“It’s through drawing that your head starts working” – The New Yorker’s cartoonist Joost Swarte

“I can tell stories in a single panel. That’s important for a cover. In one drawing, it should be clear what the story is inside.” Joost Swarte is used to making the most out of small spaces. In fact, the Dutch cartoonist, designer and architect has spent most of his professional career working within certain borders – whether that be for buildings, on designs for stained glass windows or inside the panels of comic books. Most notably, added to this is a significant body of work for The New Yorker that now forms the basis of his very own publication, New York Boek. Chronicling over twenty years’s worth of drawings for the weekly magazine, the book contains over 450 documents, from previously unseen sketches all the way through to finished covers and spot illustrations.

“You can play with how a viewer looks at an image, and make something important by making it bigger or closer to the camera. But details in the background are also essential in the story.” The result is a remarkable ability to simultaneously communicate the bigger picture while remaining mindful of the minutest of details. “As a comic artist you should never feel framed within the format of comics,” he explains. “If I’m telling my story in one image I can mix the different elements that normally go from left to right or top to bottom in a comic page, so that there is something in front of you, in the background, and even further. It’s not a formula. You can play with this in a million ways. That makes it fun. It’s a democratic way of working!” The design of New York Boek follows suit. The journey from draft to final drawing is laid bare, with finished examples running at the bottom of pages and scans of work in progress arranged above. Both are given similarly equal weighting, neither sketch nor finished specimen overpowering the page...more