James Stevenson’s Life & Work Celebrated

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friends, relatives, and colleagues gathered yesterday morning at the Century Association in Manhattan to honor the late New Yorker Artist & Writer, James Stevenson. Among those from The New Yorker were Danny Shanahan, Arnie Levin, Anne Hall Elser, Roger Angell, Kennedy Fraser, Susan Morrison, Anthony Hiss, Mark SingerThe New Yorker’s “Jack-of-All-Trades” Stanley Ledbetter, the New Yorker‘s former Television Critic, Nancy Franklin and the magazine’s former Art Editor/Cartoon Editor, Lee Lorenz.

A blow-up of one of Mr. Stevenson’s color pieces hung behind a podium where guests made their way to recall movingly and often hilariously, Mr. Stevenson.

On our way out, we were offered a jar of  Creamy Skippy Peanut Butter (a Stevenson favorite), as well as the booklet of drawings shown above, and partially below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

James Stevenson Born, NYC, 1929. Died, February 17, 2017, Cos Cob, Connecticut.  New Yorker 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.

A 2013 Ink Spill piece of interest: James Stevenson’s Secret Job

 

CBS Sunday Morning to Run a Jack Ziegler Piece; New York Times Ziegler Obit Posted; One of The New Yorker’s Greatest Cartoonists, Jack Ziegler,Has Died; New Yorker Cartoonists Pay Tribute

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CBS Sunday Morning will air a piece on Jack Ziegler tomorrow between 9 and 10.

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The New York Times obit for Jack is online (it includes a slideshow of 14 cartoons).  Read it here.

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Jack Ziegler, one of The New Yorker’s greatest cartoonists, passed away this morning in Kansas City. Last October I interviewed Jack — we had such a good time and there was so much to cover that it spread into two parts. Jack selected the above photo to run with one part of the interview — a fitting photo to run today.   I believe that it’s best to let that interview serve, for today, as my appreciation for the friend I loved and respected.

The Jack Ziegler Interview, Pt.1

The Jack Ziegler Interview, Pt. 2

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s Ink Spill’s “New Yorker Cartoonists A-Z” entry for Jack:

Jack Ziegler Born, Brooklyn, NY July 13, 1942. Died, Kansas City, March 29, 2017.  NYer work: 1974 – . Key collections: all of Ziegler’s collections are must-haves. Here’re some favorites: Hamburger Madness (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978), Filthy Little Things ( Doubleday/Dolphin, 1981) and The Essential Jack Ziegler, Complied and Edited by Lee Lorenz ( Workman, 2000)

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Tributes From Jack’s Colleagues Are Coming In: 

Peter Steiner:

It’s hard for me to imagine that my friend and colleague Jack Ziegler is no more. He was a really lovely man. He and I did not see each other that often, but when we did, it was a pure joy for me. I said colleague because we were both cartoonists. But Jack was in a league of his own. His funniness was funnier by far than most other funniness. His superb drawing skills came from a place only he could inhabit. And there was a decency and humanity in his cartoons that made them irresistible. I already miss him badly.

Roxie Munro:

So so sad. Jack had a unique cartoon style, and was a really sweet guy. I remember when I had just started coming into the New Yorker on Tuesdays…one day, nervously sitting in the little “waiting room” outside Lee’s office, a tall bearded guy (Jack) asked me what I was doing there. Full of fear and trembling, I told him I was bringing in a cover idea. “Well,” he said, “Someone has to do it. Might as well be you.” It was perfect – gave great context, relaxed me, and I’ve never forgotten his insightful, and kind, comment.

Mort Gerberg:

Jack Ziegler’s death this morning was a heavy body blow.  Not only because Jack was one of the great modern-day cartoonists, but because, in this contemporary world of truly bad people, Jack was one of the truly good ones. Jack and I were friends —mostly by long-distance —- but the quality of the contacts we did have were what counted for me — and I relished sharing common interests and values with him that were of the world outside the single panel.  Jack was an old-fashioned, generous, straight-ahead, sensitive good guy — with no bullshit or artifice about him, all seasoned with a warm, wicked sense of humor; his attitude to life was direct and refreshing, and I admired it

His cartoons had their own zany, surreal vocabulary, delivered in his unique voice. I thought he was enormously talented and one of the most exciting “new” cartoonists to appear in the ’70s. His drawings and compositions were as clean and precise as his studio space and he worked hard on them. I met him when he was making his first appearance with a cartoon batch at The Saturday Review, to see Norman Cousins. We liked each other right from “oh, are you cartoonist too?” He told me he had written a novel and was working on other writing but was going to try cartooning; he later told me that he was very surprised that he liked cartooning more than writing. Lucky for the world; Jack left a large, deep footprint.

Tom Toro:

Jack Ziegler and I lived near one another for the last few years – a forty-five minute drive apart, which counts as close neighbors in the Midwest.  I visited Jack as often as I could and we became casual friends.  By the gentle, humble way he carried himself you’d never guess that he was a rare genius.  His influence on cartoonists cannot be overestimated, nor can his generosity as a companion and mentor.  Jack gave me an original drawing as a gift after we’d first met – a cartoon of two prisoners.  One is holding a book and weeping uncontrollably while his cellmate says, “Hey, it’s ‘Crime and Punishment.’  You had to know the second half was going to suck.'”  Jack’s joke seems sadly appropriate today.  The second half of whatever comes next, minus Ziegler, is going to suck.  Rest in peace, sir.
One afternoon Jack took me to a used bookstore in downtown Lawrence, The Dusty Bookshelf.  We naturally gravitated toward the Comics & Cartoons section, a dimly lit nook at the far back, where down on the bottom shelf the spine of a George Booth anthology peeked out at us.  A prize find.  But it was wedged in tight.  Together we attempted to pry it from the stack but it wouldn’t budge, and at some point during the comical struggle Jack looked over at me and said, “This is pretty much our relationship to George.”  How apt, how funny and humble – in other words, a patented Ziegler observation.  Even as a living legend himself, he didn’t hesitate to join a fellow fanboy on all fours to dig out a secondhand edition of wonderful cartoons.  And maybe it was Jack’s curiosity, openness and utter lack of pretense that in turn raised him to true greatness.

 

 

 

The New Yorker is beginning to post tributes from Jack’s colleagues. Click on the following…

Peter Steiner Pencilled; Jeremy Nguyen Profiled

Peter Steiner, who brought us this classic New Yorker cartoon, tells us about his tools of the trade on Jane Mattimoe’s latest Case For Pencils. Read it here!

Link to Peter Steiner’s website.

 

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Jeremy Nguyen, whose first cartoon appeared in The New Yorker this past February, is the subject of this brief profile in Bedford + Bowery.

Link to Jeremy Nguyen’s website.

R.C. Harvey’s Trip Down Mankoff Lane

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.

Ann McCarthy, New Yorker Cartoonist and Cover Artist, Has Died

 

Ann McCarthy, who contributed twenty-two cartoons and six covers to The New Yorker between May 1988 through December 1992, has died, according to her daughter.

Liza Donnelly, In her book, Funny Ladies, a history of the New Yorker‘s female cartoonists,  had this, in part, to say about Ms. McCarthy:

Ann McCarthy grew up in New York City. She says she drew as soon as she could sit at a table., and in school she got excused from naptime to go draw. McCarthy says she didn’t aspire to draw cartoons similar to what she saw in The New Yorker, but she knew she wanted to be as funny. 

She began her career as an illustrator, and at the suggestion of her book editor, she called The New Yorker to set up an appointment [with the magazine’s Art Editor, Lee Lorenz]. He was familiar with her work and told her to ‘bring everything down.’ She sold her first cover on that visit and began selling her drawings.

Ms. Donnelly quotes Lee Lorenz as saying of McCarthy’s work: “The ridiculousness of her work is that someone would spend so much time drawing a joke.”

According to the March 26th notice in The New York Times, Ms. McCarthy taught at Parsons School of Design, and attended The Art Students League of New York; her work outside the New Yorker “ranged from record jacket designs for United Artists and Polydor, to illustrations for publications including The New York Times, Time Magazine, and Institutional Investor. She did book covers for the late author Frederic Morton…as well as for Alicia Miller’s first novel, Home Bodies.”

 

 

 Ink Spill’s “New Yorker Cartoonists A-Z” entry for Ms. McCarthy:

Ann McCarthy Weisman,  (photo courtesy of Katie Weisman) Born, New York,  January 9, 1939.  Died, March 15, 2017.  New Yorker work: May 30, 1988 – December 1992.  Ms. McCarthy contributed six covers and 22 drawings to the magazine. Her Ink Spill appreciation here

 

 

 

 

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

“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”)