Otto Soglow’s Little King: “He just happened.”

Cartoon Monarch: Otto Soglow & The Little King (IDW Publishing, 2012)

Introduction by Ivan Brunetti

Foreward by Jared Gardner

 

 

What’s not to like about this handsome volume? If I had my way every cartoonist of note would celebrated thusly: beautifully reproduced work (both black & white and color), with a thorough and informed foreward.  Mr. Gardner takes us through Soglow’s transition from Ashcan school realist to cartoonist, with generous reproductions of the work. Also enjoyable are the reproductions of Soglow’s adwork, illustrations, and commercial products featuring the Little King.

 

Well before I became aware of The New Yorker, and its stable of artists, I was aware of Soglow’s Little King – what  postwar child reading comics and watching television wasn’t?  The simplicity of his work was immediately appealing as was the subject matter: a King who was human, not to mention comically rotund.

In The New York Times’ Soglow obituary  there’s this passage:

Asked how he happened to create “the Little King,” Mr. Soglow had very little to say. “He just happened,” and then he apologized for having nothing more dramatic to recount.

The Little King began life in The New Yorker in the issue of June 7, 1930 — a full page, no less. If you rewind to the November 14, 1925 issue of The New Yorker, you’ll discover Soglow’s first contribution to that magazine—it sits across the gutter from a drawing by Peter Arno, and believe it or not, it’s somewhat difficult to tell the styles apart.  Arno was still in his early pre-stripped down phase of drawing as was Soglow. Graphically, they make an interesting pair, both at the starting gate in the pages of The New Yorker, about to head off to their distinctly recognizable, and recognized, worlds.

(above photo: Little King toy / Ink Spill’s From the Attic section)

 

 

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