Judging by what I’ve noticed over many years of visiting used book stores, The New Yorker 25th Anniversary Album must have been the most popular in the series of their cartoon anthologies. This is the one you’re likely to find if you find any at all. Bonus: it’s easily found online for just a few bucks. The Album sports a series of firsts on the cover: the first time a monochrome Eustace Tilley appeared on an Album (the next time he would appear this close to so much solid color was on the magazine’s 60th Anniversary issue. Then editor, Tina Brown presented Eustace surrounded by, um, gold).
The 25th Album was the first to reproduce a number of full cartoons on the cover (minus the captions, which due to the size of each cartoon shown, would’ve been virtually impossible to read without a magnifying glass. The exception is John Held, Jr.’s work where the text is within the piece). And it was the first to be divided into sections: The Late Twenties, The Early Thirties, The Late Thirties, The Early Forties, and The Late Forties.
All the big names are here, of course, and so are some of the most memorable cartoons in the magazine’s history, including Thurber’s Seal in the Bedroom, Addams’ skier, and Arno’s “Well, back to the old drawing board.” This is the Album for anyone who has heard about the New Yorker‘s Golden Age, and wants to know what all the fuss was about.
The design of the book is excellent, with paper of good quality, allowing for Gluyas Williams’ masterpieces, run full page, to glow. Arno’s brushstrokes look as if he just swept them across the page fifteen minutes ago. On the pages where a number of cartoons appear, the layout is handled with great care, never too busy; each page was obviously fussed over by someone (or someones) who knew what they were doing. Just look at the graphic balancing act directly below:
The contributors are a Who’s Who of the magazine’s pantheon of great artists, including the founders, and the ones who showed up while Harold Ross was still messing around with the ingredients. Steig’s Small Fry are here, as is Soglow’s Little King. Helen Hokinson’s Club Ladies are generously presented, as are spreads by Rea Irvin, and and and…gee willikers, so much more (to see more scroll down to the back cover’s list of artists). This is one of the very best Albums of cartoons the magazine ever produced (as another 67 years have passed since its publication it shares the top shelf with a few others).
The flap text (above) reminds us that the cartoons are a record of the times. I’ll go along with that. As the magazine moves closer to its 100th year it’s essential for the cartoons to change with the times and reflect the times. I expect that the Introduction to The New Yorker’s 100th Anniversary Album will express something close to that sentiment, if not exactly that.
If you’ve read Genius In Disguise, Thomas Kunkel’s great biography of Harold Ross, you might remember that book’s prologue has a wonderful section devoted to the party at the Ritz-Carleton celebrating the New Yorker‘s 25th Anniversary. It was a party, wrote Kunkel, “celebrating accomplishment, about creating something of enduring importance.”
— My thanks to Bruce Eric Kaplan for bringing this to the Spill’s attention.
…A lot More Soglow
Attempted Bloggery has posted a cart full of rare Otto Soglow drawings (some of them are what used to be referred to as “naughty” — nowadays we’d call them not-PC. )