Winter, Spring, Summer, Addams

My friend over at Attempted Bloggery recently emailed me: “It’s that time of year.”  I knew exactly what he was talking about before I opened the link he attached. In this New Yorker cartoon-centric world of the Spill, “that time of year,” mid-way through October, could only belong to Charles Addams.

Addams is one of a dozen New Yorker cartoonists I place in the Cartoon God category.  We are so fortunate his work has been well collected — all of his anthologies are easily available (Abebooks is an excellent place to search for them.  Chris Wheeler’s site is a good place to see the covers all at once).

    

We are also fortunate that Linda Davis gave us a biography of Addams: Charles Addams: A Cartoonist’s Life (also easily found online).

When I began contributing to The New Yorker in the late 1970s, Addams was very much a presence in the office. (Ms. Davis’s book includes my account of riding the elevator with him. Comparable, I suppose, to a rookie ballplayer walking into the clubhouse and spotting Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays).  But of course it was Addams’s work that really inspired. It was a gift to open the magazine in those days and turn to a full page Addams drawing.  Not only did it entertain, but it inspired. I learned more than I’ll ever know from examining his drawings — the care put into details; his characters’ perfect expressions; the obvious joy he took drawing whatever he was drawing; the drawing as a whole, caption — if there was one — and art, scoring a near perfect 10 every time. Yes, he had help in the idea department (and here again, I intersected with him, supplying an idea, as did a number of colleagues), but the supplied ideas were elevated through his art.  

As we close in on Halloween there will definitely be an increased Addamsy feel around here; I’ll miss not seeing one of his covers grace the magazine as they often did around now, but the work remains available 24/7. Pounce on it. 

Link here to the official Addams website.   

Here’s Mr. Addams’s entry on the Spill‘s A-Z:

 

 

 

 

Charles Addams (above) Born in Westfield, New Jersey, January  7, 1912. Died September 29, 1988, New York City. New Yorker work: 1932 – 1988 * the New Yorker has published his work posthumously. One of the giants of The New Yorker’s  stable of artists.  Key cartoon collections: While all of Addams’ collections are worthwhile, here are three that are particular favorites; Homebodies (Simon & Schuster, 1954), The Groaning Board (Simon & Schuster, 1964), Creature Comforts (Simon & Schuster, 1981). In 1991 Knopf published The World of Chas Addams, a retrospective collection.

 

The Wednesday Watch: Interviews of Interest with Liana Finck and Peter Kuper

Here are three Liana Finck interviews tied into her just released Passing for Human. The first is with fellow New Yorker colleague, Amy Kurzweil: “Two Cartoonists Sit On A Bench And Talk: An Illustrated Interview”

And… from The Herald Scotland,  there’s “Graphic Content: Liana Finck On Awkwardness, anxiety. and being a New Yorker Cartoonist”

Also… from The Beat: “Interview: Liana Finck is surprised she’s relatable, but she’s getting used to the idea”

And here’s a link to “Kafka Bound” Steven Heller’s Print Magazine interview with MAD and New Yorker cartoonist, Peter Kuper, whose Kafkaesque: Fourteen Stories has just been released.

— my thanks to David Pomerantz and Mike Rhode for alerting me to a few of the above pieces.

The Tilley Watch: A Collaboration; A Correction

A Correction: The original Spill post under “Papaerwork” [I’ve left it intact below] incorrectly stated that the appearance of Tadhg Ferry’s cartoon in this latest issue was his first cartoon in the magazine. Jane Mattimoe, of a Spill favorite blog, A Case For Pencils,  has sent me a cartoon of Mr. Ferry’s that appeared in the September 19, 2016 issue. My apologies to Mr. Ferry, and my thanks to Ms. Mattimoe for setting the record straight (the good news is that Mr. Ferry’s name was added to the A-Z, albeit belatedly. This bit of information about Mr. Ferry led to the addition of one cartoonist to the #218 below, making it 219 new cartoonists brought in from 1997 through 2017; at the same time one cartoonist is subtracted from Emma Allen’s total thus far, from 19 to 18).  

Paperwork: a new cartoonist in the issue (it’s the “Money Issue”…well, okay) of October 22, 2018:  Mr. Ferry is the seventh new cartoonist added this year, and the nineteenth new cartoonist added since Emma Allen became the magazine’s cartoon editor in May of 2017.  Her predecessor added two hundred and eighteen new cartoonists in his close to twenty year stint, or approximately eleven new cartoonists a year. His predecessor, Lee Lorenz, added approximately forty-five new cartoonists in his twenty-four years as art/cartoon editor, or approximately 2 a year.

 Noted: a rare co-credited cartoon in the issue: Joe Dator & Dan Yaccarino. For more on the subject of New Yorker cartoon collaboration, go here and here.

Rea Irvin: Mr. Irvin’s classic Talk masthead is still stuck in a drawer somewhere at the New Yorker‘s offices, having been replaced by a redrawn (!?) version in the Spring of last year.  Read more here. Below: what the shelved masthead looks like, lest we forget:

 

 

Barbara Shermund Celebrated At The Billy Ireland Museum

Exciting news! The Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum & Library will celebrate the great New Yorker artist, Barbara Shermund, with an exhibit, Tell Me A Story Where The Bad Girl Wins: The Life and Art of Barbara Shermund.  This promises to be wonderful show, with “photographs, letters, original art, and books never before displayed…” Curated by by Caitlin McGurk, Assistant Professor & Associate Curator, it runs from November 3, 2018 thru March 31, 2019.  More info here.

Above: a rough of Ms. Shermund’s New Yorker cover of March 18, 1939.

Below: a Shermund self-portrait

From the Billy Ireland website:

TELL ME A STORY WHERE THE BAD GIRL WINS: THE LIFE AND ART OF BARBARA SHERMUND:  Barbara Shermund is an unheralded early master of gag cartooning. Her sharp wit and loose style boldly tapped the zeitgeist of first-wave feminism with vivid characters that were alive and astute. Shermund’s women spoke their minds about sex, marriage, and society; smoked cigarettes and drank; and poked fun at everything in an era when it was not common to see young women doing so.

Caption for the above drawing: “Raymond was a beautiful baby.”

Caption for the above:

“He just inherited a million dollars.”

“Oh, but that’s so devitalizing”

Further Info:

 Here’s my Shermund piece from The Spill,  posted in 2009.

Revisiting  Barbara Shermund

Barbara Shermund, who died in early September, 1978, had the misfortune of passing away during a newspaper strike that affected the paper of record, The New York Times. An extensive search has turned up just one obituary for her, a four sentence notice that ran in a newspaper covering the New Jersey coastal town (Sea Bright) where she lived for a number of years toward the end of her life.

For someone who contributed hundreds of cartoons and eight covers to The New Yorker Magazine, then went on to become a mainstay at Esquire, four sentences seems a bit slight. Here then is another notice, a little late, and a little longer.

Born in San Francisco in 1899 to artistic parents (her father was an architect), Ms. Shermund studied at The California School of Fine Arts before heading east, at the age of twenty-six, to New York. She told Colliers that her initial visit east became permanent “after she had eaten up her return fare.” In June of that very year, she made her debut at the four month old New Yorker with a cover of a young woman sporting a hip hairdo, eyes closed, resting her arm over a railing, against a black sky peppered with stars. In a year’s time her cartoons, many if not most of which were written by her, were appearing in nearly every issue of the magazine.

Her style had a sway to it that fit the times. Her subjects, executed in pen and ink and wash, were often hip young women, just a bit jaded – the sort that famously inhabited F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise. She once offered up this brief glimpse into her private life, saying she liked “fancy dancing and dogs.”

Liza Donnelly, author of Funny Ladies: The New Yorker’s Greatest Women Cartoonists and their Cartoons, had this to say about Ms. Shermund:

“Barbara Shermund was one of the more prolific cartoonists of the early New Yorker. Her breezy drawing style and humor reflected the new attitudes of urban women in the twenties and thirties, and she can be considered one of the early feminist cartoonists. The New Yorker sought to appeal to both men and women with its humor, and Shermund, along with other women cartoonists of the magazine, were ground breakers in that regard, creating cartoons from a woman’s perspective that could be enjoyed by all. Her cartoons were irreverent, sassy, and a true reflection of her times.”

Shermund traveled widely – Donnelly wrote of her that “she was something of a wanderer, living with friends in the city and the upstate town of Woodstock [NY], never really having a set address.” Eventually she settled down in Sea Bright, New Jersey, a barrier beach town, just about an hour’s drive from New York.

The last of her five hundred and ninety-seven drawings in The New Yorker appeared September 16, 1944; her last cover appeared August 5, 1944. Although her relationship with The New Yorker fizzled in the mid 1940s, she participated in an Irving Penn group photo of eighteen New Yorker cartoonists ( it ran in the August 1947 issue of Vogue). Ms. Shermund, dressed in dark clothing and wearing a great wide brimmed hat, stares directly at the camera. Sitting directly in front of her is George Price, and Steinberg; overhead, reclining on a platform is Charles Addams. Off to Ms. Shermund’s right is Helen Hokinson, looking just a little apprehensive.

The discs accompanying The Complete New Yorker allow one to see all of Barbara Shermund’s work in their natural habitat. Nine of her drawings appear in the The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker, and of course all of her work can be seen on the discs accompanying the book.

Here’s Ms. Shermund’s entry on the Spill‘s A-Z:

Barbara Shermund  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)

 — All images (except the small self-portrait at the top of this post) courtesy of The Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum and Library