Cartoon wisdom from Karl Stevens appears in this week’s print edition of The New Yorker

When I saw this wise cartoon by Karl Stevens on his Twitter and Instagram feeds I had to share it. I posted comments on both and Karl replied. Turns out there’s a TM connection. See our conversation below.

The New Yorker Cartoons have now also posted it on their Instagram.

I was so taken with this cartoon, I had to share a comment on Twitter and on Karl’s Instagram: “Love this! So funny and so true!!”

Surprisingly, Karl replied to both! Here’s a compilation: “Thanks, Ken! By the way, (You know) I’ve been doing TM for the past 7 years. Completely changed my life for the better! Thanks for all your work.”

I’ve been doing TM for the past 7 years. Completely changed my life for the better!

I had a suspicion this may have been the case when I saw a page from Karl’s forthcoming book, Penny, A Graphic Memoir. Published by Chronicle Books, this colorful graphic novel features the philosophical and existential musings of a cat named Penny.

The original publication date of April 13 was pushed back to April 20, then May 4 because of the shipping crisis, but you can still preorder the book in Karl’s profile @karlstevens from booksellers around the world.

In this frame on his Instagram, Penny says: “No, true transcendence comes from within. There is an oasis of happiness inside of me waiting to be unlocked. I just need to find the right key.” The second frame shows the cover of this new book, his fourth.

I had asked Karl if I could post his cartoons and he replied: “You can absolutely use that Penny comic for your blog. I’ve been meaning to be more vocal regarding my TM practice. Use the links for the Penny graphic novel in my profile, and my IG and Twitter handle,” which I’ve done.

I looked up Karl Stevens’ books on Amazon, and Time Out Boston wrote on the back of his book, Failure, “Karl Stevens may be the closet thing to a Charles Bukowski equivalent working in comic art. Except Stevens is way classier….” I mentioned it to Karl and told him that Charles Bukowski had learned TM later in his life. Karl was excited to learn about this. He said when he was working on Failure, “I was struggling with alcoholism which I think was where the comparison lies. I stopped drinking a couple months before beginning to learn TM. Obviously the practice was crucial to helping me focus on living a cleaner life.”

I stopped drinking a couple months before beginning to learn TM. Obviously the practice was crucial to helping me focus on living a cleaner life.

Karl Stevens is a Boston-based comic strip artist. He’s written four graphic novels, and his comics have appeared regularly in the New Yorker, Village Voice, and Boston Phoenix. His comic strips appeared in the Boston Phoenix between 2005 and 2012. His work has been well received all around, and The Lodger was a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist.

Find out more about Karl Stevens at https://linktr.ee/karlstevens, and follow him on Twitter @KarlStevensart and Instagram @karlstevensart.

UPDATE: After reading this blog post my niece found a cartoonist profile on Karl and sent it to me. He mentions his TM practice further down under Misc. It was posted May 22, 2019 on A Case For Pencils. The blog, created/edited/run by Jane Mattimoe, is a peek inside the pencil bags and minds of New Yorker cartoonists, where they talk about their art supplies and drawing process.

Cartoonists sit and concentrate on drawing for long periods of time. In that profile, Karl describes the benefits of exercise and TM. He says:

It’s important to take breaks during the day, especially exercise. At the risk of sounding like David Lynch, I would also recommend learning Transcendental Meditation. I’ve been doing it for five years, and have never felt more creative. Slacking off twice a day for 20 minutes each really does help your mind and body recharge.

Karl also recommended The Winner, published May 23, 2018. He did it after he started TM. He said, “It’s on the lighter side, basically a love letter to my wife Alex.” I took a Look inside at the book preview on Amazon and it’s beautiful! Some of the panels are like miniature paintings. I can see why this book garnered rave reviews.

When I asked Karl what or who inspired him and his wife to learn TM he said that a friend of his had started six months before they did. He also said, “it was because of David Lynch. Well, Howard Stern too. We were/are regular listeners and would hear about the benefits from him too.” I sent him a link to a conversation Howard Stern and Jerry Seinfeld had about their TM practice.

Speaking of slacking off twice a day for 20 minutes to meditate, Jim Carrey, in his 2014 Commencement address at MUM/MIU mentions a similar thing at this point in his talk. Very funny!

Mark Wooding animated some highlights of Jim’s wise advice to the Class of 2014 for his After Skool site, which I’ve also posted, with links to the full talks and news coverage.

Here’s another post on cartoonists: Good cartoons teach us a lot if we’re willing to learn and laugh at our little foibles and neuroses.

UPDATED: April 26, 2021, The New Yorker, Daily Shouts: Penny Rejects the Rules of Man by Karl Stevens.

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7 Responses to “Cartoon wisdom from Karl Stevens appears in this week’s print edition of The New Yorker”

  1. Good cartoons teach us a lot if we’re willing to learn and laugh at our little foibles and neuroses | The Uncarved Blog Says:

    […] Cartoon wisdom from Karl Stevens appears in this week’s print edition of The New Yorker. It’s all about learning to live in the moment. Turns out Karl has been doing TM for 7 years. Says it’s completely changed his life for the better, helping him focus on living a cleaner life. […]

    Like

  2. Nora Mylett Says:

    Come April, I’m going to order “Penny, A Graphic Memoir” for my husband – he and I often muse about what the cat is thinking…

    Like

    • Ken Chawkin Says:

      Cool! So you’ve been following his work, especially with his cat Penny? I just updated this post with more quotes. He offered to send me a copy of “The Winner,” which he did as a meditator. Says, “It’s on the lighter side, basically a love letter to my wife Alex.” I’m looking forward to reading/seeing it.

      Like

  3. cb108 Says:

    Great contact, Ken! Maybe he would like to exhibit some of his work at the next David Lynch “Festival of Disruption” whenever that occurs.

    Like

    • Ken Chawkin Says:

      Thanks, Craig. Hadn’t thought of the FoD, but my niece suggested drawing or donating something for the DLF CharityBuzz auction. So I asked him and he said he would be happy to draw or donate something. We’re looking into the possibility.

      Like

  4. cb108 Says:

    Maybe send him this: David Lynch’s Festival of Disruption | NY & LA Highlights https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnxUgq_od0Y&fbclid=IwAR2bvrjd0k0fPdAWQk2l4nI_5LU2WDlpYsXkhmFMN3j8U5ExOXKN03PLjog

    Like

  5. Charles Bukowski sang the life victorious, thanks to his having learned Transcendental Meditation | The Uncarved Blog Says:

    […] Cartoon wisdom from Karl Stevens appears in this week’s print edition of The New Yorker. Time Out Boston wrote on the back of his book, Failure, “Karl Stevens may be the closet thing to a Charles Bukowski equivalent working in comic art. Except Stevens is way classier….” When Stevens was working on Failure, “I was struggling with alcoholism which I think was where the comparison lies. I stopped drinking a couple months before beginning to learn TM. Obviously the practice was crucial to helping me focus on living a cleaner life.” […]

    Like

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