Here’s a piece of useless trivia you never thought you needed; what is the name of the monocle-wearing dandy who appeared on the first ever cover of The New Yorker and has gone on to become its mascot? The answer is Eustace Tilley, and for many years the magazine published his image almost unchanged when its birthday rolled around at the end of February.
Since 1994 though the publication has had fun playing around with the famous motif, as art director Françoise Mouly explains: “The magazine’s presiding dandy has since been parodied, subverted, or deconstructed on most of our anniversary covers. Contributions by our artists – and by readers participating in Eustace Tilley contests – have included comic-strip Tilleys, dog Tilleys, tattoed Tilleys, emoji Tilleys, and twerking Tilleys.”
This year’s anniversary is a bit of a big one with The New Yorker turning 90, and so Françoise and editor David Remnick have decided to publish no fewer than nine different covers after inviting suggestions from their cover artists. So Kadir Nelson, Carter Goodrich, Anita Kunz, Roz Chast, Barry Blitt, Istvan Banyai, Lorenzo Mattotti, Peter Mendelsund and Christoph Niemann will all see their designs printed and there’s a pleasing array of styles, approaches and concepts from Kadir’s dragging of Eustace into the present day to Lorenzo’s unashamedly indulgent close crop.
“Each brings Eustace Tilley squarely into the 21st Century,” Françoise says, “and proves that art is as alive on the cover of the magazine today as it was in 1925.”