'Lassie! Get Help!' Cartoon by Danny Shanahan, The New Yorker, 1989. 

Danny Shanahan was an American cartoonist and illustrator, whose work was published regularly in The New Yorker. He is most famous for his classic 'Lassie Get Help' cartoon.

Early life and career
Daniel Patrick Shanahan was born in 1956 in Brooklyn, New York. His father was a manager at the Perkin-Elmer electronics company, and his mother a housewife. Growing up as one of eleven children, he spent his youth in Northport, Long Island and later in Bethlehem, Connecticut. From a young age, Shanahan enjoyed drawing. He studied at the Paier College of Art in Hamden, Connecticut, but otherwise was largely self-taught. His main graphic influences were cartoonists like Charles Addams, B. Kliban, Gary Larson and James Thurber.

While working as a bartender in the 1980s, Danny Shanahan sold his first cartoons to small press magazines. Through a friend, who was the editor for World Tennis Magazine, he became the unofficial house cartoonist of the United States Tennis Association. He also saw some of his cartoons printed in TV Guide magazine. In 1988, Shanahan got married and moved from Rhinebeck, New York, to Corrales, New Mexico. He later moved back to Rhinebeck, where he lived for the rest of his life.

Cartoon by Danny Shanahan. The New Yorker. 

The New Yorker
Between July 1988 and November 2020, Danny Shanahan was a regular contributor to The New Yorker magazine. His cartoons had an absurd touch, and often featured clowns, snowmen, cats, dogs, cave men and Elvis. The first one appeared in the 19 September 1988 issue; a drawing of a remarkably muscular boy explaining to his classmates what he did on his summer vacation, hinting at masturbation. Shanahan's most classic and often reprinted cartoon has a comic strip format. In the first panel, the heroic dog Lassie stands next to a drowning boy who screams: "Lassie! Get help!" However, the dog misinterprets the message and in the next panel, he lies on a psychiatrist's couch. The cartoon was used as the front cover of Shanahan's first cartoon book collection: 'Lassie Get Help!' (Pantheon Books, 1990).

Danny Shanahan's third cartoon referencing James Thurber's classic Dr. Millmoss cartoon (The New Yorker, 12 April 1993).

Another memorable cartoon by Shanahan is a tribute to a classic 1934 New Yorker cartoon by James Thurber. In Thurber's original, a woman asks a hippopotamus: "What have you done with Dr. Millmoss?" (who was obviously eaten by the animal). In the 25 February 1991 issue of The New Yorker, Shanahan drew a callback by having a Thurberesque man visit the office for lost and found objects, where the woman behind the counter exclaims: "Dr. Millmoss!". In the next two years, Shanahan made two other shout-outs to Thurber's Dr. Millmoss. In a 24 February 1992 cartoon, the hippopotamus visits Dr. Millmoss' office, while the receptionist asks him whether he has an appointment. In the final cartoon, printed in the 12 April 1993 issue, Dr. Millmoss compliments another Thurber character, Walter Mitty, for killing the hippo. All three Thurber tributes by Shanahan are on permanent display in the "Thurber House" James Thurber Museum in Columbus, Ohio.

In 2002, Shanahan wrote the foreword for 'The New Yorker Book of Golf Cartoons', a compilation by Robert Mankoff of golf-themed cartoons from The New Yorker.

One of Danny Shanahan's personal favorite cartoons, published on 12 October 2009.

Other magazines and compilations
Cartoons by Danny Shanahan also ran in newspapers and magazines like The Chicago Tribune, Esquire, Fortune, New York Magazine, the New York Times, Newsweek, Hugh Hefner's Playboy, Time and The Wall Street Journal. They were compiled in the books 'Lassie! Get Help!' (Pantheon, 1990), 'Innocent, Your Honor: A Book of Lawyer Cartoons' (Harry N. Abrams, 2005), 'I'm No Quack: A Book of Doctor Cartoons' (Harry N. Abrams, 2005) and 'Bad Sex!' (Abrams Image, 2007).

Shanahan wrote and illustrated the children's book 'Buckledown the Workhound' (Little Brown and Company, 1993). It tells the story of a dog who is president of a corporation. When taking a vacation at a farm, Buckledown however discovers his roots as an actual dog. Shanahan also edited a collection of humorous texts and cartoons provided by people from the Hudson Valley, near New York City, titled 'Some Delights of the Hudson Valley' (Epigraph Publishing, 2008). The book has contributions by conductor Leon Botstein, rock artist Graham Parker, poet Robert Kelly, writer Mary Gaitskill, actors Denny Dillon, Mary Louise Wilson and Lou Trapani and other writers and cartoonists. Shanahan also provided drawings and comics of his own.

Cover illustration for Danny Shanahan's 2008 Hudson Valley anthology.

Danny Shanahan also illustrated books by other authors, for instance the civil rights-themed 'The Bus Ride that Changed History: the Story of Rosa Parks' (HMH Books, 2005) by Pamela Duncan Edwards. In collaboration with fellow cartoonist Roz Chast, Shanahan illustrated 'Totally Weird and Wonderful Words' (Oxford University Press, 2006), a book with hundreds of unusual words for which one generally has to consult a dictionary. It was compiled and edited by lexicographer Erin McKean. Shanahan additionally livened up the pages of the dating guide 'AlphaDog, Get The Bitch You Want: A Man's Guide to Dating, by a Woman' (Mayhem Songs, 2009) by Wing Girl Kim.

The later years of Danny Shanahan's life were characterized by controversy. On 12 June 2020, his son - the illustrator Render Stetson-Shanahan - was sentenced to prison on a second-degree manslaughter charge for stabbing his roommate to death in 2016. A half year later, Danny Shanahan himself was charged for posession of child pornography. Shanahan pleaded "not guilty", but The New Yorker magazine instantly suspended their contract with him after 22 years. By the time of Shanahan's death, the case was still not resolved.

Danny Shanahan died on 5 July 2021 from multiple system organ failure after complications from surgery. He was 64 years old.

'Deliboys' (The New Yorker, 22 November 1993).

Series and books by Danny Shanahan you can order today:


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