Published in The New Yorker, May 25, 2015
On this day, besides thinking of the song, “My Funny Valentine”(the Elvis Costello version), I always think of this great Charles Addams New Yorker cover that appeared February 16, 1981 — it was also used as the cover for his 1981 collection, Creature Comforts. It just might be my all-time favorite Addams cover (magazine & book).
And please forgive this personal bit of New Yorker trivia here, but I believe I only had one Valentine’s Day cartoon published in all these years, published in the 91st anniversary issue, February 22, 2016:
Every so often the Spill likes to take a look at the last cartoon published by one of the magazine’s artists. This week it’s a drawing by Peter Arno — the cartoonist the New Yorker‘s Roger Angell called “the magazine’s first genius.” I won’t go on and on here about why Arno is one of the magazine’s greatest — some say the greatest of the magazine’s artists, but if you want more on the subject there is a biography of him floating around (forgive me for lifting the bolded passage below from the aforementioned biography).
(Above: Arno’s drawing as it appeared in the issue)
Sometime in the fall of 1967, Arno finished working on a full-page drawing of Pan blowing on his pipes as he frolicked through a glade. In the forefront of the picture is a young, well-endowed woman, who says to him, “Oh, grow up!” Brendan Gill [in his wonderful book, Here At The New Yorker] described the drawing this way:
“…in content and composition it was a characteristic piece of work…the drawing is a matter of some forty or fifty bold strokes of black against white, bound together by a gray wash; it has been built up as solidly as a fortress, though built in fun, and its dominant note is one of youthful zest. Nobody could ever tell that it was the work of an aging man, let alone a dying one.”
“Oh, grow up!” wasn’t the last Arno published by the New Yorker. His last cover appeared the following June, and the magazine has, from time-to-time brought out one of his older covers or drawings. But it was certainly the last published in his lifetime. The drawing appeared in the anniversary issue, dated February 24th, 1968. It would’ve been out on the newsstands a week earlier, the week of February 18. Arno died on February 22.
If you have access to the New Yorker‘s digital edition or happen to have a print copy, it’s certainly worth a visit to this issue — it’s a gem. Rea Irvin’s Eustace Tilley is, of course, on the cover (and Mr. Irvin’s classic masthead for the Talk of The Town is in its place). The issue’s cartoons are by some of the greatest names on the magazine’s roster of artists (the magazine had a history of making sure the anniversary issue was loaded up with a good number of its big guns. In my Arno research I came across a note to Arno from the New Yorker‘s founder and first editor, Harold Ross expressing concern he (Ross) did not have a Arno drawing available for the upcoming anniversary issue).
In this issue you’ll find terrific cartoons by Robert Weber, Alan Dunn, George Price, James Stevenson, William Steig, Steinberg, Richard Decker, Warren Miller, Frank Modell, Syd Hoff, Charles Addams, Whitney Darrow, Jr., Lee Lorenz, Mischa Richter, and Barney Tobey. (At this particular time the magazine’s stable of cartoonists was all male. Mary Petty’s piece appeared in 1966, and Nurit Karlin’s work did not begin appearing until 1974).
Next week, the Spill will return with its usual Monday Tilley Watch.
The first time I saw this album I was rooting through boxes of books at a yard sale. My first thought, just seeing the cover (and before picking up the book) was that this was a galley. The cover, mostly white and devoid of drawings except for Rea Irvin’s Eustace Tilley floating in an orange oval frame, reminded me of a New Yorkery version of the Beatles so-called White Album. The back cover, however, doesn’t continue the Beatles’ theme — as you see below it’s chock full of drawings. Captionless drawings are scattered about among the captioned (but the captions aren’t shown). So what you focus on is the art itself — the art of the drawing. And of course it’s great stuff.
Looking at the list of contributors, one might notice that James Thurber’s name doesn’t appear. The first time in this string of Albums that’s happened. Thurberites will know that the master had pretty much stopped drawing by the mid 1950s. His last published drawing in his lifetime is said to have graced the Thurber cover story of TIME magazine in July 9, 1951.
Also missing from the line-up is Rea Irvin. Mr. Irvin’s remarkable presence as an ongoing contributor and art supervisor ended with the arrival of William Shawn as editor in early 1952 (for more on the evolution of the Art Meeting, please go to the Spill’s Posted Notes and scroll way way down to the February 18, 2012 entry: “The New Yorker’s Art Meeting: A Potted History”). The decade of 1955-1965 saw a good number of additions to the New Yorker‘s stable of artists under the art editorship of James Geraghty: Robert Censoni (1963), Joseph Farris (1956), Robert Grossman (1962), J.B. “Bud” Handelsman (1961), Stan Hunt (1956), B. Kliban (1963), Edward Koren (1962), Fernando Krahn (1962), Lee Lorenz (1955), Henry Martin (1964), Warren Miller (1959), Robert Muccio (1964), Alphonse Normandia ((1957), Charles O’Glass (1960), Bruce Petty (1959), Donald Reilly (1964), Charles Sauers (1956), Francis Smilby (1962), James Stevenson (1956), Jack Tippet (1963), Robert Weber (1962), and Rowland Wilson (1961). Some of these newbies only appeared once, while others went on to become core contributors. Six of them are part of the Spill‘s K club ( a club of 23 members at present) with cartoons appearing in the magazine over a thousand times (Koren, Lorenz, Miller, Reilly, Stevenson, and Weber).
As usual with any album designed by Carmine Peppe, the layout of the book is great. There is no introduction, just inside front flap copy that includes the quote I placed in the heading of this post. Mr. Peppe, whose sense of graphic balance is more than admirable, managed to fill the pages without crowding them.
Without counting spreads in previous albums, I feel as if this album has plenty more than usual, with Steig, Stevenson, Steinberg, and Saxon well represented. Peter Arno also has a spread in this album, originally presented as a double page spread in the issue of September 10, 1960.
I think of this album as the linchpin connecting the founders’ era to the present. The very next album, an anthology celebrating the magazine’s first 50 years, introduced the beginning of the modern era that included the Godfather of Contemporary New Yorker Cartoonists, Jack Ziegler.
A benefit of taking another look through all of these New Yorker albums is the occasional discovery of someone somehow missed in the Spill‘s decade of cartoon detective work. In this case, two cartoonists popped up who are not on the A-Z: Anthony Scott and Alphonse Normandia. Anthony Scott signed his drawings “Anthony” — unfortunately, he does not appear in the Complete New Yorker database and so I’m left in the dark as to the arc of his New Yorker cartoon career (anyone out there with info, please advise). As for Mr. Normandia, his work appeared in the magazine three times, between December 28, 1957 and December 5, 1959. I’ll be adding this info to the A-Z this afternoon.
The current president is the subject of 4/5s of this past week’s Daily Cartoons. Only Lars Kenseth’s cowboy stock market drawing did not reference Mr. Trump. The other New Yorker cartoonists represented: Peter Kuper (twice), Pat Byrnes, and Jason Chatfield (with Scott Dooley).
Over on Daily Shouts, New Yorker cartoonists Tom Chitty, Liana Finck (continuing her advice column), and Ed Steed contributed.
A New Yorker Cover is Honored
Here’s Michael Cavna’s Comic Riffs piece about David Plunkert’s cover of August 28, 2017, named cover of the year by the American Society of Magazine Editors.
The Cartoon Companion’s “Max” & “Simon” dig deep into the New Yorker‘s 93rd Anniversary issue cartoons. Fourteen cartoons & fourteen cartoonists. Read it here.