Bob Mankoff

On this date in 1944,  Robert “Bob” Mankoff, cartoonist, writer and humor enthusiast, was born in New York City. Mankoff grew up in the borough of Queens in a Jewish family. Mankoff graduated from Syracuse University in 1966. He then attended Queens College to pursue a doctorate degree in experimental psychology, but found that his passion was humor.

For two years he submitted around 500 cartoons to The New Yorker without success. After his first submission was published 40 years ago, more than 900 of his cartoons have appeared in The New Yorker. He began The Cartoon Bank in 1991, a database of rejected New Yorker cartoons, which licenses cartoons to use in various media such as textbooks, magazines and newsletters.

The New Yorker purchased the bank in 1997, when he was named New Yorker cartoon editor, where he stayed for 20 years until stepping down in 2017. In 2018 he launched as an archive and online store featuring the cartoons of over 70 illustrators.

Mankoff is credited with creating one of the most reprinted cartoons in The New Yorker’s history. It depicts a businessman at his desk talking on the phone while reviewing his calendar, saying, “No, Thursday’s out. How about never. Is never good for you?” He occasionally pokes fun at religion. In one scene, a man standing in a crowded church entrance says, “Good sermon, Reverend, but all that God stuff was pretty far-fetched.” In another, an obviously Jewish cleric says on the phone, “And remember, if you need anything I’m available 24/6.”

Mankoff has written several books, including his memoir How About Never: Is Never Good For You? My Life in Cartoons (2014) and The Naked Cartoonist: A New Way To Enhance Your Creativity (2002). He edited The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker (2004) and several other New Yorker collections. He edited The New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons: A Semi-serious A-to-Z Archive in 2018.

Mankoff has taught courses on the science and sociology of humor. He has partnered with the University of Michigan to conduct a series of experiments to study the role of humor in areas of economics, psychology and sociology.

After two prior marriages, Mankoff married Cory Scott Whittier in 1991. They live in New York and have a daughter, Sarah.

Freedom From Religion Foundation