Book of Interest: Punch Cartoons in Color


Coming in October, The Best of Punch Cartoons in Colour.

From the publisher’s description:

Punch‘s move into color illustrations early in the 20th century is now all but unknown. The magnificent results are shown in this collection with hundreds of stunning cartoons from the 1920 through 1992. Showcased here are exquisite illustrations from E. H. Shepard, Art Deco masterpieces from Fougasse, and the eccentrically whimsical creations of Rowland Emett. Other greats represented include H. M. Bateman, Arthur Watts, Anton, Ronald Searle, Russell Brockbank, Quentin Blake, Ralph Steadman, Trog, Mike Williams, Stan Eagles, and more. There are special features on the brilliant caricatures, the magazine’s take on the Royal Family, the funny and poignant cartoons of World War II, and more.


For many years The New Yorker and the now defunct Punch “shared” artists such as Fougasse, Ronald Searle, Henry Martin, Ed Fisher, Michael ffolkes, J.B. “Bud” Handelsman, Kenneth Mahood, Leslie Starke, Dana Fradon, Lou Myers, and Rowland B. Wilson.

In the introduction to a much earlier collection, The Punch Line (Simon & Schuster, 1969) there’s this quaint passage regarding cross-over cartoons :

“…most of the cartoons could just as easily have appeared in The New Yorker as in Punch. Except — and this is really a surprise — many of them are too sexy for The New Yorker! The two magazines even share many of the cartoonists; the English artists study the details of American life, and are thus enabled to sell to such relatively high paying markets as The New Yorker and Playboy. “It’s easy to make people look American, ” says the English cartoonist Smilby: “you draw them fat.”



Five New “One Club” Members Added

A handful of hitherto unknown (to me) cartoonists have been added to the New Yorker Cartoonists A-Z, and as it turns out, all five have something else in common besides being New Yorker cartoonists:  they all had just one drawing published in the magazine during their careers, thus qualifying them for Ink Spill’s One Club (all One Club members appear in red on The New Yorker Cartoonists A-Z).


The newly added are:

Ernest Hamlin Baker (date of his drawing: June 25, 1927)

Cyrus Baldridge  (November 10, 1951)

H. Barnes  (February 2, 1929)

P. Chapman  (April 10, 1926)

Loy Byrnes  (September 14, 1929)


As always, if anyone  has information about any of the above cartoonists please contact me.

Just a Few Words with Jack Ziegler about Breakfast Foods

Jack Ziegler has been sharing his unusual cartoon world with us in the pages of the New Yorker for close to 40 years.  I recently asked him about his current drawing in the magazine.


 MM: Your cartoon in this week’s issue of the man sitting on the edge of his bed watching  toast, eggs, and bacon rise over the horizon sent me off to the New Yorker’s Cartoon Bank to search for “toast” – and guess what? Of the 59 cartoons that came up, the largest percentage of them are yours (Peter Mueller is, I think, second runner-up). This probably explains why, when I think of toast and/or toasters, I think “Jack Ziegler” (the same goes for hamburgers, but that’s for another post on another day).  What is it about breakfast foods that keeps you coming back to them (for work, I mean)?

JZ: I’ve done a lot of toast cartoons over the years, many of which found their way into the NYer.  Toast is inherently funny – white toast, basically – it’s the ultimate of bland.  Not rye, whole wheat, pumpernickel, def. not english muffins.  The current cartoon, however, is all about the eggs – sunnyside up.  The toast & bacon are there to make the cartoon more readable & logical.  Breakfast alone isn’t funny, whereas lunch is.  Dinner/supper not funny at all.


MM: Are bacon, eggs, and toast funnier than lunch and dinner foods?  Which is funnier: toast, eggs or bacon?  Is orange juice funny?

JZ: See #1 above.  Orange juice?  Not funny.  Tasty & a great way to start the day.


MM: This recent drawing of toast, eggs, and bacon rising like the morning sun — you referred to it as “sunnysideuprise” in an earlier email to me — I don’t suppose you recall how the idea came to you?

JZ: It was probably just a doodle of a guy getting up, staring out the window, trying to figure out what the day has in store.  When I doodle, I just keep adding stuff & sometimes I like what I see.  Most doodles, however, wind up in the trash.  Or – sometimes I’ll hold onto one because I like something about the drawing & know there’s eventually going to be something there.


MM: I love the monumental toaster drawings you’ve done. Do you have a toaster?  If so, has it inspired you?  If so, how?

JZ: I do have a toaster which I haven’t used in over 3 years now.  It’s there basically for toast-lovin’ guests.  No inspiration there.  When I was a kid, we used to have a toaster like the ones I draw & that’s always my reference.  I like the way a lot of older stuff looks.  Older antenna’d TVs are more fun to look at (in a drawing) than the giant flat screens of today.  I also gravitate towards older parking meters, fire hydrants, cars.  I used to do lots of public phone booths also, but kids these days probably wouldn’t know what they were.  Hey, what can I say?  I’m an old fart.


MM: May I ask what you had for breakfast this morning?

JZ: Raisin bran – but only because I ran out of blueberries to put in my corn flakes, which I much prefer.  I only do bacon & eggs on the weekend – & that in a restaurant where someone else can clean up the mess.  Oh, and toast.

Carolita Johnson’s New ebook


Because Sperm Isn't Loud Enough Vol. 1

From Carolita Johnson, a brand new ebook: Because Sperm Isn’t Loud Enough Vol 1


The description on  Comixology (where you can order it):  “About three dozen dark and comical and slightly twisted takes on being a women, or not being a woman in today’s world. In one-panel comic form.”

Peter De Vries, Cartoon Doctor




Occasionally, Ink Spill takes a look at New Yorker contributors who weren’t cartoonists but whose work at the magazine was so intertwined with cartoons and/or cartoonists that it would be just plain silly not to look at them.  Peter De Vries,  a New Yorker staffer from 1944 through 1986, fits the bill perfectly.


De Vries, who died in 1993, moved from his hometown, Chicago, to the east coast and The New Yorker via James Thurber, who highly recommended De Vries to the magazine’s founder and editor, Harold Ross.


Hired to work part-time in the magazine’s poetry department, De Vries wrote for Notes and Comment, as well as contributing fiction.  After asking the magazine’s Art Editor, James Geraghty if there was anything he could do in the Art Department, De Vries was taken in as a “cartoon doctor” in 1947,  fixing captions, helping to develop ideas, and sometimes coming up with his own. Unless my computations are wrong, no other New Yorker editor had as  long an association with the magazine’s cartoons as De Vries: thirty-nine years.


In various interviews over the years, he seemed reticent to discuss his duties concerning cartoons. Ben Yagoda, who interviewed him for The New York Times in 1983, reported that De Vries couldn’t recall any original cartoon ideas he came up with, except one: a drawing by Richard Decker that appeared in July 21, 1945. Yagoda surmised that “DeVries  hesitancy to discuss his work in the Art Department may spring from a desire to uphold the myth that cartoonists’ works are never altered.”  That myth is worth exploring at another time, but perhaps it was less an allegiance to the myth and more of a De Vries personality trait. Former New Yorker Art/Cartoon Editor, Lee Lorenz, who was recently interviewed for this piece, described De Vries as “very quiet – sort of shy.” In a 1956 interview with The New York Times, De Vries described himself as “‘utility man in the Art Deaprtment,’ while others around the place describe him as a force in the Bull Pen.”


Frank Modell, now age 95, and the New Yorker’s eldest cartoonist,  was good friends with De Vries,  interacting with him weekly at the magazine’s office during the time Modell was Geraghty’s assistant in the 1940s.  Modell told me recently, “De Vries was an amazingly good humored guy.” Distilling De Vries’ work with cartoons, Modell said,  “he made [captions] a little more clear.”


When Lorenz succeeded James Geraghty as Art Editor in 1973, a sea-change was underway at the Art Department.  Idea men (there were no idea women) who had supplied some of the great New Yorker cartoonists with a steady stream of excellent work, were facing a new wave of cartoonists who were in the mold of Thurber – an artist who wrote all of his own ideas  — and not George Price, a cartoonist who relied completely on ideamen.

Lorenz, reflecting on that time, and the waning of idea men:

Of course there was a long tradition there of people who just did the ideas and the artists who just did the drawings, but we’d gotten past that by that point. Artists did their own stuff. If he [De Vries] came up with a good one I’d certainly take it  back to the artist, and they’d have the final word –- it was their caption.

 I’ve thought about it a lot — there’s a big difference between writing humor and captioning a cartoon. There’s a special skill to writing captions.  He was a funny writer, but when he tried to change a caption, it got longer, it got more convoluted.”

 Asked to describe his working relationship with De Vries, Lorenz said:

“We were friendly, but I hardly ever saw him. He kept pretty much to himself there.  The stuff [sheets of paper bearing copies of approved cartoons for that week] would be shipped out to his office at some point during the week and he’d go through it.   He didn’t come to the art department.  All this stuff would be passed around in a box – a regular wooden box. It would go down to his office and he would go through it and make notes and eventually it would come back to me. But I don’t remember we discussed much of this face to face.  We weren’t avoiding each other —  that was just the kind of relationship we had.

If cartoon aficionados have one reason to hold De Vries in high regard it would certainly be for the part he played in developing one of Charles Addams most enduring cartoons (and a captionless one at that). In the fall of 1946, James Geraghty, in need of a Christmas cover, invited  De Vries over to his Connecticut home to sit out on the front lawn and brainstorm. The result was the classic Addams  cartoon that appeared in the December 21, 1946 New Yorker:  three members of the so-called Addams Family, four stories up, about to pour boiling oil on the carolers below. Although Geraghty and De Vries conceived of it as a cover, Harold Ross nixed the idea and ran it inside as a full page cartoon.

De Vries, a prolific novelist, did not shy away from using his New Yorker Art Department experience in his popular 1954 book, The Tunnel of Love.  It’s the story, in a nutshell, of a fellow named Dick, who is Cartoon Editor of  The Townsman, a New Yorker-like magazine,  and  another fellow, Augie, who’s a third-rate cartoonist and first rate idea man.

Below:  De Vries first book, published in 1940, cover by Charles Addams


Special thanks to Lee Lorenz and Frank Modell for their assistance with this piece. Lee Lorenz interviewed April 9, 2013; Frank Modell interviewed April 11, 2013