Thurber Thursday: The Seal On The T-Shirt
Thurber’s “All right, have it your way — you heard a seal bark!” published in The New Yorker January 30, 1932 was a moment: a moment for Thurber, a moment for The New Yorker, and a moment for cartoon art (and judging by the above photo of a fave t-shirt: a moment for merchandising). According to Thurber biographer Burton Bernstein:
“By the middle of 1932, the barking seal on the headboard was the most talked-about drawing of the year, and its creator had attracted a sizable following, sizable enough so that Harper & Brothers decided it was time to [bring] out a collection of Thurber art called, aptly, The Seal In The Bedroom and Other Predicaments.”
By detouring around the standard polished drawings of cartoonists, and drawing his “unbaked cookie” people (as Dorothy Parker described Thurber people in her introduction to The Seal In The Bedroom) Thurber widened the understanding and acceptance of what a cartoon could be (and should be, depending on the artist).
The drawing continues to pop up whenever Thurber’s art is discussed, and I have to add that it seems whenever his art is discussed there’s always an asterisk of sorts accompanying the discussion as here where the blogger says, “He should not be judged using professional criteria.” Well why shouldn’t he be judged using professional criteria (whatever that means). However Thurber’s art is described, however it is judged, it is, to quote Ms. Parker when discussing the Seal drawing: “Mad, I don’t say. Genius, I grant you.”
From The National Arts Club, “An Evening With New Yorker Cover Artist Barry Blitt”
Mr. Blitt will be in conversation with his editor at The New Yorker, Francoise Mouly.
His entry on the Spill‘s A-Z:
Barry Blitt Born in Montreal. New Yorker work: January 10, 1994 -. His first contribution to the magazine was a cover, one of many to come for the magazine. His cover, “Politics of Fear” for the issue of July 21, 2008 was and remains a cause celebre. His first cartoon appeared December 18, 2006. He was awarded a Pulitzer in 2020 for editorial cartooning. Website: barryblitt.com Mr. Blitt’s Wikipedia entry (with personal and professional history).
From Victor Varnado, who began contributing to The New Yorker in July of 2019, on helpful signposts.