New Yorkistan:

By early November 2001 the people of New York had settled into a deep funk, and the war against the Taliban had begun in Afghanistan. While they were being bombed by us, we were, in turn, bombarded in the news with strange names: Pukhtuns and Pashtuns; Tajiks and Turkomen; Uzbeks and Baluchis; Khandihar: Khunduz; Jalalabad; Veryverybad…

Maira Kalman and I were driving through the Bronx on our way upstate. I was complaining about the tribalization of the Democratic Party which was split into warring ethnic factions and careening toward a mayoral election it was sure to lose.

“Damn Democrats!” I sputtered. “And those Afghanis think they’re tribal? Since when did New Yorkers take a back seat to anyone? We’re the most tribal group on earth! They may have Pashtuns, but we have Sharptuns, Poptuhns and Fraidykhatz!”

“So are you saying we’re in Bronxistan?” Maira asked.

“Yes, but a small section of Bronxistan called Ferreristan.” (At the time, Freddy Ferrer was warring with Mark Green, the Democrat’s candidate.)

By the time we reached our destination, we had written down 40 names. By the next day we had close to 100. By Monday afternoon our sketch of New York City renamed New Yorkistan, was on its way up to the New Yorker.

The editors loved it and commissioned it for the back page. The reception to our finished art (you can see the original art here) was so enthusiastic they made it the cover of the December 10, 2001 issue.

The response to New Yorkistan was overwhelming. The magazine disappeared from newsstands in two days, becoming the best selling issue of the New Yorker in history.

It was the talk of the town.

We found ourselves being interviewed on radio and in print. Sarah Boxer wrote a wonderful piece about our cover for the New York Times arts section (you can read it here).

A signed, limited edition poster of 750 sold out in four days. An unsigned edition has sold 1,500 copies. The poster is available through the New Yorker at CartoonBank.com.