Recently while browsing through the Index of The Complete Book of Covers From The New Yorker 1925 -1989 my eye caught the following listing:

Jimmie-the-Ink; see Daugherty, James

As far as I know, James Daugherty is only one of two cartoonists whose cartoons have been published in The New Yorker using a “handle.” ( the other is the Illustrator and musician, Andy Friedman whose cartoons appear under the name Larry Hat). Cartoonists who worked under a pseudonym, such as Daniel Brustlein, whose cartoons were signed “Alain,”  are another story.

Daugherty, who died on February 21, 1974  (The New Yorker’s 50th anniversary) contributed nineteen cartoons to the magazine and two covers.  His New Yorker work was overshadowed by the fine art he produced for much of his life as well as his work in the Children’s Book field ( Daugherty received a Newberry in 1940 ). An online search produced this wonderful paper by Rebecca E. Lawton on Daugherty’s life and work.

Where to see his New Yorker work:

Besides the aforementioned Complete Covers of The New Yorker* you can see Daugherty’s two covers on The New Yorker’s Cartoon Bank site . Unfortunately none of his cartoons appear there. You can see all of his work (covers and cartoons) on Disc #8  of The Complete New Yorker, and see his cartoons on the discs that accompany The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker.

* The Complete Book of Covers From The New Yorker (Knopf, 1989) is out of print but available, for a somewhat hefty price from private dealers listed on the usual online sources, such as ABEBooks.com. and Amazon.com.

“What’s So Funny About Red?” Color Cartoons in The New Yorker

I’m  betting that a good number of The New Yorker’s readers (you know, those folks who go to the cartoons before looking at anything else in the magazine) have noticed something colorful going on with the cartoons.

Four out of the first five issues of the new year have  a color cartoon (the cartoons in the issue of January 24th are black & white, while the issue of January 31 has two color cartoons).

Any article that mentions color cartoons and The New Yorker in the same breath would be ridiculously remiss without including the famous line attributed to the magazine’s founder, Harold Ross.  When asked why The New Yorker didn’t run color cartoons, Ross was reported to have said, “What’s so funny about red?”  The magazine itself used this Rossism as a heading back in its 2007 Cartoon Issue when it ran five cartoons “testing the possibilities” of using red in cartoons.  And more recently, in October of 2010, The New Yorker’s current Cartoon Editor, Bob Mankoff,  taking part in a live online chat on the magazine’s website had this exchange with a questioner:

Q:  Do your artists feel limited by black and white?

A: I don’t think so. Everyone once in a while a cartoon demands color for the joke to be understood or better understood but for the most part color is a distraction. Harold Ross, the first editor of The New Yorker when asked why the cartoons didn’t use color answered ” What’s so funny about red?”

Color New Yorker cartoons were once such a rarity that The New York Times, in an article dated February 15, 1989, noted  William Steig’s four-page color contribution in the magazine’s 64th Anniversary issue.  Robert Gottlieb, the magazine’s editor at the time, told the Times,  ”Cartoons and maps are not suddenly going to be in Day-Glo.” Wouldn’t that have been something?   The Times noted that the last known use of color cartoons was in 1926, when it ran a two-page spread by Rea Irvin.  [Rea Irvin’s two page color spread,  The Maharajah of Puttyput Receives a Christmas Necktie From the Queen, actually ran in the issue of December 12, 1925]

The first use of color single panel cartoons  in The New Yorker occurred during the tenure of Gottlieb’s successor, Tina Brown.  In the March 21, 1994 special issue, The New Yorker Goes to the Movies, three color cartoons appeared, one each by Peter Steiner, Liza Donnelly, and J.B. Handelsman.

The New Yorker Book of_______Cartoons

There’s an alternate universe of New Yorker cartoon collections out there: custom hard cover books produced by the magazine’s Cartoon Bank. These books resemble in size and format the popular series that began in 1990 with The New Yorker Book of Cat Cartoons. The Cartoon Bank’s Production Manager, Trevor Hoey (who is also a New Yorker cartoonist)  tells Ink Spill that there are about two hundred different custom titles out in the world, with production runs of anywhere from fifty copies to ten thousand copies per title.

I really like these custom books, with their dust-jacketed hard covers and their helpful “Index of Artists”  at the back (a carry-over from the mainstream New Yorker cartoon collections). And even though I’ve never been a fan of themed collections, these are kind’ve fun in a cartoony universe sort of way as they feature insurance agencies, brokerage firms, law offices, television stations, etc., etc.. It may sound as if I’m shilling for the Cartoon Bank, but these titles are usually difficult to find. A recent search on Amazon turned up just a handful.  As we wait for the next big New Yorker Album—perhaps the 90th Anniversary Album in 2015, or the 100th Anniversary Album in 2025, these custom collections will do nicely, if you can find them.