Short Video Of Interest: Setting Up The Bruce Museum’s Masterpieces From The Museum Of Comic Art Exhibit; Attempted Bloggery Looks At George Price

Here’s a short (3 minute) video showing some decision-making for the Bruce Museum’s “Masterpieces From The Museum of Comic Art” exhibit. More info here.

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Attempted Bloggery Looks At George Price

Attempted Bloggery, a Spill go-to website has begun spotlighting some interesting George Price work, including the oddity above. See it all here.

George Price’s entry on the Spill‘s A-Z:

George Price (above) Born in Coytesville, New Jersey, June 9, 1901. Died January 12, 1995, Engelwood, New Jersey. New Yorker work: 1929 – 1991. Lee Lorenz, the New Yorker’s former Art/Cartoon editor, called Price one of the magazine’s great stylists (along with Peter Arno, Helen Hokinson, James Thurber, and William Steig). Of the many Price collections here are two favorites:  Browse At Your Own Risk (1977), and The World of George Price: A 55-Year Retrospective (1988)

Below: I’ve always loved the cover of Price’s 1963 collection, My Dear 500 Friends.

Thanks For The High Bar, Peter Arno

An Arno anthology from 1930

From 1999 through 2016 I happily threw a good percentage of my days into digging up whatever I could about Peter Arno, who was born 115 years ago this very day. All of that hunting and gathering turned into a book (I will be forever grateful to my agent and publisher for making that happen).

One of the most helpful elements in my research was Arno’s unpublished scattershot memoir, titled I Reached For The Moon. The sixty-some pages of material is mostly disconnected pieces, a very loose attempt at a timeline, and jotted down thoughts about his work, or his parents, or television, or “names” he ran into during his adventures in the city that never sleeps. One passage of strung together thoughts stayed with me during my years writing the book and has continued to stay with me:

“What many don’t realize is that I’m primarily an artist – though I had a natural urge toward the comic from school days on.… I’ve spent hundreds of hours painting in oils and other media.  The black and white [cartoons] are a synthesis of all these efforts…To be a great cartoonist, a man should be first a first-class great artist.  He should be capable of producing a minor masterpiece in any medium.”

I suppose the passage has stuck with me because it neatly sums-up the high bar Arno demanded of himself and hoped for from his colleagues as the New Yorker was taking baby steps in its earliest days. That high bar was no small thing. Think about what people think about when they think of New Yorker cartoons. Think about the well-worn expression, The first thing people turn to in The New Yorker are the cartoons. If that is true (and I believe it has truth to it) Peter Arno deserves a Mack truck full of credit for driving the readership to the magazine and, no less a thing, driving his colleagues to excellence.

Look through any issue of The New Yorker from Arno’s run there during the magazine’s so-called Golden Age and you will see a magazine overjoyed with the cartoons it had to show the readership; cartoons played across the page; cartoons ran full page; cartoons ran in spreads that took up multiple pages; cartoonists provided the majority of cover art. Arno’s art, and Arno’s influence on the art was central to the magazine’s exuberance. He was, in the words of the New Yorker‘s founder, Harold Ross:

“The greatest artist in the world.”

“Our first pathfinder.”

“Our spark plug.”

Happy birthday, Arno — and thanks for the high bar.



Personal History: Ink Never Sleeps

The cartoonist working in the wee hours. 1978, New York City

There are probably as many different work habits among New Yorker cartoonists as there are New Yorker cartoonists. I’ve heard of colleagues who are nine-to-fivers, and those who’ve worked the night shift. There was even a rumor of a colleague, now long gone, who did his batch of cartoons on the train as he headed down from Connecticut to see the New Yorker‘s art editor. As there’s no clock to punch, we are left to working out/on our own schedule. Joe Dator‘s hysterical “How We Do It” published in The New Yorker Cartoon Issue of 2012 (September 24th to be exact) is the last word on the idealized life of cartoonists working for the magazine.

My own work habits migrated with the years, from childhood, passing the hours drawing in front of the television, to working during high school study halls (yes, that’s right, instead of studying) to working at any convenient time in college between all those required courses, to post-college when staying up all night resulted in a whole lot of drawing but few usable ideas. Post-college, living in Manhattan, inspired perhaps by my perceived notion of the work habits of my downstairs neighbor, the writer Donald Barthelme, I began an attempt at regular hours — vaguely bracketed by late morning and late afternoon. Years later, out of the city and with a family, the unthinkable happened: working very early in the morning for a defined amount of time (my wife and I split our work days: I worked in the morning while she was with our kids, and she worked in the afternoon while I was with the kids). Once the kids grew up and flew the nest, the entire day was wide open again, but the morning hours remained (and remain) as the best use of time. In the past decade, the mid-to-late afternoon around 4 o’clock — what William Shawn called the hour of hope — has become an opportune time to wait for the cartoon gods to toss me an idea or two.

Through all this time shifting, from childhood home through the home where our kids grew up, from working defined times to undefined, from working through the night to working early in the day to working whenever, there has remained a constant: making myself available, Rapidograph and paper at the ready, with the intention that something might happen.

My tool of choice from high school to the present: the Rapidograph.

The Tilley Watch; Liza Donnelly’s Veterans Day Animation; Joe Farris’s Soldier’s Sketchbook

The Cover: this week’s cover (titled “Welcome to Congress”) by Barry Blitt was mentioned here last week (it was released early). It received a bit of media attention. One example: this Huffington Post piece. 

The Cartoonists, the Cartoons:

13 cartoons this week.  19 illustrations, with 5 of them full page.

Two items of note in the list of cartoonists: a joint effort by Mick Stevens and Jenny Allen.  And, unless I’m mistaken, Lonnie Millsap is making his debut in the magazine. If that’s accurate (someone please advise if it’s not) he is the 9th new cartoonist this year, and the 21st since Emma Allen was appointed the magazine’s cartoon editor in the Spring of 2017.

Update: Rea Irvin’s iconic Talk masthead is still a-missin (you can read about it here). This is what it looks like:

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And:

here’s Liza Donnelly’s Veterans Day animation for CBS News .

…this is a good day to recall A Soldier’s Sketchbook by the late New Yorker cartoonist Joe Farris.  Published in 2011 by National Geographic, the book is available online at the usual places. 

Here’s the Booklist review:

“Farris, best known postwar as a cartoonist for the New Yorker, offers this evocative memoir-album, with a scrapbook graphic design. Replete with faux-yellowed pages, it chronicles his tour of duty using his contemporary illustrations, his letters to his Connecticut family, and present-day reflections on the attitudes and fears of his innocent 19-year-old self. With meticulous National Geographic maps tracking his regiment’s advance through France and Germany, Ferris’ is an honestly written, visually captivating volume and a superb addition to the genre of WWII artwork.”

 

The Tilley Watch: A Collaboration; A Correction

A Correction: The original Spill post under “Papaerwork” [I’ve left it intact below] incorrectly stated that the appearance of Tadhg Ferry’s cartoon in this latest issue was his first cartoon in the magazine. Jane Mattimoe, of a Spill favorite blog, A Case For Pencils,  has sent me a cartoon of Mr. Ferry’s that appeared in the September 19, 2016 issue. My apologies to Mr. Ferry, and my thanks to Ms. Mattimoe for setting the record straight (the good news is that Mr. Ferry’s name was added to the A-Z, albeit belatedly. This bit of information about Mr. Ferry led to the addition of one cartoonist to the #218 below, making it 219 new cartoonists brought in from 1997 through 2017; at the same time one cartoonist is subtracted from Emma Allen’s total thus far, from 19 to 18).  

Paperwork: a new cartoonist in the issue (it’s the “Money Issue”…well, okay) of October 22, 2018:  Mr. Ferry is the seventh new cartoonist added this year, and the nineteenth new cartoonist added since Emma Allen became the magazine’s cartoon editor in May of 2017.  Her predecessor added two hundred and eighteen new cartoonists in his close to twenty year stint, or approximately eleven new cartoonists a year. His predecessor, Lee Lorenz, added approximately forty-five new cartoonists in his twenty-four years as art/cartoon editor, or approximately 2 a year.

 Noted: a rare co-credited cartoon in the issue: Joe Dator & Dan Yaccarino. For more on the subject of New Yorker cartoon collaboration, go here and here.

Rea Irvin: Mr. Irvin’s classic Talk masthead is still stuck in a drawer somewhere at the New Yorker‘s offices, having been replaced by a redrawn (!?) version in the Spring of last year.  Read more here. Below: what the shelved masthead looks like, lest we forget: