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):