An Ink Spill Library Addition

Arno : Father William

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donald Ogden Stewart. Father William. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1929.

 

Here’s a book that was on my want list for some time (due to the cover by Peter Arno).  It’s finally been added to the Ink Spill library (though not yet scanned onto the online library). The author, Donald Ogden Stewart, a member of the Algonquin Round Table, was an early contributor to The New Yorker who went on to Hollywood fame. In 1940 he won an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay (The Philadelphia Story). The black & white illustrations were supplied by Stewart and Arno’s New Yorker colleague, Eldon Kelley.

Exhibit: “Cover Story: The New Yorker in Westport”

Cover Story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From The Westport Historical Society webpage:

Between 1925 and 1989, 16 New Yorker artists living in and around Westport-Weston produced a remarkable 761 covers for The New Yorker Magazine.

The Westport Historical Society’s next two exhibits share the covers and the story-behind-the-story, focusing especially on the influence of The New Yorker’s “idea man” turned Art Editor, James Geraghty.

Link here to the Westport Society website for details. And also make sure to read Dorrie (Barlow) Thomas’s piece about her grandfather’s 1939 New Yorker cover (below) that inspired a famous Christmas song.

Barlow cover

Joe Dator on Drawing Creepy Cat Faces, Cartoon Rubber Ducks and Much Much More

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(Above: a detail from Joe Dator’s “How We Do It” — it appeared in The New Yorker, September 24, 2012)

 

 

Each New Yorker cartoonist brings something different to the pages of the magazine – it’s sort of an unofficial requirement for arriving.  Some are more different than others; former New Yorker cartoon editor Lee Lorenz once said that the best cartoonists are the ones that create their own world.  Since arriving at The New Yorker in the summer of 2006, Joe Dator has done just that.  His work is addictive – I bet you can’t look at just one.  Though his subject matter ranges far and wide, through past and present, this native New Yorker has said that the cartoons he is“most proud of are the ones that are very specific to this city.”

Mr. Dator recently agreed to be part of Ink Spill’s interview series.  Here’s how the conversation went:

MM: So Joe, where in this great metropolis were you born?

JD: The Bronx. The Pelham Parkway area, to be specific. Botanical Gardens, The Bronx Zoo, and so forth. Nice area. Not the burned-down post-apocalypse wasteland you see in pictures of The Bronx from the 70s. That was happening quite a few blocks away, and thus in a different reality.

MM: You say in the New Yorkers film that “the first time I could pick up a crayon, I could draw”  — and then what happened?

JD: After I picked up the crayons – well, immediately after I probably drew some pictures of Sigmund the Sea Monster or Evel Knievel and then watched The Brady Bunch Goes to Watergate or something like that, but if you mean in the years after that’s different. I had a talent for drawing from an early age, but I can’t say I was especially enchanted by comics or cartoons in the way that a Jules Feiffer or an R. Crumb was (the first of many instances in which I will compare myself to living legends and find we have little in common). I loved comedy, that was the main thing. I didn’t read superhero comics and I didn’t like sports and I was indifferent to popular music. I just liked things that were funny.

I watched comedians on TV and my parents would buy me comedy albums. I loved Steve Martin and Monty Python’s Flying Circus and George Carlin and Peter Sellers. My parents had a sense of humor and so they would let me stay up to watch Johnny Carson if a comedian was on that I liked. I remember my dad taking me to see the Marx Brothers film “Animal Crackers” when it was re-released to movie theaters in the early 70s, and that pretty much blew my mind. My mom took me to see Mel Brooks movies like “Young Frankenstein” and “Blazing Saddles” which I know I was too young to see but she was very permissive about stuff like that.

I did read some cartoons but it was mostly Peanuts and a hell of a lot of MAD. MAD was huge. Don Martin was my favorite. His stuff had a quality to it that I would describe as “otherworldly.” That was always the feeling I was attracted to. Don Martin, the Pythons, Steve Martin – they all had that in common. They weren’t earthy and relatable or lovable – they were odd. Non sequitur. They could have stepped off a spaceship from another galaxy the day before. Maybe they did – you didn’t know. I attribute this interest to having always felt alienated myself as a child. Anyway, I used to redraw Don Martin’s comics, sometimes mimicking his drawings but sometimes putting my own characters in them. In school drawing became a way to get attention and approval and at the same time I could never quite get the hang of paying attention in class, so I used to fill up my notebooks with drawings, almost to the complete exclusion of schoolwork.

MM: What finally drove you to submit to The New Yorker. Was it a slow realization that this was the place for you or did lightning strike one day when you saw, say, an Arnie Levin drawing or picked up a copy of a Mick Stevens cartoon collection? 122899223.9cXvvAXr

JD: I didn’t think about drawing cartoons for The New Yorker for a long time.  When I was 11 or 12 I read National Lampoon (my parents were very permissive) and Playboy (very, very permissive) and that’s where I first saw cartoonists like Charles Rodrigues and Gahan Wilson and Sam Gross. Also there were books. The late 70s was a time when every gag cartoonist had two or three collections of their cartoons published (I would love it if that time came back. Any publishers interested? Text me). We lived in Manhattan by that time so I would go to the B. Dalton on 5th Ave and hang around the humor section looking at cartoon books, and that’s where I discovered B. Kliban. Kliban had a series of books with titles like “Whack Your Porcupine” and “Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head” and his humor completely blew me away with it’s absurdity and imagination and point of view. It was a kind of Zen-like detachment. He wasn’t making jokes about the world from within it, it seemed to me, but from far above it. Kliban saw the ridiculousness of everything. Life itself. It’s all nonsense. That was what made me laugh, and I felt a kindred spirit.

Kliban

But… getting to The New Yorker: my mother had many doctors and as a child I would often be sitting alone in waiting rooms, so naturally I knew about The New Yorker and was familiar with the cartoons, but the first time I actually thought about being in it was in my mid 20s. Things hadn’t been going so well for me. I knew I wanted to be funny and make a living through my talent but I never had a practical plan for doing so because, well, I’ve never had a practical plan for doing anything, really. I’d gone to SVA, the School Of Visual Arts on 23rd St, but when I left I was kind of lost. The “You’re Very Talented” subsidy checks weren’t coming like I thought they would, and I wasn’t one of those confident industrious guys who would zero in on a goal and beat down doors to get to it. I was eking out a paltry living with illustration jobs and stuff, which I wasn’t very good at.

By chance my girlfriend at the time knew someone who knew Bob Mankoff and arranged for me to meet him. He was one of the cartoonists then but not yet the cartoon editor. I went to work for him at the business he was starting (which eventually became The Cartoon Bank) and he became a kind of mentor to me. I learned an enormous amount about humor and gag cartoons from Bob, and he was always very encouraging and supportive. He thought I could draw cartoons for The New Yorker before I thought I could.

Now is the part where you think I’m going to say “that’s when I started submitting to The New Yorker” but in fact it was 15 years before I did that. Without going into too much detail let’s just say that I was a confused young man and still had a lot of stuff to figure out. I stopped working for Bob and moved to the west coast for a while and then came back and tried all kinds of other things like writing comedy for television, and that old standby “being unemployed and broke.”

You see I still was thinking I was going to find my place as a comedian and not a cartoonist. It seems odd, but I had this talent for drawing from such a young age that I developed a kind of complicated relationship with it. When I was young drawing got me approval and attention and a good feeling of being special but at the same time there were adults all around me telling me “You’re going to be an artist.” and sometimes it didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t like being told what to do, so I resisted for a long time.

When I finally started submitting to The New Yorker it was 2005. I’d just finished making a short film about Willy Wonka, and I got an email from Bob asking if I’d be interested in submitting cartoons. That was serendipitous because at that moment I knew I was ready. I’d done everything else and failed and it just kind of clicked in my head that this was exactly what I wanted to do at this moment, and it felt right. In retrospect I can see that I couldn’t have started doing cartoons for The New Yorker when I was younger. My ideas weren’t as good, my drawings weren’t as good, I just wasn’t ready. The bottom line is, no one can do anything before they’re ready, so it doesn’t make any sense to say “I wish I’d done that sooner.”

MM: When you did decide to go to The New Yorker, did you know other cartoonists (besides Bob Mankoff), or did you go cold?  What was it like that first visit? 

JD: The first time I went in was pretty surreal. I was incredibly uncomfortable. I didn’t know any of the cartoonists. I stood in the crowd waiting to go in to Bob’s office with my head down looking at my feet and not talking to anyone. I think I did that for an entire year, and made many keen observations about my own feet.

MM: I’d heard a number of stories leading up to finally getting into the magazine, but nothing like yours.  I’ve been thinking of what you said in the New Yorkers  film:“To be really creative you have to not know you’re being creative.” I’ve thought for awhile that a part of what makes for a successful cartoonist is the ability to know when to identify an idea that comes drifting by. You sit there, leaving yourself wide open,  not actively seeking an idea, biding your time,  and then suddenly (if you’re lucky): there it is!  Is that what you meant by “not know you’re being creative?”

JD: What I mean by that is that the conscious brain seldom produces good art. The creative part of your brain is very mysterious and temperamental, and if the other part – the part that runs things and gets things done – tries to browbeat it into producing, it just freezes up and won’t do anything. I find my best ideas come when I’m working on lousy ideas, moving things around and drawing them 80 different ways or something. The conscious part is busy so the creative part of the brain is free to do its thing in the background, with no pressure or scrutiny. Once you lose yourself in the process it says “Hey how about this other thing… ” and you don’t know where it came from.

MM: In the film we see you sitting in a diner entering drawings & words into a sketchbook. So many of your drawings look to have come directly come from the Dator Diary.   Drawings such as:  “You look just like your profile picture.” “I died in Buffalo.” “See? There’s no monster in the corner — it’s just a pile of old skulls.” Got any bathtub gin?”  they’re sort of Twilight Zone-ish.   Do you see them that way at all?

JD: It’s funny you mention those four cartoons because almost every one of them fits the model I just described. The profile picture cartoon grew out of something completely different that I was working on for a long time, but I just couldn’t get it right. Then the cat head solution just hit me, and I said “Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?” which makes no sense because I did think of it.  Then, I didn’t want her to look like a cute cartoon cat, so I drew a fairly realistic cat face and made it too small for her body. I wanted her to look creepy and grotesque, like a refugee from The Island Of Dr. Moreau.

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With “I died in Buffalo”, the finished cartoon I ended up with is nothing like what I’d been working on. I was trying to do a cartoon about complimentary hot wings. It just seemed funny to me – that “complimentary hot wings” is a thing. I liked the words and how they could be used to attract anyone anyplace, just the promise of trays of complimentary wings. How far can it go? What will people do for blazin’ Buffalo wings? I still wonder. But I was banging away trying to get that to work when this simple, silly thing appeared whole in my head.

I can’t remember where the skulls cartoon came from except I think I was wasting a lot of time trying to do a twist on a father tucking his kid in to bed and saying “sleep tight don’t let the bedbugs bite” and I had a bunch of those that didn’t work. I also had the image in my mind of a Killing Fields-style pile of skulls. It’s a dark gruesome image but it’s fairly iconic and I didn’t think it’d been used in a cartoon before so I’d been trying to work that in for a while. Somehow the father tucking in his kid and the pile of skulls met and fell in love and got married and there they are.

The one that was different was the bathtub gin cartoon. That was very easy. I was just doodling rubber ducks and y’know if rubber ducks were sentient I’m fairly sure they would spend all their down time in bars, just getting tanked. So then the joke just kind of writes itself. The hard part was making a cartoon rubber duck look distinguishable from a cartoon “real” duck.

MM: I wonder, do you see yourself in any particular school of New Yorker cartoonist? By that I mean, do you ever think of your work as following in the footsteps of say, Addams, or Steinberg, Richard Taylor, Ziegler, etc., etc.? 

JD:  There are four basic kinds of New Yorker cartoonists: smokers who drive, smokers who don’t drive, non-smokers who don’t drive and non-smokers who do drive. I’m a non-smoker and I don’t have a driver’s license, which puts me in a very exclusive group.

Other than that, I don’t really see myself following anyone’s footsteps. I have certain qualities that I aspire to put into my work, so I suppose that puts me in certain company. I tend to prefer a tight, deliberate drawing style, and strange or dark humor. I feel that something impossible should always be going on in a cartoon. If there’s a school of that, I would like to be in it, especially if it’s convenient to the subway.

MM:  Going back to MAD magazine for a moment –so many of us contributing for the New Yorker these days have MAD  in our cartoon DNA.   I see a direct line from MAD to Kliban to Crumb to Ziegler to a whole school of cartoonists let loose, graphically and otherwise.  With your work, I get the feeling I’m going to be very surprised each time I see one of your drawings  in a new issue of the magazine. For instance, your full page color piece in the 2012 Cartoon Issue, “How We Do It”  which purports to examine a typical week in the life of  New Yorker cartoonists. is almost like a page ripped out of MAD or The National Lampoon. Do you remember when the idea for that hit you?

JD: Yes, at 4:30 in the morning. That was the result once again of spending a lot of time on something else and when I wasn’t looking it just appeared. I wanted to come up with a full page piece for the Cartoon Issue, and I had this other idea that I thought would be hailed as a work of genius. I slaved over this stupid thing for days and days and it was just becoming painfully obvious to me that it had no chance at all, but I’d invested all this time and it was close to the submission deadline. That’s when “How We Do It” occurred to me, and I had to crank out the rough in record time. Bob Mankoff gave me one or two notes for small changes but the first submission was pretty much what you saw.

That’s the weird way my brain likes to screw with me: it’ll give me a great idea, just serve it on a silver tray, but it’ll wait until I’ve suffered good and hard and I’ve got almost no time left. There’s no reward without suffering. I’m an Agnostic but my brain is Catholic.

MM: Peter Arno thought of himself as a reporter (obviously, he meant a graphic reporter). Syd Hoff called himself The New Yorker‘s Bronx correspondent. I suppose that we cartoonists are all, in our own ways, reporters. Agree, or disagree?  

JD: I don’t know. I like to draw monkeys, so far be it from me to claim membership in the Fourth Estate, however if I’m going to be a reporter then I want a little card I can wear on my hat. And I want a hat.

 

More Dator:

You can visit Joe Dator’s website by clicking here.

You can see Joe Dator’s New Yorker work  by clicking here

See Joe Dator’s New Yorkers video profile here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.C. Vey Talks about Walking a Cat on a Leash, The Spatial Dynamics of Cubicles, Meeting Ziegler, Stevens and Mankoff, and a Bunch of Other Stuff

 

 

 

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The world of P.C. Vey (the “C” is for Christopher) was introduced to The New Yorker’s readership November 22, 1993 with the publication of the drawing below: 

 

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 The drawing set the stage for what was to come.  Vey people, either male or female seem flounder-ish.His people are Manet-like crepes floating over a backdrop.His washes are as flawless as his captions. He uses language as a banana peel. For example: a Vey drawing hanging in this house shows a couple of businessmen leaving a restaurant, going over their check; one man says to the other:

“You’re right — they did charge you for the Heimlich maneuver.”

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I first met Peter in the small coffee shop on the ground floor of the building at 25 West 43rd Street that housed The New Yorker. At the time he resembled a version of a young Roy Orbison – dressed all in black, with jet black hair.  He brought an edge to the tweedy crowd that gathered upstairs on the 20th floor in the magazine’s Art Department. 

 Peter’s work has become a steady presence at the magazine in the 20 years he’s been contributing. He kindly agreed to add his voice to this continuing Ink Spill series. 

Michael Maslin: Peter, let’s go back to 1993 for a moment—hope you don’t mind.  I remember speaking with you when your first drawing appeared in the magazine and you told me that the one that appeared was not actually the first one you sold.  What was that all about?  And did that first sold drawing eventually appear?

Peter Vey: I think I might have been referring to ideas The New Yorker bought from me for Charles Addams. That was in the early 80s.  The Yugoslavia cartoon to the best of my memory, was the first drawing they bought and published.

MM: So you’re a member of the Charles Addams Gagman Club, which includes Jack Ziegler, Leo Cullum, Mick Stevens, Peter Steiner, Frank Modell, myself, and a number of others.  Which ideas of yours did he do?

PV: One had the title HOT TUB SABBATH with three witches in the cauldron having a time of it. The only other one I remember was a business man with a briefcase standing in front of an opening elevator opening onto another elevator opening onto another elevator etc.

MM: Some cartoonists work changes over time, but your drawings –– as long as I’ve seen your work, it’s always looked as it does now — I can’t remember an early Vey period.  What did your drawings look like when you were say, 15?

PV: When I was a teenager my drawings were much more complicated, even ornate.  I filled up as much space as possible with as many lines as I had the energy and stamina to draw.  Which was quite a bit.  An infatuation with the black and white work of Virgil Finlay, Aubrey Beardsley and Peter Max had a lot to do with it.

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MM: I admit not knowing Virgil Finlay’s name/work, so I looked him up  Where were you seeing his work when you were a teenager?

PV: I saw his illustrations in science fiction and fantasy magazines [a Finlay illustration to the left]. I used to read a lot of them when I was a teenager. In fact, I read a lot of science fiction up until a few years ago. I especially like Philip K. Dick, Arthur C. Clarke, J. G. Ballard and Robert Sheckley. Incidentally some of those magazines had cartoons. I remember one of them had a full page Gahan Wilson cartoon every month.

MM:Many cartoonists construct captions that are inherently amusing, some bounce the caption off the drawing, or use the drawing itself as the caption – in your case I often feel ambushed – in the best sense – by your captions. Do you know you’re ambushing us when you write these captions?

PV: I kind of think of it as stopping the thought process or creating a mind freeze by taking an inexplicable or unexpected or unanticipatedturn in a direction that nobody, including myself, was prepared to go.

MM: How did you end up at The New Yorker?  –and please don’t say you went up 6th avenue and made a right on 43rd Street.  What led up to your first sale?

PV: Actually I went up 5th Avenue and made a left.  I started submitting in 1978. I didn’t sell the first drawing till ’93, between ‘93 and ‘97 three or four more. It wasn’t until Bob [Mankoff, the magazine’s current  cartoon editor] became cartoon editor that I started selling regularly. In those days I did a lot cartoons and illustrations for many magazines and newspapers including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. The first gag I ever sold was to Saturday Review in 1979. While waiting for the elevator at the Saturday Review offices I met Bob [Mankoff], Jack [Ziegler] and Mick [Stevens] and they invited me to the Wednesday cartoon lunch. The rest is history.

MM:  Not long ago, you told me that the cartoon collection, The World of George Price was meaningful to you. Price I can see some of Price’s geometry in  your style, but not in an obvious way [to the left: an example of Price’s work].  Meaning that your lines aren’t Sempe-like, but more straight-edged.  Am I totally off on this?

PV: No, you’re not off.  I use the lines to divide the space. I enjoy a pleasing arrangement of space, a balance. Not particularly well balanced but balance that’s interesting, the line just happens, depending on the age and or deterioration of the pen nib.

MM: For many years, up until very recently, I was unable to sell a bar drawing to the magazine. It wasn’t a goal or anything, but it did seem kind’ve odd I couldn’t break through. Is there a cartoon staple that’s so far eluded an OK for you?    

PV: The desert island cartoon. I did hundreds of them, whole batches of them and not one was bought. A lot of those were eventually sold to other markets but most were never seen again.

MM: Is there a typical day of work for you?  Do you tend to follow a –  I hate using this word – routine?

PV: After getting up and making coffee I walk four feet to the computer to check the emails.  When I’m sure I don’t have any I walk a different four feet to the work table where I drink more coffee.  I put a lot of graphite on a lot of paper getting no place. So I get more coffee.

After a while I have a bunch of half done drawings of people in various situations so I start having conversations with them or they have conversations with each other, I’m never sure which. Sometimes I’ll start adding objects or people that don’t seem to belong like a caveman or a toaster. When somebody says something funny I think I have a gag.

MM: When I see you at events, we often end up talking about music rather than cartoons.  Does music play a part in your work day?

PV: I use music as background noise to distract myself so all those “great ideas” can sneak past the forebrain. I start off with Mozart and end up with Sun Ra and Bill Dixon.

MM: Without counting them, I feel as if a good number of your drawings concern business people.  If we were allowed to see your weekly batches, would the batches contain a large percentage of business drawings, or are what we’re seeing in the magazine just happenstance due to editing? (i.e., they just happen to buy a lot of business cartoons when the batches actually contain a wide variety of subjects).

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PV: I do do a lot of business cartoons. I enjoy the spatial dynamics of cubicles and hallways. No really, most of the cartoons I do aren’t really about business. They just happen to be people in an office situationalthough, I suppose, some of them are about business but only because when I start to draw some guy, a lot of times I put a tie on him which suggests to me that he’s probably in an office setting. So I draw an office around him along with other people in work attire. Then the conversation tends to be about the office stuff, which, if things go according to plan, is funny.

MM: You seem such a creature of New York City.  Whether that’s true or not, do you feel as if the city has crept into your cartoon being? 

PV: Oddly enough we did move to Brimfield, Massachusetts more or less for about a year. We lived in the middle of the woods and I took the cat out for walks on a leash. (The life expectancy for an outdoor cat who came from an apartment in the city was about three and a half minutes.) I did a fair number of leash jokes sometimes with trees in the background but the leashes were always attached to dogs and the trees were in a small plot of land surrounded by concrete. So to answer your question, I don’t know.

MM: What’s it like walking a cat on a leash?

PV: At first it was scary. He really didn’t like it. But then after a while he seemed to get used to it or maybe he was ignoring it, becoming very interested in chewing on plants and rubbing against the earth. One day he was so happy to be out there he plopped himself down on the dirt and gravel of the driveway and rolled around basking in the sun. Suddenly the harness gave way but he didn’t even notice. I was terrified he’d see his chance and run away into the mouth of a coyote or a fisher cat. But he stayed right there while I fastened the strap again. I was always concerned that one of the neighbors might see me and use it as a constant source of amusement.

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MM: I wonder: Do you imagine you’d be the same cartoonist if you lived in, oh, I don’t know… Indiana?

PV: Most of the cartoons I do aren’t necessarily about New York but they do take place in New York. If I draw a living room the building outside the window could be the building outside the window of my living room. But then the building across the street was torn down a few years ago and the building that replaced it looks nothing like a building I’d like to draw, so I don’t.

Books by Peter Vey include Cats Are People Too, How to  Be Your Cat’s Best Friend, If Cats Could Talk, and Bad Business: A Rescue Package for the Recession-Weary

His work has appeared in numerous cartoon anthologies and in publications including Barron’sThe Harvard Business Review, National Lampoon, PlayboyThe Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times

To see P.C. Vey’s New Yorker work  click here.

To visit P.C. Vey’s website, click here.

 

Happy Birthday, Mr. Arno

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The late great New Yorker artist, Peter Arno was born 110 years ago today at home in Morningside Heights, New York.  As many regular visitors to Ink Spill know, I began a biography of Mr. Arno back in 1999.   Someday, a publisher willing, Mad At Something: The Life and Times of Peter Arno will be available to all those wishing to know a whole lot more about him.

 

Arno began contributing to The New Yorker in June of 1925 and continued contributing until his death in 1968 (his last cover for the magazine appears above). Over the past fifteen years I’ve asked New Yorker cartoonists to talk to me about Arno.  Today I’ve decided to run a handful of their responses. Some of these cartoonists were contemporaries of Arno’s, and some are in the early phase of their New Yorker cartoonist adventure.

 

 Frank Modell  began contributing cartoons to The New Yorker in 1946.  I first  interviewed Frank in February of 2000 and then again this past Fall.At 95 he is one of the two New Yorker contributors still with us who actually met Arno (Lillian Ross is the other.  Roger Angell told me he spoke with Arno on the phone, but never actually met him).

Let me tell you something about [Arno] – he was a worrier.  As good as he was, and as strong an artist as he was, surprisingly he was the most worried of all the cartoonists about his drawing.  He would call up [The New Yorker’s Art Department] and say,  ‘Did you get that drawing, the finish I sent in – did you print it yet?’  And I’d say no, then he’d say, ‘Don’t print it!  Tell Geraghty I’m doing another one – I don’t want him to print it until I do another one.’  Then he’d send in another version that didn’t look any different than the first.”

 

 

Syd Hoff, who died in 2004, began contributing to The New Yorker in 1931

“Arno belonged to the great era of Benchley, E.B. White, Perelman, etc., the era of the Great Depression and two emerging classes, upper and lower.  Arno belonged to the upper. Who’ll ever forget his Park Avenue types, on their way to a newsreel theater ‘to hiss Roosevelt’? Those bold drawings!  Nobody could imitate them.  They had to come out of the bourgeoisie!  I remember him standing outside 25 West 43rd Street!  He was big and narrow, just like his men, without [the] handlebar mustaches…”


Robert WeberIf you ask 20 cartoonists to name the top ten cartoonists to come out of the post-Harold Ross years, Robert Weber’s name will surely be on that list.  Mr. Weber’s distinctive bold effortless line is a thing to behold.  Mr. Weber will be 90 this coming April. He began contributing to The New Yorker in 1962.

“I wish I had known or even just met Arno and I regret I didn’t.  I’ve always admired his work, particularly his later work for The New Yorker.  I don’t think I ever consciously tried to emulate him, although I’ve learned a lot from his superb sense of composition and drama.  He had a marvelous ability to simplify.  He never permitted anything extraneous, and he developed a powerful style unlike anyone else.  And, of course, he was funny.  Put me down as a big fan.”

 

Alex Gregory began contributing to The New Yorker in  1999. Besides his work for the magazine he works in television and film. 

 “As far as Arno’s impact on me personally, I grew up looking enviously at his drawings in anthologies.  I would say that Arno is the New Yorker artist that I would most like to have emulated yet had the least capacity to do so.  His cartoons are like black-and-white Matisses. but in some ways even more accomplished. – they capture a person’s mood, character, and breeding with just a few thick supremely confident brush strokes.  The art direction in each panel is flawless; characters are placed perfectly, and the action is always expressive without being broad.   And as rich as each image is, he never gets bogged down in any details that could slow down the joke. His drawings appear to be done by a man who has never known a moment of fear or self-doubt in his life.   I suppose it was Arno more than any other cartoonist save Thurber that made me think of cartooning as an actual art form.”

 


Al Ross, who died in 2012, began contributing to The New Yorker in 1937.

“Arno was special.  He was special like Charles Addams was special, and Price was special.  You know what I mean?”

 

George Booth  began sharing his wonderful world of dogs, cats and characters with The New Yorker’s readership in 1969. 

 “Peter Arno’s work stands out and holds up in the test of time. His drawings and words were never timid, or just clever. They stated high quality, joy, confidence, strength, style, humor, idea, life, simplicity.  His color was right; black and white became color.  His cartoons were researched, with words well applied.  The communication was clear and timely.  He knew what he was doing.  Peter Arno was an artist worthy who gave something of value to the world.  A hero.”

 

 

Eldon Dedini,  who died in 2006, began contributing to The New Yorker in 1950.

“[Arno’s] cartoons were a major inspiration to me.  His staging of a gag was masterful in its simplicity.  No extra crap — the point -bang!  Even today when I have trouble with a drawing I ask myself ‘How would Arno do it?’ and look in collections of his for the answer…Arno is still the model for me and for any thinking cartoonist.”

 

Paul Noth  began contributing to The New Yorker in 2004.  Besides his work for the magazine he has also written for television.

“I was attracted to library books of his when I was a kid because of the sexy ladies (I was raised a strict Catholic, so actual nudity was too much for me, but cartoons like his were somehow okay).

 

Mischa Richter,  who died in 2001, began contributing to The New Yorker in 1950.

“A modern Daumier.”

 

Barbara Smaller began  contributing to The New Yorker in  1996.

  “Arno’s sophisticated bad boy sensibilities never resonated with me in the way a William Steig or George Price’s more plebian ones did.  Still there is much I admire about his drawings, particularly his wonderful deep blacks and dramatic compositions.  I also admit to enjoying the People magazine aspects of his private life;  the high highs and the satisfying low lows.  They are an object lesson to all wayward cartoonists!”

 

Henry Martin began contributing to The New Yorker in 1964

 “… Jim Geraghty bought three ideas from me for Arno in 1964 and 1965.  He was the master, but like so many of the greats the idea wells ran dry, but, lord, how they could create memorable drawings.”

 

Kim Warp began contributing to The New Yorker in 1999.

Peter Arno wasn’t the reason I became a cartoonist in particular but he was always part of the cartoon collections  that fascinated me as a child…I was impressed by the graphic power of his drawings ( although I wouldn’t have called it that at the time of course) and by the world he portrayed.  In particular I remember the “I’m checking up for the company, Madam.  Have you any of our fuller Brush men.?” Cartoon which somehow melded in my mind with his man in the shower cartoon. This was a much  more interesting world of possibility than  I was being led to believe existed by 1960s TV shows. When I think of him now I’m struck by the grown-up playfulness and joy of life his cartoons portray which contrasts with the work-obsessedness of today.  Maybe it’s just me but I don’t know too many people who have wild cocktail parties after work or fuller brush men hidden in their apartment.  Everyone is at soccer practice with the kids.”

 

 

Edward Sorel began contributing to The New Yorker in 1990.  Mr. Sorel, I believe, is the closest we’ve come to a modern day Arno. 

“It was Arno, not John Held, Jr. who was the true artist of the Jazz Age. Not only was his canvas much larger—including not only the coeds in their yellow slickers, but rich clubmen, gold-diggers, Hollywood illiterates, the unemployed, and most especially, satyrs and other pursuers of sex. And beyond his subject matter, his style of drawing, so spontaneous looking, is much more in keeping with the spirit of the roaring, anything goes, twenties, than Held’s meticulous, carefully designed cartoons. Once the Jazz Age was over, Held seemed antique, whereas Arno’s style not only kept going, but attracted several imitators.”

 

And last, but certainly not least, William Steig.  Mr. Steig, who died in 2003, began his New Yorker career in 1930.

  “I like his work.”