Gag Cartoonist of the Year (twice) by the National Cartoonists Society.
I have written columns, Op-Eds and features for: New Yorker, New York Times, New York Daily News, NY Newsday, Reader's Digest, SPY, Playboy, Details, GQ, MAXIM, National Lampoon, Village Voice, and McSweeney's. I am a Contributing Editor at Writer's Digest.
I have been speaking publicly against online shopping to raise awareness for independent bookstores and teach writing at NYU. I taught at Pratt Institute and School of Visual Arts for a dozen years. My new book is Everyone’s A Critic: The Ultimate Cartoon Book by the World’s Greatest Cartoonists. Follow me on Twitter at @BobEckstein and Instagram at bob_eckstein.
English is not my first language. I'm from the Bronx–I don't have a first language. My dad was a bus driver. But I grew up on Long Island although at every chance I would try to return to New York City. Instead of spending my senior year in high school, I sat in on classes in art college. It was there I ran into my future wife but at that time we were mortal enemies. It would take a dozen years for us to have a change of heart and after a reunion of sorts where we sat next to each other at a mutual friend's funeral, we dated and then eloped to Iceland.
Meanwhile, I was teaching at School of Visual Arts and Pratt Institute and working as a freelance illustrator and writing humor columns for places like New York Newsday, The Village Voice and TimeOut New York. I'm just sharing the highlights here and in summary it all sounds easy but there was a lot of struggle and many false starts in my career. But back to the good stuff...
I’ve always been interested in mysteries and I love Sherlock Holmes so in 2000 I decided to write and solve a mystery myself although I didn’t want it to be about crime. Instead I wanted to try to answer one of life’s great questions like, Who made the first sandwich? or Who told the first joke? At the same time I noticed there weren’t many holiday books that were nondenominational. So I chose the mystery, Who made the first snowman? and I began my quest of who was the first person who decided to put one snowball on top of another and add a face.
After seven years of researching around the world, I wrote the popular holiday book, The History of the Snowman, published by Simon & Schuster in 2007 and this snowballed into becoming the world’s leading snowman expert. I appeared on close to 80 appearances and spots on TV and radio around the world discussing my findings. But something more important happened, I was introduced to the world of the New Yorker (at the time I wasn't aware of how much a difference this would mean).
My book had, in the middle of it, an intermission made up of the world’s best snowman cartoons–I created this, afraid people might be getting bored reading only about snowmen. I used the Cartoonbank to gather most of the cartoons and full disclosure, it was an expensive venture. For cartoon and photo rights to historical museum pieces, the total bill for the book was well in the five figures. I actually had a couple of spots left, so due to a pressing deadline and to save money, I supplied cartoons done by myself. I had some experience doing cartoons–I had done the last cartoon for SPY magazine and appeared in National Lampoon–although this was nothing I ever pursued, gag cartooning and certainly not for the New Yorker. I was an occasional reader of the New Yorker and got runner-up when I tried their cartoon caption contest but it wasn’t until the great Sam Gross took me out to lunch for my birthday that I even considered cartooning. I had bought a cartoon from Sam for the snowman book and got to know each other that way.
I enjoyed that lunch with the New Yorker cartoonists and asked about returning. Sam suggested to come back with ten sketches next week. It was kind of a dare. It was too hard for me to come up with ten ideas in a week but I showed up the second week and the New Yorker purchased a cartoon, the first I had drawn, actually, that was a traditional "gag" cartoon. It was beginner’s luck as it would be a very long time before I sold my second. But I got published in places like Playboy, New York Times, New York Daily News, MAD magazine, Barron’s, Wall Street Journal, The Spectator (UK), Reader’s Digest and many others. I got nominated Gag Cartoonist of the Year a couple of times and my cartoons have been picked in various contests. Next thing I knew I was now a cartoonist.
In 2016 I wrote Footnotes from the World's Greatest Bookstores (Penguin Random House, 2016) which became a NY Times bestseller.
My work has been exhibited in: The Cartoon Art Museum of San Francisco, Smithsonian Institute, The Cartoon Museum of London and in 2018, The Sordoni Art Gallery at Wilkes University. I've been nominated Gag Cartoonist of the Year (twice) by the National Cartoonists Society. I have been speaking publicly against online shopping to raise awareness for independent bookstores and teaches writing at NYU.
In 2019 I came out with The Ultimate Cartoon Book of Book Cartoons, a collection of cartoons about books and bookstores by, literally, the world's greatest cartoonists (like Roz Chast, Sam Gross, Arnie Levin, Paul Noth, Ed Koren, George Booth, Danny Shanahan, Barbara Smaller, Liza Donnelly, P.C. Vey, Frank Cotham, Bob Mankoff, Julia Suits, John O'Brien, Chris Weyant, Michael Maslin, Nick Downes, Michael Shaw, Pat Byrnes, Robert Leighton, Peter Steiner, Jack Zeigler, David Borchart, Mick Stevens). I edited the book and wrote a introduction. By Princeton Architectural Press.
My next book is Everyone’s A Critic: The Ultimate Cartoon Book by the World’s Greatest Cartoonists. coming out in Oct. 2019, again, by Princeton Architectural Press.
Currently I teach writing at NYU and I've been creating a graphic novel based on the true story of the missing Sir John Franklin. It's a fictional diary from 1850. To enjoy working on that project I actually refitted my attic into an office that has the feel of a ship captain's quarters. Even the computers are refitted into old ship crates.