Leo Cullum, a TWA pilot and cartoonist whose first piece appeared in The New Yorker in 1977, died of cancer in Malibu Saturday. He was 68. Cullum was the most-published cartoonist in the magazine during the mid-90s, when he still turned out work between shifts flying for TWA. Before that, he was a bomber in the Vietnam War, and conducted bombing runs over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos. "Who these were secret from I’m still not sure," Cullum told Holy Cross magazine in 2006. "The North Vietnamese certainly knew it wasn’t the Swiss bombing them."
Cullum's was the first cartoon readers saw in The New Yorker after 9/11; it showed a woman, turning to the man next to her at a bar and saying, "I thought I’d never laugh again. Then I saw your jacket." Robert Mankoff, the cartoon editor of The New Yorker, tells the Times, "There are many ways for a cartoon to be great, not the least of which is to be funny, and Leo was one of the most consistently funny cartoonists we ever had. He was certainly one of the most popular—some of his cartoons were reprinted thousands of times." Asked in 2006 to complete the sentence "When I’m not cartooning, I ...," he wrote, "am wrestling, then showering, with my demons."