Book Of Interest: Corey Ford’s Time Of Laughter; Today’s New Yorker Daily Cartoonist Is Michael Shaw

Here’s an interesting read, published in 1967 by Little, Brown. Corey Ford’s The Time Of Laughter: A Sentimental Chronicle of the Twenties — The Humor and the Humorists.

Ford will be forever remembered (I hope!) as the fellow who gave name to the New Yorker‘s top hatted butterfly inspecting dandy, Eustace Tilley. Here’s Ford talking about naming Tilley:

The New Yorker’s man-of-all-work…was Mr. Eustace Tilley. (“Tilley” was the name of a maiden aunt, and I chose “Eustace” because it sounded euphonious.) In Johan Bull’s illustrations [for Ford’s New Yorker series “The Making of a Magazine”] he appeared as a silk hat dude, with morning coat and striped trousers and monocle, based on the figure in Rea Irvin’s anniversary cover. In time Irvin’s creation became known as Eustace Tilley, and “Our Man Tilley” showed up now and then in the “Talk” section. Ross even listed a private telephone under Tilley’s name. During the guerilla war between The New Yorker and Luce publications, Time appropriated Eustace Tilley as a member of its own editorial staff, but he was hastily dropped when Ross threatened suit for plagiarism.”

You could, of course, read the whole book (it’s easily found online), but if you want to dive right into Ford’s New Yorker material I direct your attention to Chapter 6 (My Ugly Roomer) and beyond.

Above: The promotional pamphlet collecting most of Ford’s The Making of a Magazine

For an overview, here’s the Wikipedia page for Mr. Ford.

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Today’s New Yorker Daily Cartoon

Today’s Daily cartoon (Trump-centric, but of course) is by the terrific New Yorker cartoonist, Michael Shaw. Mr. Shaw began contributing to The New Yorker in 1999. Link here to The New Yorker‘s Cartoon Bank site to see more of his work.

The Making Of A Magazine: A Potted History

Mention The New Yorker and it’s highly likely the image, or one of the first images, that pops into one’s mind is of Rea Irvin’s Eustace Tilley, the magazine’s mascot.  He appeared on the inaugural issue of the magazine dated February 21, 1925, and on every anniversary issue until Tina Brown broke the streak in 1994 by publishing R. Crumb’s Elvis Tilley. 

Those fond of New Yorker history may know that the magazine was nearly killed after just four months of publication; barely anyone was reading it, and what advertising there was was drying up.  The magazine’s founder and editor, Harold Ross, seeing a need to fill space on the inside cover, summoned one of his writers, Corey Ford, to discuss the problem.  Ford described the moment in his memoir, The Time Of Laughter:

In his impulsive way, he called me into his office and began jangling coins and pacing the floor.  Could I do a series of promotion ads to fill the goddamn inside cover? Rea Irvin thought I might burlesque those house organ brochures about publishing a magazine.  Have the first one by tomorrow? Done and done. God bless you.

The result was a twenty part series called The Making of a Magazine.  The first one ran in the August 8 issue:

You’ll notice the illustration, by Johan Bull, shows a little top hatted fellow, who is identified as “Our Mr. Tilley.” We have to wait until the second in a series (the issue of August 15th) to learn his full name: “… Mr. Eustace Tilley.” Tilley was to be the readers tour guide through Ford’s twenty installments, pointing out the various departments needed to turn out The New Yorker.

More from Corey Ford:

The New Yorker‘s man-of-all-work, who personally supervised all these departments, was Mr. Eustace Tilley. (“Tilley” was the name of a maiden aunt, and I chose “Eustace” because it sounded euphonious.) In Johan Bull’s illustrations, he appeared as a silk-hat dude, with morning coat and striped trousers and a monocle, based on the figure in Rea Irvin’s anniversary cover. In time Irvin’s creation became known as Eustace Tilley…

The series ended in the issue of January 2, 1926.  The cover, by Rea Irvin, bore Tilley himself (a coincidence?) coming ala a cuckoo bird, through the clock’s double doors.

In that final installment, Ford ends with this reveal:

In the very same year, bound copies of The Making Of A Magazine appeared. The Spill archive is not fortunate enough to have one (shown at the top of this post is a charming small — 4″ x 6″ — promotional paper version gifted to the Spill ), so I’m showing a scan from AbeBooks, where a copy can be had, signed by Ford, for $1,000.00. 

Now if you don’t want to spring for that copy, or the few others listed at lesser prices ($750.00 – $375.00), you can, believe it or not,  buy a modern copy (shown below) on AbeBooks for $7.57. You’ll notice this issue is part of a series, “Forgotten Books” and the book is by “Author Unknown”  — hmmm, do we laugh or cry, or sniff, Tilley-like?  

Below: Johan Bull’s last Tilley in the last of the series:

 

 

In the House: Curtain Calls of 1926

Curtain Calls of 1926This wonderful  book arrived in today’s mail. I was very lucky to find it for the price of a couple of slices of pizza (with toppings).  According to an online bookseller’s listing there were 40 copies produced. It’s a small book, 8 1/2″ high, 6″ wide.  I’d only seen one before, years ago in a museum case. If I’ve had a Holy Grail of New Yorker books, I suppose this would be it (until something else comes along I’ve never seen before).

The title page includes this note:

“..limited edition for the enjoyment of a few appreciative friends

 

Inside are a number of pieces, including  Dorothy Parker’s “Dialogue At Three in The Morning” as well as Corey Ford’s “Anniversary of a Great Magazine: Looking Back Over the Vast History of The New Yorker with Mr. Eustace Tilley” (we have Mr. Ford to thank for the name “Eustace Tilley”).   There are drawings by Helen Hokinson, John Held, jr., Peter Arno (his Whoops Sisters), a full page by Gluyas Williams, and a full page by Rea Irvin as well as an Al Frueh caricature of Al Smith, a McNerney drawing, and so much more. The cover is, of course, by Rea Irvin