Barbara Shermund Celebrated At The Billy Ireland Museum

Exciting news! The Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum & Library will celebrate the great New Yorker artist, Barbara Shermund, with an exhibit, Tell Me A Story Where The Bad Girl Wins: The Life and Art of Barbara Shermund.  This promises to be wonderful show, with “photographs, letters, original art, and books never before displayed…” Curated by by Caitlin McGurk, Assistant Professor & Associate Curator, it runs from November 3, 2018 thru March 31, 2019.  More info here.

Above: a rough of Ms. Shermund’s New Yorker cover of March 18, 1939.

Below: a Shermund self-portrait

From the Billy Ireland website:

TELL ME A STORY WHERE THE BAD GIRL WINS: THE LIFE AND ART OF BARBARA SHERMUND:  Barbara Shermund is an unheralded early master of gag cartooning. Her sharp wit and loose style boldly tapped the zeitgeist of first-wave feminism with vivid characters that were alive and astute. Shermund’s women spoke their minds about sex, marriage, and society; smoked cigarettes and drank; and poked fun at everything in an era when it was not common to see young women doing so.

Caption for the above drawing: “Raymond was a beautiful baby.”

Caption for the above:

“He just inherited a million dollars.”

“Oh, but that’s so devitalizing”

Further Info:

 Here’s my Shermund piece from The Spill,  posted in 2009.

Revisiting  Barbara Shermund

Barbara Shermund, who died in early September, 1978, had the misfortune of passing away during a newspaper strike that affected the paper of record, The New York Times. An extensive search has turned up just one obituary for her, a four sentence notice that ran in a newspaper covering the New Jersey coastal town (Sea Bright) where she lived for a number of years toward the end of her life.

For someone who contributed hundreds of cartoons and eight covers to The New Yorker Magazine, then went on to become a mainstay at Esquire, four sentences seems a bit slight. Here then is another notice, a little late, and a little longer.

Born in San Francisco in 1899 to artistic parents (her father was an architect), Ms. Shermund studied at The California School of Fine Arts before heading east, at the age of twenty-six, to New York. She told Colliers that her initial visit east became permanent “after she had eaten up her return fare.” In June of that very year, she made her debut at the four month old New Yorker with a cover of a young woman sporting a hip hairdo, eyes closed, resting her arm over a railing, against a black sky peppered with stars. In a year’s time her cartoons, many if not most of which were written by her, were appearing in nearly every issue of the magazine.

Her style had a sway to it that fit the times. Her subjects, executed in pen and ink and wash, were often hip young women, just a bit jaded – the sort that famously inhabited F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise. She once offered up this brief glimpse into her private life, saying she liked “fancy dancing and dogs.”

Liza Donnelly, author of Funny Ladies: The New Yorker’s Greatest Women Cartoonists and their Cartoons, had this to say about Ms. Shermund:

“Barbara Shermund was one of the more prolific cartoonists of the early New Yorker. Her breezy drawing style and humor reflected the new attitudes of urban women in the twenties and thirties, and she can be considered one of the early feminist cartoonists. The New Yorker sought to appeal to both men and women with its humor, and Shermund, along with other women cartoonists of the magazine, were ground breakers in that regard, creating cartoons from a woman’s perspective that could be enjoyed by all. Her cartoons were irreverent, sassy, and a true reflection of her times.”

Shermund traveled widely – Donnelly wrote of her that “she was something of a wanderer, living with friends in the city and the upstate town of Woodstock [NY], never really having a set address.” Eventually she settled down in Sea Bright, New Jersey, a barrier beach town, just about an hour’s drive from New York.

The last of her five hundred and ninety-seven drawings in The New Yorker appeared September 16, 1944; her last cover appeared August 5, 1944. Although her relationship with The New Yorker fizzled in the mid 1940s, she participated in an Irving Penn group photo of eighteen New Yorker cartoonists ( it ran in the August 1947 issue of Vogue). Ms. Shermund, dressed in dark clothing and wearing a great wide brimmed hat, stares directly at the camera. Sitting directly in front of her is George Price, and Steinberg; overhead, reclining on a platform is Charles Addams. Off to Ms. Shermund’s right is Helen Hokinson, looking just a little apprehensive.

The discs accompanying The Complete New Yorker allow one to see all of Barbara Shermund’s work in their natural habitat. Nine of her drawings appear in the The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker, and of course all of her work can be seen on the discs accompanying the book.

Here’s Ms. Shermund’s entry on the Spill‘s A-Z:

Barbara Shermund  Born, San Francisco. 1899. Studied at The California School of Fine Arts. Died, 1978, New Jersey. New Yorker work: June 13, 1925 thru September 16, 1944. 8 covers and 599 cartoons. Shermund’s later. post-New Yorker work was featured in Esquire. (See Liza Donnelly’s book, Funny Ladies — a history of The New Yorker’s women cartoonists — for more on Shermund’s life and work)

 — All images (except the small self-portrait at the top of this post) courtesy of The Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum and Library

 

 

The New Yorker Encyclopedia Of Cartoons: Gender Studies

Above: two pages of the Index from Volume 1 of The New Yorker Encyclopedia Of Cartoons

In his Foreword to The New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons, the magazine’s editor, David Remnick has this to say about gender equality in the ranks of New Yorker cartoonists:

Any cartoon compilation that draws from these archives makes it clear what a male preserve it was. 

And indeed, this encyclopedia reflects that in numbers of cartoons included by women. Of the advertised 3000 cartoons, 142 are by the 19 women represented. Simple math tells us that the remaining 2,858 cartoons are by men.  If you take Roz Chast’s 54 cartoons out of the 142, you’re left with 88 cartoons by 18 women. I emphasize again, as I did in the previous post about the encyclopedia, that this two volume set is not presented as an all-encompassing anthology representing the magazine’s past 93 years; there’s no expectation of some kind of balanced inclusion based on numbers of cartoons the artists contributed.  That isn’t what this encyclopedia is.

And yet, I did find myself hoping for more work by two major female contributors, Helen Hokinson and Barbara Shermund. They have a combined total of 6 cartoons in the encyclopedia. Ms. Shermund’s work appeared in The New Yorker just over 600 times (including 8 covers). I believe, if my numbers are correct she is the third most published female cartoonist in the magazine’s history. She is represented by 1 cartoon in the encyclopedia. Ms. Hokinson is in the top ten of the Spill‘s 23 member K Club (the group of cartoonists who have 1000 or more cartoons published in the New Yorker).  She is in fact, the most published female New Yorker artist in the magazine’s history with 1,796 cartoons and 68 covers. She is represented by 5 cartoons.

The Tilley Watch Online, The Week Of September 24-28, 2018; Early Release Of Next Week’s New Yorker Cover; A Mystery Cartoonist; Three Cartoonists in Pennsylvania: Cartoon Companion Rates The Latest New Yorker Cartoons; The New Yorker Encyclopedia Of Cartoons: Gender Studies

An atypical less specifically Trumpian Daily Cartoon week — although he hovers. The contributing cartoonists: Kim Warp, Ellis Rosen, Peter Kuper, and Emily Flake.

Daily Shouts contributing cartoonists: Amy Kurzweil with illustrations by Ellis Rosen, and Ali Fitzgerald.

You can see all the work here.

____________________________________________________________________

Early Release Of Next Week’s New Yorker Cover

As happens from time-to-time, the magazine has early released its next cover. Here’s Ana Juan’s cover for next week’s issue, as well as a short piece about it.

_________________________________________________________

Mystery Cartoonist

Arnold Zwicky’s Blog, which concerns itself with cartoon language, has posted a cartoon by a mystery cartoonist:

 

If you’re able to identify the artist, please contact Mr. Zwicky through his site.

_______________________________________________________________

Three Cartoonists In Pennsylvania

This Sunday, at the Milford Readers & Writers Festival:

11:30AM:-THREE NEW YORKER CARTOONISTS TALK ABOUT FUNNY:- New Yorker Cartoonists CHRISTOPHER WEYANT and DAVID BORCHART join cartoonist and media commentator BOB ECKSTEIN in a conversation about creating humor. There will be plenty of funny cartoons shown.

Mr. Weyant began contributing to The New Yorker in 1998.

Mr. Borchart began contributing to The New Yorker in 2007.

Mr. Eckstein began contributing to The New Yorker in 2007.

_________________________________________________________

Cartoon Companion Rates The Latest New Yorker Cartoons

“Max” and “Simon” rate the the cartoons from the issue of October 1st.  P.C. Vey is awarded the CC‘s coveted “Top Toon” blue ribbon.  Read it all here.

________________________________________________________

 The New Yorker Encyclopedia Of Cartoons: Gender Studies

Above: two pages of the Index from Volume 1 of The New Yorker Encyclopedia Of Cartoons

In his Foreword to The New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons, the magazine’s editor, David Remnick has this to say about gender equality in the ranks of New Yorker cartoonists:

Any cartoon compilation that draws from these archives makes it clear what a male preserve it was. 

And indeed, this encyclopedia reflects that in numbers of cartoons included by women. Of the advertised 3000 cartoons, 142 are by the 19 women represented. Simple math tells us that the remaining 2,858 cartoons are by men.  If you take Roz Chast’s 54 cartoons out of the 142, you’re left with 88 cartoons by 18 women. I emphasize again, as I did in the previous post about the encyclopedia, that this two volume set is not presented as an all-encompassing anthology representing the magazine’s past 93 years; there’s no expectation of some kind of balanced inclusion based on numbers of cartoons the artists contributed.  That isn’t what this encyclopedia is.

And yet, I did find myself hoping for more work by two major female contributors, Helen Hokinson and Barbara Shermund. They have a combined total of 6 cartoons in the encyclopedia. Ms. Shermund’s work appeared in The New Yorker just over 600 times (including 8 covers). I believe, if my numbers are correct she is the third most published female cartoonist in the magazine’s history. She is represented by 1 cartoon in the encyclopedia. Ms. Hokinson is in the top ten of the Spill‘s 23 member K Club (the group of cartoonists who have 1000 or more cartoons published in the New Yorker).  She is in fact, the most published female New Yorker artist in the magazine’s history with 1,796 cartoons and 68 covers. She is represented by 5 cartoons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Pricey Barbara Shermund Catalog

Here’s a curiosity for those with deep pockets.  According to its listing:

This catalogue contains images of 40 of Barbara Shermund’s New Yorker cartoons. It has a one page introduction of her contributions to the Magazine. The cartoons pictured are from the late 1920s and early 1930s. The cartoons are matted and framed.

Puzzling why the work is bracketed from 1926 through 1936, when Ms. Shermund’s work continued to be published in The New Yorker until the issue of September 16, 1944. Also puzzling: that the cartoons are “matted and framed” — I suppose just like the catalog’s cover image. If someone buys this (it costs $125.00) I’d appreciate hearing what you make of it.

 

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of April 30, 2018

Baseball in the air, on the field and on the cover of the latest issue of The New Yorker (actually, stickball’s on the cover, which appears, to me anyway, as if it’s a page out of an illustrated book).

Fewer illustrations/photos this week than last, but still, there are three full pages (including a full page photo of Hitler), and close to full page photo on the Goings On About Town lead page. How I wish we could see cartoons occupy a larger space every so often. Below are two pages from the issue of November 15, 1930. You can see how the drawings dominate the page and how the type follows the drawing. For instance: in the drawing on the left, by the great Barbara Shermund, the hanging plant is allowed to push up and compress the column of text. Notice too how the space afforded her beautiful drawing allows us to get far more visually involved in her work than if it had been squished in a rectangle.   

And now on to the issue’s cartoons.  A fun issue, mostly.

  It starts off well with a Danny Shanahan politically tinged(?) monkey drawing. Going out on a limb here, but Mr. Shanahan’s fabulous monkeys are the obvious heirs to Charles Addams’ takes on our ancestors.

Next up, three pages later, Jason Adam Katzenstein (aka JAK) goes to where many-a-cartoonist before him has gone: to the myth of Sisyphus. After I sped through an online refresher course about the King’s uphill struggle, I realized how this scenario beloved by cartoonists has oftimes become untethered from its backstory. No matter — that’s how we cartoonists roll. As Robbie Robertson wrote: “Ya take what ya need and ya leave the rest…”

Speaking of backstories, three pages later Ben Schwartz gives us Beethoven on stage. What’s really interesting about the drawing is Mr. Schwartz’s sly nod to the great Al Hirschfeld.  Do I, or do I not see Nina-esque shout-outs in the drapes. I do.

Five pages later, a Mick Stevens cave man drawing (he also had one two issues back). I like that he’s used the words stalagmites and stalactites. A little memory trick I learned back in fourth or fifth grade — how to tell the difference between stalagmites and stalactites: stalactites are the ones pointing down; they need to hold on “tite” to the ceiling. 

Three pages later, a shrink meets legume drawing by the wonderful Victoria Roberts. A fun and funny drawing. What more can one ask for.

Next up,  a domestic situation courtesy of Will McPhail. Funny. Another three pages brings us to a sidewalk scene from Pia Guerra. Dogs lined up to use a fire hydrant. I found myself wishing for a line-jumping dog instead of a fireman…

Two pages later another intensely graphic drawing from William Haefeli. Detail-city! And very slice-o-life.

Three pages later, a typically formatted (three panel) Roz Chast drawing. The word “Comix” pops out here. On the very next page, A Haefeli-like (in its use of detail) drawing by Jeremy Nguyen. Yet another slice-o-life drawing. I like how he’s given us two folks in silhouette in the foreground — that’s different. 

Four pages later a subway drawing from P.C. Vey (although here the subway is not central to the drawing — the situation could’ve taken place in any number of situations). A few pages later A Zach Kanin drawing focused on recreational drugs. On the very next page, A Lars Kenseth drawing.  You know it’s his work within a nano-second of turning the page. No one draws like this. I don’t rate cartoons like the Cartoon Companion boys do, but occasionally I applaud a drawing. 

On the next page Kim Warp  has drawn a Spill favorite scenario: a bakery (in this case, a cupcake bakery). I didn’t realize at first that there as an enormous Charles Addams-like cupcake involved in the drawing (initially saw the drawing on a tablet screen before switching to a laptop).  An unusual cartoon in that I think it works both ways (with the big cupcake, and without).  Sweet. 

On the following page, a Paul Noth drawing with a splash of color.  You have to be familiar with the commercial character who’s central to this cartoon. Three pages later a Carolita Johnson umbrella triptych just in time for May showers. Six pages later, immediately following that aforementioned full page photo of Hitler, is an Amy Hwang domestic situation — another go-to for many cartoonists: the couple discovered in bed by a significant other. Three pages later, the last cartoon of the issue (not counting the caption contest drawings): an online whack-a-mole scenario from Sam Marlow.

Finally: we are oh-so-close to the one year anniversary of the disappearance of Rea Irvin’s classic Talk Of The Town masthead. Here’s a Spill piece about it from last Fall when I was convinced the masthead would soon return. Not giving up hope on this, folks! 

Here’s the missing masthead:

 

*Dept of Corrections: an earlier version of the Monday Tilley Watch for the April 30th issue incorrectly listed Sam Marlow as Sam Means.