Tom Toro in The Paris Review; Blogs of Interest: Attempted Bloggery, New Yorker State of Mind

Tom Toro in The Paris Review

Mr. Toro is illustrating a series, Life Sentence, for the Review, illustrating one sentence at a time. See his work here.


Two blogs of note today, both very familiar to Spill visitors by now.

The first is Stephen Nadler’s Attempted Bloggery  where he has posted, “Anatol Kovarsky: Leda and the Swan” —  in anticipation of next week’s opening of the Kovarsky exhibit at the Society of Illustrators.   Read it here. 

(above: Mr. Kovarsky’s one-and-only collection, published in 1956.  How I wish we had a follow-up!)


And then there’s A New Yorker State of Mind: Reading Every Issue of the New Yorker,  which, in this latest post,  takes a fascinating look at the issue of November 10, 1928 (shown above).

Unseen Kovarsky, Pt. 3! More Unpublished Work by the Great New Yorker Artist

Here at Ink Spill, we are celebrating the upcoming must-see exhibit, “Kovarsky’s World: Covers and Cartoons from The New Yorker” at The Society of Illustrators.

  This is the third in a series of unpublished artwork by the late great Mr. Kovarsky, who contributed to The New Yorker from 1947 through 1969. My sincerest thanks to the Kovarsky family for sharing these pieces with us. 

Note: all work shown here is copyright the Estate of Anatol Kovarsky

 Today’s post is book-ended by two pieces titled “Season’s Greetings” — the one above (dated 1969) and the black & white drawing appearing at the end of this post. In between, three drawings with subjects Mr. Kovarsky returned to over the years. If you happened to have read the piece on this site few years back about the Spill’s visit with Mr. Kovarsky you might remember that his wife, Lucille, told us that the large studio Kovarsky once used in lower Manhattan was divided in two: one part for doing drawings, the other for paintings. Lucille said, β€œHe would switch from one to the other.”  I can’t help but believe the division blended from time-to-time resulting in the many many drawings he did of an artist at his easel such as the multi-panel piece below from the mid 1950s.  Kovarsky was one of the few New Yorker artists able to produce an abundance of un-captioned work. The Trojan Horse drawing (directly below the artist & model multi-panel) is an excellent example.


The Monday Tilley Watch on Tuesday: The New Yorker Issue of January 1, 2018

This new issue of the New Yorker, dated January 1, 2018, brings the magazine ever closer to its 93rd birthday in February. The year kicks off (for the magazine) reassuringly with a George Booth cover. Here’s the magazine’s Cover Story with Mr. Booth.  Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help but think the art contains just a bit of political satire. Could be wrong, could be wrong. 

How I wish I could report that the magazine’s first issue of the new year brought the return of Rea Irvin’s classic masthead for the Talk of The Town, but alas…it’s still a-missin’.  As a reminder, it looks exactly like this:

And now in to the magazine’s cartoons (some of them anyway). As with several weeks ago, I’m not going to go through every drawing in the issue, but just mention a few.

I note that there are 15 cartoonists represented, with one I believe  (please correct me if I’m wrong) making their debut in the magazine: Julia Bernhard. For those counting, that makes 12 new cartoonists thus far in the 8 months of Emma Allen’s watch as cartoon editor.

*A funny cowboy drawing on page 22 caught my eye — Lars Kenseth gives us brothers on the range with one just back from a Christmas visit to their mother.

Things I find amusing about this drawing:

1.The horses obviously know their way around the range — neither harness is equipped with reins. 

2.The Paul Newmanesque Butch Cassidy/Don Corleone/Michael Corleone hats the brothers are wearing.

3. The Christmas sweater worn by the brother who has just returned to work.  I wonder if their mom sent a sweater back for the other brother. 

*For a cartoon situation regularly visited by a lot of cartoonists, Frank Cotham‘s St. Peter’s Gate drawing on page 36 has a few unusual elements.  I’ve never seen St. Peter’s gate depicted like this. It looks like the gate you see on the entrance to a construction site after hours (it’s padlocked). Also, St. Peter’s book is resting on what appears to be a tv tray. 

*David Sipress‘s gladiator drawing on page 40 is a good piece of work.

*Maggie Larson‘s second aerial view drawing.  The last one reminded me a little of an Otto Soglow drawing.  This one immediately made me think of the photographer, Andre Kertesz (here is one of his many photos taken looking down on snowy ground) 

— See you next year





The New Yorker’s First Cartoon Santa Claus

You might ask yourself, as I did this Christmas morning: “When did the first Santa Claus appear in a New Yorker cartoon?” If you asked, you might’ve been tempted to guess it was sometime during the magazine’s first opportunity, in December of 1925. Wrong!  Hard to believe, but it was not until the second Christmas in the New Yorker‘s lifetime that it published a cartoon containing the jolly old fellow. There were cartoons in 1925 referencing Christmas — the earliest was in June(!) of 1925 by Al Frueh, but no Santa there — just a letter written to Santa.

No, it wasn’t until the issue of November 27, 1926 that a Santa Claus debuted in one of the magazine’s cartoons.  The cartoon was by Helen Hokinson, one of the magazine’s two stars (Peter Arno being the other. The very same issue bore Mr. Arno’s first of many covers for the magazine).

As usual with Ms. Hokinson, the drawing looks as if she dashed it off with brilliant ease. I love the little glimpse of a village. Was it a flat backdrop, or an actual small constructed set.  Santa, sitting in front of what seems to be a chimney top, or low wall,  looks weary in his debut. 

And if you were wondering when Santa made his first appearance on the magazine’s cover, it was just a few issues later, December 11, 1926, when the magazine’s go-to cover artist, Rea Irvin produced a tree bearing Santa-like ornaments. 


Mommy Kisses Santa Claus: The 1942 New Yorker Album

On this foggy Christmas Eve, here’s the tenth New Yorker Album of drawings, titled The 1942 New Yorker Album , with a Perry Barlow New Yorker magazine cover from December 23, 1939 used as its cover (there’d be another Album in 1942: The New Yorker War Album —  we’ll get to that another Sunday).  Perry Barlow, the cover artist, was one of the most prolific of the magazine’s contributors, and possibly one of its most overlooked. The New Yorker published well over a thousand of his cartoons, and one hundred and thirty-four covers.  Lee Lorenz, said of Mr. Barlow: “his drawings were deceptively casual, brought a gentle urbanity to our pages and helped establish the tone of the fledgling magazine…He had a marvelous eye for the telling gesture, and, although he returned to certain favorite situations again and again, he never repeated a face.”   Mr. Lorenz also noted that Mr. Barlow was partly color-blind and depended on his wife to do the coloring for his covers.

The Album opens with a full page Arno (of course!) “What is the specialty here?” and closes with a full page Charles Addams, “Well, here’s where I say good night.” — both of a certain pre-war time, about to evaporate.  Arno’s drawing takes place in a table-cloth nightclub (think the “Thin Man” movies), with a line of scantily clad chorus girls dominating the page.  The gentlemen shown are wearing tuxes.  In the Addams drawing the gentleman’s wearing evening dress, including a top hat.

Between the Arno and the Addams are the by now (by now to constant New Yorker readers) a very familiar crew of cartoonists. The inside flap shown below doesn’t list every contributor, but you’re sure to see names that would be carved in the New Yorker Cartoonist Hall of Fame, if we had one.

There’s no introduction in the Album, just the goods.  Included are a number of hits on Nazis (Rea Irvin’s full page titled drawing:  A Nazi History of the World: The Non-Aryans Are Expelled From the Garden of Eden for example), and examples of cartoonists dealing with the war-time culture here at home (example: Peter Arno’s famous, “Well, back to the old drawing board” — also a full page). 

For a tenth Album of drawings you might think there was a lesser amount of energy coming off these cartoons.  Just the opposite. Pick up a copy of the 1942 Album and settle in with it — you’ll find yourself in a cartoon gold mine. 



Latest American Bystander Arrives; Profiled/Interviewed: Lars Kenseth

Moments after a pdf of the brand new American Bystander (AB #6, to be exact) landed in my inbox last night, I  flipped through its pages with the enthusiasm I had when I was 10 and had just brought home the latest issue of MAD.  I’ve said it before: if you are a devotee of New Yorker cartoons, this is the publication for you.  It is loaded with New Yorker contributors, beginning with the cover artist, the great Arnold Roth.  Beyond the cartoons, and the humor pieces, it’s a graphic treat (i.e., a blast to look at).

Inside are the following New Yorker contributors (in no particular order): George Booth, Sam Gross, John Cuneo, Liza Donnelly, Roz Chast, M.K. Brown, Drew Friedman, Nick Downes, Lars Kenseth, R.O. Blechman, Charles Barsotti, Tom Toro, Peter Kuper, Rich Sparks, Ken Krimstein, Mimi Pond, Sara Lautman, Tom Hachtman, Liana Finck, Farley Katz, Joe Duffy, P.S. Mueller, and Charlie Hankin. 

Link here to the Bystander‘s website, where you can subscribe, or order a copy. 


Profile/Interview of Interest: Lars Kenseth

Mr. Kenseth (his self portrait appears above) is the subject of a piece in the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, “Comic Relief: Lars Kenseth ’04 Makes His Mark at The New Yorker” —  Check it out here!  (Related: Mr. Kenseth was the subject of a Spill piece this past August).