Henry Martin’s First New Yorker Spot Drawing

Some mornings, when I set out to do the day’s Spill, I’ve no idea what I’ll be posting (other than possibly mentioning the Daily cartoonist & cartoon). Today began with seeing a link to a 17 year old piece on Henry Martin, the great New Yorker cartoonist who passed away the last day of June. In the piece (there’s a link for it below), it mentions Henry’s first Spot drawing (shown here) — it was his first sale to the magazine — to be followed by fourteen years of trying to sell cartoons to them.

In the weeks following Henry’s passing I wondered what and where that first Spot was, but since Spots aren’t cataloged on The New Yorker‘s database, it would take searching issue-to-issue (a more involved approach would’ve taken me to the magazine’s library to sit with Henry’s black binder). The 17 year old article saved me a bit of work, narrowing down the search to the sale in April of 1950, and that his first Spot was a circus wagon.

  I began searching the digital library online, beginning with April 8, 1950 (figuring that if he sold the Spot in April, it would’ve been too late to get it into the April 1, 1950 issue). Bingo(!) on page four in the Goings On About Town Section. Lucky that — as the Spot may not have appeared for weeks, or months. This was probably my easiest archival dig ever.

What we know about Henry’s work method for Spots is that he drew them the size he thought they’d run in the magazine. So what you see above is probably just slightly larger than the original. The detail Henry got into that small piece is kind of, if not, amazing. I’ve included  a terrible screen shot of the April 8, 1950 Goings On About Town page, and a somewhat better grab below of half the page.

And here’s the article that led me to the Spot…

From PAW (Princeton Alumni Weekly)  July 3, 2003, “Laughing, Gently, For Half A Century” — this piece (with cartoons) on Henry Martin, who contributed to the publication.

And…here’s Henry Martin’s Spill A-Z entry:



Henry Martin ( Born 1925, Louisville, Kentucky. Died, June 30, 2020, Newtown, Pennsylvania. New Yorker work: 1964 – 1999 . Collections: Good News / Bad News ( Scribners, 1977), Yak! Yak! Yak! Blah! Blah! Blah! (Scribners, 1977). Martin has illustrated a number of books, as well as writing and illustrating children’s books. Ink Spill’s Henry Martin Appreciation




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