George Booth: An Ink Spill Appreciation

Screen+Shot+2016-06-30+at+12.21.02+AMAttempted Bloggery has been focusing on George Booth this past week (including a close look at the drawing shown here), and why not? Mr. Booth turned 90 the other day; what better time to sing his praises and talk about what he brought to the New Yorker when his work first  appeared in the magazine in 1969. Mr. Booth’s style was a brand new creature, unlike anything the magazine had published before.

Booth arrived at the tail end of a decade that saw the introduction of a tidal wave of new artists appearing in The New Yorker: J.B. Handelsman in 1961, Charles Barsotti in 1962, Edward Koren in 1962, Robert Weber in 1962, Henry Martin in 1964, Donald Reilly in 1964, Edward Frascino in 1965, Mort Gerberg in 1965, Peter Porges in 1965, Ronald Searle in 1966, Dean Vietor in 1967, Rowland B. Wilson in 1961, Vahan Shirvanian in 1968,  Sam Gross in 1969 and George Booth in 1969.

Looking at the dates of entry, one can see how carefully James Geraghty (the magazine’s Art Editor at the time; he was hired by Harold Ross as Art Editor in 1939) had  infused the magazine with new blood. These fifteen arrivals  were scattered  over the course of a decade, fitting easily into (and not displacing) the existing pool of talent. In the best tradition of the magazine’s art department, they all brought something of lasting value to the magazine.  Indeed, every one of them had long careers.

Mr. Booth was and is no exception. His use of reappearing characters is somewhat akin to  Helen Hokinson’s so-called “lunch ladies” and Syd Hoff’s Bronx families of the the 1930s as well as George Price’s eclectic characters appearing in his drawings all through his long career. Booth, however, revisits specific characters in his work, people we’ve come to know and in situations we’ve grown to love:  the man in the claw-foot bath tub, for instance, or the garage mechanics in their oily splotched coveralls, or Mawmaw, a character based on his mother.  Henry Martin once said to me that certain cartoonists “draw funny” (trust me, it’s a highly complimentary remark).  Booth draws funny.  Before you reach the caption, the drawing itself has already begun working on you the way the very thought  of Charlie Chaplin works on you. No one draws like Booth.  As a beginning cartoonist I found his graphic mastery intimidating.  But it was also, of course, highly educational.  Look at the way he’s drawn the ceiling and the ceiling fan in the drawing accompanying this piece; the inclusion of the floor boards found behind cafe counters; the characters in wash in the background.  Each one of those customers has a story.  The two cooks in the foreground (Laurel & Hardy types) are perfect, most especially the smaller fellow. This is a scene out of life filtered through Booth’s comic genes.  These elements of style are what Booth does best. Lee Lorenz (who succeeded James Geraghty as Art Editor in 1974) once said that the best cartoonists are the ones who bring their own world into their work. In all of his work for the magazine in all these years Booth has stayed true to his world. He is, by definition, one of the best.

 

More Booth:

Here’s a George Booth interview  conducted by Richard Gehr in 2013

and David Owen’s  Profile of Mr. Booth in The New Yorker in 1998

All of Mr. Booth’s cartoon collections can easily be found on AbeBooks.com

A selection of both Booth’s drawings and covers (and even a few products adorned with his drawings) can be found on The New Yorker‘s Cartoon Bank site.

 

New Jersey’s New Yorkers…an Ink Spill Map

Here’s a look at Garden State born New Yorker contributors (including its current editor) as well as New Yorker contributors (all cartoonists) not Jersey born, but currently living there. Also included: New Yorker contributors who, though not native-born,  grew up there and/or lived there for a good while. If anyone out there has others I’ve missed (and I’m sure I have) please contact me. (click on the map to enlarge).

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More from the Tom Bloom Collection: Syd Hoff & George Price

Tom Bloom is a renowned illustrator for The New York Times (among other publications) as well as one of the most avid collectors of New Yorker cartoonist related books and ephemera I know.  He is also a good friend of Ink Spill, and, lucky for us all,  someone who likes to share.  Today Tom has sent along a trio of book covers I’ve never seen before. Two from the wonderful Syd Hoff and one from the equally wonderful George Price (check out Ink Spills New Yorker Cartoonists A-Z for some very basic biographical info on both artists).  To see a whole lot more on Syd Hoff, including more covers and a bibliography, visit the official Syd Hoff site.  Enjoy!

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A Shout-Out to George Price

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From an interesting blog, The Antic Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent., November 25, 2014, this piece on the late George Price’s 55 year anniversary collection, The World of George Price (Beaufort, 1988).

Mr. Price’s New Yorker career lasted from 1932 through 1991, with nearly 1300 drawings published (and one beautiful cover). He was born in Coytesville, NJ, June 9, 1901 and died January 12, 1995, in Engelwood, NJ.

 

For more on Price, here’s a link to The New Yorker’s Cartoon Bank, where you can see some of his work.

And to see a list of Price’s cartoon collections, please visit Ink Spill’s New Yorker Cartoonists Library (scroll down to see his work)

 

 

 

From the Ink Spill Archives: A Wartime New Yorker Pamphlet

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Back in late May I posted interesting cover art from Rea Irvin.  Today, another item from the bundle of donated materials, Excerpts From The New Yorker. As explained inside the front cover:

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This 27 page pamphlet contains drawings by Alain (on the cover as well as inside), Peter Arno, Robert Day, George Price, Richard Decker, Charles Addams, Roberta MacDonald, Gluyas Williams, Frank Beaven, Alan Dunn, and Barbara Shermund.

As a bonus, this particular copy features an “R” in bold red on the cover.  Art approved for publication by Harold Ross (The New Yorker‘s founder, and editor from 1925 through 1951) would bear his initial.