A new documentary celebrates the work of George Booth, the New Yorker cartoonist of 50 years

Drawing Life explores decades of work from the cartoonist and the importance of holding on to “the spark of joy” while creating.

Date
24 January 2022

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Director Nathan Fitch has released a short documentary titled Drawing Life, which celebrates George Booth, the cartooning icon who has contributed work to the publication for over 50 years. The work of Booth has been animated by Emily Collins, who tackled the challenge of bringing motion to cartoons that were originally intended to be static. The documentary is published in The New Yorker and investigates his work, unique outlook and creative impact.

Drawing Life combines both stop motion animation, created in collaboration with Booth, and observational filmmaking. Fitch decided to incorporate animation into the project after seeing the “palpable childlike delight” Booth experienced when illustrator Sandra Boynton animated one of Booth’s cartoons in 2017. Using this “hybrid” filmmaking technique, Drawing Life illustrates Booth’s neighbourhood in Brooklyn and his life before becoming a cartoonist, including past experiences in the Royal Marines.

Booth, who turned 95 last year, has contributed both cartoons and covers to The New Yorker, and was the only cartoonist to be published immediately following 9/11. His comics are recognisable for the recurring presence of cats and dogs, living spaces in disarray and squabbling couples. Throughout his career, he's built up a legacy as a gag-man through his ability to find comedy within everyday spaces.

Despite Booth’s “immense natural talents and supportive family, it took him time to find his way as a cartoonist and artist”, Drawing Life director Fitch explains. The film covers the long road Booth experienced on the way, including doing “inglorious odd jobs such as moving dirt” and the hundreds of rejections he experienced before he was ever published in The New Yorker. “I hope a take-away for someone viewing Drawing Life,” says Fitch, “is that while you have to put in the work, especially as a creative, it’s also important to try to tune out noise and expectations, and try to find your way back to the spark of joy that made you want to create in the first place.”

GalleryNathan Fitch: Drawing Life (Copyright © The New Yorker, 2022)

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Nathan Fitch: Drawing Life (Copyright © The New Yorker, 2022)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, she worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.

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