Advertising Work by New Yorker Cartoonists, Pt. 17: Sam Cobean

No New Yorker cartoonist milked the humorous possibilities of (mostly female) total nudity like the late Sam Cobean (an example above), but you wouldn’t know it by the ads below. Mr. Cobean’s two collections, Cobean’s Naked Eye, and The Cartoons of Cobean (arranged and selected by Steinberg, with an Introduction by Mr. Cobean’s good friend, Charles Addams, published posthumously) are easily found online (Abebooks is a reliable destination). 

These ads, like every other part of this series (save the Absolut ads) were provided by the Executive Director of SPX, Warren Bernard. My continued thanks to Mr. Bernard for his generosity.

Ad dates:  top row, both 1946. Bottom row, left: 1948. Zippo ad: 1950

 

 

Mr. Cobean’s entry on the Spill’s A-Z

 

Sam Cobean (pictured above. Source: Sam Cobean’s World. See link to site below) Born, December 28, 1913, Gettysburgh, Penn. Died, July 2, 1951, Watkins Glen, New York. New Yorker work: 1944 -1951. Collections: Cobean’s Naked Eye (Harper Bros.,1950), the Cartoons of Cobean (Harper & Bros.,1952). Cobean’s Estate set up a terrific website in his honor. It includes a lengthy biography, with photographs, as well as a detailed listing of all Cobean’s published work. Website: Sam Cobean’s World http://www.samcobean.com/

Barbara Shermund on the Cover of…Esquire

When Warren Bernard (of SPX) offered his scanned collection of advertising work by New Yorker cartoonists for use on this site, he included some bonus scans.  Among them were non-advertising work by New Yorker contributors that appeared in Esquire.  Looking through them the other day, Barnbara Shermund’s covers for Esquire popped out on the screen. Here are the four covers Mr. Bernard sent along.  There are a number of Shermund Esquire cartoons in his collection as well — I’ll show those at a later time.  If you want to read a quick capsule history of Ms. Shermund’s career, go here. Of note: Ms. Shermund had eight covers for The New Yorker. Her first was the 17th cover in the magazine’s history. I’ll show it here to give you an idea how her work changed from 1925 to the 1940s.

If you enlarge the covers, you’ll see that cartoonists appearing in each issue are named.  You’ll also notice how many of them are New Yorker contributors (such as Garrett Price, Michael Berry, Frank Beaven, Howard Baer, E. Simms Campbell, Eldon Dedini, and Sam Cobean).  A source (okay, it’s Bob Mankoff, Esquire’s cartoon editor) informed me that Esquire has a complete digital archive of all its cartoons — I’m hoping to get my hands on it one of these days in order to share even more cross-over information. Speaking of Sam Cobean, there was one Cobean Esquire cover included in Mr. Bernard’s collection:

Here’s Barbara Shermund’s entry on the Spill’s A-Z (and Mr. Cobean’s as well):

 

 

 

 

Barbara Shermund (self portrait, above) Born, San Francisco. 1899. Studied at The California School of Fine Arts. Died, 1978, New Jersey. New Yorker work: June 13, 1925 thru September 16, 1944. 8 covers and 599 cartoons. Shermund’s later post-New Yorker work was featured in Esquire. (See Liza Donnelly’s book, Funny Ladies — a history of The New Yorker’s women cartoonists — for more on Shermund’s life and work)

Sam Cobean (pictured above. Source: Sam Cobean’s World. See link to site below) Born, December 28, 1913, Gettysburgh, Penn. Died, July 2, 1951, Watkins Glen, New York. NYer work: 1944 -1951. Collections: Cobean’s Naked Eye (Harper Bros.,1950), the Cartoons of Cobean (Harper & Bros.,1952). Cobean’s Estate set up a terrific website in his honor. It includes a lengthy biography, with photographs, as well as a detailed listing of all Cobean’s published work. Website: Sam Cobean’s World http://www.samcobean.com/

The Monday Tilley Watch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Are these the dog days of summer? According to Wikipedia, Sweden’s dog days are  bracketed by the dates July 22nd through August 23rd.  That seems reasonable for the United States as well.  My mental inventory of New Yorker covers from this time of year include a whole lot of beach scenes and summer in the city scenes, as well as covers depicting shore towns. This week’s New Yorker cover (a double issue, dated August 7 & 14) by Bob Staake (the artist responsible for this iconic cover) takes us underground in NYC.  The magazine has the NYC subway system on its mind — just last week we saw a David Sipress NYC subway cartoon, and in this very issue is a full page Sketchbook, “Subway Substitutes.”  Mr. Staake’s red hot cover brought to mind another red hot cover of just a few years back, at this exact same time of year (the aforementioned dog days): Mark Ulriksen’s cover of August 3, 2015.

The opposite of a red hot dog days of summer cover is (to my mind) this deeply moving New Yorker cover by Mary Petty, published 72 years ago this week in the summer of the last year of WWII, approximately midway between the close of the European theater and the close of the Pacific theater. A quiet, peaceful moment on a beach with a woman and her dog, while war continues to rage in the Pacific. 

Now on to the inside of the magazine:

I note as I turn to The Talk of The Town that my campaign to reinstate Rea Irvin’s classic Talk  masthead is not going well. The new one installed in May is still there. The Irvin masthead ran, barely untouched, for 91 years. This campaign, despite its odds of success, will press on. 

Joe Dator, who has been contributing to The New Yorker since August of 2006, leads things off with a zebra cartoon. I took a quick look back at some zebra New Yorker cartoons and found each and every one appealing.  This one by J.B. “Bud” Handelsman, caught my eye (published in November of 1992).

 

Next is a theater marquee drawing by Charlie Hankin (his first New Yorker appearance was in August of 2013).  Beautifully placed on the page. I’ve noticed (and noted) that many of the cartoons in the past few issues have been given more breathing space on the page. This is a very good thing.  Half a dozen pages later we come to a William Haefeli drawing (his last name rhymes with “safely”).  Last week I mentioned how super-detailed his original work is. Get out your magnifying glass. (Mr. Haefeli’s first New Yorker drawing appeared in 1998). 

A couple of pages later is a Frank Cotham drawing (first New Yorker drawing, 1993). As with Mr. Haefeli, Mr. Cotham’s style is instantly recognizable.  I’d add that his subject matter is also instantly recognizable, with cave people, heathens, and the like playing a big part in his world.  Part 1 of a fun interview with Mr. Cotham ran on Cartoon Companion just a few weeks ago — check it out.    A Liana Finck drawing follows Mr. Cotham. Ms. Finck’s first New Yorker cartoon appeared in February of 2013.  Ms. Finck shows us a cast cartoon —  like zebra cartoons, something we don’t see a whole lot of in the New Yorker. When I think of them, I’m happily reminded of this fabulous  Chon Day cartoon from  September of 1948:

A couple of pages later is a dog and businessman cartoon by Chris Weyant (first New Yorker cartoon, 1998)Ink Spillers may remember that it was just a few days ago we learned Mr. Weyant now has a weekly op-ed cartoon in The Boston Globe. 

On the very next page, a touch of color in an Ed Steed cartoon (first New Yorker cartoon, 2013). An artist paints a nude. I know, I know — you see a nude woman in a New Yorker cartoon you think Peter Arno. I’d argue that Sam Cobean was the New Yorker’s king of nude cartoons. Take a look at the cover of his 1950 collection of cartoons.

In Mr. Steed’s drawing he incorporates 3-D (thus the color) —  a rarity in the New Yorker. 3-D was used to great effect in this classic by Bob Eckstein from 2012. It remains one of my favorite New Yorker drawings of modern times.

Two pages later we run into a P.C. Vey drawing (first New Yorker appearance, 1993). For me, this is the Vey-ist of the Veys. The Spill doesn’t rate cartoons (that’s what they do over on the Cartoon Companion site), but if it did, this drawing would have all sorts of happy adjectives heaped upon it.

Next up is a drawing by a relative newbie, Kendra Allenby (her first New Yorker appearance was in August of last year). Ms. Allenby, who is a storyboard artist, opts for the storyboard-like look, i.e., a boxed drawing, employed with regularity by Harry Bliss, among others. Four pages later is a veteran newbie, Will McPhail (first New Yorker drawing, 2014). Heads on pikes…a rarity in the magazine (there are at least two in Charles Addams’s New Yorker oeuvre: one in the issue of January 4, 1941. Another, “Excuse me, Walter, that’s my cue”  contains a head on a pike, but it’s incidental.  There’s also, “Ready, dear?” on page 40 of Monster Rally  — but it’s not a New Yorker drawing). 

Next is a Roz Chast drawing (Ms. Chast’s first New Yorker appearance, 1978).  Love the flow of words (alas, no Ziegler-esque pop-up toaster). A Tom Chitty drawing follows Ms. Chast’s (Mr. Chitty’s first New Yorker drawing, 2014). On tomorrow’s Spill we’ll visit a cartoonist whose style is as out there as Mr. Chitty’s — maybe even more out there.  An Ellis Rosen musical courtroom  drawing follows (Mr. Rosen’s first New Yorker drawing, December of 2016).  Newyorker.com readers will remember that Mr. Ellis just appeared on a “Cartoon Lounge” video with  Emma Allen (the magazine’s cartoon editor) and Colin Stokes (the associate cartoon editor). See it here if you missed it. Three pages later is a Maddie Dai cartoon employing a fairy tale setting.  Mix in a little modern technology and bingo! (Ms. Dai’s first New Yorker appearance, June 5, 2017). I am reminded of an out of office discussion I had with former cartoon editor, Bob Mankoff, back in 2008, in which he declared,”No more fairy tale drawings!”  Well that didn’t happen.  A Barbara Smaller sidewalk conversation cartoon is next (Ms. Smaller’s first New Yorker appearance, 1996). Someone should really do a Sidewalks of New York cartoon collection.

As mentioned here last week, I avoid looking at the cartoonists listed on the Table of Contents for the express purpose of being surprised while looking through every new issue.  This week, that resulted in a wonderful moment toward the end of the issue with the appearance of a drawing by one of our cartoon gods, George Booth.  A classic Booth scene, with more cats than you can shake a fur ball at, this drawing is a real treat. Mr. Booth was the subject of a Fave Photo of the Day here on the Spill last week. In the photo he is shown working at his desk. According to a highly reliable source (his daughter), he works every day, perhaps that’s one of the secret ingredients for an artist who has been contributing to The New Yorker for nearly half a century.  This coming Fall we can all look forward to a Booth exhibit at The Society of Illustrators (October 24 through December 23, 2017).

And lastly in the issue (not counting the Cartoon Caption Contest — I’ve decided, for now,  to opt out of covering it) is a David Sipress words of wisdom drawing, cleverly distilling a page out of Pete Frames Rock Trees.  Mr. Sipress’s first New Yorker drawing appeared in the summer of 1998). It’s nice to see Blind Faith mentioned in a New Yorker cartoon.

A Reminder: There’s A Mary Petty Exhibit Happening in Pensacola

MPI was reminded today while reading an article that there is right this very moment an exhibit of Mary Petty’s work at the Pensacola Museum of Art. Here’s a link.

Shown here is my favorite cover of hers (I’ve no idea if it’s in the exhibit), and one of my favorite New Yorker covers of all-time (let’s say it’s in the top 100).

In that issue of August 4, 1945 are two cartoons by Ms. Petty’s husband, Alan Dunn as well as two by the great Helen Hokinson. Also in the issue are drawings by: Steinberg, Robert Day (a full page!), Whitney Darrow, Jr., Otto Soglow, Julian de Misky (a sequential drawing running over the gutter and onto the following page), Eric Ericson, Sam Cobean, Charles Addams, Garrett Price, Perry Barlow, and Chon Day. For anyone interested in why this era was called the golden age of New Yorker cartooning, seek out and enjoy the artistry of these contributors. (it’s available to New Yorker subscribers online; it’s also available on  the Complete New Yorker, and any library still holding bound New Yorkers).   

 

BBC: Bert & Ernie New Yorker Cover & The Power of Cartoons: Bob Mankoff on Favorite Cartoons, Pt.2; Book of Interest: American Cornball

BBC Bert:Ernie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From BBC News Magazine, July 19, 2013, “A Point of View: Bert, Ernie and the power of cartoons”

 

 

 

 

 

 

And…

 

robert_mankoff_banner_n

 

 

From New Yorker Cartoon Editor, Bob Mankoff’s newyorker.com blog, here’s part 2 of his look into favorite cartoons.  This time Mr. Mankoff begins to roll out favorites as suggested by visitors to the site.  Work shown includes cartoons by George Price, Peter Arno, Shel Silverstein (whose work never appeared in The New Yorker), and Charles Addams.

 

And…

 

 

 

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Now here’s a book worth waiting for: American Cornball: A Laffopedic Guide to the Formerly Funny (Harper, 2014) by Christopher Miller.  Originally slated to be out now, it’s been rescheduled for February of next year.  I asked Mr. Miller to describe the book:

 

It is an encyclopedia of old humor, with roughly 200 entries on things that used to strike people as funny–things like anvils, back-seat drivers, castor oil, dish-washing husbands, efficiency experts, flappers, gold diggers, hangovers, icemen, just-marrieds, kissing booths, ladies’ clubs, mothers-in-law, next-door neighbors, old maids, pie fights, rolling pins, stenographers, traveling salesmen, ulcers, women drivers, and yes men.

The focus is American humor in the first 2/3 of the 20th century, as expressed in books, movies, cartoons, comic strips, sit-coms, radio programs, etc. I talk a lot about New Yorker cartoonists like Charles Addams (especially in the entry on Spouse-Killing), Helen Hokinson (Ladies’ Clubs), Peter Arno (Gold diggers), and Richard Taylor (Drunks and Drunkenness).

 

Note: Mr. Miller has a Facebook page devoted to the book, with a number of images posted, including work by Charles Addams, Syd Hoff, and Sam Cobean

 

 

Anatol Kovarsky at 94: Still Drawing After All These Years

 

 

 

 Kovarsky photo1

 

At 3 o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon in late June, my wife and I, wearing our cartoonist historian hats, were welcomed into an apartment in a pre-war building along Manhattan’s west side. We made our way through a short hallway to a foyer lined with paintings.  There were paintings on the walls, and paintings lined up several feet deep along the floor.  Paintings paintings everywhere.  All of them by the New Yorker cartoonist/artist, Anatol Kovarsky.

(to the left: Kovarsky, New York City, June, 2013).

 

 

 

Kovarsky’s wife, the actress Lucille Patton, married to the artist since 1954, greeted us, and a few moments later, Kovarsky himself appeared from a back room.  He held the latest issue of The New Yorker, and was eager to talk about an illustration that caught his eye.  “This was done with a [computer] program?” he asked pointing to the piece. 

 

 

 

When Kovarsky began his publishing career at The New Yorker he was 28 years old; he is now 94.  His New Yorker work, which began with a cartoon in the issue of March 1, 1947 (cartoon below), ended with a great flourish of covers in 1969.  After 1969, Kovarsky turned to painting full time.  New Yorker readers no longer saw his work in the magazine and on its covers, but his work continued and continues on to this day.

 

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For me, it was a rather surreal moment shaking Kovarsky’s hand. I had long ago placed him in my thinking — and  rightly so– in the late Harold Ross, early William Shawn era of the magazine’s history, what some have referred to as “the Golden Age” of the magazine’s cartoons.  In 2013,  if you count the number of New Yorker Golden Age cartoonists who are still with us — those who began contributing to the magazine during the editorship of Harold Ross — you will count no further than four: Frank Modell, Dana Fradon, James Stevenson, and Anatol Kovarsky.  Meeting these artists is meeting New Yorker history. In the past two months I’ve had occasion to speak to three of these men, and all three exhibit the playfulness of spirit I’ve encountered in most every cartoonist I’ve ever met, no matter their age.

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                       For someone who contributed hundreds of cartoons to The New Yorker it may seem odd that only one collection, Kovarsky’s World, was published (by Knopf, in 1956). images-1Kovarsky’s Kabinett der Kuriositaten, published in Germany in 1962, seems to be a paperback reprint of Kovarsky’s World.

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I had always wondered why there was no follow-up collection – a book that would have included some of his scores of covers for the magazine. When I posed that to Kovarsky, he shrugged, and said, “there were some other books” – one in particular he seemed proud of is an unpublished illustrated guide to English spelling. His work found its way into books as illustrations ( Cycles in Your Life, and a book of limericks, There Was a Young Lady Named Alice). Kovarsky’s work also made it to the Great White Way; he designed and drew the sets for the Broadway play, “The Owl and the Pussycat.”

 

 

 

I said to him that I couldn’t help but notice, looking through his New Yorker work, that the majority of drawings were uncaptioned – to my way of thinking, the most difficult kind of cartoon to do (there have been scant few masters of the form: Otto Soglow, Sam Cobean, Steinberg, Anthony Taber, Nurit Karlin, and more recently, John O’Brien). Kovarsky said, pointing to this newer work of his — a book-in-the-works of drawings accompanied by humorous rhymes — that this latest effort “made up for” the lack of words in his earlier work.  He opened the manuscript and read several of the rhymes, then his finger ran over one of the drawings, as if he was redrawing it.      Pursing the Centaur

 

 

 

 

 

His daughter, Gina, a college professor who teaches Russian literature and culture, showed us some of her father’s recent work:  drawings on newspapers, on ads, on stock market charts.Market people 2

Lucille said, “Anatol will draw on anything” as she handed us two large round cardboard platters that had come from a catered event: each were painted over by Kovarsky.  A design incorporating an elephant on one, three nudes on the other.  Later she showed us two small cardboard saucers or dessert plates, also transformed by Kovarsky into works of art.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had done my homework on Kovarsky before meeting him, looking through his entire New Yorker ouvre, and reading an extended biography from a conference volume about American cultural figures from the Russian empire.  Born in Moscow in 1919 to Jewish parents, he drew at a very young age, entertaining his classmates (behavior much in common with many cartoonists) – he drew his first political cartoon at age 9. After the Russian revolution, his family settled in Warsaw.Kovarsky studied briefly in Vienna (his father wanted him to be an economist), but then, according to his daughter, “he found a drawing master and shifted his attention exclusively to art.”  Kovarsky went on to Paris where he studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts for three years.  The war was on in Europe and in 1941 Kovarsky was able to make his way to Casablanca, where he boarded the last passenger liner leaving Morocco for the United States.   He was eager “to see,” he told me, “what the rest of the world looked like.” He arrived in America just as it entered the war.  Kovarsky told me of the circuitous route he took from the South up through the Midwest and finally to New York City.

 He enlisted in the Army, serving as a cartographer and translator; he also began contributing cartoons to Yank and the Stars and Stripes.  He returned to Europe as a soldier, at first based in London, and then landing at Normandy.  He arrived in Paris the day after it was liberated from the Nazis, and was eventually reunited with his family, who amazingly had survived.  

 Back in America following the war, he turned to the world of magazine cartoons but never away from painting.  Lucille told us that the  large studio Kovarsky once used in lower Manhattan, was divided in two: one part for doing drawings, the other for paintings.  Lucille said, “he would switch from one to the other.” (photo below: Anatol Kovarsky and Lucille Patton, in the late 1950s or early 1960s)

 Kovarskys passport

 

 

I asked Kovarsky if he was led to cartoons by the work of other cartoonists, and he replied, “No, they (the cartoons) just came out of me.”  While it’s not exactly clear how Kovarsky was introduced to The New Yorker,  Gina Kovarsky believes it was “very likely” that the enthusiasm and encouragement of the author, Herbert French, led her father to submit work to the magazine. Kovarsky had contributed illustrations for French’s 1946 book, My Yankee Paris.

 

 

 

The New Yorker immediately fell in love with his work;  Kovarsky’s  drawings averaged at least two appearances a month  (sometimes his work appeared every week of the month). His work often centered on the art world: artists in their studios, with their models and without, museum art;  foreign culture was also a theme of great interest,  specifically the Middle East.  Little of post-war American life escaped Kovarsky’s imagination.

 

 After a decade of contributing drawings to The New Yorker, his covers began to appear.  Kovarsky has said he never did more than six a year, and seeing them it is not difficult to understand why.  Many of his covers, like the paintings that surrounded us in the Kovarsky’s apartment, were energetic displays of brilliant color and action.(pictured below: A Kovarsky  painting, In The Ring, and a Kovarsky New Yorker cover)   Kovarsky:In the Ring

 

 

 

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Before our visit, Kovarsky’s daughter wrote to me of her father’s interests:

 

 

 

His eye has been attuned to beauty not only in pageantry and performance, but also at the bar and grill, the beaches of Coney Island, the boxing ring, and the supermarket.   (Indeed, his appreciation for city life was such that when I was a little girl and we would be going on walks, he would periodically draw my attention to the colorful and interesting patterns created by garbage strewn about on the streets, or by dilapidated storefronts with their torn-off signs). 

 

 

 

What he was doing was what all great cartoonists do: he was taking it all in, no matter what “it” was (Kovarsky continues to take it all in to this very day).

 

 

 

We were shown a brilliant unpublished cover sketch obviously intended for The New Yorker (it included the famous “strap” that runs along the left edge of every New Yorker cover).  It was a snapshot from Kovarsky’s eye, perhaps a combination of snapshots, with what appeared to be a throng of pedestrians on a major Manhattan avenue and  above them a collage of bright signage. An elevated train roared past above the signage and then,  the quiet grey backdrop of the city sky. We were also shown another  New Yorker cover submission with the strap section showing a commuter reading his newspaper; the cover field itself is a series of images one would see from a train or elevated subway.  It could easily be a contemporary New Yorker cover. Kovarsky Commuters

 

 

 

Gina Kovarsky has been spending her summer off from teaching cataloging her father’s work.  She has accomplished much, but there is plenty left to do.  She showed us three rooms filled – and I do mean filled — with her father’s work. Going through his drawings she found a number of folders labeled “Nyet” (Kovarsky is fluent in Russian, Polish, French, and English –  indeed, when we first arrived Gina and her father spoke to each other in Russian before switching to English). It’s a puzzle now as to whether the “Nyet” folders contain drawings rejected by The New Yorker, or whether Kovarsky pre-rejected them as not suitable for the editors.   

 

 Sitting next to Kovarsky on a living room sofa, surveying the living room walls lined with his paintings,  the hallway beyond, with paintings stored in racks, I said to Kovarsky, “You have done so much work”  to which he replied, “I am told,” he said, “that there are 600 paintings here.  I would like to do more.”

All work, published and unpublished, courtesy of Anatol Kovarsky. Photograph of Anatol Kovarsky taken in NYC, June, 2013, by Liza Donnelly. My thanks to Lucille Patton, Anatol Kovarsky, and to Gina Kovarsky for her invaluable assistance in providing images and biographical information.

Kovarsky contributed nearly 300 drawings & almost 50 covers to The New Yorker.  All of his work (drawings & covers) can be found in The Complete New Yorker, or to see just his drawings:  The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker.   Another option:  any library with a collection of bound New Yorkers.  The New Yorker’s Cartoon Bank has a few examples of Kovarsky’s work for the magazine.

Although there is no website devoted to his paintings and drawings, Gina Kovarsky has told me that a website is a priority.