David Levine, the cartoonist whose distinctive style was visually synonymous with the New York Review of Books, has died at 83. He was born and bred in (where else?) Brooklyn, where he also lived the end of his life. His father owned a small garment shop, his parents had Communist sympathies: the typical story. But his drawings were anything but typical. In a profile that appeared in Vanity Fair last year, Tablet Magazine contributing editor David Margolick wrote:
What sets Levine’s drawings apart is not just the technical artistry but also the wit. “He was the most brilliant visual punster that ever existed,” says [Edward] Sorel. … Monica Lewinsky smokes a cigar. Hemingway stands on an animal rug with a Hemingway head. Patton is squirreled away in a giant holster. Kenneth Starr is an ayatollah. Osama bin Laden is a long, bushy beard. Dan Quayle is a puny Sword of Damocles hanging over George H. W. Bush.
The only folks who might find today’s news cheering are the future members of our public carnival of fools: they are lucky to have evaded the David Levine treatment.
Related: Levine in Winter [Vanity Fair]