The Monday Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue of July 2, 2018

  Link here to read what Barry Blitt had to say about his tied-in to the headlines cover (shown above).

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One of these days I’m going to gather all the New Yorker covers that’ve incorporated the Statue of Liberty. For now, I took a look back to see when Lady Liberty first appeared on a New Yorker cover. Surprisingly, it took awhile to show up what with the the magazine being, in those earliest of issues, so New York City-centric. Its debut was on the Sue Williams cover of September 7, 1929:

 The Statue’s next appearance was on the cover of June 24, 1939, when artist Leonard Dove incorporated it humorously:

It wasn’t until the end of WW2 that the statue appeared again — in the issue dated the week the war ended with Japan’s surrender. Alan Dunn shows us a troop ship arriving home in New York Harbor; soldiers are sticking their heads out of portholes, looking to see Lady Liberty way off in the distance, her silhouette just barely decipherable. Graphically speaking, in this instance less is powerfully more.

And now on to the current issue, close to seventy-three years later.  From the Dept. of Just Sayin’:  21 illustrations this week, 3 of them full pages. Just 10 cartoons (plus one full page by Ed Steed).

Noting two of the ten this week: Roz Chast makes excellent use of one of the cartoonist’s handiest tools: the hot dog cart. In this case it’s floss being sold not franks. What I really like about Ms. Chast’s cartoon is that it falls into the wonderful New Yorker cartoon vein of being both surprising and highly relatable. It delivers on Peter Arno’s definition of a good cartoon: a drawing that deals a one-two punch.  If the Spill handed out ribbons like they do over on the Cartoon Companion site, this cartoon would be awarded one. The Spill does, however, applaud.

The other cartoon noted is by Seth Fleishman.  Bulls driving racing cars at Pamplona, with the lead car driven by a person.  A lovely drawing. I believe there are at least two Charles Addams cartoons with a moose driving a car, but bulls driving cars is a rarity. One somewhat closer to Mr. Fleishman’s that comes readily to mind (forgive me) is a drawing of mine from the ancient times. It appeared in The New Yorker, March 7, 1989 — technically, those are steer.

 

For the record, your honor, here’s the list of cartoonists in the issue (the aforementioned Mr. Steed’s page is listed higher up on the Table of Contents):

Lastly, here’s Rea Irvin’s iconic masthead from The New Yorker.  It disappeared in May of 2017, bafflingly replaced by a redrawn version. For more on this, go here.

— See you next week

  

 

  

 

 

 

No Joke: Rea Irvin’s April 1947 Cover

The cover above has always been a favorite. The first time I came across it I thought I’d stumbled upon a printing error. But no, it’s yet another gift from Rea Irvin, cover artist, designer (as in his designs for the magazine’s masthead, as well as his adapted development of the typeface), cartoonist, “art supervisor” (his unofficial or official designation at the New Yorker). 

The rest of the issue is a lot of fun too. An Addams so-called “Addams Family” drawing (“We’ve had part of this floor finished off for Uncle Eimer”); a Richard Taylor strip that runs across the bottom of two pages; a half-page Hokinson “lunch club ladies” cartoon; a Sam Cobean shadow play drawing; a page and-a-half Steinberg spread under the heading “Berlin” and so much more (other cartoonists in the issue: Otto Soglow, Alan Dunn, Barney Tobey, Robert Day, Whitney Darrow, Jr., Alain, and Leonard Dove). Typical of the era, the cartoons dominated the pages, as if the text was secondary to the art.

50 Years Ago This Week: Peter Arno’s Last New Yorker Cartoon

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.   

 

Cartoons Holding “A Mirror Up to the War Effort”: The New Yorker War Album… & More

The New Yorker War Album, published in 1942, was the very first themed Album of the magazine’s cartoons. Peter Arno’s cover from the issue of February 28, 1942 was selected as the cover.  As so often the case for the Album series an Arno drawing led off the collection (“Of course if they don’t bomb Sutton Place, I’m going to look like a damn fool.”)

There is no introduction to the work — only the flap copy shown below. “Spot” artists (Susanne Suba being an example) are credited along with the cartoonists.

The back cover, mostly a green field, has a small Alan Dunn caption-less drawing floating in the center:

The War Album follows in line with all the previous Albums in size, quality of layout, and of course, quality of drawings.  The bottom line with these Albums: if you see one, buy it.

Below, a spread with a Roberta MacDonald multi-panel across the top, a Barbara Shermund drawing lower left and a Perry Barlow lower right.

Along with the War Album the New Yorker produced a number of special publications during the war:

The Pony Editions.

These were smaller versions of the magazine, 6″ x 9″, given free to servicemen and servicewomen. These were not exact duplicates of the regular editions of the magazine — they carried no advertising and editorial content was juggled. One striking difference: the back cover was a full page cartoon (as shown above). According to Thomas Kunkel in his Ross biography Genius In Disguise, these editions began appearing in September of 1943 and were discontinued shortly after the end of the war.

The New Yorker War Cartoons.

Paperback, and, like the Pony Editions, 6″ x 9″.  Published in 1945, with an introduction by E.J. Kahn, Jr.. Cartoons with Talk pieces throughout.

The New Yorker Cartoons with The Talk of the Town

Also published in 1945 (and also 6″ x 9″)  Hardcover and softcover editions. An introduction by Russell Maloney.

I like Mr. Maloney’s introduction so much I’m showing a portion below (the whole piece can be found here):

Armed Services Editions.

Judging by the list of available titles provided at the end of each edition there were close to a thousand titles issued during the war (a wide variety, from Mark Twain to Thackeray).  I don’t have a complete list so I’m in the dark about which New Yorker-related  titles were issued other the one shown here, The Thurber Carnival, The New Yorker’s Baedeker, The New Yorker Profiles, and Thurber’s Let Your Mind Alone. (If anyone knows of more please let me know).  These special publications were very small: 3 3/4″ x 5 1/2″ — small enough to fit in a soldier’s pocket.  There was a Bill Maudlin Armed Services title published (it’s #822, Up Front). Technically, he was a New Yorker cartoonist with one drawing published,  April 1, 1950.  But that appeared five years after Up Front was published in 1945.  Splitting hairs, I know.  

 

 

 

The “Brightest and Most Malicious Drawings”: The Third New Yorker Album

An appropriate cover this New Year’s Eve as we trudge into 2018. 

By the time the Third New Yorker Album hit the shelves in 1930, the party that was the roaring twenties was over. What you see in the book are drawings from the tail end of the roar: night clubs, good times, frivolity…you know, like that.  The cover, by Peter Arno, originally appeared on the New Yorker‘s ninth issue following the stock market crash. It was Arno’s second album cover in a row, and the second time one of his full page drawings led off an album (the first time was the first album).

The Foreward, credited to The New Yorker, is full of interesting tidbits, considering the magazine was just five years old:

It is true that the working conditions of artist’s improve from year to year, and that artists get better as they get older. All of the New Yorker artists are now old. Two of them are in their late thirties, when the creative impulse either atrophies or turns a bright green…

...fifty years hence these albums will be looked at by adults as they are now looked at by children: gravely and with a wide-eyed wonder, slowly absorbing the physical details, ironical aspects, and fragmentary emotions of a past age. This is probably the true purpose of these albums. as far as they have any purpose other than adding to the artists’ royalties.

I’m not so sure about the “working conditions for artists improving from year to year” but these early albums do show certain artists getting “better” over time, whether it’s Barney Tobey, or Otto Soglow, or Alan Dunn. But maybe “getting better” isn’t right– maybe “transforming” is more accurate. From this album to the next and the next, certain styles solidify, the drawing becomes more confident, the caption writing improves; some styles change completely. And then there are those artists who are as good in this Third Album  as they will ever be.  Reginald Marsh’s work is spectacular, as is Helen Hokinson’s, Rea Irvin’s, Gluyas Williams’, and John Held’s. Arno is still in his earlier phase, as is Garrett Price, Mary Petty, and a number of others. It’s fun seeing this earlier work, knowing what’s to come — and it’s fun watching it develop from album to album.

On the back cover, this drawing by Garrett Price:

This was the second album of New Yorker cartoons I acquired (it was a gift) back in my late teenage years when I was paying a lot more attention to studying New Yorker cartoons than studying whatever one is supposed to be studying in school. This Third Album was my New Yorker cartoon primer, along with the 1925-1975 Album, the Thurber Carnival , and the highly inspirational contemporaneous cartoons in the weekly issues.

  Here’s the copy on the Third Album‘s inside front flap, and the inside back flap:

— Happy New Year to all!

“All Right — Go Ahead and Look at Your Old Pictures!” — Robert Benchley in His Foreword to The Fourth New Yorker Album

The Fourth New Yorker Album of drawings, published in 1931 by Doubleday Doran, was the fourth Album to appear in four years (the first Album was published in 1928).  Four in four years! The cover, originally a New Yorker cover (for the issue of January 4, 1930 — see directly below) is the handiwork of the one-and-only Rea Irvin, the fellow responsible for Eustace Tilley, as well as the fellow responsible for adapting the typeface now referred to as the Irvin Typeface…and last but not least of all: the fellow who, in his role as the New Yorker‘s art supervisor, “rubbed most of the uncouthness and corn-love out of [Harold] Ross’s mind in the all afternoon Tuesday art conferences…Irvin educated Ross; all afternoon, weekly, for nearly two years.” (according to Philip Wylie, the magazine’s first “bona fide applicant”).

The Foreword, by Robert Benchley is, of course, priceless.  It includes these memorable moments:

 “As a constant though erratic contributor of text matter to the New Yorker and one or two other publications, I feel that I am in a position to state the (to me) distressing fact that the average magazine reader looks only at the drawings.”

“There is something consecutive about the drawings in the New Yorker, like salted almonds. You finish with one and you must go right on to the next just as quickly as possible.”

Mr. Benchley concludes with: “All right — go ahead and look at your old pictures!”

The old pictures — just a year old at most — are fantastic.  The Album leads off with a full page Peter Arno (by now the New Yorker‘s star cartoonist) and ends in what I find to be one of the sweetest final pages in all of the magazine’s Albums.  It’s not a grand exercise in drawing, or a famous drawing or a drawing with a caption that captures the times (it being 1931, there certainly could’ve been a statement made about the Great Depression.  But, ah!  Mr. Irvin’s cover of the overblown rich gent accomplished that).  The final drawing, by Alan Dunn (shown below) is just 2 1/4″ x 3″ (centered on an 8 1/2″x 11″ page):

Placed as the Album’s last drawing I can’t help but think its meant to mean something beyond two little kids sitting on a curb who have just become friends, or as Neil Young sang, “There’s more to the picture than meets the eye.” Perhaps (perhaps!) it was representative of a confident young magazine slyly addressing a loyal readership.

In between Mr. Arno’s drawing on the first page and Mr. Dunn’s drawing on the last page are an abundance of spectacular drawings. And by that I’m not referring to just the drawing —  I mean the whole cartoon: caption + drawing (as well as those gems that work perfectly without a caption). There are of course, some drawings with meanings lost to time, a clunker here and there, and a number that are not politically correct.  But no matter — they are instructive as an unvarnished graphic record of a time, and as a study in the art of the cartoonists themselves: the early Thurber drawings that inspired Dorothy Parker to refer to them as “unbaked cookies”;  Arno’s drawings at the tail end of his Daumier-inspired period, just before he swung into Rouault’s camp;  masterful drawings by, among others, Garrett Price, Ralph Barton, Helen Hokinson, Wallace Morgan, William Steig, Carl Rose, Gardner Rea, and Gluyas Williams (of course!). Below are just a few examples of the art within the Fourth:

 

The back of the Album is a first: an advertisement for another New Yorker publication: The New Yorker Scrapbook, comprised of “text matter” to use Mr. Benchley’s words. Despite the ad exhibiting glimpses of art, there is not a single drawing in the Scrapbook, not even a spot.

 

Perhaps this is as good a time as any in this Sunday series to drag out an essay I wrote back in 2008 (slightly updated this morning), “The Art Meeting: A Potted History.” Many of the albums discussed here, thus far, and those to come, exhibit work chosen under the magazine’s earliest editorial “process” during the magazine’s first 25 years. The format changed in 1952, with William Shawn’s installation as the magazine’s editor.  That model (or at least a version of that model)  is still in place today. Two very different ways of choosing the magazine’s art, both worth examining:

It’s tempting to believe that the structure of The New Yorker’s Art Department arrived fully formed in 1924 when Harold Ross, with his wife Jane Grant began pulling together his dream magazine. But of course, such was not the case.

What we know for certain is that once the first issue was out, Ross and several of his newly hired employees began meeting every Tuesday afternoon to discuss the incoming art submissions. The very first art meetings consisted of Ross, his Art Director, Rea Irvin, Ross’s secretary, Helen Mears, and Philip Wylie, the magazine’s first utility man. In no short order, Ralph Ingersoll, hired in June of ’25 joined the art meeting, and later still, Katharine White (then Katharine Angell), hired in August of ’25, began sitting in.

From James Thurber’s account in The Years With Ross we get a good idea of what took place at the meeting, which began right after lunch and ended at 6 pm:

In the center of a long table in the art meeting room a drawing board was set up to display the week’s submissions…Ross sat on the edge of a chair several feet away from the table, leaning forward, the fingers of his left hand spread upon his chest, his right hand holding a white knitting needle which he used for a pointer…Ross rarely laughed outright at anything. His face would light up, or his torso would undergo a spasm of amusement, but he was not at the art meeting for pleasure.

William Maxwell, who joined The New Yorker’s staff in 1936, told the Paris Review in its Fall 1982 issue:

Occasionally Mrs. White would say that the picture might be saved if it had a better caption, and it would be returned to the artist or sent to E. B. White, who was a whiz at this… Rea Irvin smoked a cigar and was interested only when a drawing by Gluyas Williams appeared on the stand.

And from Dale Kramer’s Ross and The New Yorker:

When a picture amused him Irvin’s eyes brightened, he chuckled, and often, because none of the others understood art techniques, gave a little lecture. There would be a discussion and a decision. If the decision was to buy, a price was settled on. When a picture failed by a narrow margin the artist was given a chance to make changes and resubmit it. Irvin suggested improvements that might be made, and Wylie passed them on to the artists.

In a letter to Thurber biographer, Harrison Kinney, Rogers Whitaker, a New Yorker contributor from 1926 – 1981, described the scene in the magazine’s offices once the art meeting ended:

The place was especially a mess after the weekly art meeting. 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 Ross wanted done.

Wylie was one of many artist “hand-holders” – the bridge between the editors and the artists. Some others who held this position were Thurber (briefly, in 1927), Wolcott Gibbs, Scudder Middleton, and William Maxwell. According to Maxwell, Katharine White’s hand-holding duties were eventually narrowed to just Hokinson and Peter Arno, the magazine’s prized artists.

Lee Lorenz wrote in his Art of The New Yorker that, in the earliest years, the look of the magazine:

had been accomplished without either an art editor in the usual sense or the support of anything one could reasonably call an art department.

That changed in 1939 when former gagman, James Geraghty was hired. As with so much distant New Yorker history, there’s some fuzziness concerning exactly what Geraghty was hired to do. Geraghty, in his unpublished memoir, wrote that he took the job “without any inkling” of what was required of him. There’ve been suggestions in numerous accounts of New Yorker history, that Geraghty was hired as yet another in the lengthening line of artist hand-holders, in this case, succeeding William Maxwell, who was increasingly pre-occupied with his own writing as well as his editorial duties under Katharine White.

Geraghty, in his memoir, recalled his first art meeting and the awkwardness of sitting next to Rea Irvin: two men seemingly sharing one (as yet unofficial, unnamed) position: Art Editor. While E.B. White and others continued to “tinker” with captions, Geraghty began spending one day a week working exclusively on captions. He also adopted the idea that he was the Artists’ “representative” at meetings, following Ross’s assurance that Geraghty was being paid “to keep the damned artists happy.”

With these new components, the art meeting committee model stayed in place until the death of Ross in December of 1951. When William Shawn officially succeeded Ross in January of 1952, he pared the meeting to two participants: Shawn, and Geraghty.

With Geraghty’s retirement in 1973, and Lee Lorenz’s appointment as Art Editor, the art meetings continued with Lorenz and Shawn. Shawn’s successor, Robert Gottlieb and then Tina Brown, subdivided the Art Department, creating a Cartoon Editor, an Art Editor (for covers) and an Illustration Editor. Lorenz, who was in the midst of these modern day changes, lays them out in detail in his Art of The New Yorker.

Today, the Shawn model Art Meeting continues, with the current editor, David Remnick looking through the pile of drawings the current cartoon editor, Emma Allen, has distilled from the mountain submitted to the magazine. The cartoonists no longer wait outside the Art Meeting’s door for the verdict on their work, but I assure you: wherever they are on a Friday afternoon (when the artists are notified if they’ve sold a drawing): they’re waiting.

— originally posted, February 18, 2012