You can't judge a book - or magazine, or even an iPad - by its cover. But you can certainly judge the covers themselves. And for decades since its 1925 debut, The New Yorker Magazine's covers have projected a sophistication befitting its literary pedigree. Amusing, ironic, and sometimes iconic.
Left: Steve Jobs finds St. Peter has upgraded the technology of "The Book of Life" at the Pearly Gates in this New Yorker Magazine cover illustration by Barry Blitt.
By CBSNews.com senior editor David Morgan
The first issue of The New Yorker featured a portrait of Eustace Tilley, a character drawn by the magazine's first art editor, Rea Irvin. He has reappeared on the magazine's anniversary issues, often in different guises - as a woman, a dog, and even an insect.
Art Spiegelman's provocative Valentine's Day kiss, published at the height of racial tensions between New York's Hasidic Jewish and African American communities.
New Yorker magazine art director Francoise Mouly and editor David Remnick discuss the cover selection process with Mo Rocca.
Mouly, who has overseen nearly a thousand New Yorker covers, says she looks for "images that will be relevant, images that will make you laugh, images that will move you."
A jazz scene by Arthur Getz. In his 50 years at the magazine, Getz contributed 210 covers.
Another Arthur Getz illustration. Many of the magazine's covers in the 1950s and '60s depicted urban scenes, as well as images of surrounding suburbia.
Love finds a way, in Peter Arno's whimsical 1948 cover that featured the artist's characteristic bold strokes and humor.
Perry Barlow's dog walkers graced this 1955 issue. Barlow often collaborated with his wife on covers, as he was partially color-blind.
A New Yorker's View of the World
This iconic New Yorker cover from 1976 by Saul Steinberg shows the view of the world from 9th Avenue.
By David Hockney
David Hockney produced this digital painting on an iPad.
World Trade Center
"Castles in the Sand" by David Mazzucchelli, which came on the heels of the first bombing of the World Trade Center, played with cultural stereotypes as a child wearing a beach towel/Middle Eastern headdress dives into a Twin Towers sand castle. Anti-discrimination groups denounced the cover.
"Ghouls Rush In," a Valentine's Day cover by Edward Sorel.
A very different Valentine's Day cover: "The Low Road" by Art Spiegelman.
Christoph Niemann's "Dependence Day" evokes the style of Chinese Communist Party propaganda art with pointed commentary about the new China's rise as a manufacturer of goods for the American market.
The magazine marked the September 11, 2011 terror attacks with Art Spiegelman's vivid black-on-black portrait of the Twin Towers.
The after-effect of 9/11 on New Yorkers was memorably recorded in this image of a New York City cab driver, by Carter Goodrich.
"Trick or Treat?" A New York City apartment dweller's greatest fear, in Ian Falconer's Halloween 2005 cover.
Roz Chast's 2010 illustration of today's tech-focused youth.
"Book Lovers" by Adrien Tomine.
Mo Rocca asked The New York's editor David Remnick, what makes a successful cover? Was it sales?
"No, absolutely not sales," replied Remnick. "For us, it's what we like, what causes people to laugh or to talk about it or provoke discussion. That's the goal."
An Alaskan's View of the World
The New Yorker's "View from 9th Avenue" cover has been parodied and ripped off, so it's not surprising that the magazine would satirize it as well, courtesy of Sarah Palin. Illustration by Barry Blitt.
One of their most controversial covers was Barry Blitt's 2008 illustration of Barack and Michelle Obama, after their "fist bump" at a campaign appearance was referred to on Fox News as a "terrorist fist bump." Even though liberals saw the cover as a mockery of right-wing pundits' caricature of the Obamas, New Yorker Editor David Remnick received tons of complaints from liberals, who feared that right-wingers would not see it as a joke but as literal-minded iconography of Obama's sympathies.
Obama had the last laugh, in a 2010 cover in which House Speaker John Boehner mis-reads how to greet the nation's Chief Executive.
Bob Staake's M.C. Escher-inspired cover on the Gulf oil spill.
Left: President-elect Obama undergoes the rigorous vetting process for prospective First Dogs (by Barry Blitt). Right: The winner, Bo (by Bob Staake).
"Homage," by Ana Juan.
"Dark Spring" by Christophe Niemann, on the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
A regular contributor, Niemann said he loves working for the magazine because "The New Yorker for illustrators really is like the Olympic Games of our discipline."
Following the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden during a U.S. Navy SEALs raid, The New Yorker's Francoise Mouly put the call out to her artists for cover ideas. "I asked them to send a rough sketch - don't think about it, and don't censor yourself. I need to see a range of emotions and range of reactions to event."
Left: Gurbuz Dogan Eksioglu produced this cover illustration, "Rubbed Out."
Bruce McCall's colorful evocation of New York's Times Square depicts New York's love-hate relationship with tourists.
GOP Road Trip
The 2012 GOP primary season produced many covers of Republicans' intra-party feuds and personality clashes, including "State by State" by Bob Staake.
"Blown Covers: New Yorker Covers You Were Never Meant to See" by Francoise Mouly (Harry Abrams) explores the process of both choosing and rejecting cover illustrations for the magazine.
At left: One of Barry Blitt's sketches for an image satirizing paranoia over air security, inspired by a rash of YouTube videos demonstrating the combustible outcome of mixing Mentos candy with Diet Coke - an association which the editors felt may have been too obscure for the magazine's readers.
Following the December 2008 episode in which an Iraqi journalist threw a shoe - an extreme insult - at U.S. President George W. Bush during a Baghdad press conference, artists suggested variations for the New Yorker cover, including Richard McGuire's shower of shoes onto the White House lawn (left), and Bob Staake's more pointed sketch of a military boot (complete with prosthetic leg).
Remnick was asked how far did he want artists to go? "I want the artist to go in their sketches too far enough," he replied. "I want them to push the boundary to see where the boundary can be from week to week."
"You'd rather pull them back than have to push them?" asked Mo Rocca.
"Or at least have them provoke the discussion of how far is too far, and what we should be thinking about," Remnick replied. "Otherwise, it gets boring. Gets bland."
An original concept of a New Yorker cover by Barry Blitt, showing a skinhead to be the only one not enjoying an unnamed show (obviously, Mel Brooks' "The Producers," which had just opened to raves). His proffered sketch of a slightly different audience member, however, is what won him the cover slot (seen at right).
Eustace Tilly's 2012 appearance was a bow to our digital age. Loading ... loading ... loading ...
For more info:
"Blown Covers: New Yorker Covers You Were Never Meant to See" by Francoise Mouly (Harry Abrams)
Art Spiegelman (artcyclopedia.com)
By CBSNews.com senior editor David Morgan