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Danny Shanahan, Cartoonist With an Absurd Contact, Dies at 64


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Danny Shanahan, a mirthful cartoonist who had a stand-up comedian’s reward for one-liners however whose lengthy affiliation with The New Yorker ended final 12 months beneath a cloud, died on July 5 in a hospital in Charleston, S.C. He was 64.

The trigger was a number of system organ failure, his spouse, Janet Stetson, mentioned. He had been dwelling in Mount Nice, S.C.

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From 1988 via final 12 months, Mr. Shanahan revealed about 1,000 cartoons in The New Yorker. Drawn with an off-the-cuff model and an absurdist’s eye, they had been populated by a panoply of characters, together with clowns, snowmen, praying mantises, cats, canines, cave males, elves, monkeys, athletes, businessmen, politicians, Santa Claus and Elvis.

In a single cartoon, a canine seems to be up from his menu in a restaurant, and asks the waiter, “Is the homework contemporary?” In one other, titled “Mr. October,” a headless New York Yankee reaches into his locker for his pumpkin head. In a 3rd, referred to as “Batmom,” Batman reads a message beamed to him within the sky that claims, “Your sister acquired one other promotion!”

However Mr. Shanahan’s future at The New Yorker ended together with his arrest by the New York State Police in December on a cost of possession of kid pornography. Citing “deeply disturbing” accusations towards him, The New Yorker suspended his contract.

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Mr. Shanahan pleaded not responsible. His lawyer, Phil Smallman, mentioned the case had not been resolved at his dying, including {that a} convention with the presiding decide was scheduled for Monday.

Michael Maslin, a fellow New Yorker cartoonist,mentioned of Mr. Shanahan by telephone: “He was like a human Pez dispenser of humor, his thoughts all the time working. He was humorous, like his work. He was by no means off.”

He was invariably foolish. Within the first half of a two-panel cartoon, Mr. Shanahan depicted a drowning boy screaming to a famously useful canine: “Lassie! Get assist!” Within the second panel, Lassie reclines on a therapist’s sofa — getting assist. In one in every of his many clown cartoons, Mr. Shanahan drew one clown giving recommendation to a different, who’s carrying a spherical nostril as huge as a bowling ball: “Ask your self, ‘Does it make me a greater clown?’”

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And in his 2018 parody of “Christina’s World,” Andrew Wyeth’s portray of a younger girl mendacity in a area and observing a distant farmhouse, Mr. Shanahan added a soccer aim behind her and put crimson goalkeeper’s gloves on her fingers to create “Christina’s World Cup.”

Bob Mankoff, a former cartoon editor of The New Yorker, described Mr. Shanahan’s humor as common. “Folks will probably be laughing at some cartoons in The New Yorker subsequent week and subsequent month, however they gained’t be laughing at them 10 years from now,” he mentioned in an interview. “However 10 years from now, they’ll be laughing at Danny’s cartoons. He was a grasp of the cartoon joke.”

Daniel Patrick Shanahan was born on July 11, 1956, in Brooklyn and raised in Northport, on Lengthy Island, and Bethlehem, Conn. He was one in every of 11 kids of Bernard Shanahan, a supervisor on the electronics firm Perkin-Elmer, and Kathleen (Novosel) Shanahan, a homemaker.

“He was all the time drawing,” Ms. Stetson, his spouse, mentioned. “His mother and father had a big household with a modest revenue, however they all the time had lot of books and many paper on the desk. And he was all the time humorous. He had a novel manner of wanting on the world.”

Mr. Shanahan was largely self-taught; he took one or two programs at Paier School of Artwork in Hamden, Conn. He labored as a bartender whereas promoting cartoons, largely to small magazines but in addition to TV Information.

“I’ve been cartooning for over 30 years,” he informed the web site A Case for Pencils in 2017. “I began, again within the ’80s, because the unofficial cartoonist for america Tennis Affiliation, due to an excellent buddy who was an editor for World Tennis journal. Fortunately he noticed a glimmer of risk on this Bleecker Road bartender’s Kliban and Larson knockoffs,” referring to B. Kliban, recognized for his one-panel cat cartoons, and Gary Larson, the creator of “The Far Aspect.”

By 1988, Mr. Shanahan and Ms. Stetson had been married and looking for a cheaper place to begin a household. They moved from Rhinebeck, N.Y., to Corrales, N.M. Quickly afterward, he offered his first cartoon to The New Yorker: a conspicuously musclebound little boy studying his essay, “What I Did on My Summer time Trip,” to his classmates. The household lived in New Mexico for seven years, time that Ms. Stetson referred to as “the very best factor that would have occurred” to her husband “as a result of he was capable of develop his model.”

Along with The New Yorker, Mr. Shanahan’s work appeared in Time, Esquire, Playboy, Fortune, Newsweek and The New York Occasions.

He revealed a number of collections of cartoons and two kids’s books: “The Bus Experience That Modified Historical past” (2005, written by Pamela Duncan Edwards), about Rosa Parks’s refusal to give up her seat to a white individual on a bus in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955; and “Buckledown the Workhound” (1993), which he each wrote and illustrated. He additionally illustrated “Extra Bizarre and Great Phrases” (2003), edited by Erin McKean.

Along with his spouse, Mr. Shanahan is survived by their sons, Finnegan Shanahan and Render Stetson-Shanahan; his sisters, Jane Petersen, Eileen Stevens, Kathryn DeAngelis, and Celia, Rita and Lillian Shanahan; and his brothers, Bernard Jr., Francis, Matthew and Terrence. (His son Render acquired notoriety when he was sentenced to jail on a manslaughter cost final 12 months within the stabbing dying of his feminine roommate in 2016.)

Mr. Shanahan’s remaining cartoon for The New Yorker appeared in November. It reveals one pilgrim girl holding a cooked turkey on a platter and telling one other pilgrim girl, “He says my eagle tastes fishy, so this 12 months I’m attempting one thing new.”

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