Snails have long appealed to cartoonists (Sam Gross’s “I don’t care if she is a tape dispenser. I love her.” remains an all-time favorite gag). And also to me—as a kid, I had a pet snail named Milo who escaped in my Manhattan bedroom and lived a mysterious life behind my bookshelf till he was recaptured, and, loathing captivity, immediately perished. Amy Hwang draws a great snail. She also draws a great watermelon, a great cat in business casual, a great gourd, and a great wine bottle, among many other great things. But today we’re here to talk about snails, which, over the course of this conversation, it became clear we know little to nothing about. If you are a snail scientist (which I just Googled and apparently is called a “malacologist”), you may find our insights somewhat scientifically lacking. But, if you’re a cartoonist, and you want to know the ins and outs of depicting our slimy shelled friend, you’re in luck. — Emma Allen
Do you draw with your left or right hand?
What art do you have hanging on your studio walls/above your drawing desk?
I have art made by friends and my daughter, as well as a few New Yorker cartoonist friends’ cartoons.
Do you snack while you draw? If so, on what?
I usually have a mug of tea while I draw. Less often, I have chocolate, nuts, and other food items.
Do you listen to music or podcasts while you draw? If so, specify.
Yes, to music. I will listen to any songs I can tolerate across all genres except country and kids’ music. Right now, I have been playing episodes of “The Office” (the U.S. version) while I work, which I enjoy more now that I no longer work in an office. This is possibly the least efficient way to get work done, but it keeps me entertained for long stretches of time.
What object or setting do you absolutely hate drawing?
This would be a tie between crowds of people and traffic jams, both of which I also try to avoid in real life.
What’s your favorite New Yorker cartoon trope or cliché (e.g., desert island, grim reaper, Rapunzel tower, etc.)?
I’m not sure. Maybe when two people having an affair are walked in on by the spouse?
If you could have dinner with one cartoonist, living or dead, tonight, who would it be?
I can’t answer this. With a living cartoonist, we would be risking spreading the coronavirus. A dead cartoonist would want to know everything that has happened since they passed, and I’d rather not have to spend all of dinner talking about that.
What would you serve?
Seeing that it would just be me, I’d find something in my fridge. There would be wine.
What was your favorite cartoon (strip or animation) as a kid?
“The Far Side” by Gary Larson.
What did you spend your first New Yorker cartoon sale check on?
I don’t recall buying anything in particular to commemorate the sale. Perhaps I should go spend that money now?
If you had to get a tattoo (or new tattoo) right now, what would you get?
A small, amorphous, flesh-colored tattoo in a body area with few nerve endings.
Dogs or cats?