The New Yorker section of the upcoming Swann auction is an awful lot of fun. The Addams cover shown above is just one of the gems listed. To see the “3D catalog” go here. Other New Yorker artists whose work is going under the gavel include Charles Barsotti, Bemelmans, Abe Birnbaum, Whitney Darrow, Jr., Richard Decker, Ed Fisher, Heidi Goennel, Edward Gorey, Theodore Haupt, John Held, Jr., Helen Hokinson, Maira Kalman, Arnie Levin, Rick Meyerowitz, Bill Mauldin, Donald Reilly, Mischa Richter, Arnold Roth, Charles Saxon, Ronald Searle, Seth, Steinberg, Tom Toro, and Gahan Wilson.
Podcast of Interest: Gil Roth Interviews Shannon Wheeler
Gil Roth continues his wonderful series of cartoonist interviews with Too Much Coffee Man’s Shannon Wheeler. Hear it here.
— thanks to Attempted Bloggery‘s Stephen Nadler for bringing this to my attention (check out his site for recent posts on two auction pieces: an Arnold Roth drawing and a Charles Addams pencil sketch)
Fave Photo: Liza Donnelly in the New York Yankees dugout with Didi Gregorius
Liza Donnelly recently spent the afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Among the highlights of the day: lending her iPad to the team’s shortstop, Didi Gregorius, for his first tablet drawing. See the short CBS video here.
R.C. Harvey’s From-the-Vault Interview with the late Michelle Urry, Playboy’s Former Cartoon Editor
From TCJ, May 4, 2017, “Magazine Gag Cartoons, Michelle Urry, and Cartooning for Playboy” — an enlightening interview with Ms. Urry, who passed away in October of 2006.
Roz Chast on Fresh Air
The media blitz is on for Ms. Chast’s just-out Going Into Town. Here she is on NPR”s Fresh Air, aired October 2nd(find it just just below the Tom Petty piece).
Interview of Interest: Roxie Munro
From the blog Smack Dab in the Middle, this interview with Ms. Munro who contributed some spectacular covers to The New Yorker, including the one above.
Blog of Interest: A New Yorker State of Mind: Reading Every Issue of The New Yorker
An irresistible site if you love getting in the New Yorker weeds. As you can see the issue in the spotlight this week is dated August 4, 1928. Cover by Julian de Miskey. Read it here.
Latest New Yorker Cartoons Rated
And now back to the future…the Cartoon Companion boys, “Max” & “Simon” look closely at the brand new cartoons in the brand new issue of The New Yorker. Cartoons with salt, sharks, wax, thuggery, punch, groceries dissected. Read it here.
More Hef: Playboy Comedy, Comedians and Cartoons
Thanks to a Facebook post by Mort Gerberg yesterday I was alerted to this brand new book published in late August by Beaufort Books, Playboy Laughs: The Comedy, Comedians and Cartoons of Playboy. According to Mr. Gerberg, the book includes interviews with Arnold Roth, Jules Feiffer, Mike Williams, Don Orehek, Al Jaffee and Mr. Gerberg.
Stephen Nadler over at Attempted Bloggery continues providing a look into New Yorker cartoon auction art and ephemera. Today it’s sheet music from Murray Anderson’s 1929 Almanac (and an Arno Camel ad in the show’s Playbill). Scroll on down the post and you’ll see an auctioned Eldon Dedini original and an incredible horde of originals for a 1937 Macy’s ad campaign by Gregory d’Allesio. Fascinating stuff all. See it here.
“All cartoonists are geniuses, but Arnold Roth is especially so. The first time I saw a Roth drawing, I was zapped…A superabundant creative spirit surges through a Roth drawing like electricity; the lines sizzle.”
— From John Updike’s introduction to Poor Arnold’s Almanac (Fantagraphic Books, 1998).
I’ve been running into Arnold Roth at cartoonist gatherings for about forty years, but it wasn’t until the other day that I heard him mention the covers he created for John Updike’s trio of Bech books, Bech: A Book (published in 1970), Bech Is Back (1982) and Bech at Bay (1998). We continued the subject a few days later over the telephone. Mr. Roth was in his Manhattan studio.
Michael Maslin: Did you ever meet Updike?
Arnold Roth: Yes, we were at a party on Madison Avenue before they put up all the high rises, and we were on the roof; there are still a few left here and there, with the chimneys. I was up there because I was smoking — which I still do. Caroline, my wife, appeared with him and he said he was very glad to meet me — I was astonished.
And then, one year we invited him to the National Cartoonists Society Christmas party. He sat at the president’s table with Mel Lazarus [creator of the comic strips ‘Momma’ and ‘Miss Peach’]. But I did get to chat with him and I met his wife. But mostly it was done through letters and [laughs] very quick phone calls.
In addition to the three covers I did, I did various other drawings for him…two or three personal Christmas cards. I was also involved in those very small printings with hand set type…monographs. I did additional drawings for them. I did send him all the original drawings [of the Bech covers] and he was very nice and gracious and accepted them.
[Updike mentions these drawings by Mr. Roth in his Introduction to The World of William Steig, edited by Lee Lorenz. In a list of original art he owned, Mr. Updike wrote: “The originals of watercolors Arnold Roth painted for the jackets of my three books about Henry Bech, also three terrific ink sketches of Bech that Roth just jotted down, the way you and I would make a quick grocery list.” Also in Mr. Updike’s collection: a Thurber drawing, a Steig drawing, an Arthur Getz New Yorker cover and a caricature by David Levine. “All of these artworks,” Updike wrote, “cheer me up.”]
AR: One of the monographs reprinted a portion of the Beck book when he goes to Europe for the first time. I did at least four additional drawings and maybe more. He sent me a note and he said make sure you draw the four women. Which I did. He called me up afterward and he said, “I can’t believe it. You drew all those women perfectly. They are exactly those women. I don’t know how you do it.” And I said, “Well, I read your descriptions.” [laughs]
MM: Isn’t that what was partly so attractive about his writing. Those descriptions really sucked you in.
AR: Absolutely. It was like watching a movie, every scene raced through that little camera in your brain.
AR: I tell this story sometimes, like when I give talks in art schools, because people ask about those covers. We lived in Princeton then. It was a Friday evening. I had my studio in my house, naturally. The phone rang and it was woman who said, “I’m an art director with Knopf. John Updike has instructed us that he wants you to do a cover for a book that will be coming out, Bech a Book.” I was honored. We put it in action — I sent him a bunch of drawings — some of them ran on the cover flaps. About 11 years later, again — I got a call, and she said, “We have another Bech book.” [Bech Is Back] So same thing, I did the jacket. Thirteen years after that, the phone rings, the same conversation. I raced down to the kitchen where Caroline was making dinner, and said, “Hey — I have a steady gig.”
MM: I love the progression of the covers — the way he loses his hair.
AR: Well he does age in the stories. I thought they were wonderful stories.
MM: That first cover, Bech A Book, was pretty surreal.That figure looks like a thumb or something.
AR: I think there are woman’s faces in the hair if I remember. I just sent him a collection of drawings. I don’t like to do sketches. Because to me it becomes redundant and I feel why not make up a new one. In my hands it would invariably would stiffen up — it’s already been seen and blah blah. On that first book jacket he ran some of the sketches — I just sent him 15 or 20 drawings of Bech, and I said, “Is this okay for what I’m reading? I think it’s a guy that would look like this.” He loved them all and asked if they could use the other ones, and I said sure.
The second cover, I had huge breasts pointed up on the bird, and he asked me if I could take them down a little. Which I did. He and I had invented breast reduction.
MM: On the last cover I looked for women, but I didn’t see any.
AR: Because he’s old. I think what I did — I wouldn’t bet on this — on the last one, I might’ve sent 2 or 3 variations. Usually I didn’t do the finished drawing. You know — if you like it, send it back and I’ll paint it. But I’m pretty sure I just did finished drawings for that last one and that was the one he chose.
MM: Did you base your drawing of Bech on any one person, or combination of persons — or was he conjured straight out of your imagination?
AR: I would have had in mind any description of Bech’s features mentioned in the text but I made up what you see in the drawings. All based on any of the descriptive bits and my “feeling” for how such a guy might look. How others react to him, his own considerations of his general appearance, etc.. No Laurence Olivier he. But not Stan Laurel, either.
The Chris Beetles Gallery (across the pond) is putting on, according to the gallery, “the largest and most popular annual event worldwide for cartoon and illustration collectors.”
More from the Gallery:
One substantial section of the exhibition allows British illustration to be considered in the context of the parallel American tradition. The sinuous line of Al Hirschfeld (1903-2003) caught the essence of theatrical performance for over eight decades in his caricatures for The New York Times… Similarly, David Levine (1926-2009) portrayed luminaries of the literary world for The New York Review of Books, including great writers from Akhmatova to Voltaire. This tradition is brought up to date by major examples of the work of those living masters, Ed Sorel and Arnold Roth – the second of whom will open the show with characteristic wit and aplomb.
(My thanks to Bob Eckstein for bringing this exhibit to my attention)