New Yorker Cartoons Golden Age Editor; Roz Chast in San Francisco; More Spills with Nguyen, Rosen, Eckstein, Flake, Finck, Donnelly and Arno

 

 

 

 

Rounding out this historic week for New Yorker cartoons and cartoonists as we say “Goodbye” to Bob Mankoff and “Hello” to Emma Allen is an article from the early 1970s as another transition was about to take place: long-time New Yorker Art Editor, James Geraghty  was beginning to think retirement, but his successor was not yet in place (the successor would be Lee Lorenz). See the Geraghty article here at Attempted Bloggery

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Roz Chast was recently out west for the opening of the traveling exhibit “Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs”– here’s a brief interview with her from The Jewish News of California, posted April 26th, 2017: “Life’s Funny Like That: New Yorker Cartoonist’s Memoir on Exhibit at CJM”

 

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Jeremy Nguyen and Ellis Rosen will be unveiling their rejected cartoons at the Downtown Variety Hour on May 1st. Details here. ________________________________________________________________________________

My favorite snowman expert, Bob Eckstein, has been out in the Windy City on a Spring tour promoting his lovely new book, Footnotes From the World’s Greatest Bookstores Here’s a short interview with him from The Chicago Tribune.

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…A reminder  that the upcoming Pen World Voices Festival of International Literature will present  Women In Ink, with a boffo panel featuring Emily Flake, Roz Chast, Liana Finck, and Rayma Suprani. Liza Donnelly will moderate. Details here.

 

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Finally, for those who enjoy the obscure: the Swann Galleries has a 1932 Peter Arno poster up for auction on May 25th.  A beauty! Details here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Archive: A Rejected Easter Cover; John Drummond, Cartoonist & Member of Ink Spill’s One Club Has Died; An Arno Mystery Solved

I’ve submitted a lot of cover ideas to The New Yorker over the years. Two were bought, but never ran, and two others were bought as cartoons (one ran, the other is still in the magazine’s archives). This Easter-themed submission, obviously done when I was in a Charles Addams mood,  never got a nibble from the editors.  But I’ve always liked it enough to drag it out this time of year.  It dates from the late 1980s — either the Robert Gottlieb era, or possibly the very end of the William Shawn era.  

 

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D.D. Degg has informed Ink Spill that  John Drummond, passed away on April 11 at age 90.  Mr. Drummond, whose one appearance in The New Yorker qualified him as a One Club* member worked for a number of national magazines.  His one New Yorker drawing, shown here, appeared October 2, 1965.

Read his obit here.

A short profile here.

 

*Ink Spill‘s One Club is limited to cartoonists who were published just once in The New Yorker.  Their One Club status is noted on the members “New Yorker Cartoonists A-Z” entry by the red top-hatted fellow   Members qualify only after thirty years have passed since their one and only appearance.

(My thanks to Mr. Degg for the links to Mr. Drummond’s obit and profile. More links courtesy of Mr. Degg here. )

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Just a few days ago, we wondered where this Peter Arno drawing appeared. Attempted Bloggery now has the answer. Find it here.

 

 

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Where Was This Arno?; Cartoon Companion Rates the Latest New Yorker Cartoons; Roz Chast’s Poster; Eckstein’s Upgraded Airline Passenger; Ross Bateup Added to the A-Z

Where did this Peter Arno drawing appear? Attempted Bloggery is looking for the answer. If it was in The New Yorker, it’s somehow eluded  the magazine’s  record-keepers.  Read more here.

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Cartoon Companion is back with a close and entertaining look at the cartoons appearing in the April 17, 2017 New Yorker. This issue contains, among others, two costumed characters, some apartment-hunting ants, a fashion savvy caveman, some duck-hunters, a couple of booze-themed drawings, and a Victorian selfie stick.  Read all about them here.

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Roz Chast is the poster gal for The 2017 National Book Festival. Read about it here. 

(My thanks to Mike Rhode for bringing this to my attention).

 

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From The National Lampoon, here’s a timely cartoon by that funny guy (and Snowman Expert)  Bob Eckstein.

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While idly paging through the August 28th  1971 issue of The New Yorker I came across a cartoonist I somehow missed when compiling the Spill‘s” New Yorker Cartoonists A-Z”: Ross Bateup.  Mr. Bateup’s work appeared four times: August 8, 1971; October 16, 1971; November 4, 1972; May 19, 1973. Here’s a link to  his biography.

Here’s his cartoon from the May 19, 1973 issue:

 

 

 

A Curio Added to the Spill’s Attic

I love the New Yorker oddities out there in the world. This most recent addition to the Spill‘s  collection is one of the most curious I’ve seen.  Someone had various Talk of The Town sections professionally bound.

The only identification on the volume — getting right to the point! — is The Talk of The Town printed on the spine. There are no other markings. Other than the binding, the only other personal touch (not counting the material selected for inclusion in the volume) is the page below, included three pages in. Its thin, shiny quality suggests it came off a mimeograph machine.

The earliest Talk section included is April 28, 1928, the most recent, May 7, 1932.  While the sections are chronological, they are not sequential, skipping, for instance, from June 13, 1931 to July 11, 1931.

Luckily, the person who put this together included the covers for each Talk section. At the top of this post you see a full page Peter Arno from the issue of August 3, 1929 leading into the issue of October 19, 1929 (cover by Rea Irvin).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ink Spill library has a number of bound New Yorkers;  I take one off the shelves every so often, in the fashion of  E.B. White, who wrote in the Preface to The Subtreasury of American Humor (edited with Katharine White),”my wife and I happen to own a complete file of bound volumes of The New Yorker…it would often be our custom to pull out a volume at random and dip up a nice funny piece…”; having pieces bound in such a way as this odd Talk volume is a little pre-fab gift of randomness.

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.

New York Times Raves About Arno’s “The New Yorkers”

“So this is what Manhattan looked like in the tipsy yesterday of Prohibition”

— Ben Brantley, The New York Times

The New Yorkers was a hit when it opened in  December of 1930 (done in by the Depression, it closed after 168 performances) and here it is back in 2017, albeit in altered form, heralded one more time. Too bad it won’t be around long.

Inspired ever-so-slightly by an idea Peter Arno shopped around in early 1930 as Manhattan Parade, The New Yorkers showed up at The Broadway Theatre with music by rising star, Cole Porter.

Arno supplied the graphics for the sheet music and the program (shown above), and was the driving force behind the scenery (uncredited as he wasn’t a union member). What we should hold onto really is that, according to Robert Baral’s Revue: A Nostalgic Reprise of The Great Broadway Period, Arno inspired “the mood of the show”  much as he inhabited, distilled and reflected the times he caroused around in during the late 1920s and beyond.

Here’s a link to Mr. Brantley’s review of Encores! Production of The New Yorkers

(and thanks to the New York Times for a shout-out — in the form of a link — to my newyorker.com piece on Arno, “The Peter Arno Cartoons That Helped Rescue The New Yorker”)

“The Place Was Especially A Mess After The Weekly Art Meetings”

 

 

… “The artists, who waited for the verdicts, scrambled for desk space where they could retouch their cartoons and spots according to what Wylie, or Katharine Angell, told them what Ross wanted.”*

 

— So said New Yorker editor and writer Rogers Whitaker to Thurber biographer, Harrison Kinney. He was describing a wonderfully fun and exciting time and place: The New Yorker in its infancy, ninety some years ago.

 

What’s changed since then?  Well, the cartoonists no longer wait in the office to hear the verdict for that week’s submissions (email now alerts them to a sale, and more often, rejection). However, many cartoonists still head to the New Yorker every week to sit across from the cartoon editor. It’s a chance to connect with the editor, to get feedback, to discuss that week’s submissions.  It’s also a chance to socialize with colleagues.  Cartoonists, as has been said many times, are mostly solitary creatures, whiling away at their drawing boards or tablets without the company of other humans.

 

Using the clues of the personalities Mr. Whitaker mentioned we know that the artists (cartoonists for the most part with some cover artists tossed in) began showing up at the New Yorker from the very first days of the magazine. What we don’t know is exactly when the cartoonists began showing up to see the Art Editor — a ritual that began sometime during James Geraghty’s tenure as the magazine’s first Art Editor.

 

Rea Irvin, the New Yorker‘s Art Supervisor did not meet the artists flooding into the office. So who actually saw the artists coming in? It was, in the very beginning, Ross’s secretary, Helen Mears, who was soon fired and replaced by a young man named Philip Wylie. He was the unofficially titled artists “hand-holder” — the link between the editorial staff and the cartoonists.   Most importantly to The New Yorker‘s history, and to its success, Wylie is the person who, while looking through twenty-one year old Peter Arno’s portfolio one day in 1925  happened to spot a drawing Arno hadn’t intended to show: a sketch  of “two old bats about to charge obliviously into a trap — made by the rise of a sidewalk elevator. It [the drawing] greatly amused me.”   The  “two old bats” came to be called The Whoops Sisters, and also came to be credited as very likely rescuing The New Yorker from an early demise.  This moment was one of the so-called “happy accidents” that saved the New Yorker and propelled it forward. And it could have only happened because Arno came into the office and sat down with Wylie.

 

We know that upon James Geraghty’s appointment as Art Editor in 1939 he began working closely with the magazine’s staff cartoonists on Look Day (Tuesdays back then, and for many years after. Wednesdays now).  What has always endeared me to the editor/artist dance at the magazine is that editorial prompts are not directives — they are suggestions.  This practice continued on during Lee Lorenz’s twenty-four years as art editor after he succeeded Geraghty, and it continues right up to today.

 

Mr. Lorenz ran a very tight ship in those twenty-four years; artists had to be invited in to the office on Look Day.  Even some long-time contributors did not receive the coveted invitation.  They had to drop off their work at the receptionist’s glassed-in cubicle at the end of the hallway near the elevators. To be invited back was well-earned. And what you found once you were buzzed through the hallway door and then walked down the dog-legged hallway to the Art Department was a small cream-colored waiting room filled with cartoonists whose names would most likely be as familiar as the names of your family members. Their work, of course, would be familiar as well. The days of artists messing up the office were in the rear view mirror.  Some of the cartoonists actually had “studios” in the building (Charles Addams, Frank Modell, James Stevenson, Edward Koren among them).  Mr. Lorenz had an editorial light touch when working with artists — a shade lighter than Geraghty’s, or so I’ve been told; like Geraghty, Lorenz’s advice was succinct, and spot-on.

 

When Bob Mankoff succeeded Mr. Lorenz, he instituted what he called an “open door” policy,  saying, “I’ll see anyone.”  And in they came. To be sure, it created a different climate in what is called the cartoonists lounge.  Lots of new faces, many unpublished in The New Yorker, or anywhere, mingled with veteran contributors such as Sam Gross, George Booth, and Mort Gerberg. The scene wasn’t messy, as in the old days, but it was lively (they’ve had to be “hushed” on more than one occasion.  Dana Fradon, recalling the pre-Mankoff days, told Ink Spill: “Once, when someone down the hall voiced an official complaint about ‘noise’ coming from the cartoonists waiting room, Ed Fisher and I went out into the hall and sang, in close harmony, ‘The Beer-Barrel Polka’. “Roll out the barrel…”).

 

It was recently announced that a New Yorker editor, Emma Allen would replace Mr. Mankoff in May. A Cartoon Department email soon followed announcing that Mr. Mankoff would not see cartoonists on Look Day in these last weeks of his editorship.  How eerily quiet it will be around the cartoon lounge on Wednesday mornings!  I imagine that come May, the non-existent doors to the cartoon department will swing open again (there are waist-high partitions everywhere now, and just a few doors) and the cartoonists will flood in, as lively and boisterous as they’ve been for over ninety years.

 

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*A Who’s Who of those mentioned above

Emma Allen:  Ms. Allen has worked as an editor of Talk of The Town, a writer, and editor of Daily Shouts, and as of May this year, The New Yorker‘s Cartoon Editor.

Ed Fisher: Mr. Fisher’s first cartoon appeared in The New Yorker October 27, 1951; he went on to contribute over 700 cartoons. He died in 2013.

Dan Fradon:  Mr. Fradon, whose first cartoon appeared in The New Yorker, May 1, 1948,  is the doyen of the magazine’s artists. He has published well over a thousand cartoons in the magazine.

James Geraghty: a former gag-writer, hired in 1939, he became the magazine’s first Art Editor.  Before Geraghty, there was no one single person at the magazine dedicated to overseeing all the art (Harold Ross was the overseer of everything in his magazine).  Ross’s successor, William Shawn said of Geraghty: “Along with Harold Ross…he set set the magazine’s comic art on its course and he helped determine the direction in which the comic art would go and is still going.”  Mr. Geraghty was the art editor from 1939 through 1973. He died in 1983.

Rea Irvin: Mr. Irvin is a huge part of the New Yorker’s DNA as he’s responsible for the New Yorker‘s first cover (featuring the fellow referred to as Eustace Tilley); Mr. Irvin adapted the typeface that we now call the Irvin typeface; he contributed a record number of New Yorker covers, and last but not least, he helped “educate” Harold Ross, art-wise. He died in 1972.

Harrison Kinney: A reporter for The New Yorker from 1949-1954; his massive biography of James Thurber: His Life & Times was published in 1995.

Lee Lorenz: Geraghty’s successor as Art Editor (and later, under Tina Brown’s editorship, as Cartoon Editor).   He began as editor in 1973, handing over the reigns to Bob Mankoff in 1997. Mr. Lorenz is also one of, if not the most prolific New Yorker cartoonists. He is also the author of numerous books about New Yorker cartoonists, including the must-read history, The Art of The New Yorker:1925- 1995.

Bob Mankoff: Mr. Mankoff, also a cartoonist for the magazine, has been its cartoon editor for over nineteen years.  His memoir, How About Never — Is Never Good For You?: My Life In Cartoons was published in 2014.

Helen Mears: Harold Ross’s first secretary and the first person delegated to be a go-between the editorial department and the artists. She was fired by Philip Wylie on orders from Harold Ross. Mr. Wylie then assumed Ms. Mears duties.

Harold Ross: The founder and first editor of The New Yorker. There are three biographies of Mr. Ross. Thomas Kunkel’s biography Genius in Disguise is essential reading. Mr. Ross died in 1951.

William Shawn: Appointed in January of 1952 as Harold Ross’s successor. He remained editor until 1987. He died in 1992.

Rogers E. M. Whitaker: hired in 1926 he headed the checking department and later the make-up department.  Mr. Whitaker went on to become an editor and contributor to the New Yorker, working under various names:  “E.M. Frimbo”  (“The World’s Greatest Railroad Buff”) for pieces chronicling his journeys on the nations railways; “J.W.L.” for his pieces about Ivy League football; “The Old Curmudgeon” when he wrote for The Talk of The Town.   Mr. Whitaker died in 1981.

Katharine White: Hired in August of 1925, Ms. White (then Angell) was the magazine’s first Fiction Editor.  According to the New York Times: she…”exerted a profoundly creative influence on contemporary American literature…having transformed The New Yorker from a humor magazine into the purveyor of much of the best writing in the country.” Before James Geraghty consolidated the Art Department, the art was under the umbrella of the Fiction Department.  Lee Lorenz has written of her that “she was a powerful voice in the selection of the magazine’s art.” She died in 1977.  Linda Davis’s biography, Onward & Upward: A Biography of Katharine S. White is essential reading.

Philip Wylie: “The New Yorker‘s first bona fide applicant” was the magazine’s second artist hand holder.  He attended hundreds of the magazine’s first art meetings.  His short stint at The New Yorker was followed by a long and successful career as a writer including the best-selling Generation of Vipers.  He died in 1971

 

 

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):