Bob Eckstein Is The Erma Bombeck Humor Writer Of The Month; Article Of Interest: Cartooning Thriving In Vermont; More Spills With Barbara Shermund, Cartoon Companion, Roz Chast, Arno & Company

Bob Eckstein Is The Erma Bombeck Humor Writer Of The Month

Bob Eckstein, who began contributing his cartoons to The New Yorker in 2007 has been named the Erma Bombeck Humor Writer of the Month.  Read here.  Mr. Eckstein’s most recent  books are shown above.

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Article Of Interest: Cartooning Thriving in Vermont

From the Bennington Banner, December 5, 2018, “…The Art of Cartooning Is Thriving in Vermont”— with Ed Koren and Alison Bechdel content.

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…the latest Cartoon Companion has been posted.  See what the CC boys “Max” & “Simon” have to say about the New Yorker cartoons appearing in the issue of December 10, 2018.

 

… Roz Chast’s SVA exhibit included in the New York Times “What To See in New York Galleries This Week”

 

Attempted Bloggery has even more Barbara Shermund posts. Yay!  

A New Yorker State of Mind: Reading Every Issue of The New Yorker Magazine looks very closely at the issue of November 16, 1929. Cover by Peter Arno.

 

 

 

A Shermund Mystery Cartoon; Donnelly’s “How To Draw A Dog”; New Yorker Encyclopedia Of Cartoons Falls Below $40.00

A Shermund Mystery

Who doesn’t like a good cartoon mystery. Over on Attempted Bloggery you can read all about a Barbara Shermund drawing with an unknown publishing history.  Read here. 

And don’t forget that Ms. Shermund’s art is being celebrated at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.

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Liza Donnelly’s “How To Draw A Dog”

 Liza Donnelly’s memoir-ish  “How to Draw A Dog” has been posted on Medium Read here.

Ms. Donnelly’s latest book (she did the illustrations) is Be The Person Your Dog Thinks You Are.

 

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New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons Falls Below $40.00

Amazon now is listing the heavy red trope box at $39.72.  Originally offered at $100.00, it’s now approaching the very outer range of stocking stuffer territory (but make sure it’s a heavy duty stocking).

Attempted Bloggery’s Shermund Fest

Attempted Bloggery has been posting a number of Esquire cartoons by the late Barbara Shermund. This coincides with a Shermund solo exhibit at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum  in Columbus Ohio.  See the Esquire posts herehere, here, hereand here.

An article on the Billy Ireland exhibit has been posted on the Columbus Dispatch site. As with yesterday’s Wall Street Journal  Thomas Vinciguerra review of the big red New Yorker trope box,  the article is behind a pay wall. Here’s a link in case you wish to pursue it.

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From the vault, here’s Ink Spill’s belated obit for Ms. Shermund, originally posted in 2009 :

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 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.

Barbara Shermund’s Last New Yorker Cartoon

After checking in on today’s Attempted Bloggery post about Barbara Shermund (it features some of Ms. Shermund’s post-New Yorker work — the look she honed in Esquire, among other publications), I began wondering when her style shifted from what it looked like in her peak New Yorker years to the Esquire look.

A quick dig into the New Yorker archives revealed that her Esquire look was barely present as Ms. Shermund’s work ended for the magazine. You can see a little of it developing in the definition of faces, but her command of a scene, of the page, of the drawing is all intact as she ends her run of 600 cartoons (plus 8 covers) with the issue of September 16, 1944. Her last New Yorker cartoon, shown above, may not be the very best example, but it’ll do. 

To refresh my recollection of Shermund’s New Yorker career I turned to the obvious source, Liza Donnelly’s Funny Ladies (Prometheus Books, 2005). It is a must-have New Yorker cartoon history book (and I would say that even if we weren’t husband and wife).  Ms. Donnelly’s section on Ms. Shermund is fascinating reading.  According to Donnelly, Shermund began at the New Yorker doing spot illustrations, but was soon encouraged to “write lines under [her] drawings.” Her first captioned drawing appeared in June of 1925, just five months after the New Yorker began publishing. After a stuttered beginning with her next three drawings (the three appeared over eight months time), her work then exploded in numbers, seemingly appearing every other week and sometimes every week. 600 drawings in less than twenty years is quite a feat — my bad math tells me her work appeared in more than half of all the issues from 1925 through 1944. 

Her style shifted over that time as you’d find with most cartoonists styles. She settled into perfection in the 1930s and 1940s, both in her captions (she wrote all of her own captions for the majority of her New Yorker work — “I used to eat and sleep ideas”) and the drawing itself.

Fascinating to me is her relationship to gag-writing. She is quoted in Donnelly’s book as saying she really wanted help after awhile — “I would beg them to give me an idea once in awhile” —  because of the editorial demand for her work (shades of Peter Arno there).  From the school of careful what you wish for, she had this to say once she began taking ideas from a particular gag-writer:

“Well, my downfall, in respect to ideas — he kept submitting ideas and I thought it was fun not to have to worry about them.”

 In the Fall of 1944, the New Yorker suddenly ceased publishing Shermund’s drawings. Esquire, with its editorial needs so different than the New Yorker‘s  became her main stage.  As Ms. Donnelly notes:

“When [Shermund] got to Esquire, her work became transparently sexual. and her women were transformed to sweet airheads.” 

With Esquire, Shermund’s work morphed in full to the kind of drawing style you see in today’s Attempted Bloggery post.  It would take access to Esquire’s archives to witness the change.  What we see in her last year of New Yorker work are just the faintest hints of what’s to come. 

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A Reminder:  There is currently a Barbara Shermund exhibit up and running at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, “Tell Me A Story Where The Bad Girl Wins: The Life And Art Of Barbara Shermund”Details here!

 

 

 

 

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