Pretty in Pink: The New Yorker’s 25th Anniversary Album; More Spills: Moore Tweets Out a Ziegler… More Soglow

Judging by what I’ve noticed over many years of visiting used book stores, The New Yorker 25th Anniversary Album must have been the most popular in the series of their cartoon anthologies. This is the one you’re likely to find if you find any at all. Bonus: it’s easily found online for just a few bucks. The Album sports a series of firsts on the cover: the first time a monochrome Eustace Tilley appeared on an Album (the next time he would appear this close to so much solid color was on the magazine’s 60th Anniversary issue.  Then editor, Tina Brown presented Eustace surrounded by, um, gold). 

The 25th Album was the first to reproduce a number of full cartoons on the cover (minus the captions, which due to the size of each cartoon shown, would’ve been virtually impossible to read without a magnifying glass. The exception is John Held, Jr.’s work where the text is within the piece).  And it was the first to be divided into sections: The Late Twenties, The Early Thirties, The Late Thirties, The Early Forties, and The Late Forties.

All the big names are here, of course, and so are some of the most memorable cartoons in the magazine’s history, including Thurber’s Seal in the Bedroom, Addams’ skier, and Arno’s “Well, back to the old drawing board.”  This is the Album for anyone who has heard about the New Yorker‘s Golden Age, and wants to know what all the fuss was about.

The design of the book is excellent, with paper of good quality, allowing for Gluyas Williams’ masterpieces, run full page, to glow.  Arno’s brushstrokes look as if he just swept them across the page fifteen minutes ago. On the pages where a number of cartoons appear, the layout is handled with great care, never too busy; each page was obviously fussed over by someone (or someones) who knew what they were doing. Just look at the graphic balancing act directly below:

The contributors are a Who’s Who of the magazine’s pantheon of great artists, including the founders, and the ones who showed up while Harold Ross was still messing around with the ingredients.  Steig’s Small Fry are here, as is Soglow’s Little King.  Helen Hokinson’s Club Ladies are generously presented, as are spreads by Rea Irvin, and and and…gee willikers, so much more (to see more scroll down to the back cover’s list of artists).  This is one of the very best Albums of cartoons the magazine ever produced (as another 67 years have passed since its publication it shares the top shelf with a few others). 

The flap text (above) reminds us that the cartoons are a record of the times. I’ll go along with that. As the magazine moves closer to its 100th year it’s essential for the cartoons to change with the times and reflect the times. I expect that the Introduction to The New Yorker’s 100th Anniversary Album will express something close to that sentiment, if not exactly that.

If you’ve read Genius In Disguise, Thomas Kunkel’s great biography of Harold Ross, you might remember that book’s prologue has a wonderful section devoted to the party at the Ritz-Carleton celebrating the New Yorker‘s 25th Anniversary. It was a party, wrote Kunkel, “celebrating accomplishment, about creating something of enduring importance.”  

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Michael Moore Tweeted out a drawing this morning by the late Jack Ziegler that’s right on the money (so to speak):

— My thanks to Bruce Eric Kaplan for bringing this to the Spill’s attention.

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…A lot More Soglow

Attempted Bloggery has posted a cart full of rare Otto Soglow drawings (some of them are what used to be referred to as “naughty” — nowadays we’d call them not-PC. ) 

 

 

The Think And The Ink: The New Yorker Album of Drawings 1925 – 1975

After spending time in the early years of the New Yorker Albums these past few Sundays I thought it would be fun to skip a few decades and look at how the magazine celebrated its 50th anniversary. I love the simplicity of this Album, its no-frills approach. Beginning with the no-nonsense cover featuring the title (set in the so-called Irvin typeface) and Rea Irvin’s bowing Eustace Tilleys. I look at these Tilleys as time period bookends, greeting each other from two very different eras. They are not quite mirror images of each other: the one bowing from 1975 is microscopically different than the one from 1925. If there’s any intended symbolism in that (and I doubt it), my guess would be that the magazine mascot was shown as true to its roots while allowing for subtle change (glacial change in those years).

The only introductory text is found on the inside front flap. It’s as if the magazine’s editor (William Shawn at that time) wanted to say that whatever needed to be said about this amazing body of work was going to be said by the work itself and not by “opinionaters.”

In a first for one of the Albums, there’s a dedication (Lee Lorenz had succeeded Mr, Geraghty in 1973):

The back cover lists the contributors (“Artists”) from Charles Addams to the new kid on the block, Jack Ziegler.

Appropriately enough, the Album leads off with a full page drawing by Peter Arno (one of his drawings led off the very first Album).  The volume ends with a small drawing by William Steig; a first drawing and a last by artists whose work was, in the words of the flap copy above, visually beautiful. The work in between is, of course, also visually beautiful, as well as funny. In more modern times, in the era post-Geraghty, post-Lee Lorenz, a different approach to the magazine’s cartoons was espoused: “it’s the think, not the ink.” But for the first 72 years of New Yorker‘s existence, it was the magazine’s dedication to the think and the ink, that allowed the New Yorker cartoon to make its considerable mark.

 

 

 

Cartoon Companion Rates Latest New Yorker Cartoons; Event of Interest: Addams in the City

Cartoon Companion Rates the Latest New Yorker Cartoons

A new issue of The New Yorker means a new batch of cartoons for the Cartoon Companion‘s “Max” and “Simon” to examine, explore, and evaluate. They consider the merits (or lack thereof), then apply their rating system of 1 through 6 (6 being tops). Read it here.

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Event of Interest: Addams in New York 

From The New York Times, November 16, 2017″ Events For Children in NYC This Week”:  Family Day: Addams

According to the Times, a “celebration that revolves around the [Morris-Jumel] mansion’s new exhibit, “Charles Addams: Family & Friends” which features 35 of his works, along with photographs and memorabilia”

 

 

80 Years Ago: The 1937 New Yorker Album; Booth on CBS Sunday Morning

Here’s an early New Yorker oddity in the line of the Albums published.  It’s the first published for a specific year.  There were later annual Albums  (1940, 1942, and much much later 2007, 2008, and 2009).  Curious that, for the first time there is no foreword.  Perhaps the editors thought they’d take a break after the highly interesting double foreword to The Seventh New Yorker Album, published in 1936 . We’ll get that on another Sunday.

The cover of the 1936 collection, by William Crawford Galbraith, originally appeared on the December 14, 1935 issue of the New Yorker.

So what do you see inside the annual? Within the first two pages is a full page Peter Arno drawing, and a Thurber and a Charles Addams.  Addams’ signature is somewhat different than the one we’ve all become accustomed to (his long New Yorker run was in its infancy in the mid-1930s). But even this early he was already a star.  One of his drawings appears, alone, on the back cover.

Below: early Addams signature.  Below below: later.

By the mid-to-late 1930s The New Yorker ‘s stable of artists  was now into its Golden era. There are two drawings in this volume which have gone on to be reproduced numerous times.  I hesitate to say they are as “famous” as Addams’ skier or Peter Steiner‘s “On the internet nobody knows you’re a dog”  but they have had some extra attention over the years since first published in the New Yorker. The first is Peter Arno’s “Come along. We’re going down to the Trans-Lux and hiss Roosevelt” and the second is Thurber’s “It’s a naive domestic Burgandy without any breeding, but I think you’ll be amused by its presumption.”

They are surrounded, as usual for this time period, by gorgeous funny drawings aplenty, including a double page spread by Carl Rose titled A Caravan of California Millionaires, Fleeing Eastward From the State Income Tax, Encamps For the Night in Hostile Wisconsin Territory

and another by Rea Irvin, Our Own Previews of Hollywood Attractions.

I reproduce them here, poorly (sorry), just to give you an idea of how terrific they look on the page. 

Here’s the list of those in the Album. Interesting that the “Spot” artists are finally set-off from the pack:

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Booth on CBS Sunday Morning

CBS has posted their segment on George Booth. See it here!

 

The Spill Talks Mirror Balls and Tracking Porcupines with Seth Fleishman

I took notice when Seth Fleishman’s first cartoon, uniformed cows standing over a table,  appeared in the New Yorker in the issue of April 4, 2016 (it appears below).  Sometimes a new cartoonist’s work (the drawing itself and/or the caption) will appear slightly awkward (my first New Yorker drawing fits both those categories), but Mr. Fleishman’s work seemed like it was already there, as if he’d been around for awhile.  Further Fleishman appearances in the magazine only confirmed that feeling.

So who is this guy?  He told me recently that he’s been asked several times by colleagues, “Where did you come from?”  The answer is that he was born and bred in north-western New Jersey, and by age 14 aspired to be, in his words, “either a musician, a cartoonist, or an impressionist.” Music won out for awhile.  In 2011 he launched GratefulGuitarLessons.com and three years later wrote and produced “I Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore” by the Snake Oil Willie Band. The song peaked at #2 on the Billboard Comedy chart. But before all that he submitted one batch of drawings to The New Yorker in 1994 (a drawing from that batch appears below).  None were accepted. He did not submit again until 2014.

 

In January of 2016 he sold his first drawing to the New Yorker (more on that later) and has been submitting ever since.  If you head over to the New Yorker‘s Cartoon Bank, you’ll find he has been published two dozen times as of now, an excellent batting average. I finally met Mr. Fleishman at the big George Booth opening at the Society of Illustrators, and while we chatted it occurred to me that further discussion (via email) should be Spilled.  And so…

 

Michael Maslin: I know you were too young to have frequented Studio 54, but looking at your New Yorker work, two of the two dozen published thus far are “Saturday Night Fever” related. Is there something you’d like to share with us, vis a vie your interest in  mirror balls, disco, and/or Tony Manero (John Travolta’s character in the film)?

Seth Fleishman: What a fun opening question! I love classic disco and R&B from the 70s. I love the Bee Gees. I love Barry White. When they bought the first one, I still had more disco ball ideas in me, so I submitted more. When they bought the second one, I figured I’d just keep going until they stopped buying them. There actually is a third one, but it hasn’t run yet, and it’s my favorite one of the trilogy. Hopefully it runs at some point. I confess I sent a few more after that, but sanity prevailed. I got no more OKs on the subject, and moved on. That’s why there are editors.

MM: When we first spoke you mentioned that Charles Barsotti came to mind as one New Yorker artist who, let’s say, was of importance to you before you became familiar with other New Yorker cartoonists.   Am I remembering that right? If not, please clarify.  What I’m getting around to is the question you mentioned you’ve heard before: “Where did you come from (artistically)?”  Can you talk a little about early influences (comics, cartoons, or whatever)?

SF: I was familiar with New Yorker cartoons at an early age. My mother turned me on to Booth, Thurber, Addams, plus Ronald Searle and others. I also liked the Sunday newspaper comics — Peanuts, Hagar The Horrible, Beetle Bailey, Ziggy, etc.

When I took on New Yorker cartooning, I didn’t want to be influenced. I wanted my own voice.  Bruce Eric Kaplan was an inspiration in that regard — the boldness in the originality of his visual style. The closest I came to falling under anyone’s spell was Charles Barsotti. No one would say my stuff looks like Barsotti, but there were things I saw in his work that appealed to me. It’s all so charming.

After I found my style, I began to notice and learn from cartoonists with whom I felt a connection — Otto Soglow, Chon Day, Mischa Richter, Bob Mankoff, Arnie Levin, to name a few.  I also like a lot of European cartoonists: Sempe, Bosc, Jules Stauber, Miroslav Bartak,  Pawel Kuczynski, as well as Argentinian cartoonist Guillermo Mordillo.  I’m a blind fool with broken hands compared to all of those names, but I drew inspiration from them all.

MM: As mentioned in my intro, music has loomed large in your life. I’ve found that there are at minimum, two camps of cartoonists: one camp listens to music while they work on their drawings, and the other doesn’t (a third camp blends silence with music, and a fourth camp listens to the radio…there are probably a hundred other camps).  Which camp are you in, if you are in one, and if you do listen to music while working on your batch, can you name names, or types of music you listen to.

 SF: When working on ideas, silence. When drawing, music. If not music, silence. Mostly Italian Baroque and Italian Renaissance instrumental music. Vivaldi, Marcello, Manfredini, Capirola (lute), Dalza (lute), Biber. Some Spanish Baroque vihuela music. Occasionally some Chinese guzheng. If it has words, it’s in a language I don’t speak. Russian Sacred Music, for example. There is a set called The Divine Wisdom of St. Sofia by The Choir of the Suzdal Holy Virgin’s Protecting Veil that is incredibly beautiful. 

MM: Wow. I was expecting maybe the Grateful Dead.  Interesting that if you listen to music with words, it’s in a language you don’t speak.  Is that because you don’t want to get caught up in lyrics? Or something else?

SF: Words are distracting, but if sung in a foreign language, they are effectively instrumental. Just sounds. I do love the Grateful Dead– ‘Dark Star’ is not totally out of the question. But doing all those video lessons, dissecting, demystifying, and explaining their music in granular detail has changed my relationship with them as a listener. Maybe that’s the price I pay. I love the work, but I can’t really listen to them as a regular civilian anymore. And anyway, I truly fell in love with Vivaldi once I heard his music performed by Rachel Podger. That led me into early Venetian music in general, and that’s a rabbit hole from which I have yet to emerge. I also play renaissance lute. 

MM: Looking at your work, it’s clear you’re happiest working caption-less. Are you thinking caption-less when you work, or is that just how the work turns out more often than not?

 SF: As a general rule, the less I say the better. In the words of the Psalmist, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.”  Also, the people I draw don’t have mouths. They don’t even have chins or jaws. So it’s virtually impossible for them to say anything.  Seriously, the captionless stuff is what got the OKs. It came as a very pleasant surprise to me. I am happiest working captionless. It’s perfect. I give all the credit to Bob Mankoff. He just kept picking the captionless stuff, and a certain type at that. I learned who I am as a cartoonist by the selections he made. It is a particular way of thinking. It’s all visual. It’s a certain way of associating. And I love it.

MM: Not many of our colleagues have pursued captionless work. In modern times, John O’Brien, of course, and Nurit Karlin, Steinberg…and earlier, Otto Soglow and Sam Cobean among not too many others.  So you’re working captionless and graphically you’re using areas of black ink like nobody’s business. I’m thinking specifically of the vampire with a flashlight. Here the area of black ink is essential.  Anything you want to say about this drawing?  

SF: It was my first OK. I hadn’t yet figured out how important black was going to be for me when I drew it. About half of that batch still had greys. In some strange way, this cartoon was, if you’ll pardon the pun, a beacon for me. It heralded the importance of black. It was my first lesson learned from getting an OK. It was actually a revelation, and I committed to black then and there.

When people think of the classic New Yorker cartoon style, maybe they imagine rich, grey washes. But there have always been black and white practitioners, some of whom I’ve already mentioned — Barsotti, BEK, Soglow, etc. I think it works well for those who fall on the more abstract, iconographic end of the drawing spectrum. There are a few other things I hadn’t figured out yet that make the drawing less than ideal, but it was my first sale so who cares? 

  MM:Emily Flake told the Spill she bakes pies and has spent time at a firing range.  Is there something in your week that takes you outside of your work space? Something away from thinking about cartoons/music?

SF: Here’s something interesting — my wife Cheryl and I are fairly adept at porcupine tracking. They are present in our area, and we go out on weekends looking for them, and we often find them. If I had a spirit animal, it would be the porcupine. 

Below: The cartoonist and his wife tracking porcupines

During the week, my only purely social interaction is a weekly breakfast at the Branchville Grille with a regular group of friends. Branchville is a sleepy little town. One of our group is a beautiful 85-year-old gentleman named Sandy, who was a corpsman in the Marine Corps in Korea. It’s really something to be around special people like that. Other than that, during the week it’s work, work, work.

MM: And once you’ve tracked the porcupines, then what?

SF: Cheryl is a nature photographer, so she’ll take pictures [an example is below]. Other than that, we just observe and spend a little time with them. I’m not ashamed to say Cheryl and I both consider porcupines and many other creatures to be our friends. As far as we’re concerned, when we’re out in the woods or wetlands, we’re spending time with friends.

MM: If there’s a typical beginning to your work day (work on drawings that is) what is that day like? (Jack Ziegler told me he would begin his work day by sitting with the New York Times, then head off to his drawing board.  Danny Shanahan mostly begins by writing ideas down. Others just start drawing).  

SF:I work on ideas in the early morning, while my mind is still groggy. If the ideas are flowing, I keep at it until it peters out. If nothing’s shaking, I don’t press it. I give it a little time, then move on. I’m not constantly thinking about ideas. I used to do that, but I don’t anymore. Once the coffee has kicked in, I can start drawing.

MM: Your work is also appearing in Esquire these days. And, unless I’m mistaken, it utilizes color.   Is working for Esquire different than working for The New Yorker?  

SF: It’s very different. Esquire is filled with graphic design. Using color helps the drawings pop in that environment. It also fits the vibrant spirit of the magazine. Esquire has a distinct aesthetic. I try to visually and topically compliment that. Three of my cartoons appear per issue (monthly), linked by a theme, under the heading “Spot On by Seth Fleishman.” The November issue was “Spot On: Cinema.”  Each cartoon was a riff on a classic cinematic moment. That adds a layer of difficulty for me creatively, but it’s a fun challenge.

Below: a recent Fleishman Esquire cartoon

MM: Many cartoonists have something else going on with their work besides submitting to The New Yorker and whatever other publications they contribute to.  Some do children’s books, or they work on graphic novels, or mass media projects (television)… anything like that going on with you? 

SF: Not at the moment. Which is fine! I have plenty to do.

— I asked Mr. Fleishman if he would send an example of what his work looks like before it’s in the finished state you see published, and he sent this delightful sketch.

MM: Even more than mirror balls, I see that chickens show up a lot in your New Yorker drawings. Care to comment? 

SF: I have a simple rule: when in doubt, draw chickens. I’m typically an idea-first guy, but I’ll use other methods if necessary. One such method is to just start drawing without thinking. Trouble is, when I do that, nine times out of ten I draw a chicken! I’ve had many, many chicken drawings rejected. I don’t care. Have some more chickens! 

I live in a somewhat rural area. We still have working farms around here. I relate to animals. Chickens are humble, awkward looking little creatures. They have a certain charm to them. They are easy to draw. Who can explain it? I just like chickens. 

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of November 13, 2017

The Monday Tilley Watch is a meandering take on the cartoons in the current issue of The New Yorker.

Surprise, surprise — two non-political New Yorker covers in a row. Last week was John Cuneo‘s wonderful big falling leaf; this week, in a debut appearance, Jenny Kroik gives us a lovely bookstore scene (it’s titled “At the Strand” but really it could be almost any bookstore). You can read about her cover here.

Before wading in to the magazine’s cartoons (there are only eight in the issue, so it will be an abbreviated wade this week), two graphic pieces in the front of the magazine caught my eye. One’s an illustration, and the other an ad. Bendik Kaltenborns Coney Island illustration on page 16 is a whole lot of fun. Perhaps I’m already getting a little wistful about summer past, but I think it’s more the playfulness of the piece. Besides, I’m glad summer is over.

The other piece (the ad) is for an exhibit of work by Henry Martin Gasser, an artist I never heard of until this morning. I’m posting the ad here in the hope the advertiser won’t mind. Lovely work, judging by this one piece shown. Having just looked him up, I was delighted to find he was born in Newark, New Jersey. A fellow Jerseyite!

Okay, now into and onto the magazine’s cartoons and cartoonists. Oh wait, first let me check and see if Rea Irvin’s classic Talk of The Town masthead has been returned to its rightful place. Nope. Darn. Sigh.  If it was back in place, you’d certainly recognize it. It would look exactly like this:

This issue’s first cartoon appears on page 30.  Ben Schwartz gives us a family in a car, drawn head on through the windshield (geez, this is sounding like an accident report). You have to be familiar with the game “I Spy” to get at the humor in the caption, but you don’t need to be familiar with divorce to fully appreciate the uncomfortable situation. I like car drawings, and in particular, like it when a cartoonist takes on this scenario (that is, the challenge of drawing head-on into a car, or the reverse, drawing from the back seat looking forward). Charles Addams, who loved cars, and loved drawing cars, did several of these kinds of drawings. Here’s one:

In the next drawing, five pages after Mr. Schwartz’s, Emily Flake mixes religion with pizza. Understanding this drawing may also require you to seek out, via your search box, the Temptation of Christ (no joke!, or yes joke?). In Ms. Flake’s drawing, Jesus finds himself in a situation many of us have found ourselves in: seeing doughnuts* in a box, and debating whether or not to partake. I found, in my just completed research of the Temptations (not these Temptations) that one of the them was hedonism (hunger/satisfaction), so doughnuts as a temptation really does work here.

*[correction: in an earlier post I referred to the food in the box as pizza.  On my screen the object on the boxtop looks exactly like a pizza.  I stand corrected. My thanks to the corrector!]

On the way to the next cartoon, on page 45, we pass a “Sketchbook” by Roz Chast. It is, as Tina Brown would say, “text driven” with some drawings of children in party hats surrounding the text. Not a cartoon, but something that really does look to be out of a sketchbook.

On page 45 is an offering from Amy Hwang. A clothing store scene (babies clothing, to be more precise). The store is woefully low on inventory. Good luck to the proprietors!

Four pages later, following a double page photograph, is a Harry Bliss drawing. Talking pets in a jam (talking pets in jam might be funny too, I think). You may need to search for “Tang Dynasty Urn” to understand the severity of the pooch and kitty’s situation.

Five pages later, Liana Finck takes us into outer space with a drawing I have notched in my brain as memorable. Well drawn, amusing, and beautifully placed on the page.  What more could we ask for. (I note it’s the second footwear drawing in recent times. Carolita Johnson had one back in September).

Another five pages brings us to newbie Maddie Dai‘s drawing of an icky hairbrush (I say “icky” because I’m not a fan of snakes). You may or may not have to go to your search box to look up Medusa to refresh your graphic memory. Oh heck, despite my not wanting to see more snakes, here’s a version, in marble, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, from 1630.

And yet another five pages later (hey, is this a pattern, this five pages apart thing?) is a Glen Le Lievre drawing, and amazingly(!) the first politically tinged cartoon of the issue. Why politically-tinged?  There’s the the word “subpoena” in the caption plus the background appearance of the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol Building (sans the Statue of Freedom, shown below).  Both structures are handled in light wash, and looking a little ghost-like.

Eight pages later (so much for the five pages pattern) is a Frank Cotham castle. It’s the last drawing of the issue (not counting those in the Caption Contest). Mr. Cotham’s drawing is allowed generous space on the page. The fellow speaking (a King) has done a major renovation on his property, leaving just a safe space (the castle’s redoubt) in case there’s big trouble. I like the outfit his visitor is wearing as well as the vaguely 1960-ish architecture of the new addition. 

and that’s that. See you next Monday for the issue of November 20th. It being the issue closest to Thanksgiving (on the 23rd), I’m really hoping for a turkey cartoon to appear somewhere in the issue, or on the cover.

Until then, here’s  some food for thought — a drawing of mine published in the December 8, 2014 New Yorker.