The Making Of A Magazine: A Potted History

Mention The New Yorker and it’s highly likely the image, or one of the first images, that pops into one’s mind is of Rea Irvin’s Eustace Tilley, the magazine’s mascot.  He appeared on the inaugural issue of the magazine dated February 21, 1925, and on every anniversary issue until Tina Brown broke the streak in 1994 by publishing R. Crumb’s Elvis Tilley. 

Those fond of New Yorker history may know that the magazine was nearly killed after just four months of publication; barely anyone was reading it, and what advertising there was was drying up.  The magazine’s founder and editor, Harold Ross, seeing a need to fill space on the inside cover, summoned one of his writers, Corey Ford, to discuss the problem.  Ford described the moment in his memoir, The Time Of Laughter:

In his impulsive way, he called me into his office and began jangling coins and pacing the floor.  Could I do a series of promotion ads to fill the goddamn inside cover? Rea Irvin thought I might burlesque those house organ brochures about publishing a magazine.  Have the first one by tomorrow? Done and done. God bless you.

The result was a twenty part series called The Making of a Magazine.  The first one ran in the August 8 issue:

You’ll notice the illustration, by Johan Bull, shows a little top hatted fellow, who is identified as “Our Mr. Tilley.” We have to wait until the second in a series (the issue of August 15th) to learn his full name: “… Mr. Eustace Tilley.” Tilley was to be the readers tour guide through Ford’s twenty installments, pointing out the various departments needed to turn out The New Yorker.

More from Corey Ford:

The New Yorker‘s man-of-all-work, who personally supervised all these departments, was Mr. Eustace Tilley. (“Tilley” was the name of a maiden aunt, and I chose “Eustace” because it sounded euphonious.) In Johan Bull’s illustrations, he appeared as a silk-hat dude, with morning coat and striped trousers and a monocle, based on the figure in Rea Irvin’s anniversary cover. In time Irvin’s creation became known as Eustace Tilley…

The series ended in the issue of January 2, 1926.  The cover, by Rea Irvin, bore Tilley himself (a coincidence?) coming ala a cuckoo bird, through the clock’s double doors.

In that final installment, Ford ends with this reveal:

In the very same year, bound copies of The Making Of A Magazine appeared. The Spill archive is not fortunate enough to have one (shown at the top of this post is a charming small — 4″ x 6″ — promotional paper version gifted to the Spill ), so I’m showing a scan from AbeBooks, where a copy can be had, signed by Ford, for $1,000.00. 

Now if you don’t want to spring for that copy, or the few others listed at lesser prices ($750.00 – $375.00), you can, believe it or not,  buy a modern copy (shown below) on AbeBooks for $7.57. You’ll notice this issue is part of a series, “Forgotten Books” and the book is by “Author Unknown”  — hmmm, do we laugh or cry, or sniff, Tilley-like?  

Below: Johan Bull’s last Tilley in the last of the series:

 

 

Making a Splash at Esquire

 

 

 

 

I found something I was looking for the other day: a log of cartoons I kept in my nascent years of cartooning.  Looking through I realized that the only drawings I sold in the Fall of 1977 — right after breaking into The New Yorker — were to Esquire. During that year Esquire was being retooled by its new owner, Clay Felker, whose long career in magazine publishing included founding New York magazine.

Following the purchase of five of my cartoons, I was summoned uptown to Esquire’s offices to meet Clay Felker and Milton Glaser, who was redesigning the magazine. I don’t know why I was called in –- my memory is that it was a meet and greet and not really a meeting about cartoons. The old Esquire had a long history of publishing cartoons; the current thinking must’ve been that they’d continue the tradition.

Sometime after my meeting, I received, via mail, the bought cartoons.  The legendary Harvey Kurtzman ( their cartoon editor, I suppose – it wasn’t made clear to me) included notes for me to follow as I did finishes for what the editors assumed were rough drawings (I thought they were already finished).   Harvey had taped tracing paper over the drawings with his penciled edit instructions pointing to the required changes.  He also told me I needed to put overlays on my work and add some kind of ink as wash (he was precise about the ink, I just don’t remember what it was called).  I’d never heard of overlays, but my local art supply store was more than happy to sell me some. I was in the process of learning what to do with these overlays and the inky substance when word came to me that Esquire had decided not to use cartoons after all. Although there was the following in the notification: “We will continue to run cartoon material, such as strips and an occasional feature…” the Esquire single panel cartoon was history.

I must’ve sent some of my overlay attempts back to Esquire — only one remains in my files. I include it here, with and without the overlay. I’m still not sure what that red inky stuff is that I splashed all over the overlay. Whatever it was, it was more than I could handle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Of Interest: Corey Ford’s Time Of Laughter; Today’s New Yorker Daily Cartoonist Is Michael Shaw

Here’s an interesting read, published in 1967 by Little, Brown. Corey Ford’s The Time Of Laughter: A Sentimental Chronicle of the Twenties — The Humor and the Humorists.

Ford will be forever remembered (I hope!) as the fellow who gave name to the New Yorker‘s top hatted butterfly inspecting dandy, Eustace Tilley. Here’s Ford talking about naming Tilley:

The New Yorker’s man-of-all-work…was Mr. Eustace Tilley. (“Tilley” was the name of a maiden aunt, and I chose “Eustace” because it sounded euphonious.) In Johan Bull’s illustrations [for Ford’s New Yorker series “The Making of a Magazine”] he appeared as a silk hat dude, with morning coat and striped trousers and monocle, based on the figure in Rea Irvin’s anniversary cover. In time Irvin’s creation became known as Eustace Tilley, and “Our Man Tilley” showed up now and then in the “Talk” section. Ross even listed a private telephone under Tilley’s name. During the guerilla war between The New Yorker and Luce publications, Time appropriated Eustace Tilley as a member of its own editorial staff, but he was hastily dropped when Ross threatened suit for plagiarism.”

You could, of course, read the whole book (it’s easily found online), but if you want to dive right into Ford’s New Yorker material I direct your attention to Chapter 6 (My Ugly Roomer) and beyond.

Above: The promotional pamphlet collecting most of Ford’s The Making of a Magazine

For an overview, here’s the Wikipedia page for Mr. Ford.

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Today’s New Yorker Daily Cartoon

Today’s Daily cartoon (Trump-centric, but of course) is by the terrific New Yorker cartoonist, Michael Shaw. Mr. Shaw began contributing to The New Yorker in 1999. Link here to The New Yorker‘s Cartoon Bank site to see more of his work.

Latest New Yorker Cartoons Rated; More Von Riegen, and Some Corey Ford

 

 

 

It’s good to see those anonymous critics, Max and Simon, are staying the course and digging into the cartoons appearing in each and every new issue of The New Yorker. This week they look at (and rate) cartoons featuring, among other things, a snail, a yodeler, a proud woodsman, subway rats, and some gangsters wearing matching pants and shirts. 

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And swinging back over to Attempted Bloggery, the William Von Riegen material keeps on-comin. I like that this book jacket cover featuring Mr. Von Riegen’s art was featured.  One of the book’s co-authors is Corey Ford, who will be no stranger to New Yorker history buffs (he gave name to Eustace Tilley).  Here’s the very rare book containing the Making of a Magazine pieces Mr. Ford contributed to the New Yorker in its infancy (this is a screen grab — the book is, alas, not in the Spill’s library, although a promotional booklet of the material, donated by a generous collector, is).  

You can read Mr. Ford’s pieces here

The Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue Of January 21, 2019

An interesting cover this week, reminiscent of Arthur Getz‘s great city landscapes: a dark city view with a small area of bright lights slicing through. That contrast of dark with dramatic light was close to a Getzian specialty (similar scenes were also beautifully painted by a number of other New Yorker artists through the years). If you can, get hold of The Complete Book of Covers From The New Yorker (Knopf, 1989) — you won’t regret it.

For more on the current cover, you can read about the artist, Pascal Campion here.

The Cartoons/Cartoonists:




Some cartoons of note in this issue:

The solid drawing on page 22 of two couples about to cross paths on a suspended narrow rope bridge marks Hartley Lin‘s cartoon debut in the magazine.

As happily the case with Lars Kenseth‘s work, his stone man on page 30 is something outside the norm.

Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell‘s cinematic post-party drawing on page 51 is terrific, as is Olivia de Recat’s Alarmist Clock on page 63.

On page 59, another cartoonist’s New Yorker debut: Karl Stevens.

Mr. Lin and Mr. Stevens are the first new New Yorker cartoonists of 2019, and the 25th and 26th new cartoonists making their debut in the magazine since Emma Allen became the New Yorker‘s cartoon editor in May of 2017.

…before I turn out the lights on this post, let us not forget that Rea Irvin’s beautiful Talk masthead (below) is still in storage. Read all about it here.