Barbara Shermund Biography In the Works

Word has reached Ink Spill that a biography of the prolific New Yorker cartoonist (and cover artist) Barbara Shermund is in the works. Shermund’s great niece, Amanda Gormley is in the early stages of research on the artist’s life and work.  Ms. Gormley writes that her “goal is to bring her story to light and marry her early life and works in San Francisco to her life and love for New York.”  Anyone wishing to contribute information on Barbara Shermund may contact Ms. Gormley through her email address: amanda.janes@att.net

Here’s Ink Spill’s  “New Yorker Cartoonists A – Z” listing:

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)

Shermund’s self portrait above from Colliers Collects Its Wits (Harcourt Brace and Company, NY.  1940, 1941)

Niculae Asciu, New Yorker Cover Artist & Cartoonist, Dies at Age 70

The long time illustrator for The New York Times,  Niculae Asciu has died at age 70.  Mr Asciu was also a New Yorker cartoonist and cover artist, contributing 3 covers and 23 cartoons  over sixteen years, from 1974 thru 1990.  Mr. Asciu was that rare cartoonist whose work, like his contemporary Nurit Karlin,  was mostly captionless if not entirely wordless — not one of Mr. Asciu’s New Yorker cartoons bore a caption.  His line, disarmingly casual but precise, seemed to echo elements of Bruce Petty and Arnie Levin, as well as his fellow Romanian, Saul Steinberg.

 

According to his New York Times obit (March 17, 2013), Mr. Asciu was born April 5, 1942 in Cerna Voda, Romania. He died  March 3, 2013, in Queens, New York.

(A tip of the hat to Mike Lynch, especially for the link to this translated piece on Mr. Asciu from cotidianul.ro: “He Died a Great Cartoonist: Nicolae Asciu”)

Happy Birthday, Mr. Roth

Philip Roth, who celebrates his 80th birthday today, was first published in The New Yorker the issue of March 14, 1959, with his story, “Defender of the Faith” causing an immediate stir (see the upcoming PBS American Masters profile “Philip Roth: Unmasked”  for, among so many other things,  Mr. Roth’s recollection of buying, opening up, reading and rereading his story in this particular issue — jokingly(?) saying he even read it “upside down”).

 

The issue featured a cover by the wonderful Abe Birnbaum, who contributed nine cartoons and nearly a hundred and fifty covers to The New Yorker.  His New York Times obit (June 20, 1966) contains this quote by Mr. Birnbaum: “Nothing is ugly. Everything is what it is.”

 

Brendan Gill reprinted the robin cover in his book,  Here At The New Yorker, writing of it:

 

“Nobody was satisfied with the ‘rough’ of this giant robin as it was first seen at the weekly art meeting. At the time, the background consisted merely of landscape. Geraghty [the New Yorker’s Art Editor from 1939 thru 1973] suggested the addition of birdwatchers. That simple change changed everything.”

 

When Philip Roth read, reread, and read his first New Yorker story upside down, he ran across cartoons by the following cartoonists — a roster that’s just about as good a snapshot of The New Yorker cartoon universe late 1950s as any:

William O’Brian, Frank Modell, Robert Kraus, Saul Steinberg, Everett Opie, Barney Tobey, William Steig, Ed Fisher, Robert Day (whose cartoon appeared on the first page of Roth’s story), James Stevenson, Otto Soglow, Syd Hoff, Whitney Darrow, Jr., Charles Saxon, Anatol Kovarsky, Dana Fradon, Eldon Dedini,  and Lee Lorenz

 

 

 

One Club addition: George Wilson; Friedman on Grossman; Univ of Florida’s Comics Collection

While browsing through ancient copies of The New Yorker, there’s always a little jolt when I come across a cartoonist whose name is unfamiliar. It happened today when I reached page 38 of the November 29, 1930 issue and found a cartoon by George Wilson. A quick check with The New Yorker database revealed that Mr. Wilson was published just once in the magazine.  That of course qualifies him for immediate membership in The One Club, and a listing in red on The New Yorker Cartoonists A – Z.  At the moment I have no additional information on Mr. Wilson.  Please contact me if you do.

 

From Drew Friedman’s blog, March 15, 2013, “The Caricature of Robert Grossman” —  Mr. Grossman is not only a New Yorker contributor but also worked as an assistant in the magazine’s Art Department in the early 1960s.

 

Finally, out of the scope of Ink Spill’s focus, but likely interesting to most comic art enthusiasts:

From the University of Florida, Department of English, “Comics Collections at UF” — I just happened upon this site, and admit I had no idea that U of F had a comics collection. If you link here, you’ll find more information on the collection  as well as a link to their downloadable database.