Robert Mankoff ’66, cartoon editor of The New Yorker and president of The Cartoon Bank, is one of the nation’s leading commentators on the role of humor in American politics, business, and life. Mankoff appears frequently on network talk shows such as This Week with George Stephanopoulos, CBS Sunday Morning, Nightline, Today, and Good Morning America; cable TV networks such as Discovery Health, CNN and CNBC; and syndicated radio programs. Read the interview with Mankoff from the summer 2014 issue of Syracuse University Magazine.
Mankoff edited the best-selling coffee table book The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker, featuring all 68,647 cartoons published in The New Yorker since its debut in 1925. In addition, he has edited dozens of cartoon books, published four of his own, and is an accomplished cartoonist. More than 900 of his cartoons have been published in The New Yorker over the past 20 years, including the best-selling New Yorker cartoon of all time (the harried businessman at his desk with a phone to his ear, reviewing his calendar and saying: “No, Thursday’s out, how about never. Is never good for you?”). He is the author of The Naked Cartoonist, a book on the creative process behind developing magazine-style cartoons.
He is partnering with the University of Michigan to conduct a wide range of social science experiments to better understand the role of humor in such areas as psychology, economics, and sociology. A successful entrepreneur, he started The Cartoon Bank, a business devoted to licensing cartoons for use in newsletters, textbooks, magazines and other media, in 1991. The Cartoon Bank initially licensed material that was not published by The New Yorker. In 1997, The New Yorker purchased The Cartoon Bank from Mankoff, giving The Cartoon Bank access to all cartoons published in the magazine over the past eight decades. That same year, Mankoff was named cartoon editor of The New Yorker.
Mankoff graduated from Syracuse University's College of Arts and Sciences, then entered the doctoral program at City University of New York to pursue a degree in experimental psychology. At age 30, just short of completing his dissertation, Mankoff decided to use his know-how as a cartoonist.