Roz Chast at the 2007 Texas Book Festival
November 26, 1954
Brooklyn, New York
Rosalind "Roz" Chast (born November 26, 1954) is an American cartoonist and a staff cartoonist for The New Yorker. Since 1978, she has published more than 800 cartoons in The New Yorker. She also publishes cartoons in Scientific American and the Harvard Business Review.
In recognition of her work, Comics Alliance listed Chast as one of twelve women cartoonists deserving of lifetime achievement recognition.In May 2017, she received the Alumni Award for Artistic Achievement at the Rhode Island School of Design Commencement ceremony.
Early life and education
Chast grew up in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, the only child of George Chast, an assistant principal, and Elizabeth, a high school teacher who subscribed to The New Yorker. Her parents were children during the Great Depression, and she has spoken about their extreme frugality. She graduated from Midwood High School in Brooklyn, and attended Kirkland College (which later merged with Hamilton College). She studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and received a BFA in painting in 1977. She also holds honorary doctorates from Pratt Institute and Dartmouth College, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Chast's subjects often deal with domestic and family life. In a 2006 interview with comedian Steve Martin for the New Yorker Festival, Chast revealed that she enjoys drawing interior scenes — often involving lamps and accentuated wall paper — to serve as the backdrop for her comics. Her comics reflect a "conspiracy of inanimate objects", an expression she credits to her mother.
Her first New Yorker cartoon showed a small collection of "Little Things" — strangely named, oddly shaped small objects such as "chent", "spak", and "tiv". Chast's drawing style shuns conventional craft in her figure drawing, perspective, shading, etc.; this approach is similar to that of several other female cartoonists, notably Aline Kominsky-Crumb and Lynda Barry. A significant part of the humor in Chast's cartoons appears in the background and the corners of the frames.
Her New Yorker cartoons began as small black-and-white panels, but increasingly she has been using color and her work now often appears over several pages. Her first cover for The New Yorker was on August 4, 1986, showing a lecturer in a white coat pointing to a family tree of ice cream.
She has written or illustrated more than a dozen books, including Unscientific Americans, Parallel Universes, Mondo Boxo, Proof of Life on Earth, The Four Elements and The Party After You Left: Collected Cartoons 1995–2003 (Bloomsbury, 2004). In 2006, Theories of Everything: Selected Collected and Health-Inspected Cartoons, 1978–2006 was published, collecting most of her cartoons from The New Yorker and other periodicals. One characteristic of her books is that the "author photo" is always a cartoon she draws of, presumably, herself. The title page, including the Library of Congress cataloging information, is also hand-lettered by Chast.
Her book Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? is a graphic memoir, combining cartoons, text, and photographs to tell the story of an only child helping her elderly parents navigate the end of their lives.
She is represented by the Danese/Corey gallery in Chelsea, New York City.
- 2014 Kirkus Prize winner for Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
- 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award (Autobiography) winner for Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
- 2015 Reuben Award, Cartoonist of the Year National Cartoonists Society
- 2015 Heinz Award for the Arts and Humanities 
- Chast, Roz (8 November 2010). "The Talk of the Town: Postscript: Leo Cullum". The New Yorker. 86 (35): 30. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
- Chast, Roz (8 November 2010). "Shouts & Murmurs: Bananas". The New Yorker. 86 (35): 40. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
- The Best American Comics 2016 (editor) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016)
- Around the Clock (Atheneum, 2015)
- Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs (Norman Rockwell Museum, 2015)
- Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Bloomsbury, 2014)
- Marco Goes to School (Atheneum, 2012)
- A Friend for Marco (Atheneum, 2012)
- What I Hate: From A to Z (Bloomsbury, 2011)
- Too Busy Marco (Atheneum, 2010)
- Theories of Everything: Selected, Collected, and Health-Inspected Cartoons, 1978-2006 (Bloomsbury, 2008)
- The Party, After You Left (Bloomsbury, 2004) "collects the best of Roz Chast's cartoons from the last nine years [1995-2004]"
- Childproof (Hyperion, 1997)
- Proof of Life on Earth (Harper, 1991)
- The Four Elements (Harper, 1988)
- Mondo Boxo (Harper, 1987)
- Poems and Songs (Ink, Inc., 1985)
- Parallel Universes: Cartoons (Harper, 1984)
- Three small books (Kathryn Markel, 1982)
- Unscientific Americans (Dial, 1982)
- Last Resorts (Ink, Inc., 1979)
- Chast, Roz. Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Bloomsbury, 2014).
- "Contributors: Roz Chast". Retrieved 22 November 2011.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-08-01. Retrieved 2016-02-10.
- "Roz Chast Accepts Alumni Award". Our RISD. May 1, 2017. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
- "Fresh Air with Terry Gross, December 30, 2014: Interview with Roz Chast; Interview with Louis C.K.". Fresh Air with Terry Gross. National Public Radio (U.S.) WHYY, Inc. December 30, 2014.
[at 20:51] My parents were born in 1912. They grew up in the Depression, or graduated from college into the Depression. They kept notebooks where they kept track of every nickel that they spent. And these habits of frugality, from having grown up so poor, to having graduating in the Depression, never left them. They were frugal, they were very careful about money, they used everything up. I remember, my mother would take slivers of soap and put them in a washcloth, and then sew this little soap bag out of the slivers of soap. She made a bathrobe out of towels that she sewed together.Audio (MP3)
- Roz Chast website > Cartoons > New Yorker covers
- Kakutani, Michiko (5 May 2014). "Confronting the Inevitable, Graphically : A Memoir by Roz Chast, in Words and Cartoons". New York Times > Books of The Times. New York. Archived from the original on 1 October 2015. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
- Roz Chast at Danese Corey
- Werris, Wendy (Apr 18, 2014). "Telling It Like It Is: Roz Chast". PW. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
A version of this article appeared in the 04/21/2014 issue of Publishers Weekly under the headline: Telling It Like It Is: Roz Chast
- "National Book Critics Circle Announces Finalists for Publishing Year 2014". National Book Critics Circle. January 19, 2015. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
- Alexandra Alter (March 12, 2015). "‘Lila’ Honored as Top Fiction by National Book Critics Circle". New York Times. Retrieved March 12, 2015.
- "The Heinz Awards: Roz Chast". The Heinz Awards. Retrieved August 24, 2016.
- Official web site
- Video: Roz Chast interview with comedian Steve Martin at the 2006 New Yorker Festival
- Interview with Roz Chast in Newsday, 2006
- Interview with Roz Chast in New York Times, 2006
- Interview with Roz Chast on NPR's "Fresh Air," 2014.