Good manners are going viral!
Five years ago, illustrator and T-shirt designer Nathan Pyle picked up and moved from Ohio to New York City to follow his dream of writing for television and movies. Instead, he has made a name for himself on the internet. After learning the ins and outs of his new city, Pyle began drawing short, funny comics offering practical tips and etiquette advice for other New Yorkers in March last year, and posting them online. His black-and-white comics — covering topics such as appropriate public displays of affection on the sidewalk and secret passageways to Chipotle — quickly blew up, and now Pyle has turned them into a book, which he will be presenting at Greenpoint’s Word bookstore on April 17.
The Brooklyn Paper caught up with the manners-minded artist to discuss how Brooklynites can adjust their driving habits and why Manhattan trekkers should actually walk across the entire Brooklyn Bridge at least once in their lives.
Megan Riesz: Do New Yorkers tend to take offense to any of your comics or disagree with tips you offer?
Nathan Pyle: I’ve found overwhelming support for the drawings. I choose drawings that I feel we can all agree on. There are definitely moments where I’m corrected. Early on, I found it was best to make sure that my editor — who’s lived in New York longer than I have — really helps me to make sure I’m not missing anything obvious.
MR: Are any of your comics inspired by Brooklyn?
NP: Absolutely. One of the drawings I have is this idea of tourists who wander around Midtown, go home and say they “explored New York.” The idea of exploring New York without leaving Midtown Manhattan is popular. I walk to Brooklyn two or three times a week, and it’s great. I absolutely love going to Brooklyn. I have a drawing about the “louder borough” versus the outer boroughs, in that it’s a refreshing thing to go out to Brooklyn. I want to encourage people to step outside of Manhattan. In the book, that’s one of the ideas you see.
MR: What are some etiquette tips that more Brooklynites should adopt?
NP: When it comes to Brooklyn specifically, I do feel for my brothers and sisters on the bikes. I’m more often a pedestrian, but when it comes to bicycles, I have friends that bike in Brooklyn and just like in Manhattan, it can be a challenge. I really try hard to be mindful as a pedestrian or a driver when it comes to making room for bicyclists and being careful with car doors.
MR: Any tips for navigating the Brooklyn Bridge?
NP: The majority of traffic is on the Manhattan pass. A lot of people walk in the middle and don’t walk all the way to Brooklyn. If you can get through the clogged-up part — which is the Manhattan part of the bridge — you can start to pick up speed. Obviously, avoid a really beautiful nice day when people are taking photos. It’s just going to frustrate you if you’re trying to walk. I’ll actually walk to the Manhattan Bridge or Williamsburg Bridge.
MR: Are New Yorkers really as rude to slow-walking, phone-gazing, blocking-the-top-of-the-Subway-staircase tourists as we’re reputed to be?
NP: I would say no. People are very, very helpful. The truth is that New Yorkers are simply commuting while you’re being a tourist. We’re using the city for two very different things.
Nathan Pyle presents “NYC Basic Tips and Etiquette” at Word bookstore [126 Franklin St. between Milton and Noble streets in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbr