Mr. Winters writes that his step-father is suffering from severe dementia.
Mr. Wilson began contributing to The New Yorker in 1976, but he is as well known for his work in Playboy and The National Lampoon. To say he is one of the towering figures in the cartoon universe is not an understatement.
Here are two of his numerous cartoon collections, and a promotional poster from the terrific 2013 Steven Charles-Jaffe documentary, Born Dead, Still Weird.
From Playing On Air, March 1, 2019, The Second Annual James Stevenson Prize For Comedic Short Plays. All the info here.
Mr. Stevenson’s entry on the Spill‘s A-Z:
James Stevenson Born, NYC, 1929. Died, February 17, 2017, Cos Cob, Connecticut. New Yorker work: March 10, 1956 -. Stevenson interned as an office boy at The New Yorker in the mid 1940s when he began supplying ideas for other NYer artists. Nine years later he was hired a full-time ideaman, given an office at the magazine and instructed not to tell anyone what he did. He eventually began publishing his own cartoons and covers as well as a ground-breaking Talk of the Town pieces (ground breaking in that the pieces were illustrated). His contributions to the magazine number over 2000. Key collections: Sorry Lady — This Beach is Private! ( MacMillan, 1963), Let’s Boogie ( Dodd, Mead, 1978). Stevenson has long been a children’s book author, with roughly one hundred titles to his credit. He is a frequent contributor to the Op-Ed page of The New York Times, under the heading Lost and Found New York. Stevenson’s The Life, Loves and Laughs of Frank Modell, is essential.
Suite of Maira Kalman’s Work at Park Avenue Art Show
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One of the most helpful elements in my research was Arno’s unpublished scattershot memoir, titled I Reached For The Moon.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.
Curtis Arnoux Peters, Jr., later known as Peter Arno, was born one hundred and fifteen years ago this month. The Spill will celebrate with an Arno post a week in January.
Twenty-one years later, he began his four decade association with the New Yorker. We cartoonists who arrived in his wake owe him much.
Arno’s approach to his art became a blueprint of sorts for generations of New Yorker artists, defining just how much they brought to their work. The power of his art, the quality of it, led to a collective identity of excellence associated with all New Yorker cartoons. He said of his work:
“I can assure you that my effects are achieved through pain and toil, concentration, elimination, revision, nervous expenditure, great aspiration, and continuous elimination of tasteless detail — seeking for primitive quality.
Fierce integrity in my work is ‘pursuit of truth’ … I’m far from a poetry-lover, but have been expressing poetry all my life — in rhythms, line, form, balance, good taste, harmony, and balance of black, white and gray.”
From the Afterword of my Arno bio, this snippet describing his well-deserved place at The New Yorker:
For most, if not all of The New Yorker’s golden years, a period stretching from the late 1920s through the 1950s, he was the magazine’s signature artist, as closely identified with the New Yorker as Eustace Tilley, the magazine’s ficticious top-hatted mascot. At a time when the magazine was publishing work by James Thurber, Charles Addams, Saul Steinberg, Helen Hokinson, Gluyas Williams, Whitney Darrow Jr., Otto Soglow, George Price, and William Steig, it was Arno whom Harold Ross called “the greatest artist in the world.” Of the first seventeen New Yorker Albums of cartoons, fourteen led off with full page Arno drawings, and six of the Albums bore Arno covers (no other New Yorker artist came close). Arno’s drawings usually ran full page. His covers, brilliant as a child’s watercolor and as deceptively simple, made just over a hundred memorable appearances.
Thurber made the covers of Time and of Newsweek; the country was smitten with Helen Hokinson’s lunch club women — but “America’s prize comic artist,” “the dean of sophisticated cartoonists,” the “top satirist of cosmopolitan life,” the one who “exemplified The New Yorker’s artistic humor for thousands here and abroad” was Arno.