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.   

 

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!

Advertising Work by New Yorker Cartoonists, Part 13: The Rambler Campaign

Continuing on with the Spill’s series of advertising work by New Yorker Cartoonists (research and scans courtesy of Warren Bernard of SPX) is this great campaign by Rambler from the late 1950s.  Some of the best of the best in the New Yorker’s stable were involved: William Steig, George Price, Whitney Darrow, Jr., Barney Tobey, Chon Day, and Otto Soglow (The Tobey & Price ads are from 1959, the others from 1958).

Here are the Spill’s A-Z entries for the above artists:

William Steig (photo above) Born in Brooklyn, NY, Nov. 14, 1907, died in Boston, Mass., Oct. 3, 2003. In a New Yorker career that lasted well over half a century and a publishing history that contains more than a cart load of books, both children’s and otherwise, it’s impossible to sum up Steig’s influence here on Ink Spill. He was among the giants of the New Yorker cartoon world, along with James Thurber, Saul Steinberg, Charles Addams, Helen Hokinson and Peter Arno. Lee Lorenz’s World of William Steig (Artisan, 1998) is an excellent way to begin exploring Steig’s life and work. NYer work: 1930 -2003.

George Price (above) Born in Coytesville, New Jersey, June 9, 1901. Died January 12, 1995, Engelwood, New Jersey.  New Yorker work: 1929 – 1991. Key collection: The World of George Price: A 55-Year Retrospective. New York: Beaufort, 1988.

Chon Day (self portrait above from Collier’s Collects Its Wits) Born April 6, 1907, Chatham , NJ. Died January 1, 2000, Rhode Island. New Yorker work: 1931 – 1998. Key Collection: I Could Be Dreaming (Robert M. McBride & Co., 1945)

Whitney Darrow, Jr. (photo above) Born August 22, 1909, Princeton, NJ. Died August, 1999, Burlington, Vermont. New Yorker work: 1933 -1982. Quote (Darrow writing of himself in the third person): …in 1931 he moved to New York City, undecided between law school and doing cartoons as a profession. The fact that the [New Yorker’s] magazine offices were only a few blocks away decided him…” (Quote from catalogue, Meet the Artist, 1943). All of Mr. Darrow’s cartoon collections are excellent. Here’s a favorite: “Stop, Miss!” New York: Random House, 1957.

Barney Tobey (photo above from Think Small, a book of humor produced by Volkswagon) Born in New York City, July, 18, 1906, died March 27, 1989, New York. NYer work: 1929 -1986. Key collection: B. Tobey of The New Yorker (Dodd Mead & Co., 1983)

Otto Soglow (pictured above) Born, Yorkville, NY, December 23, 1900. Died in NYC, April 1975. NYer work: 1925 -1974.Key collections: Pretty Pictures ( Farrar & Rinehart, 1931) and for fans of Soglow’s Little King; The Little King (Farrar & Rinehart, 1933) and The Little King ( John Martin’s House, Inc., 1945). The latter Little King is an illustrated storybook. Cartoon Monarch / Otto Soglow & The Little King (IDW, 2012) is an excellent compendium.

 

 

 

Thurber’s Dogs Set to Music; The Spill Responds to a Response; Time Traveling: Saturday Evening Post Cartoons From the 1950s

Thurber’s Dogs Set to Music

Attempted Bloggery has posted this curio: Thurber’s Dogs set to the music of Peter Schickele.  Until yesterday, I’d never heard of this. 

It’s not the first time Thurber’s work has crossed over from print to music. In one of the many high points of Thurber’s career, his best-seller, The Thurber Carnival was transformed into a  a very successful playwith Thurber himself taking the stage. 

A soundtrack for the show was issued –it includes a booklet of his drawings.

The play won a Special Tony Award in 1960.  Video exists of Thurber accepting the award (with Burgess Meredith). You can see it here (Thurber takes the stage at the 25:50 mark).

 

 

 

 

 

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Blog of Interest

In response to The Spill‘s mention of Arnold Zwicky’s Blog the other day,  Mr. Zwicky posted this on his site:

“Note from Michael Maslin on his Inkspill blog (“New Yorker Cartoonists News and Events”), appearing as a comment on a recent posting of mine here:

As you see, Mr. Zwicky’s blog is “mostly about language”; when it’s about the language of New Yorker cartoons it will be mentioned here

This could get burdensome. I’ve posted here over a hundred times about New Yorker cartoons and covers; these are indexed in a Page on this blog, with subpages for (so far) 25 specific artists…”

Ink Spill’s response to Mr. Zwicky’s response:

Dear Mr. Zwicky,

It is a burden The Spill will happily bear.

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Time-Traveling: Saturday Evening Post Cartoons From the 1950s

Mike Lynch’s has posted Eisenhower-era  Saturday Evening Post cartoons (and a few that appeared in Collier’s) including this one from the late great New Yorker cartoonist,  Barney Tobey.

Here’s Mr. Tobey’s A-Z entry on the Spill:

Barney Tobey (photo above from Think Small, a book of humor produced by Volkswagon) Born in New York City, July, 18, 1906, died March 27, 1989, New York. New Yorker work: 1929 -1986. Essential collection: B. Tobey of The New Yorker (Dodd Mead & Co., 1983)

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Note:  An exhibit of Bob Mankoff’s work will run from July 20 through Oct. 20 at the Charles P. Sifton Gallery in the Theodore Roosevelt United States Courthouse in Brooklyn.