Tony Wolf

Thursday Spotlight: Tony Wolf on His Carmine’s Pizza Cartoon Tribute

Tony Wolf’s cartoon tribute to Carmine’s Original Pizza in The New York Times
Difficult times have often been a catalyst for resilient arts. As such, it will be interesting to see what is created after this enormously trying period. But already, Brooklynites are coming together to creatively express what we have lost: they’re making stages out of their balconies and serenading the community, snapping portraits of those in quarantine, and — in this Thursday Spotlight’s case — paying tribute to a lost neighbor.
Here, actor and illustrator Tony Wolf discusses his cartoon in The New York Times that was published earlier this month and pays homage to the life of Carmine Notaro, the late owner of the beloved Carmine’s Original Pizza. Learn about his process and reflections in our interview!
Greenpointers: To rewind a bit, what was your relationship to Carmine(‘s), as a pizzeria and/or neighborhood figure?
Tony Wolf: Shortly after I moved to Greenpoint in1996, I discovered Carmine’s Pizza, since my apartment was just a block and a half from it. I instantly loved the pizza and the vibe of the place. Over time, Carmine came to recognize me as a familiar face, as I’m sure he did with so many people and customers. He had a quietly reassuring, welcoming presence, and I noticed how many hours a day he worked. We talked occasionally and became friendly. I personally saw him extend such kindness to the homeless of the area, and witnessed the manner in which he treated all his customers.
Carmine sadly passed on April 2; less than a week later, your full page cartoon appeared in The New York Times. Did you immediately know, following the news of Carmine’s passing, that you wanted to create something? Or had you already had some kind of tribute in the works?
I had wanted to do a piece about Carmine as far back as 2014, when I started “Greenpoint of View.” As shown in the comic, I did try to interview him in 2015. Over time, I worked up a pitch, and was thrilled when the Times greenlighted it! The comic was completed in December 2019, and the editors needed to hold it for a few months, since they plan the Food section far in advance. Once Carmine passed away, we quickly made text edits to the last panel.
On Facebook you credit Thomas J. Gryphon with help with the execution. You artistically spearheaded this process, but can you discuss Thomas’ contributions?
Thomas aka Tom has been working with me for about five years now. He also invested me early on, by printing up my first physical minicomics. With my stories, I research, write, illustrate, and hand-letter everything, and Tom does all the coloring, plus lettering corrections via Photoshop, and other formatting work to get it ready for print or online presentation. With the colors, he’ll do a first draft, then I’ll give him notes on that draft, and we’ll trade drafts back and forth until I feel it’s done. If I’m the film writer/director, he’s the cinematographer and lighting designer I collaborate with. Tom also found a way to fit the entire comic on a broadsheet New York Times page, something I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to figure out!
Tony Wolf’s work in print in the NY Times
That picture of Carmine napping is so jovial; it really captures the tireless work of our community leaders, no?
Ha, yes! It was really fun to discover that many people had taken affectionate pictures of Carmine napping over the years, and I enjoyed going through instagram to find the ones I wanted to draw in that “napping montage” sequence. Long ago in the entertainment world, the phrase “The hardest working man in show business!” would be used to introduce James Brown and Elton John, and I often thought to myself in the early 2000s, “This guy Carmine must surely be the hardest working man in the pizza business!”, especially given his age.
Your work is such a lovely testament to our small and local businesses during this time. Do you have any words you’d like to share with our neighborhood locales during this difficult moment?
Thanks, that’s very kind of you. I can’t even imagine what it’s like for restaurant owners and workers during this extremely difficult time…and was saddened to hear about places like Cherry Point on Manhattan Avenue having to go out of business. So many wonderful restaurants have gone under; it’s heartbreaking. And we are all, around the nation, extremely grateful for the local businesses and food places that are doing delivery and working so hard to provide those services. The importance of essential workers at this time cannot be overstated.
Tony Wolf and Greenpoint of View
Anything else you’d like to add? 
I’m just really thankful that I got to tell the story of Carmine Notaro to the world. I’ve always loved the work that Greenpointers does in covering the community, and thanks for taking the time to speak with me. And Carmine’s two sons, Patrick and John, were really helpful with my research, and they gave me some extra information about their dad’s life story.
Category: Art/Music, Culture, Eat & Drink | Tags: , , , , , , | 0 Comments

Thursday Spotlight: Tony Wolf’s “Greenpoint of View” Reexamines and Celebrates Neighborhood

An illustration by Tony Wolf

History books should be written as comics. In his 20+ years in Greenpoint, illustrator Tony Wolf witnessed a multitude of changes in the neighborhood, whimsically capturing the effects of gentrification and hipsterdom in his cartoon serials. But even as Tony traced the evolution in the neighborhood, one thing remains constant: his unflappable wonder for Greenpoint, and the unbreakable sense of community that connects its residents. Through his Greenpoint of View comics, he elevates a lazy stroll through McCarren Park into something majestic, and documents the dawn of a new era via the arrival of Enid’s.

Outside of his Greenpoint of View passion project, Tony is also a voice-over actor, performer, and freelance cartoonist with bylines in The New York TimesNow, even as Tony has relocated (he’s moved all the way to Hoboken, but he’s a truer Greenpointer than most at heart), he still aims to continue his Greenpoint of View series — be on the lookout for more soon! Below, we discuss what bars should be revived, his favorite restaurants, and how he made friends on — you guessed it — the G Train.  Continue reading

Category: Art/Music, Culture | Tags: , , | 0 Comments

Greenpoint of View: The Secret Origin of Midtown Comics

GPOV3 Cover WebHow long have you been here? And, how has the neighborhood changed since then? We all have our stories about the undulating Greenpoint streetscape—people moving in, people moving out, condos and developments covering up the sky, and coffee shops springing up faster than organic dry cleaners. Is it good? Is it bad? Tony Wolf chimes into the discussion with his autobio-comic: Greenpoint of View: The Secret Origin of Midtown Comics.

Continue reading

Category: Art/Music | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Step back in time with Tony Wolf: “Greenpoint of View” remembers The Vitamen

©Tony Wolf

How long have you been here? And, how has the neighborhood changed since then? We all have our stories about the undulating Greenpoint streetscape—people moving in, people moving out, condos and developments covering up the sky, and coffee shops springing up faster than organic dry cleaners. Is it good? Is it bad? Tony Wolf chimes into the discussion with his labor of love: the Greenpoint of View comic. Continue reading

Category: Art/Music, Community | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment