The Algonquin

 

The  holiday season reminds me of the Algonquin Hotel, and once reminded I only have to look across my desk to the snowglobe pictured above.  It was given to me years ago by friends who stayed at the hotel for a day or two.

 

I threw together the little scene above for Ink Spillers. The snowglobe sits atop Margaret Case Harriman’s Vicious Circle: The Story of The Algonquin Roundtable (Rinehart & Co., Inc., 1951.  Illustrated by the late great Al Hirschfeld). Behind the globe is Frank Case’s Tales Of A Wayward Inn (Garden City Publishing, Inc., 1941. With seven illustrations, including one by James Thurber and another by Covarrubias ). My thanks to Jack Ziegler for adding Wayward Inn  to our collection many moons ago. The Empire State Building and Chrysler Building are Times Square souvenirs. I found the tin Yellow Cab someplace years ago.  There’s a sign on the trunk:  “Always Be Careful Crossing Streets” — excellent advice then and now.

 

The mention of the Algonquin brings to mind a flood some of the biggest and brightest names associated with the earliest and earlier years of The New Yorker: Harold Ross, Dorothy Parker, Alexander Woollcott, Benchley, E.B. White, and Thurber, who made the place his second home when he wasn’t at his “great good place” in Connecticut.  It was in the Algonquin lobby that Thurber and another of the magazine’s giants, Peter Arno, met for the last time just before Thurber’s death.  And of course it was where William Shawn went for his cereal and orange juice lunch every week day during his long tenure as editor.

 

For those wanting much more on the Algonguin and its part in The New Yorker’s story, there are the books in the photo (Frank Case owned the Algonguin), as well as Thomas Kunkel’s terrific biography of Harold Ross, Genius in Disguise (Random House, 1995). There are plenty of other books with tales of the Algonquin — too many to mention at the moment. I will however note a few more books that go right to the heart of the matter:

Wit’s End: Days and Nights  of the Algonquin Round Table by James R. Gaines (Booksurge Publishing, 2007)

The Algonquin Wits Edited by Robert E. Drennan (The Citadel Press, 1985)

The Lost Algonquin Round Table Edited by Nat Benchley and Kevin C. Fitzpatrick (iUniverse, Inc., 2009)

Politics reigns in New Yorker’s Cartoon Issue.

 

Out now: The 2012 New Yorker Cartoon Issue.  This is the 15th year the Cartoon Issue has appeared. That first issue, dated December 15, 1997, featured a cover collage of cartoonists’ work, a fold out Arnold Newman photograph of forty-one of the magazine’s cartoonists and one of my all-time favorite Jack Ziegler cartoons (it appeared in the Comment section). Also in that issue, under the heading Cartoonists was an alphabetical list of and mini-bio for each artist. If you don’t have a copy, it’s well worth seeking out.

The latest installment features a politically themed cover by Roz Chast (her 2nd Cartoon Issue cover, her first appeared in 1999). This Cartoon Issue veers from its predecessors in that its cover, cartoons and cartoon spreads are predominantly politically themed.

One non-political full page stands out:  Joe Dator’s “How We Do It” A week in the life of a New Yorker Cartoonist. Of note: Aline & R. Crumb reappear (Mr. Crumb made news in 2010 when he said he’d “never work for The New Yorker again”). Also of note: Andy Friedman, whose cartoons hitherto appeared in the magazine under the pseudonym Larry Hat (his New Yorker illustrations appear under his own name), appears here under his own name.

 

Here’s a full rundown of the cartoonists (and, in one case, a cartoon collaborator) featured in the issue:

Cover: Roz Chast

Spreads and full pages: Aline & R. Crumb, Joe Dator, Alex Gregory, Zachary Kanin, Ruben Bolling, Barry Blitt, Simon Rich & Farley Katz

Cartoons: Paul Karasik, Ariel Molvig, Barbara Smaller, Tom Toro, Andy Friedman, Joe Dator, Charles Barsotti, Lee Lorenz, Liam Francis Walsh, William Haefeli, John O’Brien, Danny Shanahan, Bruce Eric Kaplan, Zachary Kanin, Michael Crawford, Frank Cotham, Christopher Weyant, Farley Katz, Kim Warp, Paul Noth,  Carolita Johnson

 

 

 

 

Ward Sutton’s Davy Jones Tribute; Jack Ziegler’s First OK; Panel discussion with Flake, Dernavich and Katz

From Spin, “Ward Sutton’s Most Memorable Encounter With The Monkees’ Davy Jones”

 

From newyorker.com, two items of interest:

Bob Mankoff continues his series of My First OK.  Last week it was Mick Stevens, this week it’s Jack Ziegler’s turn with the post “The Journey of a Thousand Cartoons”.

 

And, on March 5th, The New Yorker’s Editor, David Remnick moderates a panel discussion with cartoonists, Emily Flake, Drew Dernavich and Farley Katz

 

 

Posted Note: Happy 87th

With The New Yorker’s 87th birthday just around the corner (the very first issue was dated February 21, 1925) I thought it would be fun to muse about the magazine’s present cartoon universe.

What New Yorker cartoonists do so well and have done so well over eight decades is knee-jerk to their time. The New Yorker’s hands-off system, begun by its founder, Harold Ross, of encouraging contributing cartoonists to explore their creative bent, wherever it may lead them, remains very much in place to this day.  This was a spectacular editorial decision, providing a home for those (of us) who have trouble taking direction, but no trouble at all staring into space or messing around on paper awaiting the pulsating light bulb of inspiration to strike. It’s a freedom that’s produced tens of thousands of great cartoons and scores of great cartoonists, from Addams to Ziegler. I’d venture to say — without the research to back it up — that the magazine’s current crop of cartoonists, more than any in the past, has taken this freedom and run like hell with it, graphically and otherwise.

Part of the genius of Harold Ross, was his decision to encourage his artists to run amuck creatively, insuring that the magazine does not hand the readership formula.  As each issue arrives (either in our mailbox or electronically), I, like many of the magazine’s million other readers, look at the cartoons first. The 87th anniversary issue, now in hand, with its fuzzy “loading” Eustace Tilley cover, was no exception; the excitement of flipping through looking at the cartoons came not from what was expected, but, as always, from the unexpected.