Cartoon Bibles, Pt.2

Wall Cartoon bks 2

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Part 2 of Cartoon Bibles. Part one appears at The New Yorker’s website, NewYorker.com. Click here to go there.

Cartoon Bks :close-up 1

 

When I asked my colleagues to name their Cartoon Bible they  generously and enthusiastically replied. There were so many responses they all couldn’t fit on the magazine’s blog.  So, as a bonus, you can read the bulk of them here.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 Bruce Eric Kaplan (BEK)

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with all the New Yorker cartoon collections in my local library.  I took out all of them over and over again.   The one that meant the most to me and still does is “My Crowd” by Charles Addams.

My Crowd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jack Ziegler

I don’t know that I have a cartoon bible, but seeing “Turk,” a B. Kliban spread that appeared in the old National Lampoon really turned me on.  It subsequently appeared in his collection Whack Your Porcupine, from 1977. 

Kliban

Mysterious, funny, & mysteriously funny.  Also R. Crumb’s Head Comix, from 1968.  That one opened the door to all sorts of possibilities.  But the most important thing about both these guys is that they made me laugh out loud.

 

 

 

 

 

Felipe Galindo (Feggo)

Andre Francois’ books “The Tattooed Sailor” and “Half-Naked Knight”: they’re my Old and New Testament.

Francoise

He worked captionless and exploiting the human drama with gusto! I later learned he was from Rumania, as Steinberg, and his real name was Andre Farkas!  He was a regular New Yorker contributor, mostly with his covers. A great artist in many ways as he did paintings and sculptures as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farley Katz

One of my favorites is “Amphigorey” by Edward Gorey. It’s dark and weird and taught me at a young age to never talk to strangers.

Amphigorey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liza Donnelly

The book that changed my life was James Thurber’s The Thurber Carnival.

Thurber  Home sick from school one day at age 7, my mother handed me the book and some paper and a pencil. I began tracing, and soon thereafter developed my own style and never looked back.  There are many cartoonists that influenced me along the way, however: Crockett Johnson, Charles Schulz, Dr. Seuss, Saul Steinberg, William Steig,  Sempe.  But another cartoon book does stand out in my mind.  Not long after I sold my first cartoon to The New Yorker,  I discovered Jack Ziegler’s Hamburger Madness.  I knew Jack by then, and was fascinated by his work.  I would study Hamburger Madness over and over –it showed me what a cartoon could be.  It showed me the old rules were not necessarily necessary. Jack’s cartoons opened my eyes to a different approach to humor, he showed me the wonderful world of whacky.

 

 

 

 

Kim Warp

I would have to go with a cartoon collection from around the 40’s, Colliers Collects Its Wits, which I discovered on my parent’s bookshelf when I was just old enough to read.

Colliers

It was filled with work by ‘New Yorker’ cartoonists and my first introduction to artists like Charles Addams and Whitney Darrow,  Jr..  Love at first sight. The book also included a section of bios and self-caricatures by the cartoonists, including some women. I had somehow had gotten the impression from 1960s TV that women could only be mothers, nurses, secretaries or teachers, so I kind of loved that too.  A few years ago this book walked away at a school talk I was giving, I can only hope it’s inspiring a new cartoonist. These days I’m always looking for books that talk about cartooning in a way I hadn’t thought about, the last one that blew my mind was Aesthetics by Ivan Brunetti. In terms of having a ‘Bible’ I try to read all points of view on cartooning and on religion for that matter.  As an aside, my husband just pointed out a cobweb in my studio window so guess I’m still carrying a little Charles Addams with me.

 

 

David Borchart

I started thinking of myself as a cartoonist pretty early on — maybe second grade or so. That, combined with my family’s penchant for garage sales, meant that by age twelve I had a lot of yellowing old cartoon collections up in my room. “The Half-Naked Knight” (Andre Francois) and “Ho Ho Hoffnung” (Gerard Hoffnung) were near the top of the stack, but the one I kept going back to (and still do) was “This Petty Pace” by Mary Petty (intro by James Thurber).

Petty Place.

The drawings fascinated me — I didn’t realize until much later how funny the cartoons were. I promised the book (first edition, some foxing on the edges) that if I started selling to the New Yorker I would take it in to look around, and two years ago I did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carolita Johnson

I can’t think of any other bible for me than Little Nemo’s Adventures in Slumberland, though they are completely unrelated to The New Yorker or my style.

Nemo

I suppose I am more interested in seeing stuff that I can’t do, that I could never do, that I’m incapable of because of temperament, time, and artistic ability (I’m terrible at perspective! I can marvel at McCay’s perspective all day long, and have). Also, his subject matter is inspiring: socially conscious, ironic, fantastic, surreal. One of my favorite “episodes” is the one where everyone has to pay for the use of words, and only the rich can express themselves. And I do have the entire New Yorker cartoon library at the magazine to peruse when the librarians are in a good mood and are happy to let me browse. In those cases, Helen Hokinson is a favorite because she’s so subtle.

 

 

 

 

 

Bob Eckstein

Gahan Wilson’s I Paint What I See is my Bible.

gahan-wilson-i-paint-what-i-see-cover-745x1024

It was my first introduction to gag cartoons and created some of the best memories of my life–of my younger brother and I laughing together until we cry or have something shoot out of our noses. We were around twelve but the book still makes me laugh today. (I think I’ll bring it out for Christmas when I visit his family.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. Mueller

Predictably, I have a number of New Yorker cartoon collections on hand at all times, whether I’m hard at it here in my studio or off duty and hang gliding with wolves.  The cornerstone, of course, is that monster collection that Bob Mankoff put together in 2004.

NYer Complete

I think of material from the Ross years as The Old Testament, populated by the likes of Sts. Peter (Arno), James (Thurber), George (Price), etc. I should stop here before the analogy cops impound my hang glider.

I take some small comfort upon encountering the occasional artist of yore who drew as badly as I draw today, and I marvel at the once-common practice of assigning written gags to artists, or that whole business of cartoonists, nameless here, who purchased ideas from writers or other cartoonists. But I also take far greater comfort in the discovery and rediscovery of, say, a perfect timeless silent by Chon Day, Otto Soglow, or the current reigning master John O’Brien. In my case a cartoonist’s Bible has less to do with any single influence and more to do with the possibility of a brand new hang glider.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Robert Leighton

I had three books of the Cartoon Bible. My Matthew, Mark and Luke were the paperback reprints of the first Mad comics: The Mad Reader, Mad Strikes Back and, in particular, Inside Mad.

INSIDE_MAD_35_CENT

The first of these had “Starchie,” which to me, at about age ten, might as well have been pornography–my eyes couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Mad Strikes Back had the parody of my favorite comic strip, “Pogo,” and Inside Mad had that great “Mickey Rodent.”  Each of these comic strip parodies were dead-on copies of the original, while at the same time filled with all that Bill Elder and Wally Wood “chicken fat” in the background.

 

 

 

With these perfect models as inspiration, I grew up trying to ape every cartoonist I admired. (It took a long time before I knew that there were different brushes and pens behind these various styles.) I can’t put a number on how many times I’ve read through these books, but they are still as funny and subversive as they were, what, sixty years ago?

 

 

Michael Shaw

My cartoon bible is one I reach for in the darker moments when the muses have departed to party with Zach Kanin in the city. Turning to “Amphigory” by Edward Gorey never fails to re-ignite my spleen.

Amphigorey

How can you not be inspired by lines that read like scripture….”E is for Earnest who choked on a peach. F is for Fanny sucked dry by a leech.” Amen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peter Steiner

I guess my cartoon Bible would have to be Steig’s The Lonely Ones. 

Steig lonely ones

It was published in 1942 and somehow found it’s way into our home.  I came upon it when I was six or seven and was immediately taken by it.  Many of the images are still burned into my brain.  It was, I’m guessing, my first introduction to cartoons that were more than jokes.  I started making cartoons not long after that.

Thomas Cheney

My Cartoon Bible was actually a carefully selected stack of New Yorkers, National Lampoons, and MAD magazines that ended up being about 3 feet high. 

NY-albums

They were issues which I felt showed some of the best work by the best cartoonists currently in the business, and I regularly consulted it to keep myself apprised as to where cartooning was going, or, where it could potentially go.  I reluctantly disposed of it before moving to Hawaii in order to conserve space in our shipping container.  Big mistake.  There were many gems in there that I will never see again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben Schwartz

I feel like this is cheating for some reason, but mine would be the Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker. 

NYer Complete

I received it as a holiday present several years back, and it’s become a true gift that keeps on giving–I discover new gems each time I flip through it.  When I first decided to submit to the magazine, I tried to use this collection not just as a bible, but as a textbook, too.  I thought maybe I could reverse-engineer the secret formula to successful New Yorker cartoons if I studied them hard enough.  No such luck, but I did inadvertently uncover the secret formula for Coca-cola and the recipe for the Colonel’s chicken in the process, so it wasn’t a total loss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Klossner

As a teenager, I was given two cartoon collections – “Cartoons Even We Wouldn’t Dare Print” from the National Lampoon (edited by Sam Gross) and “Now Look What You’ve Done” by Lee Lorenz.

Cartoons We Dare

Lorenz(Interestingly, these were given at the same time by different people. Kind of like the cartoon angel and cartoon devil perched on my shoulder.) While I wouldn’t exactly give these Bible status, as my list of influential cartoon publications is disgustingly long, these were my first exposure to single panel gags, and the wide range of possibilities the medium could cover.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ward Sutton

I’m not sure I’d classify this as my “Cartoon Bible,” but I think it gets to the idea that you are talking about.

Being the native Minnesotan that I am, I drew much inspiration as a kid from a local, Minneapolis cartoonist: Richard Guindon.

Guin

He created regular, usually single panel cartoons for the Minneapolis Tribune (which later became the Minneapolis Star-Tribune). His cartoons were very insightful towards the mannerisms and quirks of Minnesotans, and his drawing had a unique style that captivated me. I still go back to those cartoons and read them and get so much out of them.

As far as I know, he never had any cartoons appear in the New Yorker, but his use of the cartoon format to comment on Minnesota life is parallel to the way cartoonists comment on New York in the New Yorker.

There are three Guindon books that I know of and own, and I cherish them. Part of the appeal for me is that they reflect so much of the Minnesota experience from the 1970s and early 80s. The early years seem most about deconstructing the experience of living in the Twin Cities as a young adult. By his later Minnesota years, Guindon verged into weirder territory, almost “Far Side” in a way. I loved it all.

Suddenly sometime in the early 80s, Guindon left Minnesota and moved to Detroit. If memory serves, the Star-Tribune kept running his cartoons for awhile, but it wasn’t the same anymore. He wasn’t Minnesota’s cartoonist anymore and his work didn’t reflect our world.

I lost track of him after that. I met a guy who said he’d known Guindon (or his father had known him) and I always meant to try to track him down, but have not done so. Maybe this blog exercise will inspire me now …

 

 

Marisa Marchetto

When I was eight years old my parents took my brother and I on a family vacation that wasn’t the usual Port-O-Call Hotel in Ocean City NJ. (I’m from said state.) We went to Bermuda, to the Lantana Resort. It was pink and green and beautiful, but our room was really tiny and my mother asked the owner of the resort for something bigger for her, my dad, brother and I. The resort owner said there was nothing else available except a pink elephant of a house on the fringe of the resort. So, we took it. Me, armed with my sketchpad filled with my drawings of women wearing wonderful shoes I’ve drawn since I was three (my mother was the shoe designer Delman, I was inspired by her) surveyed the house. On its walls were these wonderful drawings with captions below them! It was my eureka moment: I could give voice to the women I was drawing.

“Marisa, this was James Thurber’s house. These are his cartoons.”

I studied every framed cartoon, looking at the walls as if I was in the hallowed halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

That night, I fell asleep at 4 in the morning reading everything James Thurber: The New Yorker, his books, The White Deer, and the one book I fell in love with that would become my cartoon bible: THURBER CARNIVAL.

Thurber

I woke a couple hours later, at six in the morning with the sensation of things crawling all over me. My bed was infested with red ants. It was then that I was bitten by the cartoonist bug. And I’ve loved James Thurber ever since.

This story is 100% true.

 

 

Ken Krimstein

Well, there are bibles and there are bibles. I have a bunch, and I tend to prescribe them to myself when I’m feeling stuck, or blah, or just want to be amused in a certain way. “Oh, I need a dose of Kliban’s “Two Guys Fooling Around With The Moon,” today,” or, “Look at the crap you’re drawing, take two Sempe’s and call me in the morning!”

But to find the real, true scripture, I have to ask myself, what tome invokes such awe, such power, I can only unveil, reveal its majesty in LIMITED doses? Which scripture so overwhelms that it fairly glows, kind of like that thing at the end of the Steven Spielberg movie with Harrison Ford and the Nazis? And then, the answer becomes clear.

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“Monster Rally,” by Charles Addams, Simon and Schuster, 1950. This wrapped copy is so sacred I dare only open it once, at the most twice, a year. But why? Here are three reasons. 1) It’s the book that got me into wanting to be a cartoonist, and not just the MAD magazine kind. My pal Scott Daube’s dad had it on his shelf — I don’t remember any other books from any adults book shelves — and every time I went to Scott’s to play, I shot straight to book and pored over its drawings, page by page. Slowly. Only after an hour or so of this could we play with Matchbox cars. 2) Just looking at it now, I can see why it appealed — it’s a kid’s book about adults. Or is it an adult’s book about kids? Everybody was just doing such horrible things to each other, in beautiful black and white paintings! So knowing, so grim, so funny. 3) I still can’t flip through it all in one sitting. It is just too awesome, in the true, non-slacker usage of the word. It invokes awe, and then some. Or, put another way, each page, each drawing, each gag is like getting hit upside the head — but in the most delightful, albeit humbling fashion. By the time I hit the cartoon of the husband being berated by his harridan wife for even botching his own suicide, (“For heaven’s sake, can’t you do anything right?,” page 36) I am out of breath, panting, begging surrender. If I can power on, I often find it impossible to carry on past page 48, the forlorn editor of Boy’s Life preparing to off himself with a slingshot. (Understand, I was an avid reader of Boy’s Life at the time I saw this, and next to seeing R. Crumb Comix on the bus to camp, this was as close to making sense of Boy Scouts as I could ever hope for.) So I still cherish this tome. Thanks for giving me this opportunity to bring it down from its altar — well, up from its bookshelf, and wash myself in its twisted, healing waters.

Andy Friedman

For me it’s William Steig’s “The Lonely Ones.”

Steig lonely ones 

As a visual artist, cartoonist, and musician, the book gave me the idea that a song could be a drawing.  I like to think of William Steig with his ink pen and poetic reflections about life as that of a country blues singer with a shaky voice and an acoustic guitar.  In each drawing, Steig expresses a universal truth.  He embraces the art of subtlety to get his message across, and he does so with simple, direct, and honest strokes.  It takes the combination of the drawings, which play the part of the guitar, coupled with the captions, which represent the lyrics, to make it happen.  Neither the pictures or the captions could stand alone.  They could, but they wouldn’t mean the same thing as they do when they work together, and wouldn’t be the visual song that they become when they do.  It is that aspect of these particular drawings that I have found to be the most inspiring, and which have led me to create visual art, cartoons, and music that attempts to do the same thing, which is why I consider it a Bible.  As a side note, and apropos to portraying Steig as a genuine country blueser, it is interesting to consider the fact that he sold his first cartoon to the magazine in 1930, about six years before Robert Johnson, “The King of The Delta Blues Singers,” made his first recordings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Corey Pandolph

Anything by Elmore Leonard.

elmore

Yes, I know he’s not a cartoonist. No, I’m not drunk.  I love character development through dialogue. When I was drawing daily cartoon strips, I was always trying to pepper in subtle jokes based on the idea of the reader already knowing the characters so well.  Elmore Leonard was the king of conjuring the most comfortable and familiar characters from thin air. Better than The Bible, even.

 

 

Michael Crawford

‘All in Line’ was my book of genesis.

Steinberg : All in Line

My dad brought it home one day when I was 7 or 8 and it started me drawing immediately. William Steig’s ‘Male/Female’ became my new testament from the getgo. sly, loose, elegant, erotic, funny.

 

 

Liam Walsh

I probably resort to The Cartoons of Cobean most frequently.

Cartoons of Cobean

I’m a big fan of captionless gags, of which Cobean was a master. A lot of his gags are not so much laugh-out-loud (to me) as they are witty or clever and his sense of humor has a swagger and wink to it that charms me. His style of drawing looks effortless, breezy, as though he’d just skidded his Jag to a halt in front of the house, jogged up the stairs, and dashed off his batch with a cocktail by his side. The foreword is by Charles Addams and it’s edited by Saul Steinberg; heady company!

 

 

Roz Chast

Monster Rally, a collection of cartoons by Charles Addams would be my Cartoon Bible.

Addams : monster rally

When I was a kid, my parents and I spent almost every summer in Ithaca, New York. During the day, my parents often went to lectures or concerts at Cornell University, some boring thing that was of no interest to me. Instead of dragging me along anyway, they would park me in the browsing library in the Cornell student center. This library had an entire section devoted to cartoon collections. It was there that I discovered all of Charles Addams’ books, but Monster Rally was my favorite. I looked at it obsessively every time I was there. So horribly dark, and so horribly funny.

 

 

 

 

P.C. Vey

The World of George Price: A 55-Year Retrospective.

  Price

  I always loved this book when I was starting out. The characters looked like members of my family.

 

The New Yorker, Baseball & the Mob: Catching Up with Michael Crawford

Crawford:jstdivorced

 

 

Michael Crawford has two cartoons in The New Yorker’s last issue of the year, but the one above really caught my eye. As I was lingering over and appreciating the drawing, I realized it was high time to check in with Michael and find out what he’s been up to, and if there was anything he’d care to say about that wonderful drawing, and maybe talk a little baseball.

 Michael Maslin: Michael, besides it being just a darn good drawing, your just divorced cartoon has an abundant amount of life and play to it.  It almost looks like it’s animated.  Did it begin less animated?  What was going through your mind when you drew it?

Michael Crawford: Thanks for the compliment, Michael. I was thinking of a weekend I spent riding a bike with a friend in San Francisco at the turn of the century.

MM: I’ve spoken with a number of people, cartoonists and non-cartoonists, who wonder about your marker style. Where did that come from? And why markers — why not wash or pencil?

MC: An architect friend of mine gave me a box one birthday. Perfect on copy paper.  Wash works better on heavyweight papers which I don’t use for cartoons.  I did No.8 pencil sketches for The New Yorker for awhile. I liked it. Kinda smeary. Might go back to it.

MM: You’ve been contributing to The New Yorker since June of 1984 – so you’re heading into your 30th year.  What was your journey to the magazine?

MC: Sold the first one in ’81 – Shawn [New Yorker Editor, William Shawn] didn’t get around to running it til ’83.  The “journey” involved a lot of baseball, writing English papers for cash for people in college, intermittent dating, valet parking and running errands for a big deal D.C. pollster, an ill-advised “teaching” stint at a derelict Vermont “academy” for Led Zeppelin zealots, A beautiful family with a wife and 2 kids at various encampments in and around Boston and a lot of illustration work for The Washington Post and a ton of Boston area publications.  It was fun.

 Eventually, started peppering The New Yorker with gags around 1975 and Whoosh! Before you knew it, it was 1981 and I had my first New Yorker check (for a grand 400 clams I think it was). Shawn ran a total of 6 between ’83 and the year he departed. Once Bob Gottlieb [Robert Gottlieb was William Shawn’s successor as editor] took over, the buy rate increased.

MM:  Shawn was tough on you.

MC: Shawn had his reasons for glacial, as we all know.  Tina  [Robert Gottlieb’s successor as New Yorker editor]was relentlessly cordial, encouraging and welcoming of spread ideas.

MM: You mentioned baseball before.  When your name comes up in conversation, the subject of baseball is never too far behind.

MC: Baseball was life for me, from the beginning. Never passionate about anything like that as a kid– just playing the game, everyday– catch, pepper, pickup games at the park, monkey in the middle in the street at dusk out in front of the house or wiffle ball in a parking lot, for awhile, bent, crumpled milk cartons serving as wiffle balls.  Eventually 3 years in little league, ‘bout the same in Babe Ruth, Made the varsity as a freshman 2d baseman in high school. 4 years against insanely good country boys’ pitching in towns like Altmar, Parish, Pulaski, N.Y.. Did I mention all-consuming!

 Whole slew of teammates, fellow players over time, coaches too who became friends.  And then poof!  My folks nixed my plans of going off to a southern school (Mississippi State, Arizona State, etc.) with great baseball programs.  But fortunately, soon enough, I was playing first base for The New Yorker small fry in Central Park in ’85 and have been there ever since. Fantasy League!

A ps:  two baseball-related stories:

Edited the first and wrote an intro to the latest edition The New Yorker Book of Baseball Cartoons. A thrill and an honor– a recap of my first exposure thru mom and dad to the game.

NYer BB Cartoons

The Olympian Roger Angell bought a version of my Bill Buckner’s 1986 World Series error painting at one of The New Yorker Gallery exhibits  curated by C.S. Ledbetter in the 1990s.

MM: There are a lot of different paths cartoonists take daily, before getting down to work. For instance, Frank Cotham told me he feeds his dog, reads the local paper, checks Facebook, then sits at his drawing table and stares out the window. What do you do before the magic begins?

MC: Just live.  I draw 24/7 wherever I am, just trying to look busy.  When I’m not painting, also, I keep notebooks which fill up with stray material from many sources which I play with near my deadline and try to write a dozen lines which might work with a dozen recent sketches for the batch.  Pretty arbitrary but amusing process fueled by caffeine and tobacco. Then I pdf to Mr. Mankoff while he’s driving to work in one of those big black cars they give to all the top comedy people.

MM; Some years back you had a gallery exhibit of paintings of mobsters [one of them: “St. Patrick’s Day” is below] .  Is that an ongoing subject?

MC: Yes.  Mafia ideas never die, so while I am consumed now with map, landscape, nude and Hopper parody paintings, I frequently go after some type of menace in a face or scene.

MM: Did you watch The Sopranos?

MC: Watched Sopranos when I could at buddies homes – didn’t have HBO. Loved watching the show with friends – except for the gruesome night Christopher sat on the dog.

84x48"

Started my Mob paintings before the series aired.  They sprang from a New Yorker assignment [via the magazine’s illustration editor] Chris Curry to sketch Vincent “the Chin” Gigante at the Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn.  A “sanity” hearing somebody was writing about.  Appalled at how shabbily dressed the Chin was. I envisioned a Mob world fastidious in its sartorial bearing – closer to Sicilian wedding day in the 20s and 30s than to everyday New Jersey leisure suits.

 MM: You’re one of the few New Yorker cartoonists living with another New Yorker cartoonist. Do you and Carolita [Johnson] ever collaborate?  Is there interaction between the two of you concerning your work? Do you look at each other’s batches, discuss work, make suggestions, take suggestions?

MC: We generally take the 5th on those questions.  Nuttin’ poisonal. Lurid details may surface in our joint, posthumous memoir.

MM: Who were the cartoonists who really shook you when you were an aspiring cartoonist? Any cartoon heroes (i.e., who inspired you?)

MC: I got a kick out of most cartoons I saw when I was young, indiscriminately.  There was no accounting for variations in “funny”. At some point certain artists became “idols” — as in: “I want to be him or her — they have a way with language and or a line I want but it’s been done — forget it” which is where the seed of your own resourcefulness is planted. Or not. Immediately appealing to me visually — cartoonists and painters — were Steinberg, Steig, George Price, Mary Petty, Peter Arno, Perry Barlow, Arthur Getz, and Edward Hopper (who has always been to me — while an astonishing painter — a sort of latent cartoonist who got on the A Train, not the D, and never got off. Thank God).


[Below: Hopper’s Woman in “Hotel Room” (1931) Gets an Upgrade No.1]

Hopper's Woman in 'Hotel Room'(1931) Gets an Upgrade No. 1 MG_1259.JPG22x30" copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Link here to visit Michael Crawford’s website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New Yorker before Addams, Steig and Steinberg

NY-albums

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the release this past week of The New Yorker’s Cartoons of the Year 2013 (a relative of a long line of New Yorker Albums seen in the photo) I thought it would be fun to leaf through The New Yorker‘s very first collection, simply called The New Yorker Album. published in 1928, just three years after the magazine’s debut. For starters, I love this part of the introduction (authored by “The New Yorker”):

The New Yorker has been dealing with artists for upward of three years.  We are tired but happy.  Our artists, we feel, have been worth the trouble. They have taken the electric and protoplasmic and comic town and reduced it to page size. To be merry and wise and subtle every week is scarcely possible; but there have been good weeks.

If you substitute the “upward of three years” to “upward of eighty-eight years” the excerpt could’ve easily introduced the 2013 collection.

The very first cartoon you run into in the 1928 collection is a full page by Peter Arno.  This makes perfect sense as Arno was, just  three years into the New Yorker’s life, already its star (his co-star was Helen Hokinson).  Arno was fond of the full page cartoon, but paging through the Album, you’ll find he had plenty of company in that department. Ms. Hokinson, Rea Irvin, Gluyas Williams, George Shanks, Al Frueh, Gardner Rea, and Reginald Marsh, to name but a few, all worked well on a full page (you’ll find a number of full page cartoons in the 2013 collection, but none originally ran as such; full page cartoons in the modern New Yorker are rare, with Roz Chast’s work being one of the exceptions.

What might be remarkable to anyone looking through the 1928 Album is the absence of plenty of the marquee names we associate with the magazine’s past. Cartoonists such as  Charles Addams, William Steig, Saul Steinberg, Thurber and George Price had yet to begin contributing drawings to the magazine (Thurber had begun contributing his writing in 1927, but The New Yorker’s founder & first editor, Harold Ross, wouldn’t publish a Thurber drawing in the magazine until 1931). Addams’ work didn’t appear until 1933, Steig’s not until 1935, Steinberg’s not until 1941, George Price’s not until 1932.  The Album of 1928 was a blueprint for what was to come in later years on the magazine’s pages: a variety of styles, of cartoon worlds, beautifully co-existing.

Much as the 2013 collection is heavy on a handful of cartoonists, such was the case in 1928.  The aforementioned Hokinson, Irvin, Rea, Frueh and Arno command the most space, with plenty of full pages.  Alan Dunn and Barbara Shermund’s work is everywhere, but mostly half-page or quarter-page. Work by other familiar names (or soon to be familiar names) are sprinkled about the volume.  There’s a single Mary Petty drawing (if my counting is correct) with healthier showings by, among others, Otto Soglow, Perry Barlow, Leonard Dove, Peggy Bacon, John Held, Jr., Alajalov (still spelled “Aladjalov”), I. Klein, Carl Rose and Garrett Price (in an early style, far less fluid than his later work). There are a few spreads in the Album (unlike the spreads in the 2013 Cartoons of the Year,  which were created specifically for that publication, the 1928 spreads ran in the The New Yorker).

What struck me as I looked back and forth between the 1928 collection and the 2013 collection (much as a spectator watches the ball during a tennis match) is that here we are eighty-eight years after the magazine’s debut,  still highly entertained, and yes, sometimes still puzzled, by the very simple format Harold Ross and company fostered and nurtured: a drawing atop a caption.  Every week we continue to dive into each issue, turning the pages, eager to run into the next cartoon (and lately, the Cartoon Caption Contest cartoon).  As someone commented on this site following a post on the Cartoons of the Year, “Can’t wait for the shiny new cartoons of 2014.”   Me neither. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

Harold Ross’s Last Cartoonist: Dana Fradon

Fradon:Antic

 

 

By the late 1940s, Harold Ross, The New Yorker’s legendary founder and first editor, had assembled either by happy accident or design (depending on which version of the magazine’s history you want to believe) a stable of magazine cartoonists unrivaled in American publishing.  Some have called that era of the magazine’s cartoons its Golden Age.  The guiding forces of the New Yorker‘s art (besides Harold Ross, of course) were Rea Irvin (who is most known for creating The New Yorker’s signature mascot,  the top-hatted Eustace Tilley) and the magazine’s first Art Editor, James Geraghty,  a former gagman who began working  at the magazine in 1939 and retired in 1973.

 

As mentioned on this site this past summer in a profile of Anatol Kovarsky, there are just four surviving New Yorker cartoonists from the Ross era: Frank Modell, James Stevenson, Anatol Kovarsky and Dana Fradon. Mr. Fradon was the last cartoonist contracted by Mr. Ross, who died in December of 1951.

 

Fradon’s first New Yorker cartoon (below), published May 1, 1948, launched a career that spanned half a century; he went on to contribute nearly fourteen hundred more cartoons, placing him in the stratosphere of such other New Yorker artists as William Steig, Alan Dunn, Robert Weber, Warren Miller, Helen Hokinson, Lee Lorenz, Mischa Richter, Robert Day, and the aforementioned, James Stevenson and Frank Modell.

 

Fradon:1st

 

A native of Chicago, Fradon studied at the Art Institute there, and later, following service in the army during WWII, he studied at The Art Students League in New York. Fellow classmates included future New Yorker colleagues, Joseph Mirachi, Herbert Goldberg, and James Mulligan.

 

In a recent phone and email conversation with Mr. Fradon, who is now 91, we covered a lot of territory, from his beginnings at the New Yorker all the way up to today and whether he’s still thinking up ideas for cartoons.

 

Beginning our conversation, I asked Mr. Fradon if he had any thoughts as to why the Art Students League turned out so many New Yorker cartoonists.

 

“It’s a great school, it’s in New York, it’s cheap, and there were no marks given or attendance taken; a future cartoonists paradise.”

 

Michael Maslin: What brought you to The New Yorker—was it that that was the place to go?

 

Dana Fradon: No, I didn’t know anything about The New Yorker.  My sister married Albert Hubbell and then I heard about The New Yorker [Mr. Hubbell was a jack-of-almost-all trades at The New Yorker, contributing fiction as well as pieces for the Talk of The Town.  He was, briefly, The New Yorker’s Art Editor during WWII when James Geraghty left for service.  He was also a cover artist and contributor of “spot” drawings as well as an in-house idea man, creating captions for cartoonists, including, among others, Mary Petty] I admired Albert and I admired some of the things he pointed out [in the magazine]. I decided that’s where I would channel my work.

 

I did the first cartoon that Geraghty took notice of when I was still in the service. Apparently, when Geraghty showed my work to Ross, he threw Geraghty out of the office.  Geraghty said to me later, with that nice little grin he had that he [Geraghty] didn’t think what I sent in was that bad. It was a panel gag—I still remember it—it was rejected,  but nevertheless Geraghty said, “Keep coming.”

 

MM: I noticed that your first five cartoons in the magazine were captionless—was that happenstance, or was that something you were doing a lot of?

 

DF: I guess that’s what I thought Geraghty thought was funny. In the beginning I had the idea that he was buying only stuff of mine that was rather topical. And I thought that was a restriction—that I could not do the ordinary funny gag—that they were just going to want politically topical stuff. And I thought that would limit me. I didn’t know that it would become, in a sense, my hallmark. I thought at first it was a sign of failure—that I couldn’t do the straight old cartoon. But of course I did end up doing those kinds of cartoons as well.

 

MM: In the beginning you had almost two different styles. You had a heavier style and a looser style.

 

DF: I think the thicker lines came after about five years, ten years—that was still early in a career that spanned 50 years. I went to a felt tip marker that was heavier; I look back at those drawings and I really like them better than some of the thinner line drawings I did later in life. It was not a conscious change—it was a change in paper, and what kind of pen I used.

 

MM: You were trying to find your way?

 

DF: Absolutely. I was trying to find my way for about thirty years.

 

MM: Let’s talk about Geraghty. Obviously he was a huge part of your career.

 

DF: He was a huge part of The New Yorker magazine.  His taste was what guided the magazine—in cartooning and in those days, all the artwork. He bought the spots and the covers. He’s best described by something which has become reasonably common knowledge. He said it to me originally about making a drawing beautiful. He said, “Make it beautiful, Dana. Make it beautiful.”  And very often he would OK a drawing—the final OK would either be Ross’s or Shawn’s—or he would bring to their attention cartoons which were borderline funny but would make magnificent drawings.

 

It was Geraghty’s belief that New Yorker cartoons provoked a chuckle (not laughter) and, of course, much thought. He once went through an act with me imitating a commuter on the New Haven R.R., city bound, opening and skimming through his recently arrived New Yorker. I can imitate every one of Jim’s marvelous gestures and soft grunts (chuckles) to a tee.

 

MM: And the “magnificent drawings” bought—would they be tinkered with?

 

DF: Towards the end under Lee [Lee Lorenz, James Geraghty’s successor as Art Editor], maybe because I was more experienced, there was not much tinkering. But yes, in the beginning there was tinkering down to the last finger. You couldn’t even distinguish where the fingers were [on] my early rough drawings.

 

MM: Did you ever meet Harold Ross?

 

DF: Never met Ross, but nodded to him dozens of times. My only close experience with Ross was at one of the first huge parties the New Yorker threw at the old Ritz-Carleton. Geraghty gave my then wife [the cartoonist, Ramona Fradon] and I an invitation. My wife said, “Fasten your eyes at the guy at the next table.” It was Ross.  So I fastened my eyes on him, and he looked at me like I was a freeloader or something. Everything I know about Ross I heard from Albert [Hubbell]. Albert was the be-all and end-all if you wanted a connection with Ross—he had it and he had total recall.

 

I can’t tell you much about Ross except that I accepted from the beginning that he had impeccable taste.  That was the greatest period of drawing, if not ideas: Arno, and those other guys—Whitney Darrow, Robert Day—all brilliant.

 

MM: I have a list of names I want to run by you, but first, before I forget, I want to ask you if you ever provided ideas for Peter Arno, or anyone else?

 

DF: Yes, Arno, one or two, and for Charlie Addams, half a dozen to a dozen—he was another wonderful artist. You might say Geraghty would look at me and say, “This needs a better artist.” But then it got to where he would give me a trade. He’d say “This would be better if George Price did it.” And he’d give me a simple idea. [Mr. Fradon recalled one idea given to Addams, of Martians coming to the door on Halloween.  It ran in The New Yorker November 1, 1952]

 

MM: When I was researching the Arno biography at the New York Public Library, and looking through The New Yorker’s archives there, I found a lot of interaction, a lot of back and forth—idea-wise—between artists.

 

Fradon:Modell kids

 

DF: When I first started working there—it might’ve been about the tenth cartoon I did—it was a couple of kids watching television, a close-up on the kids. Geraghty didn’t like the faces on the kids.  I couldn’t do kids; now I can, but then I couldn’t at least not on the New Yorker level. Frank did one of the faces on one of my drawings on one of my kids. He [Frank] was sitting out there in the office and Geraghty said, “Just a second” and took the drawing out and Frank did the face and they bought it [the cartoon appears above].

 

MM: We do that around here sometimes.  Liza [Donnelly] will ask me for some help on perspective and I’ll ask her to help me with cats. We have cats here, but that doesn’t help me—I still can’t draw them.

 

DF: Well, certain poses, they’re [cats] hard to draw. You know, Ramona used to do all my horses. It wasn’t until I started doing kids books, and I was divorced, that I learned to do my version of the horse, which is more like a merry-go-round horse. I learned to draw them out of necessity because Ramona wasn’t there to draw them for me. There are a couple of my New Yorker cartoons with horses in them, and she drew the horses.

 

MM: There’s one I have here on my desk…you have an invading army…

 

DF: Is it “Beware of dogs?”

 

 

MM: Yes, yes.

 

DF: She didn’t do the finish, I inked them—but she drew the horses.

 

MM: As long as we’re talking about specific drawings, there’s one I thought would make a good title and cover drawing for a collection: “The gods are antic tonight.”

 

DF: That drawing has a story behind it. Lee put the word “antic” in there. I had the “gods are something-or-other” and I believe he changed it to antic. He asked me, of course, if it was ok.  I didn’t get the fine difference between what I had and he had, but apparently the antic thing was pretty cute, and he knew what he was doing.  “Antic” was not in my vocabulary.

 

 

MM: Can you list for me some of the cartoonists you knew back in those early days. Let’s begin with Arno.

 

DF: Never met Arno, never saw Arno but always felt his presence. Knew fairly well: Sam Cobean, the magazine’s other genius; Charlie Addams, Richard Decker, Frank Modell, Whitney Darrow, Mischa Richter, Bill Steig, Dick Taylor, Barney Tobey and many more. I met, casually, Saul Steinberg (I suppose he’s another genius), Robert Day, Chon Day, Alan Dunn and Mary Petty.

 

MM: Did you know Stan Hunt?

 

DF: A nice gentle soul.

 

MM: James Mulligan?

 

DF: He was left-handed, but because of several car accidents, had to learn to draw with his right hand. His last few hundred cartoons were drawn with his right hand.

 

MM: Rea Irvin?

 

DF: Rea Irvin lived in Newtown [Connecticut] for several years. A really sweet guy. Worked with drawing board held in his lap in a, literally, closet-size studio in a large, beautiful colonial. Actually, HE is the genius of The New Yorker. Did the first cover, designed its typeface, and designed the headings, I think, of the various regular columns. Based on his drawing and the variety and depth of his drawing…he’s the number one guy that everyone always forgets about. Rea just seemed like Major Hoople…“woof woof woof”  while he talked, to clear his throat.

 

MM: Speaking of covers…I couldn’t help but notice there was never a Fradon New Yorker cover.

 

DF: I submitted one cover and after about the tenth time of correcting it and fixing it, I gave it up and went back to doing something I knew better: doing cartoons and ideas. I was doing well on the cartoons and beginning to move into kid’s books, where I got all that color out of my system. I never pursued it. The one I did try lent itself mostly to design—there was nothing funny about it.

 

MM: What about Richard Taylor—you mentioned you knew him.

 

images

DF: Dick Taylor was a lovely man, and sort of a comic on his own.  He had a unique way of drawing. There’ve been Whitney Darrow look-alikes and Bob Weber look-alikes, and dozens of Cobean look-alikes, and Arno look-alikes; when I say look-alikes, they’re not as good—there was a guy who did a lot of ads—nothing but ads—he was a pale version of Arno. I’ve never even seen a pale version of Dick Taylor.

 

MM: His work—his people were too different weren’t they?  With those giant eyes…

 

DF: And the way he did his washes too. Layers and layers before he got the tone, without it going dead. Whereas most of us…I strive to splash it on as best I can.

 

MM: I loved watching the progression of your drawings from the very first ones to where they became very loose. The energy there—your heads would almost be disconnected from the bodies. I could see you were having a really great time doing these.

 

DF: That, and a little bit of writing is the only thing that absorbed me. And playing baseball.

 

MM: How did you work? Did you go to your desk in the morning, five days a week?

 

DF: Yeah, five or six days a week, I made it a point. The first thing I’d do—the first three hours in the morning, when you’re freshest—is think of ideas. I’d just think of ideas five days a week and come up with twenty or twenty-five of them and then let Geraghty comb through and pick out what he thought was funny.

 

The routine for thinking of ideas—you may feel the same way—I have no formula for thinking of an idea. It’s more of free association. You start out with a subject, and you may not end up with that subject.

 

MM: And you write everything down, right, because these things can float away.

 

DF: I had a big pad of paper, 14” x 17” bond paper; I’d make little notes and sketches and see where they’d lead me. Once, when I was giving a talk I said the important thing of thinking of ideas is knowing when to pounce. You kick ideas around in your subconscious and then this one is a straggler and you pounce on it because it seems funny.  And that’s the one you draw up. I drew up a lot of rejections too of course [laughing].

 

Geraghty used to tell new cartoonists—and some of the established ones as well—about how he’d be at a party and someone would tell him a funny story and then say, “Why don’t you make a cartoon out of it?”  He’d turn to them and say, “That’s not a cartoon, that’s a short story.” There’s a hell of a big difference.  You know, they’ll start by saying, “There’re ten thousand people in a living room…” Well, who the hell is going to draw ten thousand people in a living room!?

 

MM: One of the things that fascinated me about Arno’s life was that his career spanned enough time at the magazine, 1925 through 1968 to see a change in the use of ideamen. He began using his own ideas but then shifted into using ideamen in the 1930s and beyond.  Many of his contemporaries used ideamen as well (not all of them did, but a majority). By the time your era came along, late 1940s, early 1950s, your crowd, or most of you, were doing your own ideas. That just sort of happened? Or did someone encourage you?

 

DF: Yeah, it just sort of happened, but it’s also something I think subconsciously that Geraghty was striving for. He probably thought it was taking too much time or thought or energy putting cartoonists together with ideas. If you could do it in one step, that was helpful…it became a real badge of courage to do your own ideas, your own drawings.

 

DF: One person who did his own ideas—I don’t know if you remember him, was Herbert Goldberg.

 

MM: I know his work from the albums, The New Yorker anniversary albums. I’m a sucker for those collections.

 

DF: You live in the world of cartoons.

 

MM: Yes.

 

DF: Well that’s one thing I’ve never have done and I’ve always been sorry for it. I’m not really a cartoonist.  I’m a misplaced baseball player or something like that. But I look at [cartoonist] Orlando Busino and I’m just so envious of people who can get into that. When I drew I was in the world, but I wasn’t really there. I wish I could’ve appreciated who I was.

 

MM: Do you still take a crack at cartoons every once in awhile?

 

DF: For a time, when I thought of a good idea that I thought would go in today’s New Yorker, I stifled it. And then I said to myself: well don’t do that anymore, write ‘em down—so I write them down on a scrap of paper and throw them into a pile.

 

 

Dana Fradon’s books include:

Breaking the Laugh Barrier (Dell, 1961)

My Son the Medicine Man (Avon, 1964)

Insincerely Yours (Dutton, 1978)

Sir Dana: A Knight, As Told by His Trusty Armor (Dutton, 1988)

Harold the Herald (Dutton, 1990)

The King’s Fool: A Book About Medieval and Renaissance Fools (Dutton, 1993)

To see some of Dana Fradon’s New Yorker work, link here to the New Yorker’s Cartoon Bank.

 

 

Astaire Cartoonists vrs Kelly Cartoonists

 

Astaire feetKelly feet

 

 

 

 

 

Someone once said that the greatest difference between Fred Astaire’s dancing and Gene Kelly’s dancing is that you could see Gene Kelly’s sweat.  Pauline Kael, writing in The New Yorker in 1972 said, “Kelly isn’t a winged dancer; he’s a hoofer and more earthbound” which she compared to “Astaire’s grasshopper lightness.” Here are some other words you’ll run into when reading about Astaire’s dancing: effortless, graceful, floating on air.  And for Kelly: muscular, dynamic, down-to-earth.

 

I pose this simple question: is it possible to divide New Yorker cartoonists into two distinct camps: Astaire Cartoonists and Kelly Cartoonists? Are there some cartoonists whose work seems effortless, like Astaire’s?  Do others show the sweat, and muscularity of Kelly’s performances?  Well of course I think the answer is yes.  I’m not saying Astaire’s dancing was better than Kelly’s or vice-versa – I’m just saying they were different.

 

This has everything to do with what cartoons look like on the printed page or glowing screen and how a cartoonist’s work appears to the reader’s eye. Is the reader aware of the mechanics of the drawing (do you see the sweat?) or does the cartoon seem effortless?

 

I’m reminded of the story James Thurber told of the day he was sitting in his driveway in Connecticut drawing his car head on.  Al Freuh, the great New Yorker artist happened by, and seeing Thurber struggling with crosshatching and perspective, said, “Don’t bother drawing like that – if you ever got good at it, you’d be mediocre.”  (I’d put Frueh in the Astaire camp).

 

As an example of what I’m talking about, here’s my short-list of Astaire cartoonists and Kelly cartoonists:

Robert Weber definitely in Astaire camp.  Mischa Richter in the Kelly school. Thurber, Astaire; Gluyas Williams, Astaire.  Mary Petty, Kelly; and her husband, Alan Dunn: Kelly. George Price, Kelly. William Steig, Astaire. Richard Taylor, Kelly. Charles Barsotti, Astaire; Whitney Darrow, Jr., Kelly. Helen Hokinson, Astaire. Steinberg, Kelly & Astaire (yes, there are hybrids!).

 

I invite Ink Spill visitors to offer their lists; I fully expect some will completely disagree with mine – so let me have it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BBC: Bert & Ernie New Yorker Cover & The Power of Cartoons: Bob Mankoff on Favorite Cartoons, Pt.2; Book of Interest: American Cornball

BBC Bert:Ernie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From BBC News Magazine, July 19, 2013, “A Point of View: Bert, Ernie and the power of cartoons”

 

 

 

 

 

 

And…

 

robert_mankoff_banner_n

 

 

From New Yorker Cartoon Editor, Bob Mankoff’s newyorker.com blog, here’s part 2 of his look into favorite cartoons.  This time Mr. Mankoff begins to roll out favorites as suggested by visitors to the site.  Work shown includes cartoons by George Price, Peter Arno, Shel Silverstein (whose work never appeared in The New Yorker), and Charles Addams.

 

And…

 

 

 

51N21tJznIL._SY300_-1

 

 

 

 

Now here’s a book worth waiting for: American Cornball: A Laffopedic Guide to the Formerly Funny (Harper, 2014) by Christopher Miller.  Originally slated to be out now, it’s been rescheduled for February of next year.  I asked Mr. Miller to describe the book:

 

It is an encyclopedia of old humor, with roughly 200 entries on things that used to strike people as funny–things like anvils, back-seat drivers, castor oil, dish-washing husbands, efficiency experts, flappers, gold diggers, hangovers, icemen, just-marrieds, kissing booths, ladies’ clubs, mothers-in-law, next-door neighbors, old maids, pie fights, rolling pins, stenographers, traveling salesmen, ulcers, women drivers, and yes men.

The focus is American humor in the first 2/3 of the 20th century, as expressed in books, movies, cartoons, comic strips, sit-coms, radio programs, etc. I talk a lot about New Yorker cartoonists like Charles Addams (especially in the entry on Spouse-Killing), Helen Hokinson (Ladies’ Clubs), Peter Arno (Gold diggers), and Richard Taylor (Drunks and Drunkenness).

 

Note: Mr. Miller has a Facebook page devoted to the book, with a number of images posted, including work by Charles Addams, Syd Hoff, and Sam Cobean