R.C. Harvey’s Trip Down Mankoff Lane

Posted on 27th March 2017 in News

From The Comics Journal, March 27, 2017, “A Look Back at 20 Years of Mankoff’s New Yorker” — R.C. Harvey takes a look at Bob Mankoff’s not-quite 20 year term (August of 1997 – April of 2017) as The New Yorker‘s cartoon editor in this longish piece that covers much ground found in Mankoff’s memoir, How About Never — Is Never Good For You: My Life in Cartoons (Henry Holt, 2014), as well as the very current events surrounding Mr. Mankoff’s imminent departure.

There are a few things in Mr. Harvey’s piece I’m going to quibble with. I’ve reproduced them here, bolded and italicized.

New Yorker cartoons are topical (and always have been) but not as front-page topical as newspaper editorial cartoons. For decades, thanks to the magazine’s founder’s Puritan bent, sex was taboo as a subject for cartoons.

New Yorker cartoons can be topical, but they are not always topical, and they have not always been topical, nor are they all topical now.  For instance,  these two drawings, perhaps two of the most famous in the magazine’s canon: James Thurber’s so-called Seal in the Bedroom, and Charles Addams famous skier who has somehow managed to ski through a pine tree.  If there’s something topical about them, I don’t see it.

As for sex as a taboo, well what are we talking about here exactly?  Barbara Shermund’s and Peter Arno’s work mined the subject of sex in the New Yorker for decades on end.  Mr. Arno, of course, made quite a nice career out of providing the New Yorker‘s readership with sex-based drawings.

By the time Lorenz was cartoon editor, cartoonists were expected to both write and draw their cartoons. (In fact, to reveal an undisguised bias of mine, true cartooning, blending words and picture, can most happily take place in a cartoonist’s mind, not a writer’s. Which may account for the typically inert comedy that prevailed at The New Yorker for so many of its first decades. And, even—inevitably—into current decades.)

Not really sure where  “by the time Lorenz was cartoon editor, cartoonists were expected to both write and draw their cartoons” comes from. It is simply not the case.  As one who was brought into The New Yorker by Mr. Lorenz, the subject of what was expected never came up. The word “expect” just isn’t part of the New Yorker cartoonist/editor language. Forty years later, I can say that the subject never came up with Mr. Lorenz, or his successor.

As for “…the typically inert comedy that prevailed at The New Yorker for so many of its first decades” Mr. Harvey has a right to his opinion, of course, but “inert” is not a word I’d apply to the earliest New Yorker cartoons. In fact, if you look through the magazine’s first three decades  what you will see is plenty of cartoon movement across the page and within the cartoons themselves. Take a look at the work of Reginald Marsh, or Thurber, or Barlow, or Hoff or Johan Bull (I could go on listing names, but you get the point).   Mr. Bull was a frequent contributor in the magazine’s earliest days –his lovely drawings  were barely kept within the borders of the page. And Mr. Marsh’s drawings were electric.  There was a graphic  playfulness to much of the work then; it subsided, appropriately enough, with the advent of the second world war.  If you want to go looking for inert drawings, you’ll find them easily enough and in every issue, but I would say they did not prevail — they were a bit of balance, some down-time Harold Ross so wisely provided his readers.

New York Times Raves About Arno’s “The New Yorkers”

Posted on 25th March 2017 in News

“So this is what Manhattan looked like in the tipsy yesterday of Prohibition”

— Ben Brantley, The New York Times

The New Yorkers was a hit when it opened in  December of 1930 (done in by the Depression, it closed after 168 performances) and here it is back in 2017, albeit in altered form, heralded one more time. Too bad it won’t be around long.

Inspired ever-so-slightly by an idea Peter Arno shopped around in early 1930 as Manhattan Parade, The New Yorkers showed up at The Broadway Theatre with music by rising star, Cole Porter.

Arno supplied the graphics for the sheet music and the program (shown above), and was the driving force behind the scenery (uncredited as he wasn’t a union member). What we should hold onto really is that, according to Robert Baral’s Revue: A Nostalgic Reprise of The Great Broadway Period, Arno inspired “the mood of the show”  much as he inhabited, distilled and reflected the times he caroused around in during the late 1920s and beyond.

Here’s a link to Mr. Brantley’s review of Encores! Production of The New Yorkers

(and thanks to the New York Times for a shout-out — in the form of a link — to my newyorker.com piece on Arno, “The Peter Arno Cartoons That Helped Rescue The New Yorker”)

“The Place Was Especially A Mess After The Weekly Art Meetings”

Posted on 23rd March 2017 in News

 

 

… “The artists, who waited for the verdicts, scrambled for desk space where they could retouch their cartoons and spots according to what Wylie, or Katharine Angell, told them what Ross wanted.”*

 

— So said New Yorker editor and writer Rogers Whitaker to Thurber biographer, Harrison Kinney. He was describing a wonderfully fun and exciting time and place: The New Yorker in its infancy, ninety some years ago.

 

What’s changed since then?  Well, the cartoonists no longer wait in the office to hear the verdict for that week’s submissions (email now alerts them to a sale, and more often, rejection). However, many cartoonists still head to the New Yorker every week to sit across from the cartoon editor. It’s a chance to connect with the editor, to get feedback, to discuss that week’s submissions.  It’s also a chance to socialize with colleagues.  Cartoonists, as has been said many times, are mostly solitary creatures, whiling away at their drawing boards or tablets without the company of other humans.

 

Using the clues of the personalities Mr. Whitaker mentioned we know that the artists (cartoonists for the most part with some cover artists tossed in) began showing up at the New Yorker from the very first days of the magazine. What we don’t know is exactly when the cartoonists began showing up to see the Art Editor — a ritual that began sometime during James Geraghty’s tenure as the magazine’s first Art Editor.

 

Rea Irvin, the New Yorker‘s Art Supervisor did not meet the artists flooding into the office. So who actually saw the artists coming in? It was, in the very beginning, Ross’s secretary, Helen Mears, who was soon fired and replaced by a young man named Philip Wylie. He was the unofficially titled artists “hand-holder” — the link between the editorial staff and the cartoonists.   Most importantly to The New Yorker‘s history, and to its success, Wylie is the person who, while looking through twenty-one year old Peter Arno’s portfolio one day in 1925  happened to spot a drawing Arno hadn’t intended to show: a sketch  of “two old bats about to charge obliviously into a trap — made by the rise of a sidewalk elevator. It [the drawing] greatly amused me.”   The  “two old bats” came to be called The Whoops Sisters, and also came to be credited as very likely rescuing The New Yorker from an early demise.  This moment was one of the so-called “happy accidents” that saved the New Yorker and propelled it forward. And it could have only happened because Arno came into the office and sat down with Wylie.

 

We know that upon James Geraghty’s appointment as Art Editor in 1939 he began working closely with the magazine’s staff cartoonists on Look Day (Tuesdays back then, and for many years after. Wednesdays now).  What has always endeared me to the editor/artist dance at the magazine is that editorial prompts are not directives — they are suggestions.  This practice continued on during Lee Lorenz’s twenty-four years as art editor after he succeeded Geraghty, and it continues right up to today.

 

Mr. Lorenz ran a very tight ship in those twenty-four years; artists had to be invited in to the office on Look Day.  Even some long-time contributors did not receive the coveted invitation.  They had to drop off their work at the receptionist’s glassed-in cubicle at the end of the hallway near the elevators. To be invited back was well-earned. And what you found once you were buzzed through the hallway door and then walked down the dog-legged hallway to the Art Department was a small cream-colored waiting room filled with cartoonists whose names would most likely be as familiar as the names of your family members. Their work, of course, would be familiar as well. The days of artists messing up the office were in the rear view mirror.  Some of the cartoonists actually had “studios” in the building (Charles Addams, Frank Modell, James Stevenson, Edward Koren among them).  Mr. Lorenz had an editorial light touch when working with artists — a shade lighter than Geraghty’s, or so I’ve been told; like Geraghty, Lorenz’s advice was succinct, and spot-on.

 

When Bob Mankoff succeeded Mr. Lorenz, he instituted what he called an “open door” policy,  saying, “I’ll see anyone.”  And in they came. To be sure, it created a different climate in what is called the cartoonists lounge.  Lots of new faces, many unpublished in The New Yorker, or anywhere, mingled with veteran contributors such as Sam Gross, George Booth, and Mort Gerberg. The scene wasn’t messy, as in the old days, but it was lively (they’ve had to be “hushed” on more than one occasion.  Dana Fradon, recalling the pre-Mankoff days, told Ink Spill: “Once, when someone down the hall voiced an official complaint about ‘noise’ coming from the cartoonists waiting room, Ed Fisher and I went out into the hall and sang, in close harmony, ‘The Beer-Barrel Polka’. “Roll out the barrel…”).

 

It was recently announced that a New Yorker editor, Emma Allen would replace Mr. Mankoff in May. A Cartoon Department email soon followed announcing that Mr. Mankoff would not see cartoonists on Look Day in these last weeks of his editorship.  How eerily quiet it will be around the cartoon lounge on Wednesday mornings!  I imagine that come May, the non-existent doors to the cartoon department will swing open again (there are waist-high partitions everywhere now, and just a few doors) and the cartoonists will flood in, as lively and boisterous as they’ve been for over ninety years.

 

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*A Who’s Who of those mentioned above

Emma Allen:  Ms. Allen has worked as an editor of Talk of The Town, a writer, and editor of Daily Shouts, and as of May this year, The New Yorker‘s Cartoon Editor.

Ed Fisher: Mr. Fisher’s first cartoon appeared in The New Yorker October 27, 1951; he went on to contribute over 700 cartoons. He died in 2013.

Dan Fradon:  Mr. Fradon, whose first cartoon appeared in The New Yorker, May 1, 1948,  is the doyen of the magazine’s artists. He has published well over a thousand cartoons in the magazine.

James Geraghty: a former gag-writer, hired in 1939, he became the magazine’s first Art Editor.  Before Geraghty, there was no one single person at the magazine dedicated to overseeing all the art (Harold Ross was the overseer of everything in his magazine).  Ross’s successor, William Shawn said of Geraghty: “Along with Harold Ross…he set set the magazine’s comic art on its course and he helped determine the direction in which the comic art would go and is still going.”  Mr. Geraghty was the art editor from 1939 through 1973. He died in 1983.

Rea Irvin: Mr. Irvin is a huge part of the New Yorker’s DNA as he’s responsible for the New Yorker‘s first cover (featuring the fellow referred to as Eustace Tilley); Mr. Irvin adapted the typeface that we now call the Irvin typeface; he contributed a record number of New Yorker covers, and last but not least, he helped “educate” Harold Ross, art-wise. He died in 1972.

Harrison Kinney: A reporter for The New Yorker from 1949-1954; his massive biography of James Thurber: His Life & Times was published in 1995.

Lee Lorenz: Geraghty’s successor as Art Editor (and later, under Tina Brown’s editorship, as Cartoon Editor).   He began as editor in 1973, handing over the reigns to Bob Mankoff in 1997. Mr. Lorenz is also one of, if not the most prolific New Yorker cartoonists. He is also the author of numerous books about New Yorker cartoonists, including the must-read history, The Art of The New Yorker:1925- 1995.

Bob Mankoff: Mr. Mankoff, also a cartoonist for the magazine, has been its cartoon editor for over nineteen years.  His memoir, How About Never — Is Never Good For You?: My Life In Cartoons was published in 2014.

Helen Mears: Harold Ross’s first secretary and the first person delegated to be a go-between the editorial department and the artists. She was fired by Philip Wylie on orders from Harold Ross. Mr. Wylie then assumed Ms. Mears duties.

Harold Ross: The founder and first editor of The New Yorker. There are three biographies of Mr. Ross. Thomas Kunkel’s biography Genius in Disguise is essential reading. Mr. Ross died in 1951.

William Shawn: Appointed in January of 1952 as Harold Ross’s successor. He remained editor until 1987. He died in 1992.

Rogers E. M. Whitaker: hired in 1926 he headed the checking department and later the make-up department.  Mr. Whitaker went on to become an editor and contributor to the New Yorker, working under various names:  “E.M. Frimbo”  (“The World’s Greatest Railroad Buff”) for pieces chronicling his journeys on the nations railways; “J.W.L.” for his pieces about Ivy League football; “The Old Curmudgeon” when he wrote for The Talk of The Town.   Mr. Whitaker died in 1981.

Katharine White: Hired in August of 1925, Ms. White (then Angell) was the magazine’s first Fiction Editor.  According to the New York Times: she…”exerted a profoundly creative influence on contemporary American literature…having transformed The New Yorker from a humor magazine into the purveyor of much of the best writing in the country.” Before James Geraghty consolidated the Art Department, the art was under the umbrella of the Fiction Department.  Lee Lorenz has written of her that “she was a powerful voice in the selection of the magazine’s art.” She died in 1977.  Linda Davis’s biography, Onward & Upward: A Biography of Katharine S. White is essential reading.

Philip Wylie: “The New Yorker‘s first bona fide applicant” was the magazine’s second artist hand holder.  He attended hundreds of the magazine’s first art meetings.  His short stint at The New Yorker was followed by a long and successful career as a writer including the best-selling Generation of Vipers.  He died in 1971

 

 

Video of Interest: John Updike & New Yorker Cartoons; From Ink Spill’s Archives: Art of The New Yorker Ephemera

Posted on 19th March 2017 in News

 

The late John Updike (he died in 2009) wrote almost as much about the magazine’s cartoons and cartoonists as any New Yorker contributor outside of the Art/Cartoon Department [see below].  Here we have a chance to see him for five and-a-half minutes,  up close with some of the magazine’s most iconic drawings, including James Thurber’s Seal in the Bedroom, Charles Addams’s skier and Peter Arno’s “Well, back to the old drawing board.”  The video comes out of WGBH’s archive (that’s the Boston public television station). My guess is that Updike was visiting the traveling exhibit of art tied into the New Yorker‘s 60th anniversary in 1985.   Here’s the link.  Enjoy!

A Selected List of Updike on New Yorker Cartoons and Cartoonists:

Introduction to Christmas at The New Yorker: Stories, Poems, Humor, and Art (2003)

Thurber’s Art — a contribution to Cartoon America: Comic Art in the Library of Congress (2006)

A Tribute to Saul Steinberg for The New York Review of Books (1999).

Introduction to The World of William Steig, edited by Lee Lorenz (1998)

Introduction to a section (“The Fourth Decade: 1955- 1964”) of The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker (2004)

Introduction to Poor Arnold’s Almanac (1998) *the “Arnold” is Arnold Roth

Note for an Exhibit of New Yorker cartoons at The Art Institute of Boston (1993)

Review of  Steinberg’s The Discovery of America (in The New York Review of Books, 1992)

 

Some ephemera from the exhibit:

When the show ran its course, the art was returned to the contributing artists.  With the art, the Nicholls Gallery included the slip of paper you see below (Barbara Nicholls curated the exhibit). We can see that the exhibit Updike likely visited was at The Boston Athenaeum:

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the opening night in New York (at The New York Public Library, not The Yorker Public Library as it’s spelled on the Nicholls sheet. The New Yorker did have then, and continues to have now, its own library, but it’s not generally open to the public), attendees were offered a swag bag on the way out of the exhibit. The bag contained a brochure, a large Charles Addams poster as well as a copy of The New Yorker Cartoon Album 1975-1985, and a packet of postcards, all shown below except for the poster, which is too big for my scanner — the image is the same as you see on the bag and postcard):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Yorker Cartoonist Extraordinaire, James Stevenson, Has Died

Posted on 18th February 2017 in News

 

Ink Spill has learned  this morning that James Stevenson, who contributed to The New Yorker for nearly half a century and was the very definition of a New Yorker cartoonist, has died. The news was conveyed by his wife, Josephine Merck.

 

Photo: James Stevenson in the 1960s

 

Mr. Stevenson, born in New York City in 1929, found his way to The New Yorker in 1947. “I was not hired on merit,” Mr. Stevenson wrote in The Life, Loves and Laughs of Frank Modell — “My mother was  a friend of the Fiction Editor, William Maxwell.” He worked for that summer as an office boy, and a part-time supplier of cartoon ideas.  Nine years later he was hired by the Art Editor, James Geraghty, as a full-time ideaman.  Mr. Stevenson recalled that Mr. Geraghty turned to him after the hiring handshake and said, “You must not tell anybody at the office or anywhere else what you do.”

 

 

 

 

Stevenson’s own drawings were eventually  published in the magazine beginning in March of 1956 (his first appears here).  He went on to become one of scant few New Yorker contributors who could say they had contributed written pieces in the magazine as well as covers, cartoons, and illustrations, or spot drawings. James Thurber, Lou Myers and Peter Arno come to mind as the only other members of that club. I once mentioned to Mr. Stevenson how energetic he seemed, considering the amount and variety of his contributions to The New Yorker.  He replied, “I had to be energetic — I had a large family.”  In a career at the magazine that lasted 47 years, he published nearly 80 covers.  His astounding  number of cartoons –1,987 — places him, according to Ink Spill’s calculations, in the top five contributing artists in the magazine’s history (the other four being William Steig, Lee Lorenz, Alan Dunn, and Helen Hokinson).

 

Below: a Stevenson cartoon from The New Yorker, June 11, 1999

For me, as a kid just out of college beginning at The New Yorker, Mr. Stevenson’s work and the work of his colleagues, was my real education. I noted immediately that Stevenson’s world was inhabited by drawings that connected to the very moment. His seemingly effortless line flowed buoyantly across the page, welcoming us in, and then, as the best cartoons do, surprising us with a caption we never saw coming; in those pre-social media days, Stevenson expertly distilled and commented on a news item or cultural event as quickly as a cartoonist working for a weekly publication could possibly manage. It’s difficult enough for any cartoonist to successfully do that kind of drawing on any given week, but Stevenson’s gift allowed us to laugh out loud (or on the inside) nearly 2000 times, almost weekly, for close to half a century.

In 2013 Mr. Stevenson published a book about his best friend, and New Yorker colleague, Frank Modell.  Mr. Stevenson is shown here, to the left, with Mr, Modell in a photo taken in the mid-to-late 1970s or early 1980s.

Below: one of my all-time favorite Stevenson covers.  The best New Yorker artists share with us a moment.  This moment has stuck with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On a personal note: I had an opportunity to meet Mr. Stevenson within the first few years of my time at The New Yorker, in February of 1980.  Standing in a circle of cartoonists at the magazine’s annual  anniversary party in the grand ballroom of The Pierre, Mr. Stevenson was directly across from me. But instead of reaching out my hand and introducing myself, I kept mum;  he was, after all, one of the magazine’s biggest stars. It took more than thirty years for us to finally connect, first on the telephone and later in person. Our first meeting, via a telephone call (he graciously agreed to speak with me about his early days at The New Yorker) was filled with good cheer and plenty of laughs — it was as if we’d known each other for years.

 

 

Here’s Ink Spill’s New Yorker Cartoonists A-Z entry for Mr. Stevenson:

James Stevenson Born, NYC, 1929.  NYer work: March 10, 1956 -.   Stevenson interned as an office boy at The New Yorker in the mid 1940s when he began  supplying ideas for other NYer artists. Nine years later he was hired a full-time ideaman, given an office at the magazine and instructed not to tell anyone what he did. He eventually began publishing his own cartoons and covers as well as a ground-breaking Talk of the Town pieces (ground breaking in that the pieces were illustrated). His contributions to the magazine number over 2000.   Key collections: Sorry Lady — This Beach is Private! ( MacMillan, 1963), Let’s Boogie ( Dodd, Mead, 1978).  Stevenson has long been a children’s book author, with roughly one hundred titles to his credit.  He is a frequent contributor to the Op-Ed page of The New York Times, under the heading Lost and Found New York. Stevenson’s recent book, published in 2013, The Life, Loves and Laughs of Frank Modell, is essential.

Cartoon Companion: Rating New Yorker Cartoons & Beyond; Peter Arno & Football; A Former New Yorker Editor Dies

Posted on 4th February 2017 in News

 

 

 

 

Max and Simon, the mysterious duo behind Cartoon Companion have released this mission statement to Ink Spill:

The Cartoon Companion — www.cartooncompanion.com — is a website devoted to the latest cartoons in The New Yorker magazine. With each new issue, your genial hosts, Max and Simon, offer their highly subjective insights and rate the cartoons on a scale of 1 (not worthy) to 6 (genius!). Future posts will include interviews with New Yorker cartoonists and guest commentary by some of the best in the business, plus cartoons by New Yorker cartoonists that the magazine inexplicably rejected.  

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Here’s a just in time for the Super Bowl football-related post from Attempted Bloggery, featuring Peter Arno‘s work.

See it here.

 

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and finally…a non-cartoonist New Yorker-related note:  Alexander Chancellor has died at age 77. There are plenty of obits to be found (here’s  The Washington Post’s).

Mr. Chancellor, hired by Tina Brown, turned his short stint at The New Yorker into a book, Some Times in America: And A Life In A Year at The New Yorker.  Not a bad read if you feel like re-visiting, or visiting the Tina New Yorker years (if you’re in that kind of mood, I’d  also suggest the late E.J. Kahn’s book, Year of Change: More About The New Yorker & Me.  For William Shawn vintage Kahn,  there’s his About The New Yorker & Me. I could go on with other titles of interest — perhaps another post another time.

Cartoonist David Sipress on Staying Sane in Trumpland; Attempted Bloggery Looks at Tomato Juice Ads by Thurber, Arno, Steig, Hoff, and Soglow; Cartoon Companion Rates the New Yorker’s Latest Cartoons; Preview: New Yorker’s 92nd Anniversary Issue Cover

Posted on 3rd February 2017 in News

 

Post of Interest:  David Sipress’s  Cultural Comment on newyorker.com, February 3, 2017 “How To Stay Sane As A Cartoonist in Trumpland”

See Mr. Sipress’s New Yorker work here on the magazine’s Cartoon Bank site.

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Attempted Bloggery updates a post looking into Libby Tomato Juice ads featuring some of the all-time great New Yorker cartoonists. See it all here!

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Cartoon Companion has returned with a look at the latest New Yorker cartoons (the February 6 2017 issue).  Read it here.

 

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The New Yorker has posted a preview of its upcoming anniversary issue.  Eustace Tilley fans, who look forward to seeing the magazine’s mascot every mid-February on the cover will have to wait another year (if not longer, judging by the last six years). The post also includes a slide show of the non-classic Eustace covers.

For those keeping track, Rea Irvin‘s  cover has not been on an anniversary issue since 2011.

 

Need more Tilley?  Here’s  “Tilley Over Time”  — a piece of mine that ran on the New Yorker‘s website in 2008.

And here’s Rea Irvin’s entry on Ink Spill‘s   “New Yorker Cartoonists A-Z “:

Rea Irvin  (pictured above. Self portrait above from Meet the Artist) *Born, San Francisco, 1881; died in the Virgin Islands,1972. Irvin was the cover artist for the New Yorker’s first issue, February 21, 1925.  He was the magazine’s  first art editor, holding the position from 1925 until 1939 when James Geraghty assumed the title. Irvin became art director and remained in that position until William Shawn succeeded Harold Ross. Irvin’s last original work for the magazine was the magazine’s cover of July 12, 1958. The February 21, 1925 Eustace Tilley cover had been reproduced every year on the magazine’s anniversary until 1994, when R. Crumb’s Tilley-inspired cover appeared. Tilley has since reappeared, with other artists substituting from time-to-time.

 

 

 

An Arno Inspired Play Comes Back to NYC

Posted on 16th January 2017 in News

The New Yorkers (playbill)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Broadway in 1930 (the original program appears above), this Peter Arno inspired musical returns for a short run in March.  Here’s the description from the New York Theatre Guide:

NEW YORKERS, THE
A Sociological Musical Satire

Music & Lyrics by Cole Porter, Book by Herbert Fields, based on a story by E. Ray Goetz & Peter Arno
Musical
at Encores!
at New York City Center (Mainstage)

Bullets fly and bathtub gin flows in this 1930 Prohibition jape, which is a gleefully amoral celebration of speakeasies, gangsters, society dames and the great city they love. The musical centers on featherbrained socialite Alice Miller, whose bootlegger beau leads her on a madcap romp from Park Avenue to Sing Sing and back again.
(from 22 Mar 2017 – Closing on 26 Mar 2017)

For more on Arno’s involvement with Broadway theater, including The New Yorkers and Here Goes The Bride, check out my biography of Arno.

Wikipeda’s entry on the The New Yorkers .

It Was 113 Years Ago Today…

Posted on 8th January 2017 in News

Arno @ piano 1950s January 8th of any year can’t pass by around these parts without raising a glass to toast Peter Arno, born in New York City, 113 years ago today.

Visitors to this site are likely quite aware of Arno’s work and what it meant to the struggling New Yorker in its first year of publication.  Today I offer up another toast: this one’s to Arno for winning what might appear to some as a  small victory, but to cartoonists themselves is a victory quite meaningful.

During the later years of Harold Ross’s editorship (Ross is the fellow who created The New Yorker and was its first editor) Arno became incensed that some of his cartoon captions were being edited and published without his approval. He created a document that would ensure the magazine would agree to pay a  fine if such editing occurred without his approval. I believe this brought about an awareness and a policy that exists to this day at the New Yorker. Arno’s document is a thing of the past, but the magazine will not add or subtract so much as a comma in a cartoon caption without first running their suggestion by the artist for approval. It is a policy that symbolizes editorial respect for the magazine’s artists and their work.

My glass is raised to Arno for that and for so much more!

Above: Arno in the 1950s

If you want to read more about Arno may I suggest you check out his biography.

Cartoonists Gather for The New Yorker’s Holiday Party

Posted on 15th December 2016 in News

new-yorker-holiday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once or twice a year New Yorker cartoonists gather to do something other than show their work.  Yesterday was one of those days — the annual holiday party (which includes all of the editorial staff, not just the artists). In years past the party has been mostly out-of house; this year it was in-house. Too-many-to-count boxes of pizza were spread out on long tables. Bottles of wine and large bottles (jugs?) of beer were here and there on other tables in a hallway and adjoining conference room. The place was packed.  The magazine’s editor, David Remnick was spotted wending his way through the throng, slice of pizza in hand.

A small framed copy of the cover of the magazine’s first issue hung in one of the hallways as well as a number of blow-ups of New Yorker covers. A good number of cartoons  lined the walls (some framed, some greatly enlarged). Was happy to see that Peter Arno’s “Well, back to the old drawing board!” continues to reside among the framed pieces. I paused to spend some time with the  wonderful  Thurber drawings, lovingly installed in these new digs.

Among the cartoonists present were Sam Gross, Joe Dator, Christopher Weyant, Robert Leighton, Liza Donnelly, Emily Flake, Edward Steed, Corey Pandolf, Bob Eckstein, Amy Hwang, Harry Bliss, Jason Adam Katzenstein, John O’Brien, Felipe Galindo (aka feggo), Drew Dernavich, Ben Schwartz, David Borchart, Mort Gerberg, and David Sipress.

A splendid time was had by all!