The Weekend Spill: Happy 125th James Thurber!; Three New Yorkers; New Cast Album For Arno’s 1930’s Musical “The New Yorkers”; The Tilley Watch Online, The Week Of December 2-6, 2019

Happy 125th James Thurber!

Anyone who follows the Spill knows that James Thurber is a mighty big deal around here. I’ve written numerous times over the years how seeing his drawing, “What have you done with Dr. Millmoss?” changed everything for me. Today marks the 125th anniversary of Thurber’s birth.  Michael Rosen’s recently published A Mile and a Half of Lines: The Art of James Thurber is an excellent book to throw yourself into today, or any day.

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Three New Yorkers

The three issues above unexpectedly arrived in the mail the other day, courtesy of a friend.  I immediately shoved my stack of drawing paper to the side and dove into the magazines. When I look through older copies of The New Yorker I focus on the art (so many cartoons to see, so little time).

So, what do these three issues have in common besides being three issues of The New Yorker and all published in the early 60s? Each has at least one drawing by Frank Modell, James Stevenson, and Dana Fradon. That trio, in their time, along with perhaps ten other cartoonists, anchored hundreds, if not thousands of issues of The New Yorker.

When I arrived at The New Yorker in the late 1970s, Messrs. Modell, Fradon, and Stevenson had already been contributing for decades, with Frank Modell the most veteran of the bunch, having begun at The New Yorker during the mid-1940s.  As I was beginning my New Yorker education by studying back issues of the magazine I was astounded to discover how long these artists had already been at the magazine. Even more astounding: there were cartoonists who’d been at The New Yorker even longer, and were still contributing — such greats as Al Ross, who began contributing in 1937, Whitney Darrow, Jr. (1933), George Price (1929), and William Steig (1930).

I was lucky enough to meet and get to know (if only a little) most of the cartoonists mentioned above. Of the three exceptions: Steig, Darrow, and Price, I communicated via a few letters with Steig — Whitney Darrow turned an idea of mine into a New Yorker drawing. I regret not walking over and meeting Whitney Darrow, and George Price at the only once-in-a-lifetime  opportunities I had with each. I’ve written before of the magazine’s artists family tree — the generations overlapping at the magazine. Just a few weeks ago I met several New Yorker cartoonists who’ve just started their careers in the past couple of years — one in just the past six months. Picking up almost any issue of the magazine, from the earliest years to the most recent is an instant reminder of the connectivity.

From the Spill‘s A-Z, the Modell, Fradon, and Stevenson entries:

Frank Modell ( photograph taken early 1990s) Born, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 6, 1917. Died, May 27, 2016, Guilford, Connecticut. New Yorker work: 1946 – 1997. Mr. Modell began his New Yorker career as assistant to the Art Editor, James Geraghty. He soon began contributing his cartoons (and cartoon ideas for others), with his first drawing appearing July 20, 1946. Besides his work for The New Yorker, he was a children’s book author and an actor (he appeared, most notably, in Woody Allen’s 1980 film, Stardust Memories). Key collection: Stop Trying To Cheer Me Up! (Dodd, Mead, 1978).

Dana Fradon (photo: 1978). Born, Chicago, Illinois, 1922. Died, October 3, 2019, Woodstock, NY.  Studied at the Art Institute of Chicago prior to service in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. Following his service, he attended the Art Students League of New York, New Yorker work: May 1, 1948 – April 21, 2003. Collection: Insincerely Yours (Scribners, 1978) To read Ink Spill’s 2013 interview with Mr. Fradon, “Harold Ross’s Last Cartoonist” link here.

 

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 recent book, published in 2013, The Life, Loves and Laughs of Frank Modell, is essential. “Stevenson Lost and Found,” a documentary film by Sally Williams, was released in 2019.

— The cover artists for The New Yorkers  shown at the top of this post: l-r: Robert Kraus, Garrett Price, and Arthur Getz

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New Cast Album For Cole Porter’s (and Peter Arno’s) 1930 Musical, The New Yorkers

From Broadway World, December 6th, 2019, “The New Cast Album of ‘The New Yorkers,’ the 1930 Cole Porter Musical, is Available today”

If you want to read a lot more about “The New Yorkers” I modestly suggest my Arno biography, specifically Chapter Seven:  Up Broadway and Down.

Above left: The cover of the new cast recording. To the right “The New Yorkers” original 1930 program, with art by Peter Arno.

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The Tilley Watch Online, The Week Of December 2-6, 2019

An end of the week listing of New Yorker artists who’ve contributed to newyorker.com

The Daily Cartoon: David Ostow, Tom Toro, Paul Karasik, Ali Solomon, Jon Adams.

Daily Shouts: Julia Wertz, Olivia de Recat.

…and Barry Blitt’s Kvetchbook.

To see all of the above, and much more, link here.

 

 

Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon; Early George Price Via Mike Lynch; Warp’s Daily Shouts

Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon

A comment on the President, from Tim Hamilton, who began contributing to The New Yorker in 2015.

Note: As last week’s New Yorker was a double issue, there’s no Monday Tilley Watch today. The Watch will return next Monday for the August 19th issue.

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Early George Price Via Mike Lynch

The cartoonist Mike Lynch gives us a nice selection of George Price’s work from the 1940 Price collection, Good Humor Man.  Here’s Price’s entry on the Spill‘s A-Z:

George Price  Born in Coytesville, New Jersey, June 9, 1901. Died January 12, 1995, Engelwood, New Jersey. New Yorker work: 1929 – 1991. Lee Lorenz, the New Yorker’s former Art/Cartoon editor, called Price one of the magazine’s great stylists (along with Peter Arno, Helen Hokinson, James Thurber, and William Steig. Of the many Price collections here are two favorites:  Browse At Your Own Risk (1977), and The World of George Price: A 55-Year Retrospective (1988)

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Warp’s Daily Shouts

Today’s Daily Shouts, courtesy of Kim Warp: “Possible Explanations For Exhuming John Dillinger”

Ms. Warp has been contributing to The New Yorker since 1999. Visit her website here.

 

The Monday Tilley Watch, The New Yorker (Double) Issue, July 8 & 15, 2019; Today’s Daily Cartoonist’s Cartoon

The Cover: A hot dog cart guy gets some beach time on Peter De Seve’s cover.  Read the Cover Story here.

The Cartoonists:

The Newbies: Making their New Yorker print debut this week: Victor Varnado and Akeem Roberts. They become the record-setting nineteenth and twentieth new cartoonists entering the magazine’s stable of artists this year and the forty-fifth and forty-sixth new artists brought in under cartoon editor Emma Allen’s stewardship, begun in May of 2017.

The Cartoons: Brief thoughts on some of the thirteen cartoons in the issue:

Roz Chast’s Ordinary Kreskin drawing (p. 37).  Love Ms. Chast’s right-to-the-point drawings, like this one. Perhaps not so unusual, but noticeable: she’s drawn Mr. Kreskin with five fingers (a lot of cartoonists find four will do for their cartoon characters). 

Liana Finck’s talking baby (p. 44).  A terrific twist on an end-of-life sentiment. I found myself wondering if it would’ve been equally successful had the baby been talking to another baby.

Ed Steed’s hammered drawing (p.54).  At first glance on my laptop, before zooming in on the drawing I thought that Mr. Steed had done a mash-up drawing with George Booth. If you squint your eyes, it’s a very Boothian room (the perspective, the hanging ceiling lamp, the floorboards, wall objects). 100% Steedian is the idea itself and the Steedian happily hammering woman.

My confused initial take on seeing the drawing leads me to toss out a suggestion. There’s been plenty written on this site about cartoon collaboration, but those duets have involved a writer teamed with an artist (or two artists collaborating) with just one person doing the drawing.  Howz about for fun we see some artists team-up and create a drawing or two with multiple styles in one frame. Some suggestions: Chast/Finck, Dator/Donnelly,  Hwang/Shanahan, Sipress/Allenby,  Kenseth/Koren…just a thought. (Liza Donnelly and I had a ton ‘o’ fun doing a series of mash-up full-page graphic pieces for our 2009 collection, Cartoon Marriage)  

Paul Noth’s line of succession drawing (p. 58). Mr. Noth delivers a great drawing.  I only wish it had been given more breathing room (such as Mr. Steed’s). 

Robert Leighton’s drawing (p.32) features a caption that would probably be right at home in a positive thinking seminar.  Yet another Leighton drawing destined for many a refrigerator.   

Karen Sneider’s funny fish in bed recalls the classic George Price drawing published in the magazine’s issue of December 21, 1963

Rea Irvin: Mr. Irvin (with Harold Ross and his then-wife, Jane Grant) was a founder of The New Yorker‘s graphic architecture. Consider his adapted typeface (the so-called Irvin typeface) that is part of the magazine’s DNA, the breadth of cartoon worlds he encouraged as art supervisor, his department heading designs, and his numerous covers (including, of course, the magazine’s brilliant first that gave us Eustace Tilley). Tis a puzzlement that his iconic heading for the Talk Of The Town remains under a tarp. Here it is below, and here’s where you can read about its removal in 2017.

 

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Today’s Daily Cartoonist’s Cartoon

Singin’ under the drip from Amy Kurzweil, who began contributing to The New Yorker in 2016. Visit her website here.

A Sunday Daily: Katz Cooks; Remembering George Price

Cookin’ octopus, from Farley Katz, who has been contributing to The New Yorker since 2007.

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Remembering George Price

From Yesterday’s Papers, June 30, 2019, “George Priceless” 

Mr. Price’s entry on the A-Z: George Price Born in Coytesville, New Jersey, June 9, 1901. Died January 12, 1995, Engelwood, New Jersey. New Yorker work: 1929 – 1991. Lee Lorenz, the New Yorker’s former Art/Cartoon editor, called Price one of the magazine’s great stylists (along with Peter Arno, Helen Hokinson, James Thurber, and William Steig. Of the many Price collections, two favorites:  Browse At Your Own Risk (1977), and The World of George Price: A 55-Year Retrospective (1988)

Helen Hokinson’s Silent Partner: James Reid Parker; Attempted Bloggery: Peter Arno Uncovered

While reading James Reid Parker’s brief New York Times obit, (published January 31, 1984) I was anticipating at least a mention of his work with one of The New Yorker‘s earliest superstars, Helen Hokinson. In the magazine’s first decades, according to an in-house memo, Ms. Hokinson, along with Peter Arno, was in a special category above all other contributing artists. As you can see for yourself below, the Times obit does mention Mr. Parker’s “humorous pieces and light sketches” he contributed to the magazine, but not a word about his eighteen year sideline as a writer for Ms. Hokinson.  And that’s a shame. 

There’s not a mountain of material to sift through regarding the Hokinson-Reid working relationship, but what we do have allows us a feel for how their collaboration worked.  The best reading is found in Reid’s “memoir” included in the Hokinson collection, The Ladies God Bless ’em! published a year after Hokinson was killed in a spectacular plane crash over the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. 

Mr. Parker fills us in on how he met Hokinson, and how it came to be that he became her main supplier of ideas (The New Yorker sometimes passed along an idea they felt was right for her — a practice begun in 1925, the year she joined the magazine’s brand new stable).  A mutual friend made the introduction; it was during that first meeting that ordinary conversation occasioned a spark.  Here’s Parker talking about the moment:

I happened to mention that in a story on which I was working there were two suburban matrons who talked, it seemed to me, the way some of her women might. Miss Hokinson asked what sort of things I was having them say, and I quoted a few lines of dialogue. She stopped twisting her handkerchief.  With a sigh she remarked that one of the lines in particular would have made a good caption for a drawing and that the situation was exactly the kind of thing she liked to do. I told her to go right ahead because my women could just as easily be saying something else.

About a week later, The New Yorker bought the Hokinson drawing using Parker’s idea. In a year’s time they had officially set aside all of every Friday to look at each other’s work with an eye to finding “acceptable” material.  An interesting revelation by Parker is that in 1933 he “devised” Hokinson’s women’s lunch club scenario. 

Below: a Hokinson women’s lunch club New Yorker drawing, published April 24, 1948

When the relationship between cartoonist and idea person works well, the seams don’t show — the reader believes they’re visiting a singular world (ala Jack Ziegler or Steinberg — neither of whom used outside ideas). The seams never showed in Hokinson’s drawings; looking through her work you won’t see an awkward fit. Some of the best New Yorker artists have done wonders with some outside help (Addams, Hoff, George Price, to name a few) but the Hokinson/Parker relationship was different in that she was fully dependent on provided ideas (George Price is the only other New Yorker artist known to completely rely on provided ideas).*  More than that, Parker was much involved in Hokinson’s world. In their first year of collaborating they went to dinner and then the theater once or twice a week (in his memoir he describes how much fun it was being with her on outings in Manhattan, watching her draw, sharing  her joy in discovering wondrous New York City things). When Hokinson moved up to Connecticut, Parker eventually rented a place close by her home. 

Parker on the scene there:

Thereafter Helen’s guests and mine mingled amicably, often joining forces for picnic lunches, and whenever it was necessary Helen and I could confer about a drawing on very short notice.

It’s not clear how many of Ms. Hokinson’s roughly 1,800 New Yorker drawings were the product of working with Parker, but no matter. We have a great body of work they had a grand time finding acceptable — maybe that’s plenty enough.

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*Ms. Hokinson’s  New Yorker cover ideas were her own. George Price had one New Yorker cover — it was his own idea.  

For further reading on Ms. Hokinson the place to go is Liza Donnelly’s Funny Ladies: The New Yorker’s Greatest Women Cartoons and Their Cartoons (Prometheus, 2005)

You’ll have to find a copy of Hokinson’s Ladies God Bless ’em! for James Reid Parker’s nine page Hokinson “memoir” (It can be had for a buck on AbeBooks.com). You can also find it at the end of  The Hokinson Festival  (Dutton, 1956). The bonus in that anthology: some of Hokinson’s New Yorker covers are reproduced in color. 

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Attempted Bloggery: Peter Arno Uncovered

Attempted Bloggery discusses the 1931 Arno collection, covered and not.  Read here!

Above left: an early version (or “rough”) of a New Yorker drawing in the book. “I want you to meet my bosom friend”  appeared in The New Yorker issue of October 10, 1931.