Cartoons Holding “A Mirror Up to the War Effort”: The New Yorker War Album… & More

The New Yorker War Album, published in 1942, was the very first themed Album of the magazine’s cartoons. Peter Arno’s cover from the issue of February 28, 1942 was selected as the cover.  As so often the case for the Album series an Arno drawing led off the collection (“Of course if they don’t bomb Sutton Place, I’m going to look like a damn fool.”)

There is no introduction to the work — only the flap copy shown below. “Spot” artists (Susanne Suba being an example) are credited along with the cartoonists.

The back cover, mostly a green field, has a small Alan Dunn caption-less drawing floating in the center:

The War Album follows in line with all the previous Albums in size, quality of layout, and of course, quality of drawings.  The bottom line with these Albums: if you see one, buy it.

Below, a spread with a Roberta MacDonald multi-panel across the top, a Barbara Shermund drawing lower left and a Perry Barlow lower right.

Along with the War Album the New Yorker produced a number of special publications during the war:

The Pony Editions.

These were smaller versions of the magazine, 6″ x 9″, given free to servicemen and servicewomen. These were not exact duplicates of the regular editions of the magazine — they carried no advertising and editorial content was juggled. One striking difference: the back cover was a full page cartoon (as shown above). According to Thomas Kunkel in his Ross biography Genius In Disguise, these editions began appearing in September of 1943 and were discontinued shortly after the end of the war.

The New Yorker War Cartoons.

Paperback, and, like the Pony Editions, 6″ x 9″.  Published in 1945, with an introduction by E.J. Kahn, Jr.. Cartoons with Talk pieces throughout.

The New Yorker Cartoons with The Talk of the Town

Also published in 1945 (and also 6″ x 9″)  Hardcover and softcover editions. An introduction by Russell Maloney.

I like Mr. Maloney’s introduction so much I’m showing a portion below (the whole piece can be found here):

Armed Services Editions.

Judging by the list of available titles provided at the end of each edition there were close to a thousand titles issued during the war (a wide variety, from Mark Twain to Thackeray).  I don’t have a complete list so I’m in the dark about which New Yorker-related  titles were issued other the one shown here, The Thurber Carnival, The New Yorker’s Baedeker, The New Yorker Profiles, and Thurber’s Let Your Mind Alone. (If anyone knows of more please let me know).  These special publications were very small: 3 3/4″ x 5 1/2″ — small enough to fit in a soldier’s pocket.  There was a Bill Maudlin Armed Services title published (it’s #822, Up Front). Technically, he was a New Yorker cartoonist with one drawing published,  April 1, 1950.  But that appeared five years after Up Front was published in 1945.  Splitting hairs, I know.  

 

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of January 15 2018; Happy 114th Birthday, Peter Arno

The Monday Tilley Watch is a meandering take on the cartoons in the current issue of The New Yorker.

 I don’t know about you, but after I’ve looked through the cartoons of each new issue of The New Yorker I have the kind of  immediate reaction I have after sitting through a movie. As I begin walking up the aisle, the verdict is usually already in: good movie, bad movie, loved it, hated it, so-so, etc.. I looked through this latest issue of the magazine and thought: good cartoons. Good cartoons from beginning to end, with a real gem mid-way through.  

The first cartoon of the issue, William Haefeli’s on page 18 gets things going. Haefeli’s drawings never disappoint, and in this case caption and drawing are doing exactly what I hope for in every New Yorker cartoon (giving us Peter Arno’s one-two punch; in this case the one-two are so close together it’s a onetwo punch) If you have the issue in front of you (print or digital) notice the child’s body language. Mr. Haefeli has created a drawing that almost moves. 

Three pages later a drawing by Amy Hwang, who has become somewhat of a cat specialist. This is a lovely drawing, with a terrific caption. I predict it’s going to be reprinted on a lot coffee mugs and t-shirts.  

Four pages later a couple at a table by JAK (Jason Adam Katzenstein). Good caption. The woman’s expression is as the British say, “spot on.”

Five pages later a curio: a P. C. Vey  Christmassy drawing in the January 15th issue. It’s a very good drawing  replete with tree and one very large gift.  I’ll forever wonder why it wasn’t in the issue  of December 18 or the issue just after, January 1, 2018. A mystery!

Another five pages brings us to a Kim Warp drawing employing two of my favorite subjects: dinosaurs and space travel (in this case time/space travel).  Another wonderful drawing with a really good caption. 

Six pages later, the gem I spoke of earlier.  John O’Brien gives us a site (a work site) to behold —   it’s caption-less too (to me, caption-less cartoons are the most difficult to successfully achieve.  Mr. O’Brien’s batting average of success with them is crazy high). This is a high bar New Yorker drawing. And so: applause, applause.

 

On the very next page is a Matt Diffee cartoon.  He, like a few other cartoonists in the magazine use a box to frame their work (Jack Ziegler was King of the New Yorker boxed drawings). Mr. Diffee’s drawings are always easy on the eyes (the soft greys).  Here we have a couple of folks ice fishing. The idea centers on the use of the ice machine known as a Zamboni blended with the popular urban food truck.  As sometimes happens with drawings, I paused to consider an element (last week it was missing tent stakes). Unfortunately, this pause never fails to get in the way of the one-two punch.  Why, I thought, would a Zamboni be on an ice fishing lake?  I looked up Zambonis, and learned they are sometimes used on ice skating lakes.  But there’s no sign of skaters anywhere on Mr. Diffee’s lake. Perhaps they’re just off to the side, out of the box.  I’m fairly certain my fascination with cartoon details such as this comes out of my early cartoon education by way of New Yorker art editor, Lee Lorenz. He once returned a drawing to me and asked if I’d make the surf board in the drawing look less like a six foot cigar.  It wasn’t the most important element in the drawing, but if it appeared to be a giant cigar it would take the reader too much out of the  drawing. I guess that stuck with me — and now you’re stuck with me pointing out cartoon minutiae.

Four pages later, a Will McPhail nearly deserted beach scene. I like the caption. Mr. McPhail  shows us one of those funny umbrella tables you see in movies of places that resemble wherever this is.  What’s missing is only someone (or something) off in the distance splashing in the ocean. What can I say — I like graphic splashing. 

Three pages later, a color drawing from Seth Fleishman in a setting far far away from Mr. McPhail’s.  Subway rats playing a game.  Having just seen a photo in the Times the other day of a NYC rat dragging a moon pie, I’m wondering if NYC subway rats are now a thing.  I guess they’ve always been a thing, if you think about it.

On the page after the rats is a Roz Chast package drawing.  Ms. Chast excels at these, and this one’s right up there, laughs-wise. I haven’t examined a package of Junior Mints in a long time (not my theater go-to candy) but I do wonder if those boxes show the “Juniors” as human…probably not.  Six pages later a Brendan Loper Evel Knievel inspired drawing. We don’t see enough dare- devil drawings in the magazine. Interesting drawing. Good stuff.  

Thirteen pages later, the last drawing in the issue (not counting the Caption Contest pieces): Julia Suits provides a trope that seems to be off-again on-again in the magazine: the military officer pointing out a medal. By off-again on-again I mean we don’t see many for awhile and then they suddenly pop up like asparagus. Henry Martin did a number of these, as did a number of other colleagues.  I can’t recall ever doing one. Time to get crackin’.  

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Happy 114th Birthday, Peter Arno

Strange to think of Peter Arno, whose work seems so very much alive, as born 114 years ago. All the years I worked on his biography, from 1999 through 2016, he seemed somehow on the scene, at least the New Yorker scene. In early 2016, with the book wrapping up, I paid one last Arno research visit to Yale, where he spent one year, the Fall of 1922- Spring of 1923. I went there to look for possible Arno materials in a box of Thurber’s papers; it turned out to be a fun but wild goose chase.

  Even though Arno only attended classes the one year (his father pulled the plug, financially) it was a launch pad year for his not-too-far-off entree to The New Yorker.  At Yale his cartoons became quite polished as they appeared more and more in the Record  (Arno did a few covers too). Besides drawing, Arno was fully engaged with his other love, music.

  He organized what he called an “orchestra” and found a place to play right across the street from the campus.  He mentioned playing there in a letter to his mother:

“…working in the Art School all day long and playing every evening in the Bull Dog Grille…”

 That last day I spent at Yale I took a walk along York Avenue, with the Bull Dog’s address in hand.  I came to the corner of Elm and York and could see some old buildings were right where I needed them to be, diagonally across the street. Crossing Elm I quickly spotted  #264 over one of two arched doorways on a three-story Victorian era building. The building had survived (!) but there was some kind of construction going on, with the front partially shrouded, and a dumpster parked out front.

The entrance to the Grille (it was upstairs on the third floor) was the door to the right, just behind the plywood wall behind the lone tree. I stood across the street for a bit, then crossed over to see what I could see close-up.  It was a wonderful moment thinking about the college-aged Arno heading through that door. I’d read in Dorothy Ducas’s great Arno piece in the March 1938 issue of Mademoiselle  that besides playing music upstairs Arno also drew on the walls (ala Thurber!). Standing in front of the building that day there was a lot to imagine. 

Here’s a photo I took that afternoon:

Before writing today’s piece I thought I’d use Google to see what had been done to the place a year or so later. Turns out it wasn’t construction after all — it was destruction.

Though the building is gone, those Arno moments playing music and drawing upstairs at the Bull Dog are not entirely forgotten.  Also not forgotten: the body of work Arno published in the New Yorker during his 43 years there, much of which can be found in the books below.

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ps: Rea Irvin’s classic Talk masthead (shown below) still missing from the magazine. Hope it returns soon.

  

 

 

 

 

 

Revisiting: The New Yorker 75th Anniversary Cartoon Collection

If you liked the cover of the New Yorker‘s very first Cartoon Issue (published in 1997) you might like the cover of The New Yorker 75th Anniversary Cartoon Collection (published in 2000).  Why? Because all of the cartoon grabs on the 75th Collection cover were on the cover of the Cartoon Issue. Now that’s not a bad thing; any cover with Thurber, Hokinson, Steig, Peter Arno, Barsotti, Gross, George Price, Gluyas Williams, Booth, and Leo Cullum, to name but a few, cannot possibly be a bad thing. I do remember being surprised, when first seeing the 75th Collection cover that these same drawings were recycled.

What was not on the Cartoon Issue cover but on the Anniversary Collection cover is one of Mike Witte‘s takes on Eustace Tilley (there’s another on the back cover).  Mr. Witte had become the go-to illustrator/cartoonist for updated Tilleys, with his work appearing on those numerous small New Yorker Book of __ (Cat, Dog, Doctor, etc., etc) Cartoons collections. 

Here’s the Cartoon Issue if you wish to hunt down the images appearing on both covers:

But back to the 75th Anniversary cover.  Strange, I know, but it has always reminded me somewhat of the package design for Stella D’oro cookies.

 

 Inside the collection (the cartoon collection, not the cookie collection) is an odd dedication. Odd in that it is a dedication from the magazine to the magazine itself: To the constant commitment of The New Yorker to this ridiculous and sublime art form.  That’s followed by a jokey Introduction, after which we finally get to the meat & potatoes.  Once to the cartoons, you’ll find they appear on “good” paper so you can enjoy the work without seeing a shadow of the cartoon on the following page. I’ve always been grateful that there is an Index provided as there is no chronological order to the work (there’s a Ziegler on page 2 and a Thurber on page 275). Though all the New Yorker albums shape history to some degree by including more or less of certain artists, in this volume the unbalance is noticeable. Or maybe not so noticeable if this was the first collection you ever picked up.  What I mean is this: for an anthology covering 75 years, a number of the most published cartoonists are represented by just one or two cartoons.  Examples:

Otto Soglow (published over 800 times): 1  cartoon

Carl Rose (over 500 times): 1

Perry Barlow (approx. 1,400 times): 1 cartoon

Alan Dunn, one of the most prolific New Yorker cartoonists of all time (close to 2,000 cartoons published): 2 cartoons

 In just four years, we would have the mother of all New Yorker collections: The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker.  Its Index shows a re-balance with all of the above cartoonists mentioned appearing far more than once or twice (in a closing aside, I should mention that this year we will apparently see the mother of the mother of all New Yorker collections, The New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons, which somehow includes 4,000 cartoons (for comparison, The 75th Anniversary Collection has 707 cartoons). 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

The “Brightest and Most Malicious Drawings”: The Third New Yorker Album

An appropriate cover this New Year’s Eve as we trudge into 2018. 

By the time the Third New Yorker Album hit the shelves in 1930, the party that was the roaring twenties was over. What you see in the book are drawings from the tail end of the roar: night clubs, good times, frivolity…you know, like that.  The cover, by Peter Arno, originally appeared on the New Yorker‘s ninth issue following the stock market crash. It was Arno’s second album cover in a row, and the second time one of his full page drawings led off an album (the first time was the first album).

The Foreward, credited to The New Yorker, is full of interesting tidbits, considering the magazine was just five years old:

It is true that the working conditions of artist’s improve from year to year, and that artists get better as they get older. All of the New Yorker artists are now old. Two of them are in their late thirties, when the creative impulse either atrophies or turns a bright green…

...fifty years hence these albums will be looked at by adults as they are now looked at by children: gravely and with a wide-eyed wonder, slowly absorbing the physical details, ironical aspects, and fragmentary emotions of a past age. This is probably the true purpose of these albums. as far as they have any purpose other than adding to the artists’ royalties.

I’m not so sure about the “working conditions for artists improving from year to year” but these early albums do show certain artists getting “better” over time, whether it’s Barney Tobey, or Otto Soglow, or Alan Dunn. But maybe “getting better” isn’t right– maybe “transforming” is more accurate. From this album to the next and the next, certain styles solidify, the drawing becomes more confident, the caption writing improves; some styles change completely. And then there are those artists who are as good in this Third Album  as they will ever be.  Reginald Marsh’s work is spectacular, as is Helen Hokinson’s, Rea Irvin’s, Gluyas Williams’, and John Held’s. Arno is still in his earlier phase, as is Garrett Price, Mary Petty, and a number of others. It’s fun seeing this earlier work, knowing what’s to come — and it’s fun watching it develop from album to album.

On the back cover, this drawing by Garrett Price:

This was the second album of New Yorker cartoons I acquired (it was a gift) back in my late teenage years when I was paying a lot more attention to studying New Yorker cartoons than studying whatever one is supposed to be studying in school. This Third Album was my New Yorker cartoon primer, along with the 1925-1975 Album, the Thurber Carnival , and the highly inspirational contemporaneous cartoons in the weekly issues.

  Here’s the copy on the Third Album‘s inside front flap, and the inside back flap:

— Happy New Year to all!

Mommy Kisses Santa Claus: The 1942 New Yorker Album

On this foggy Christmas Eve, here’s the tenth New Yorker Album of drawings, titled The 1942 New Yorker Album , with a Perry Barlow New Yorker magazine cover from December 23, 1939 used as its cover (there’d be another Album in 1942: The New Yorker War Album —  we’ll get to that another Sunday).  Perry Barlow, the cover artist, was one of the most prolific of the magazine’s contributors, and possibly one of its most overlooked. The New Yorker published well over a thousand of his cartoons, and one hundred and thirty-four covers.  Lee Lorenz, said of Mr. Barlow: “his drawings were deceptively casual, brought a gentle urbanity to our pages and helped establish the tone of the fledgling magazine…He had a marvelous eye for the telling gesture, and, although he returned to certain favorite situations again and again, he never repeated a face.”   Mr. Lorenz also noted that Mr. Barlow was partly color-blind and depended on his wife to do the coloring for his covers.

The Album opens with a full page Arno (of course!) “What is the specialty here?” and closes with a full page Charles Addams, “Well, here’s where I say good night.” — both of a certain pre-war time, about to evaporate.  Arno’s drawing takes place in a table-cloth nightclub (think the “Thin Man” movies), with a line of scantily clad chorus girls dominating the page.  The gentlemen shown are wearing tuxes.  In the Addams drawing the gentleman’s wearing evening dress, including a top hat.

Between the Arno and the Addams are the by now (by now to constant New Yorker readers) a very familiar crew of cartoonists. The inside flap shown below doesn’t list every contributor, but you’re sure to see names that would be carved in the New Yorker Cartoonist Hall of Fame, if we had one.

There’s no introduction in the Album, just the goods.  Included are a number of hits on Nazis (Rea Irvin’s full page titled drawing:  A Nazi History of the World: The Non-Aryans Are Expelled From the Garden of Eden for example), and examples of cartoonists dealing with the war-time culture here at home (example: Peter Arno’s famous, “Well, back to the old drawing board” — also a full page). 

For a tenth Album of drawings you might think there was a lesser amount of energy coming off these cartoons.  Just the opposite. Pick up a copy of the 1942 Album and settle in with it — you’ll find yourself in a cartoon gold mine. 

 

 

Advertising Work By New Yorker Cartoonists, Pt. 28: Syd Hoff; Blog of Interest: A New Yorker State of Mind

Our 28th entry in the series of ads brought to you through the generosity of mega-collector, Warren Bernard.  Here we have a quartet of Syd Hoff Auto- Lite Batteries ads from the mid 1940s (top to bottom: 1944, 1943, 1943, 1944).

 

Here’s Mr. Hoff’s entry on the Spill‘s A-Z, and a Hoff cartoon collection from 1961:

Syd Hoff ( Pictured above. Source: Esquire Cartoon album, 1957) Born 1912, New York City, died May 12, 2004, Miami Beach, Florida. New Yorker work: 1931 – 1975. Website: http://www.sydhoff.org/

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Blog of Interest: A New Yorker State of Mind

Another fine fun interesting read from this site “reading every issue of the New Yorker” —

This week it’s a close look at the issue of October 27, 1928, which has a somewhat lost-in-the-sauce Peter Arno cover. Arno was familiar with his subject matter — he had played football while at Hotchkiss, just six years (just six years!) before this cover was published: