Personal History: Work Wall

I’ve always worked at home, sometimes in a dedicated corner of the living room, sometimes using the arm of any old comfortable chair as a desk. But for many years I worked in a converted 6′ x 8′ laundry room. My desk faced a wall, part of which is shown above.  One day, after about twenty years of working in front of that wall, I felt I needed open space, and so I picked up my Rapidograph and a small stack of bond paper, then walked fifteen feet or so into our living room and set up shop at a table with no wall in front of me.

I left my old work area completely intact — a stack of bond paper still rests in its usual place —  and every so often I return to work there (I’m working there now).  What you see above is fragment of the wall above my desk. The collection of cartoons has always been a kind of rotating mini-gallery. There are a lot of New Yorker materials on the shelves (mixed in with childhood train set buildings, metal toys, art made by my kids, etc., etc.).  Just for fun, I’ve provided a key to anything New Yorker-related (and a few not)

1.  Joe Dator New Yorker original drawing. Published February 28, 2011.

2.  Stan Hunt original drawing.  Publishing history unknown. The fellow on the porch swing is saying to the woman: “Darling, your eyes are like dark limpid pools! …What’s the matter, aren’t you getting enough sleep?”  Mr. Hunt contributed to The New Yorker from 1956 though 1990.

3. Charlie Hankin original drawing. Unpublished. The sign on the lawn reads “Beware of Clam”

4. George Booth original. Titled Dog, Chair, and Chicken. Unpublished. Mr. Booth drew this in The New Yorker‘s cartoon department a few years ago while being filmed. Luckily, Liza Donnelly was also there being filmed.  Mr. Booth generously handed the drawing to her when filming wrapped. 

5. E.B. White’s The Lady Is Cold.  His first book. This became the subject of an Ink Spill piece.

6. Batman Giant No. 182.  In the late 1960s,  when my family moved from one end of town to the other end, only two comic books of my vast comic book collection made the transition (sad, I know). This is one of them.

7. The New Yorker Album.  Published in 1928 by Doubleday, Doran & Co. The very first New Yorker cartoon album.

8. A Rox Chast letter from the pre-personal computer days, probably late 1980s. In this New Yorker cartoon crowd, exchanged letters were usually illustrated.  I’m especially fond of this one because of the White Castle drawing at the very top (it’s possible my White Castle coffee mug made an impression on her).

9. We’ll Show You The Town. A 1934 promotional book from The New Yorker‘s business  department. You can see a little more about this if you go to the From the Attic section of the Spill and scroll down.

10. What! No Pie Charts?  An undated promotional book from The New Yorker‘s business department. Profusely illustrated by Julien de Miskey. As the copy refers to the magazine’s original address as 25 West 45th Street, we can safely assume this was published pre mid-1930s.

11. The American Mercury. August 1948.  Up on the shelf because of the great cover of the magazine’s founder and first editor, Harold Ross along with a re-drawn (i.e., non Rea Irvin) Eustace Tilley. The cover story “Ross Of The New Yorker” by Allen Churchill is a good read.

12. Curtain Calls of 1926. From the title page:

In which a few choice rare bits that have occasionally appeared in the pages of The New Yorker repeat themselves.

This is a lovely little book spotlighted on the Spill in July of 2013. Rea Irvin did the Tilley drawing on the cover.

13. Batman In Detective Comics Vol. 1 (Abbeville Press 1993).  Covering the first 25 years.  Vol. 2 is sitting right behind it. 

14. A Thurber Garland. Published by Hamish Hamilton in 1955.

15. The Making Of A Magazine. Undated. A promotional booklet collecting some, but not all of Corey Ford’s pieces. Drawings by Johan Bull.   Link here for more info.

16. James Thurber’s New York Times obit, dated November 3, 1961. The headline reads: James Thurber Is Dead At 66; Writer Was Also A Comic Artist . I’ll say!    Read more here on the Spill’s morgue.

***unnumbered, appearing just below #6’s Batman Giant, and the toy helicopter, is Otto Soglow’s Little King pull toy.  You can see it close up in the From the Attic section.

 

The Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue Of February 4, 2019

The Cover: Vegetation abounds. Here’s what the artist,Tom Gauld had to say about it.

The Cartoonists in the new issue:


The Magazine: Whenever February comes around, I begin thinking about the upcoming anniversary issue of The New Yorker, a favorite child here on this site (Spill visitors might remember this Tilley-centric piece I wrote for newyorker.com a few years back). Seeing Rea Irvin’s classic dandy this year would be such a welcome surprise. Even more of a surprise than, say, coming upon the now-famous Mandy the Mandarin duck in Central Park. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Irvin’s iconic cover. In fact, the last time was in 2011. So what will next week’s cover be: the dandy or a duck?



The Monday Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue Of October 1, 2018

The Cover:  What a beauty by Marcellus Hall!  Read about it here. I was really surprised when the cover popped up on my screen this morning — was fully expecting a political cover.

The Illustrations: The New Yorker has certainly become a — if not the — mainstream magazine showcase for illustration. It’s become a blend of the best of Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, and Gourmet  (remember Gourmet? What a good looking magazine that was). The 20 illustrations in the issue, including 5 1/2 full pages, far surpass the number and space afforded the 16 cartoons. 

The Cartoons: A newbie this week: Pat Achilles. Ms. Achilles is the 6th new cartoonist introduced this year and the 18th new cartoonist to be introduced since Emma Allen was appointed cartoon editor in May of 2017.

Rea Irvin: In 1924, when the New Yorker was still in the development phase, Harold Ross, the magazine’s founder and first editor, hired Mr. Irvin as art supervisor.  We can be thankful to Mr. Irvin for a quartet of fundamental graphic elements that scream New Yorker :

1. Eustace Tilley, the magazine’s mascot.

2. The so-called Irvin Typeface (adapted, with permission from Allen Lewis).

3. The quality of the art itself, including covers, cartoons and spot drawings.

4. The Talk Of The Town masthead (shown below). 

Those four pillars of the magazine remained intact until last year when Mr. Irvin’s Talk masthead was replaced by a redraw.  Read about it here.

— See you next week.

 

 

Mr. Bliss Goes To Washington; Cartoon Companion Rates Latest New Yorker Cartoons; Celebrity Cartoon Captioning Continues; Chatfield & Dooley’s Latest Podcast; Happy 75th, Mr. Crumb

Mr. Bliss Goes To Washington

Harry Bliss will take part in a presentation as well as sign books at this years Library of Congress National Book Festival. Details here.

Mr. Bliss has been contributing covers and cartoons to The New Yorker since 1998.

Visit Mr. Bliss’s website here.

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Cartoon Companion Rates Latest New Yorker Cartoons

If it’s Thursday it’s Cartoon Companion day. The CC‘s “Max” and “Simon” (they’ve chosen not to use their real names) take a look at the very latest cartoons in print. Read it here. 

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Celebrity Cartoon Captioning Continues

From Viewing NYC, August 30, 2018, “Watch Comedian Nick Kroll Caption New Yorker Cartoons On The Spot”

— the newyorker.com series carries on with this enjoyable episode. Good job, Mr. Kroll.

For the record: the drawings shown are (in order of appearance) by: Liam Walsh (chainsaws), Tom Cheney (large poultry), Corey Pandolph (subway cars at bar), Liam Walsh (alley stick ’em up), Will McPhail (ice fishing), Kaamran Hafeez (cowboys), Frank Cotham (invisible man on sofa), Tom Cheney (monster sofa), and David Borchart (beavers).  Perhaps the captioning celebs could identify the artists in coming episodes?

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Chatfield & Dooley’s Latest “Is There Something In This?” Podcast

Listen in as Mr. Chatfield, a New Yorker newbie (his first cartoon appeared in the July 10th, 2017 issue), and Mr. Dooley, according to the official description, “ruminate on New Yorker cartoon ideas over a couple of beers…” Link here.

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Happy 75th, Mr. Crumb

It’s Robert Crumb’s 75th birthday. Mr. Crumb has been contributing on and off to the New Yorker since 1994. His “Elvis Tilley” cover (above) for the magazine published during the Tina Brown years broke the 68 year string of Rea Irvin Eustace Tilley cover anniversary appearances.

 

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: