Why a Platter?

 

In February of 1991 when The New Yorker offices moved from 25 West 43rd Street  across the street to 20 West 43rd,  some housecleaning was in order.

Some of the objects that once sat in the Art Department couldn’t make the move due to space considerations. Among the few generously donated to our collection was this oddity:  a large wooden platter, signed by a handful of cartoonists as well as by Anne Hall, who for decades was Assistant to the magazine’s Art Editor, Lee Lorenz.

Part of the signed platter’s charm is its scarcity of signatures. Considering how many cartoonists came and went through the Art department every week, one would think the platter would be full.

Another from the Cartoon Attic: Whither Whither, or After Sex What?

 

Whither Whither, or After Sex What? Edited by Walter S. Hankel  (1930, The  Macaulay Co., NY)

 

I’ve always loved this book more for its cover than its content.  It was published just five years after the birth of The New Yorker, and a year before Thurber’s first drawing appeared in the magazine (January of 1931). That isn’t to say the book’s publisher wasn’t aware of Thurber’s art. Whither Whither’s cover gently echoes the cover of E.B. White and James Thurber’s Is Sex Necessary? published to great success a year earlier.  Wither Wither’s cover illustration was executed ever-so-slightly in the Thurber vein. The title’s type face is vaguely reminiscent of Is Sex Necessary? as is the use of the word “Sex” and the use of the title in the form of a question.  To drive home the point:  Thurber and White appear on the cover as contributors.

 

William Gropper, the illustrator, was no Johnny–come-lately to the illustration field.  By 1930 he was a well established cartoonist and illustrator.  If he was taking-off on Thurber’s style – at least for the cover piece —  he couldn’t help but reveal the discipline of his art school roots. Gropper’s work inside the book is less Thurber-like, resembling instead the simpler loose yet determined style William Steig used later in his long career.

 

It’s interesting to note that twelve of the fourteen contributors to Whither Whither were New Yorker contributors, making this book a  near de facto  New Yorker collection.

 

While Is Sex Necessary? took off (it’s still in print some 80 plus years after its first printing), The New York Times reviewer whisked Whither Whither away, saying of its essays,  “some are good, some are indifferent, and some are wearying.”

Link here for more on William Gropper

 

More From the Attic: Our Own Baedeker from The New Yorker


 

Continuing on from yesterday’s post, pictured above is Our Own Baedeker from The New Yorker (Simon & Schuster, 1947).  Carl Rose supplied ten maps and one hundred and eighty illustrations. The written pieces all ran during World War II.

Regular visitors to Ink Spill might well ask, “Why these posts of ancient material all of a sudden?”  The answer is that we seem to be in a summer slump of news and events ( if anyone knows of any New Yorker cartoon/cartoonist news and events, please share).  With nothing doing news-wise,  I’ve decided to climb back up into our cluttered cartoon attic and drag a few items out into the light.  If you wish to see other things posted over time, please visit  the attic.