The Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue Of January 14, 2019; A Charles Addams Birthday Tribute

Two weeks in to the new year without a Trump cover! Anna Parini makes her cover debut (it’s titled “A New Leaf”; not for the last time, I wonder why we need titles for the covers.

Viewed online, various elements of the cover are animated. Snow blows, wind blows the woman’s hair and ruffles a few pages of her book. Silhouetted figures walk by in the background. It’s a lovely image but I found myself wondering if people really stand on city streets reading books on cold snowy windy wintry days.

The only image I can readily conjure up that incorporates a similar situation is of holiday carolers holding up their song books as they stand singing on street corners.

The Cartoons

I’m at a disadvantage this morning as the digital issue has yet to appear. That means we’ll dispense with counting illustrations as well as even beginning to think about how the cartoons are placed on the pages. A pity. Instead I’m relying on the slideshow of cartoons provided on newyorker.com.

The cartoonists in this issue: David Sipress, Will McPhail, Jason Adam Katzenstein, Pia Guerra, Zach Kanin, Roz Chast, Mike Twohy, P.C. Vey, Tom Cheney, Carolita Johnson, Sophia Warren, Frank Cotham, Trevor Spaulding, Danny Shanahan, Ben Schwartz, Liana Finck, Tom Toro.

Some thoughts on the cartoons:

Graphically, Frank Cotham’s drawing of the soldiers atop a castle tower is quite striking. As one who has studied the castle work of the master, Charles Addams, and as one who has drawn many a castle myself, I was taken by the dramatic angle Mr. Cotham has given us. Bravo!.

Of note is Danny Shanahan’s desert island drawing. It made me think about the resurgence of what once seemed a played-out scenario. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the recent past we’ve seen a number of desert island drawings, all clever as can be, and all proving that anything works in the cartoon universe if it works well. Mr. Shanahan’s works well (and lest we forget, a few years ago he had a cover of…a desert island). Here’s a quick look at some desert island cartoons courtesy of the BBC.

I really enjoyed Liana Finck’s damsel in distress tied to railroad tracks. Ms. Finck’s heavy use of black recalls Charles Barsotti’s expert use of contrast, and more recently, Seth Fleishman’s. I particularly like that she didn’t get involved in a detailed drawing of the tracks. She’s given us what looks like a ladder on the ground, and it works! Best of all: the eye contact she’s captured between the villain and the woman. Excellent.

Finally, here’s to Rea Irvin’s beautiful missing masthead, replaced in May of 2017. Read about it here, and see it below:

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A Charles Addams Birthday Tribute

To celebrate Charles Addams birthday, here’s a lovely piece by Steve Stoliar. My thanks to him for allowing it to appear here.

On this day in 1912, Charles Samuel Addams was born in Westfield, New Jersey – and I think we’re all more than a little better off because of it. Chas Addams’ delightfully dark cartoons brightened up innumerable issues of ‘The New Yorker” from 1932 (!) until his death in 1988 – a more than fifty-five-year run. And, of course, his family of macabre relatives was the basis for “The Addams Family” TV series and later films (though the characters had no names before the TV series, which was produced by Groucho’s longtime friend, writer Nat Perrin).

I first met Addams in 1978 – on the same day I first met Dick Cavett – backstage at the PBS Cavett show, when the subject of the show was “New Yorker” cartoonists. Addams signed a copy of “Addams and Evil” that I “happened to have” brought along in the event our paths crossed.

About five years later, when I was living in New York and writing for Cavett at HBO, I spotted Chas striding in my direction up Sixth Avenue. Another path-crossing! I stopped him and asked, “Excuse me – aren’t you Charles Addams?” He smiled and replied, “Yes, but how did you recognize me? Most people think I’m Walter Matthau!” [see photo below] I tossed off some sort of compliment and off we went in our separate directions.

Not long thereafter, I picked up this delightful original ink-and-wash Chas Addams drawing – for a whopping $300 – because some guy with a bunch of vintage original “New Yorker” cartoons was remarrying and his wife didn’t like “all those old cartoons” on their walls. His loss; my gain. I wrote to Addams about the drawing c/o “The New Yorker” and received this lovely note in return. He is missed – but at least we have his prolific outpouring of drawings to remember him by.


The Tilley Watch Online, The Week Of December 2-7, 2018; Even More Murals By Steinberg; Event Of Interest: Liana Finck & Bob Eckstein

 New Yorker cartoonists who contributed to the Daily Cartoon this week: Brendan Loper, Farley Katz, Teresa Burns Parkhurst, and Trevor Spaulding.

And those contributing to Daily Shouts: Mimi Pond, Roz Chast, and Amy Kurzweil.

To see all the work above, and more, link here.

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Even More Steinberg Murals

In a Facebook discussion the other day involving murals by Charles Addams and Steinberg,  Joel Smith, who authored Steinberg At The New Yorker (Harry N. Abrams, 2005) commented on Paul Karasik‘s Facebook stream that Steinberg created two incredibly long murals: one 260 ft., and another even longer. I asked Mr. Smith where best we might go online to see the murals.  Here are his suggested links:

“The Americans” for the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels

The Milan Triennial, 1954 (on the timeline, scroll down to 1954, the Milan Triennial)

— photo above: Steinberg on the far right, wearing hat, stands before his mural in Brussels.

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Event of Interest: Liana Finck & Bob Eckstein

The info appears on the posters, but here it is again: Liana Finck & Bob Eckstein appearing together at Barnes & Noble 86th & Lexington, NYC,  Monday December 10, at 7pm.

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Beginning To Take It Personally: The New Yorker Cartoon Album 1975- 1985

The other day I wrote about the New Yorker Anniversary album: 1925-1975.  Following up on that, here’s a little something about the Album that immediately followed it, The New Yorker Cartoon Album 1975- 1985.  In the entire run of Albums, this one would have to rank #1 in understated covers. A bit of trivia (or maybe it’s not so trivial): this is just the second time an Album title referred to the magazine’s drawings as “cartoons” —  (the first was 1958’s New Yorker Album of Sports & Games: Cartoons of Three Decades. Non-purists might argue that the special issue Armed Services New Yorker War Cartoons with The Talk of the Town, published in 1945 was the first instance, but it was not an Album, nor was it, as you see in the title, purely cartoons).

Of note: 1975-1985 is the first Album since the early 1930s not designed by Carmine Peppe.  The design and layout is credited to a trio of New Yorker staffers: John Murphy, Bernard McAteer, and Joseph Carroll (who succeeded Mr. Peppe as head of the make-up department. Mr. Carroll was also a published New Yorker cartoonist, with one drawing, in the issue of January 16, 1984. That one and only appearance qualified him as a member of the Spill‘s One Club).

Of further note: this was the last Album published during William Shawn’s long tenure as editor of the New Yorker. It was published the year The New Yorker‘s ownership changed hands from the original owners, the Fleischmann family, to the Newhouse family. Mr. Shawn, who was appointed editor in 1952, was replaced in 1987 by Robert Gottlieb.

 

Admittedly, I have affection for this Album out of some self-interest: it was the first that included my work.  But it also included, for the first time in an Album, work by the wave I came in with — that included, among others, cartoonists such as Mick Stevens, Thomas Cheney, Peter Steiner, Richard Cline, Leo Cullum, Roz Chast, and Liza Donnelly. 

Truly exciting were the number of established cartoonists we kids found ourselves in the company of. To be included in this volume (and later Albums) with them was, and still is somewhat unbelievable. 

As with previous Albums, the cartoon choices are excellent.  The Album begins with an exquisite Robert Weber full page drawing (full page in the Album, and run as a full page in the magazine in the issue of July 2, 1984)…

…and ends with a classic Charles Addams drawing (a fellow is installing yet another of many locks — and bolts — on his door. At his feet is a semi-circle made by an active saw blade coming up through the floor). In between these two cartoon gems is an accurate reflection of the state of the magazine’s cartoon world in that decade.  As with previous Albums, the balance of work placement and selection is superior. There’s enough work by Booth, Steinberg, Koren, Saxon, Steig, George Price, Addams, Stevenson, Levin, Modell, Lorenz, both Martins (Henry, and Charles) to please anybody, but also well-represented are the large number of artists who flourished just out of range of the spotlight. 

Along with the publication of the Album was a touring exhibit of work.  I wrote about this Album and that exhibit a year ago, but in a slightly different context. You can see that earlier post here

 There was no official album a decade later (instead we were gifted Lee Lorenz’s Art of The New Yorker), and ten years after that was the The New Yorker 75th Cartoon Collection, which bears a cover opposite the understated cover of the 1975-1985 album.   

The Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue Of December 3, 2018; Peter Kuper & Ricky Jay

Confused by this week’s cover?  Feel like you saw it before? Well if you were reading The New Yorker in 1927, you did see it before. 

 Below: the cover as published this week, and how it originally appeared. The 2018 cover seems to have been ever-so-slightly cropped along the left and right edges, with the artist’s signature moved closer to the red tail lights (but hey, the magazine is not the same size as it was in 1927, so…).

If you have the Complete Book Of Covers From The New Yorker you’ll notice that the thumbnail cover shown has a blue sky, with a dark to light gradation as it nears the horizon. Without the original issue in hand, it’s difficult to know which 1927 version is truer (and even then, original print covers can differ in quality, cropping and coloring).

A small miracle: it looks as if the original type face from 1927 has been retained (but the 2018 date and price are in the modernized type-face).

This is an unusual issue of the New Yorker —  its very first “Archival Issue”…there have been nods to the past before, with cartoons and covers re-run inside the magazine, but never an issue dedicated to the past.  It is not, of course, the first time the magazine has reprinted a cover as a cover.  The cover of the very first New Yorker, featuring Rea Irvin’s Eustace Tilley, was brought back, uninterrupted, for 67 years and then made some curtain calls (you can read more about that here).

The cartoons

Here are the cartoonists appearing in this special issue (A Roz Chast full page appears where the caption contest usually appears):

From the Department of Does Size Matter, I’m showing a few of the cartoons in this issue, and how they originally appeared in the magazine. Regular Spill readers may have picked up on how much importance I place on the size of the magazine’s cartoons and how they sit on the page.  Looking through this new special issue it was immediately apparent that some of the archival drawings were being run much smaller than they originally appeared. This is an excellent opportunity to compare/contrast. It’s not always the case that a cartoon run bigger is better.  Sometimes a cartoon that’s been run big really amplifies its graphic issues. But that’s not the case for any of these fabulous drawings shown below.

The first cartoon in the magazine is by Mary Petty.  On the left is the cartoon as run in this 2018 issue. On the right is how it appeared in the issue of March 12, 1932.

 

Next up, a Charles Addams classic, with the 2018 appearance on the left and on the right, its original appearance in the issue of October 29, 1960.

Below, a beauty from James Stevenson.  The 2018 appearance on the left, and the original appearance in the issue of August 16, 1976.

Below: a beautiful Nancy Fay drawing. On the left as seen in this new issue.  On the right its original appearance in the issue of October 20, 1928.

Finally, a drawing by the master, Peter Arno. The odds favor any Arno drawing run as a full page in the New Yorker, and so it was with this classic (caption by the late great idea man, Herb Valen).

The 2018 appearance on the left and the original appearance in the issue of May 10, 1947 (the 2018 credit line mistakenly attributes the drawing to the June 10, 1947 issue).

Bookkeeping: Inaccurate New Yorkery-factoids pop-up like turkey timers when I see them. This following passage in the new issue’s Comment, “The City Of Dreams” popped-up:

: ”

The trouble is that James Thurber did not make his debut (with a short piece, “Villanelle Of Horatio Street”) until the issue of February 26, 1927.  His drawings didn’t begin appearing until January of 1931 (January 31, 1931. The caption: “Take a good look at these fellows, Tony, so you’ll remember ’em next time.”)

I admit that when I heard there was to be an archival issue of the magazine I first thought of Rea Irvin’s Talk masthead.  If ever there was a moment to return it to its natural habitat, this would be it.  But, alas, it’s still a-missin’. Here’s what it looks like (and here’s where you can read more about it):

 

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Peter Kuper & Ricky Jay

From PBS, January 21, 2015, “Comic: Waiting For Ricky Jay, by Peter Kuper”

From The New York Times, Nov. 25, 2018,  “Ricky Jay , Gifted Magician, Actor and Author, is Dead at 70”

Attempted Bloggery On Auctioned Addams “Dear Dead Days”; Book Of Interest: Ludwig Bemelmans; More Spills!

Here’s Attempted Bloggery on the recent auction of Charles Addams’ original cover art for his 1959 anthology, Dear Dead Days

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Book Of Interest: Ludwig Bemelmans

Not out til June of 2019, but certainly worth looking forward to!

From the publisher (Thames & Hudson): “Ludwig Bemelmans offers a visually rich view into the life and work of this much-loved artist and writer, and includes exclusive sketches and photographs from the Bemelmans archive that have never been previously published.”

Link here to the publisher’s page.

Here’s Mr. Bemelman’s entry on the Spill‘s A-Z:

 

 

 

Ludwig Bemelmans  (above) Born, April 27, 1898. Died, October 1, 1962. New Yorker work: contributed six cartoons *and thirty-two covers as well written pieces in a New Yorker career that began in October of 1937 and lasted until August 1962. He achieved lasting fame with his series of Madeline books.

Below are two favorite Bemelmans New Yorker covers.  What I absolutely love about his cover work is his ability to take on the big scene, and do it with electric abandon.

 *Looking through the Bemelmans cartoons IDed on the New Yorker‘s database, I couldn’t find one in the issue of February 18, 1950, so I’m lowering his cartoon count by 1, to 5 (It’s possible that someone misidentified the Steinberg drawing in that issue as a Bemelmans). 

Here’s an example of one of his five — this from the issue of January 7, 1950.

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Cartoon Companion has posted its latest rated reviews of this week’s New Yorker cartoons. 

…Next week’s issue of The New Yorker (December 3, 2018) will include a section titled “City of Dreams”  — an online piece explains:

This week, while we digest one holiday and prepare for more, we’ve decided to open the archive and republish a sampling of New York stories, New York essays, New York poems, and New York drawings.