Objet D’art of Interest: A Thurber Bobblehead

Well here it is: the ultimate (?) gift for a Thurberite.  I’m not sure if any other New Yorker artist has been so honored.  A quick search for an Addams bobblehead and a Steinberg bobblehead turned up nada (I would love to see a Steinberg bobblehead).  

As you can see on the packaging, the bobblehead was issued as part of Columbus Ohio’s bicentennial.

The only similar object I’ve ever seen was a small painted plaster Eustace Tilley figurine. Neither the Tilley nor the Thurber objets d’art are in the Spill‘s archives, but one can dream.

The Thurber bobblehead can be found on Ebay for a song.

 

 

How A Cartoonist Falls In Love With Cartoons; A Thurber Home For Sale

From The Daily Beast, May 20, 2017, “This Is How A Cartoonist Falls In Love With Cartoons” — a piece by Anthony Haden-Guest (with Charles Addams content), His exhibit, The Further Chronicles of Now is at Anderson Contemporary, 180 Maiden Lane, NYC, until June 9th. .

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From Connecticut’s News-Times , April 7, 2017, “James Thurber Slept Here” — this piece about a Thurber home for sale.

— my thanks to the New Yorker writer, Bill Franzen for passing along this piece.

81 Years Ago in The New Yorker

Just for the heck of it, I’ve taken a bound volume of The New Yorker off the shelf, and opened it up to the issue dated May 23, 1936. The cover is  by Perry Barlow. The cover’s colors are supplied by Mr. Barlow’s wife, Dorothy Hope, as Mr. Barlow was partly color-blind.  The festive cover moment doesn’t hint at all of what’s going on in the world (specifically Nazi Germany); you need only wait til you get to Notes and Comment in The Talk of The Town for that:

“…Truth stays up all night, and that something keeps flickering in the world while Ministers of Propaganda snooze.”

Continuing on into the body of the magazine, and focusing on the cartoons (I apologize for not showing all the cartoons — I don’t want to tax the patience of the New Yorker‘s rights & permissions person), we come to a Richard Decker that swallows up the page graphically, and opposite it a very Charles Addams-like  Richard Taylor cartoon (shown here). 

An un-pc  Robert Day jungle cartoon follows, and following that a beautiful (of course!) Peter Arno drawing of a cafe scene with a young pretty woman shouting into an old gent’s hearing aid, “I say I hate the city, Mr. Gromer! I love everything in the fields! Everything that’s growing! Everything that’s wild!”

Next up is a rarity (shown below): one of only three cartoons  — and the last of the three –the artist Adolf Dehn contributed to the magazine. Here’s his A-Z entry:

Adolf Dehn  Born, Minnesota, Nov. 22, 1895; died, New York City, May 19. 1968. Primarily a lithographer, Dehn’s work is said to be collected by 20 museums, including The Smithsonian and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY. NYer work: three drawings, Sept. 6. 1930; June 15, 1935; May 23, 1936. A bio from the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art: www.sama-art.org/info/publications/catalog/dehn_cat/dehn_text.html

This is followed by a full page Carl Rose drawing titled: Strange Events Of An Election Year.  A few pages later is a large drawing by Alan Dunn (one of the most published New Yorker cartoonists of all-time, right up there with Lee Lorenz and William Steig). Next are drawings by Richard Decker and Mr. Barlow (the same fellow responsible for the cover). The following page is a very very funny Mary Petty drawing (shown):

One page later: a beautiful James Thurber  drawing, with tennis as the topic. Next up, a drawing by Ned Hilton (someone whose work doesn’t get much attention these days, although Mike Lynch did post a Hilton drawing the other day and mentioned Mr. Hilton’s interesting signature).

 

A number of pages later we come to a quarter-page Helen Hokinson drawing of a woman trying on a new hat. The saleswoman is saying: “You mustn’t think of it in New York, Mrs. Brewster. Think of it in Lenox.”

 

And last:  Alain, with  a caption-less drawing (shown):

Not a bad collection of artists and art in one issue: Barlow, Hokinson, Thurber, Arno, Alain, Robert Day, Ned Hilton, Richard Decker, Alan Dunn, Mary Petty, and a bonus  —  the rare Adolf Dehn drawing. Two full pages, and several more nearly full. 

The spot drawings are pretty great too, including this one:

 

 

Bob Eckstein Named Writer’s Digest Columnist; The Tilley Watch: A Steed Full Page; Emma Allen Plays Ball

 

 

Writer’s Digest has announced that Bob Eckstein, whose latest book (shown to the left) has received great notices, will become their recurring columnist beginning this summer. Read all about it here.

Visit Mr. Eckstein’s website here (where you’ll find links to his New Yorker work, and work elsewhere)

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In the latest episode of The Cartoon Lounge, The New Yorker‘s cartoon editor, Emma Allen plays ball with Colin Stokes, the associate cartoon editor.  And they also take a look at Ed Steed’s full page (yes, a full page!) drawing appearing in the magazine’s latest issue. Nice glimpse of the Thurber wall drawing around the 2:05 mark.

also of note: Kim Warp is now doing the Daily Cartoon.  

A Thurber Poster (and A Steig Poster & A Soglow Poster): Book of Interest: Wertz’s Tenements, Towers & Trash

The other day I Spilled a beautiful Peter Arno poster being auctioned by the Swann Galleries;  here are three more posters by three  great New Yorker artists:  James Thurber, Otto Soglow and William Steig. All took a turn  illustrating a poster for the Washington Square Art Show.  Thurber’s was for the 1935 exhibit, Soglow’s for 1930, and  Steig’s for 1933. (Arno’s appeared in 1932).

All the info here on the Swann website. Enter the name of the artist in the search box, and presto! 

Note: Ink Spill is in no way connected to the Swann Galleries.  I’m posting these posters because they’re wonderful oddities.

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Coming in October from Black Dog & Levinthal — the folks who brought us the massive  Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker: Julia Wertz’s Tenements, Towers & Trash. 

From the publisher, Ms. Wertz’s bio:

Julia Wertz is a professional cartoonist and amateur historian. She has published five graphic novels and does monthly history comics for The New Yorker and Harper’s Magazine.

Link here to her website.

Here’s what Roz Chast had to say about Tenements, Towers & Trash:

“Julia Wertz’s Tenements, Towers, and Trash is nothing short of extraordinary. The meticulously researched histories of the various urban landscapes are fascinating, and Wertz’s drawings perfectly capture the visual poetry of the city- the ongoing struggle between past and present, and its unique blend of beauty and ugliness. A must for anyone who loves and appreciates the city, as Wertz so clearly does.”

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About Thurber

My my my, there certainly are a lot of books about my cartoonist hero,  James Thurber. I thought it would be fun to show the ones in the Spill‘s library, but ran into two more while checking online for any current titles I’d missed ( #11, listed below, is out just this month…are there even more? Let me know). Three of the books below have been indispensable to me: Burton Bernstein’s biography,  Bowden’s bibliography, and Harrison Kinney’s massive biography.  I bought Mr. Bernstein’s biography while in college along with Brendan Gill’s Here At the New Yorker.  Those two books (along with The Thurber Carnival) were my rocket fuel to Manhattan and to the pages of the New Yorker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(pictured at the top of the post: a Thurber eraser)

 

1. James Morsberger.  James Thurber. Twaynes United States Authors Series, 1964.

2. Edwin T. Bowden.  James Thurber: A Bibliography. Ohio State University Press,  1968.

3. Richard C. Tobias. The Art of James Thurber. Ohio University Press, 1969.

4. Charles S. Holmes.  The Clocks of Columbus. Athenium, 1972.

5. Burton Bernstein. Thurber.  Dodd, Mead, 1975.

6. Robert Emmet Long.  James Thurber.  Continuum, 1988.

7. Thomas Fensch (Ed.). Conversations With James Thurber. University Press of Mississippi, 1989.

8. Neil A. Grauer.  Remember Laughter: A Life of James Thurber. University of Nebraska Press, 1994.

9. Harrison Kinney.  James Thurber: His Life and Times. Henry Holt, 1995.

10. Alan Vanneman.  James Thurber: A Readers Guide. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015.

11. Bob Hunter.  Thurberville. Trillium, 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

R.C. Harvey’s Trip Down Mankoff Lane

From The Comics Journal, March 27, 2017, “A Look Back at 20 Years of Mankoff’s New Yorker” — R.C. Harvey takes a look at Bob Mankoff’s not-quite 20 year term (August of 1997 – April of 2017) as The New Yorker‘s cartoon editor in this longish piece that covers much ground found in Mankoff’s memoir, How About Never — Is Never Good For You: My Life in Cartoons (Henry Holt, 2014), as well as the very current events surrounding Mr. Mankoff’s imminent departure.

There are a few things in Mr. Harvey’s piece I’m going to quibble with. I’ve reproduced them here, bolded and italicized.

New Yorker cartoons are topical (and always have been) but not as front-page topical as newspaper editorial cartoons. For decades, thanks to the magazine’s founder’s Puritan bent, sex was taboo as a subject for cartoons.

New Yorker cartoons can be topical, but they are not always topical, and they have not always been topical, nor are they all topical now.  For instance,  these two drawings, perhaps two of the most famous in the magazine’s canon: James Thurber’s so-called Seal in the Bedroom, and Charles Addams famous skier who has somehow managed to ski through a pine tree.  If there’s something topical about them, I don’t see it.

As for sex as a taboo, well what are we talking about here exactly?  Barbara Shermund’s and Peter Arno’s work mined the subject of sex in the New Yorker for decades on end.  Mr. Arno, of course, made quite a nice career out of providing the New Yorker‘s readership with sex-based drawings.

By the time Lorenz was cartoon editor, cartoonists were expected to both write and draw their cartoons. (In fact, to reveal an undisguised bias of mine, true cartooning, blending words and picture, can most happily take place in a cartoonist’s mind, not a writer’s. Which may account for the typically inert comedy that prevailed at The New Yorker for so many of its first decades. And, even—inevitably—into current decades.)

Not really sure where  “by the time Lorenz was cartoon editor, cartoonists were expected to both write and draw their cartoons” comes from. It is simply not the case.  As one who was brought into The New Yorker by Mr. Lorenz, the subject of what was expected never came up. The word “expect” just isn’t part of the New Yorker cartoonist/editor language. Forty years later, I can say that the subject never came up with Mr. Lorenz, or his successor.

As for “…the typically inert comedy that prevailed at The New Yorker for so many of its first decades” Mr. Harvey has a right to his opinion, of course, but “inert” is not a word I’d apply to the earliest New Yorker cartoons. In fact, if you look through the magazine’s first three decades  what you will see is plenty of cartoon movement across the page and within the cartoons themselves. Take a look at the work of Reginald Marsh, or Thurber, or Barlow, or Hoff or Johan Bull (I could go on listing names, but you get the point).   Mr. Bull was a frequent contributor in the magazine’s earliest days –his lovely drawings  were barely kept within the borders of the page. And Mr. Marsh’s drawings were electric.  There was a graphic  playfulness to much of the work then; it subsided, appropriately enough, with the advent of the second world war.  If you want to go looking for inert drawings, you’ll find them easily enough and in every issue, but I would say they did not prevail — they were a bit of balance, some down-time Harold Ross so wisely provided his readers.

Video of Interest: John Updike & New Yorker Cartoons; From Ink Spill’s Archives: Art of The New Yorker Ephemera

 

The late John Updike (he died in 2009) wrote almost as much about the magazine’s cartoons and cartoonists as any New Yorker contributor outside of the Art/Cartoon Department [see below].  Here we have a chance to see him for five and-a-half minutes,  up close with some of the magazine’s most iconic drawings, including James Thurber’s Seal in the Bedroom, Charles Addams’s skier and Peter Arno’s “Well, back to the old drawing board.”  The video comes out of WGBH’s archive (that’s the Boston public television station). My guess is that Updike was visiting the traveling exhibit of art tied into the New Yorker‘s 60th anniversary in 1985.   Here’s the link.  Enjoy!

A Selected List of Updike on New Yorker Cartoons and Cartoonists:

Introduction to Christmas at The New Yorker: Stories, Poems, Humor, and Art (2003)

Thurber’s Art — a contribution to Cartoon America: Comic Art in the Library of Congress (2006)

A Tribute to Saul Steinberg for The New York Review of Books (1999).

Introduction to The World of William Steig, edited by Lee Lorenz (1998)

Introduction to a section (“The Fourth Decade: 1955- 1964”) of The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker (2004)

Introduction to Poor Arnold’s Almanac (1998) *the “Arnold” is Arnold Roth

Note for an Exhibit of New Yorker cartoons at The Art Institute of Boston (1993)

Review of  Steinberg’s The Discovery of America (in The New York Review of Books, 1992)

 

Some ephemera from the exhibit:

When the show ran its course, the art was returned to the contributing artists.  With the art, the Nicholls Gallery included the slip of paper you see below (Barbara Nicholls curated the exhibit). We can see that the exhibit Updike likely visited was at The Boston Athenaeum:

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the opening night in New York (at The New York Public Library, not The Yorker Public Library as it’s spelled on the Nicholls sheet. The New Yorker did have then, and continues to have now, its own library, but it’s not generally open to the public), attendees were offered a swag bag on the way out of the exhibit. The bag contained a brochure, a large Charles Addams poster as well as a copy of The New Yorker Cartoon Album 1975-1985, and a packet of postcards, all shown below except for the poster, which is too big for my scanner — the image is the same as you see on the bag and postcard):