Booksellers post Big New Yorker Book of Dogs cover


Thurber fans will certainly enjoy the cover and content of the upcoming Big New Yorker Book of Dogs now posted online at your favorite mega-bookseller site.  The 416 page hardcover book is due October 30, 2012 (Random House).

The online description reads, in part:

This copious collection, beautifully illustrated in full color, features articles, fiction, humor, poems, cartoons, cover art, drafts, and drawings from the magazine’s archives. The roster of contributors includes John Cheever, Susan Orlean, Roddy Doyle, Ian Frazier, Arthur Miller, John Updike, Roald Dahl, E. B. White, A. J. Liebling, Alexandra Fuller, Jerome Groopman, Jeffrey Toobin, Richard Russo, T. Coraghessan Boyle, Ogden Nash, Donald Barthelme, Jonathan Lethem, Mark Strand, Anne Sexton, and Cathleen Schine. Complete with a Foreword by Malcolm Gladwell and a new essay by Adam Gopnik on the immortal canines of James Thurber, this gorgeous keepsake is a gift to dog lovers everywhere from the greatest magazine in the world.

New Yorker Cartoons & war

Pictured above:  a handful of World War II era publications from The New Yorker. Beginning at twelve o’clock high, with the red cover is The New Yorker Cartoons with The Talk of The Town (1945) — it’s the hard cover version of the New Yorker booklet to the left (cover by Alajalov). This is an exciting publication, chock full of great work.  The Introduction is by New Yorker writer Russell Maloney who speaks of the qualities that define a New Yorker cartoon.  Here’s an excerpt:

The editors of The New Yorker have, from the very beginning, made things just much more difficult for themselves by insisting on a closer relation between pictures and captions. In a good New Yorker drawing — and mind you, I’m saying they’re all good — the picture doesn’t mean much without a caption, and vice versa. If a picture is self explanatory without a caption, it is printed without a caption; you’ll find a good many in this volume. In The New Yorker the pictures do not illustrate the jokes; they are the jokes.

Continuing clockwise is The New Yorker War Album (cover by Peter Arno, published by Random House, 1942), then a pony edition* New Yorker (cover by Helen Hokinson), Another booklet, this one titled The New Yorker War Cartoons (cover by the ultra-prolific Alan Dunn).  The Introduction is by E.J. Kahn.  Here’s an excerpt:


One of the principal virtues of this collection of war cartoons is that they are not aimed at anybody in particular, unless it be the man with a capacity for absorbtion of humor…These cartoons show that a purely civilian organization can good naturedly tickle a military body without hurting any feelings.

Rounding out the collection, another pony edition (cover by James Thurber).


*By following the pony edition link above you’ll be taken to the From the Attic section of Ink Spill.  Scroll down to the “New Yorker Overseas 1945” post for a brief history of the The New Yorker Pony Editions



Michael Shaw: Let Us Now Praise Bad Cartoonists


Note: After my colleague Michael Shaw posted the following piece on Face Book this afternoon, I asked if he’d share it with Ink Spill. Accompanying the piece is Michael’s illustration, an homage to James Thurber’s drawing, “Touche!” originally published in The New Yorker,  December 3, 1932.


Call me Thurberesque. Why? Because it’s a nice way of saying I can’t draw very well. Oh, if it were as simple as failing eyesight or a lack of limbs. I could package myself as a triumph over indefatigable odds— maybe score a papal au- dience like that guy who plays guitar with his feet. Nope, it’s just the way I draw. Or more precisely, it’s the way the things I draw look— desks are made of cheese, wrists are optional, hands are switched, fingers missing, necks incomplete. Float- ing heads! The world I draw is an ill-at-ease chaotic jumble of multiple perspectives and lines meandering in all direc- tions. Just like real life. Or more precisely, life here in the Midwest.
I am a Midwestern by birth, temperament, and cholesterol count. This is no Keilloresque Midwest. That’s Minnesota. Minnesota is not the Midwest. Here are the boundaries— the Midwest may creep as far north as Madison, Wisconsin (but only in deference to Michael Feldman.) The Midwest stops at Kansas City. Ask Calvin Trillin or George Booth. They’ll tell you the Midwest pretty much stops in Missouri. Columbus, Ohio forms the eastern border, (but only as an homage to James the Thurb). Please go no further south than Hannibal, Missouri. (Which may be north of Colum- bus.) And there you’ve got the psychic map from which my work springs. Hope this helps!
One question still stands— why continue to inflict Michael Shaw’s cartoons on a largely innocent readership? First— my occasional appearance is the driving force behind my moth- er-in-law’s subscription. (Though the photograph of Charles Ray’s sculpture “Oh! Charley, Charley, Charley” almost sent her back to The Saturday Evening Post.) Second, and most importantly— one Christmas morning, now largely lost to the murk of memory, I received, along with a strapping G. I. Joe, a copy of “Thurber and Company”. And that was that.
The New Yorker was in no way responsible for this event. But what do I know? There are forces at work here both vast and inscrutable. And in the next installment, we’ll sniff the daisy chain of events that have nurtured the peculiar subspe- cies of outsider art that is a Michael Shaw cartoon. Don’t miss chapter two—Tragedy Plus Time Equals Tragedy, But Who Has Time Anymore?
First in a series of faxed advertorials on behalf of the cartoons of Michael Shaw. By Michael Shaw. (Originally sent Tuesday, August, 17th, 2004, 1:57pm)

All Cartoonists Are Actors

“If I’m drawing a certain type of character, I try to get into the spirit of the thing – and my wife complains about the faces I make while I’m working. All cartoonists, I guess, are actors in a way.”

— George Price to Jud Hurd, Cartoonist Profiles, March 1975


If you can find it, Jud Hurd’s Price interview is worth seeking out. Price (pictured above) who died in 1995 at the age of 93, is best remembered for his unparalleled mathematical drawing style, characterized by the split pen line created by his crow quill.


Let us pause briefly and consider the idea of Mrs. Price watching Mr. Price draw.  I wonder how many spouses or partners make a habit of watching their cartoonist mate draw.


I could never work with an audience.  From time-to-time while drawing I’ll realize I’m mimicking the face I’m working on. My only audience at those moments would be our Jack Russell Terrier, Bernie, who sometimes plants himself under my desk, at my feet. If there is such a thing as an audience of one, Bernie qualifies. Once I realize he’s staring at me, I can’t work. I cap my pen, leave my desk and do my best to resolve his issue (after all, he’s not there to be entertained — he wants something, such as the cat’s bowl of milk).


But I digress.  Heading back to the Price interview, it was “All cartoonists …are actors…” that really caught my attention.  I’ve long thought of cartoonists as spies, sponges, stage directors, costume designers, lighting experts, set designers, script writers (script doctors!), hair stylists, haberdashers – well, you get the idea.  But until I read this Price interview it never occurred to me that we were (possibly) actors as well.


This explains the number of cartoonists who have sought and seek the stage.  Otto Soglow was famous for his love of the stage, and Thurber appeared in his own Thurber Carnival on Broadway,  winning a special Tony for the adapted script. Peter Arno performed in summer stock, as well as investing his talents on Broadway as a producer and playwright (he also did time in Hollywood making a brief appearance in a 1937 film, Artists and Models). Frank Modell appeared in Woody Allen’s  Stardust Memories. In more recent times, Victoria Roberts has won acclaim for her stage appearances as Nona Appleby.  And then there are the numerous cartoonists currently involved in stand-up comedy.


So are all cartoonists actors?  I suppose you could say (super-duper groan alert!) some are drawn to it.