Rea Irvin Parodies His Eustace Tilley New Yorker Cover

Irvin_Jonkey209

 

An exceptionally generous friend of Ink Spill recently donated a bundle of rare New Yorker ephemera to the archives. I’ll post some from time-to-time, beginning with this wonderful parody of the New Yorker‘s very first cover.  There have been a number of parodies of the Eustace Tilley cover over the years, but until this piece arrived in the mail I’d only seen one other Tilley parody executed by Rea Irvin, the man responsible for the magazine’s inaugural cover.  In 1926 he designed a cover for an in-house parody of the magazine — Harold Ross, the magazine’s founder, was Tilley.

The Jonkey Club founded in 1949, was designed to entertain tourists while bringing in charity funds. The big event, held on Washington’s birthday, involved a donkey race, with donkeys decked out in elaborate and colorful costumes.

 

 

Below: Irvin’s Ink Spill entry

 

Rea Irvin  (pictured above. Self portrait above from Meet the Artist) Born, San Francisco, 1881; died in the Virgin Islands,1972. Irvin was the cover artist for the New Yorker’s first issue, February 21, 1925.  He was the magazine’s  first art editor, holding the position from 1925 until 1939 when James Geraghty assumed the title. Irvin became art director and remained in that position until William Shawn succeeded Harold Ross. Irvin’s last original work for the magazine was the magazine’s cover of July 12, 1958. The February 21, 1925 Eustace Tilley cover had been reproduced every year on the magazine’s anniversary until 1994, when R. Crumb’s Tilley-inspired cover appeared. Tilley has since reappeared, with other artists substituting from time-to-time.

 

Tina Brown: “Cartoonists were the most hostile of them all”

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From Bloomberg TV, this short video covering Tina Brown’s media career (thus far): “When Tina Brown Knew Newsweek Couldn’t Be Saved”  —  included is a brief mention of her first days at The New Yorker (@ 1:09) and a comment regarding the magazine’s cartoonists.

 

 

Timeline of New Yorker editors:

Harold Ross (who founded The New Yorker):  1925 – 1951

William Shawn: 1952 – 1987

Robert Gottlieb: 1987 – 1992

Tina Brown: 1992 – 1998

David Remnick: 1998 – present

 

 

The New Yorker’s New York…an Ink Spill Map

Maslin Big map New Yorker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   What better way to begin to close out the year here at Ink Spill than with a map of Manhattan highlighting some of the people and places most associated with The New Yorker. I’ve stayed away from current contributors & editors for privacy reasons – that updated map will have to wait a few decades. 

Here’s the who and why of the map:  people have a habit of not living in one place on the island of Manhattan.  For instance, Peter Arno’s Park Avenue pad was not his only New York City address  – it was his last city residence before he moved north to plant a garden. And Dorothy Parker lived in numerous places, but I’ve just indicated the address where she spent the last 15 years of her life.  Some of the names below are so well known that I’ve provided no information other than when they were born and when they died.  There are many more New Yorker writers, artists and editors who lived in the city but who do not appear on the map. Perhaps another map, another time. (I believe if you click on the map, it’ll enlarge and make reading much easier)

As you’ll see below, the Key is divided into Places & People.  Have fun!

 Places:

The New Yorker  has moved four times in its history, and will be moving again shortly, down to the new World Trade Center.  The map shows (in the circular zoom-in of the 42nd Street area) the four addresses:

1.  25 West 45th St  The magazine began publishing here in 1925  and remained at this address until 1935, when it moved downtown to…

2.  25 West 43rd St.  This magazine stayed here the longest, from 1935 until 1991. It was here that Thurber wrote and drew on the walls (a fragment of wall bearing Thurber’s drawings from here was removed and has since been relocated at  the magazine’s newer offices.

3.  20 West 43rd St.  Basically a move right across the street, just south and due east a few feet.

4.  4 Times Square.  The current address, but not for long. 

 

Bleeck’s  Artist & Writer’s (formerly Club) Restaurant  215 West 40th St.

Bleeck’s (pronounced “Blake’s”) was a regular hang-out for, among others, the Herald Tribune and New Yorker crowd.  It was here that something called the Match Game (not the one on tv with Gene Rayburn) was played with increasing seriousness (or maybe just increasing losses and gains).  And yes, that’s the actual name of the place, parentheses, singular spelling of “Artist” and all.  Decor was English tavern with wood paneling, heavy furniture, dim lighting and a tarnished suit of armor near the door. Life magazine  profiled the joint in its issue of November 26, 1945.

Costello’s  East 44th St. 

Once Thurber tired of Bleeck’s, Tim Costello’s place became his favorite place to hang. Like Bleeck’s, Costello’s was favored by more of The New Yorker crowd than you could shake a monocle at.  The murals Thurber drew here became the stuff of legend (and contention). 

The Algonquin  59 West 44th St. 

It’s not where The New Yorker began (it began in Harold Ross’s brain), but it’s where so many of its ingredients gelled, most especially around and because of the famous Round Table crowd. The Algonguin will always be closely tied in spirit to The New Yorker in more ways and for more reasons  than can be gone into here.

 

 The Corner of Madison & 42nd St

This is the intersection where the five month old New Yorker, just killed off by Raoul Fleischmann at the Princeton Club, suddenly sprang back to life as Fleischmann waited with his fellow business partners for the light to change. Fleischmann overheard John Hanrahan (Fleischmann’s publications advisor) say to either Ross or Hawley Traux (Ross’s financial expert), “I can’t blame Raoul for a moment for refusing to go on, but it’s like killing something that’s alive.”   Fleischmann later wrote that Hanrahan’s remark had “gotten under his skin” and so he changed his mind about closing The New Yorker and gave the magazine a reprieve.  The rest is, well, you know…

 

People:

 

Charles Addams  25 West 54th St. (b. 1912  d.1988) Charles Addams! Need I say more?

Peter Arno  417 Park Ave. (b.1904  d.1968) Harold Ross called him “the greatest artist in the world”  — Arno’s name appears on a metal plaque outside the old New Yorker offices on 25 West 43rd St..  William Shawn included Arno in his list of four New Yorker contributors and editors who “did more to make the magazine what it is than can be measured.”  (E.B. White, Katharine White, and Thurber  were the other three).

Donald Barthelme  West 11th St. (b.1931 d.1989) Writer.  Read his Snow White to understand why he was the toast of fiction world.

Ralph Barton  419 e.57th. ( b.1891 d.1931)  Cartoonist extraordinaire.  Ross included his work and listed him first in his Advisory Editors in The New Yorker’s very first issue (he was followed by Marc Connelly, Rea Irvin, George S. Kaufman, Alice Duer Miller, Dorothy Parker, and Alexander Woollcott).  

Robert Benchley  44West 44th St. The Royalton NY Hotel (b.1899 d.1945).  A member of The Algonguin Round Table, and so much more.  Humorist, actor, New Yorker Theater Critic.  Note that he lived just across the street from The Algonquin.  

Gardner Botsford  Grammercy Place (b.1917  d.2004) long time New Yorker editor of non-fiction, his writers included Joseph Mitchell, Roger Angell, and A.J. Liebeling. Step-son of Raoul Fleischmann.

John Cheever  Hudson & Horatio (b.1912 d.1982)

Peter De Vries 32 West 11th  (b.1910  d.1993)  Novelist, humorist, Cartoon Doctor. 

Alan Dunn  12 E.88th St.  (b.1900 d.1974) One of the most prolific of the magazine’s cartoonists.  Married to Mary Petty.

Raoul Fleischmann  955 Fifth Ave.  (b.1885  d.1969)  In 1924, when Harold Ross proposed he and Fleischmann start a “new comic paper” Fleischmann put up the money.

Wolcott Gibbs  East 54th St.  (b.1902 d.1958) Writer, editor, critic, playright (“Season in The Sun”) (New Yorker theater critic – he took over the job from Robert Benchley)

Philip Hamburger  East 80th St.  (b.1914  d.2004) Writer of non-fiction for The New Yorker for over 60 years (serving under all of the magazine’s editors from Ross to Remnick).  He occasionally wrote under the name, Our Man Stanley.

Gus Lobrano  West 13th St.  (b.1903 d.1956) New Yorker fiction editor from 1938 – 1956.  Following Lobrano’s death,  E.B. White wrote of him: “His contribution to The New Yorker was deep and extensive; it is hard to get it all down in a brief report. Probably his most telling contribution was this: that because of knowing and loving him many writers felt that The New Yorker was their home.”

Russell Maloney  413 East 50th St. (b.1910  d.1948) A wildly prolific Talk of The Town writer, on staff from 1934 – 1945.

William Maxwell  East 86th St. (b.1908 d.2000) Author & fiction editor to Salinger, Cheever, Nabokov, and Updike, among many others.

Joseph Mitchell West 10th St. (b.1908 d.1996) Writer. A New Yorker staff writer who became known  for not writing after writing so well for so many years.

Grace Paley West 11th St. (b.1922 d.2007) Writer

Dorothy Parker  23 East 74th St. (The Volney) (b.1893 d.1967)  Ms. Parker was perhaps the most, if not one of the most celebrated members of the Algonquin Round Table. One of Ross’s original contributors and listed as an Advisory Editor in the very first issue of the magazine. The subject of numerous biographies.

S.J. Perelman 134 West 11th St.  (b.1904  d.1979). One of the great humorists of the 20th century. 

Mary Petty  12. East 88th St. (1899 – 1976) New Yorker cover artist and cartoonist. (See Alan Dunn).

Harold Ross  52 East 11th & 412-414 West 47th St. (b.1892  d.1951).  Ross dreamed up The New Yorker.  Thomas Kunkel wrote an excellent biography of Ross, Genius in Disguise

J.D. Salinger  300 East 57th St.  (b.1919 d.2010)

Willam Shawn  East 96th St.  (b.1907  d.1992) The New Yorker’s  legendary second editor.  He succeeded Harold Ross in 1952.  Would someone please write a biography of Mr. Shawn.  

Saul Steinberg 6th Ave. & 11th St…and at the end of his life: East 75th St.  (b.1914 d.1999).  The New York Time’s front page obit labeled him an “epic doodler” – how  I wish they could take that back. The man was a genius.

Otto Soglow 330 West 72nd St. ( b.1900  d.1975) He created The Little King.

John Updike West 13th St.  (b.1932  d.2009)

E.B. White  A number of addresses, beginning with 112 West 13th St., and later, with Katharine White at 16. East 8th St., then uptown at Turtle Bay Gardens, and in the mid 1940s, 37 West 11th St.  (b.1899 d.1985) In his earliest days in Manhattan, White roomed  at 112 West 13th Street along with Gus Lobrano. 

Katharine White  Several addresses, including 16 East 8th St. (see E.B. White above). (b.1892  d.1977) The New Yorker’s first fiction editor. She was hired in August of 1925, and shortly thereafter was involved in nearly all editorial aspects of the magazine. Listed by William Shawn as one of the four who “did more to make the magazine what it is than can be measured.”

Alexander Woollcott E.52nd St.  (b.1887 d.1943) Wrote The New Yorker’s “Shouts & Murmurs” column, also the magazine’s drama critic. He was a member of The Algonquin Round Table, and was among those listed as one of  Ross’s Advisory Editors in the first issue of The New Yorker.   He shared the 412 West 47th St address with Harold Ross and his wife, Jane Grant.  Woollcott later moved to the very far east end of East 52nd St., the place Dorothy Parker dubbed, “Wit’s End.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Street Where They Lived

 

 

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When I moved to Manhattan in the fall of 1976, just out of college, I was on a mission to be published by The New YorkerLittle did I know when I  rented an apartment at 113 West 11th Street,  that I had moved to a street that was home, at one time or another,  to a stellar array of the magazine’s artists and writers.  

A day after getting the keys to my apartment, I was standing in the small vestibule of my new address, when a tall man with an Amish-like beard came bounding down the stairs.  He paused to ask me what I was doing there.  After I introduced myself as the new tenant moving into 3R, he stuck out his right hand and introduced himself:  “Donald Barthelme.”   I didn’t know who he was — my initial thought was that he had an interesting name and beard —  but it didn’t take long before I learned I had moved into an apartment right above one of the most acclaimed New Yorker writers of the day. In no time at all, I discovered that Grace Paley,  a good friend of Donald’s,  lived nearly just across the street, west of the public school. (I met Ms. Paley in Donald’s apartment at a holiday party when we ended up sitting side-by-side on hassocks near the fireplace).

In time, as  I began to read up on New Yorker history, 11th Street continued to pop up:

E.B. White & Katharine White lived on 37 West 11th in the mid 1940s. 

The man who invented The New Yorker, Harold Ross, moved into 52 East 11th  following his time overseas during World War 1.

Steinberg lived in the Adams Hotel on the corner of West 11th and 6th Ave in 1942 – his first residence in this country. (Donald introduced me to Steinberg in the garden behind 113 West 11th).

Peter De Vries (profiled on Ink Spill ) lived at 32 West 11th before moving up to Connecticut.

S.J. Perelman lived at 134 West 11th.

  And I learned that my hero, James Thurber,  the man responsible for my wanting to become a New Yorker cartoonist, once lived at 65 West 11th.  The address was less than a minute walk east from my building, past Ray’s Pizza,  across 6th Avenue, and just a few steps along 11th on the north side, right where the New School building now stands.

(West 13th also had a small contingent of New Yorker residents: Thurber, John Updike and E.B. White).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rea Irvin’s Last New Yorker Cover

Irvin's Last

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you read The New Yorker you are very familiar with at least one of his covers: his first one.  Mention The New Yorker and one of the images that comes to mind for most people is Eustace Tilley, the top-hatted gentleman who appeared on the magazine’s inaugural cover in 1925 and returned thereafter, mid-February, for sixty-eight straight years, to mark each of the magazine’s anniversaries (for more on what happened next with and to Tilley, you can link here to “Tilley Over Time” a newyorker.com piece of mine that appeared in 2008).

 

That first cover was by Rea Irvin, who was  hired by The New Yorker’s founder and first editor, Harold Ross, when Ross began cobbling together his urban magazine with little appeal to the little old lady in Dubuque. Irvin’s duties – he was taken on as art consultant – are chronicled in Genius in Disguise, Thomas Kunkel’s wonderful biography of Harold Ross,  as well as in The Art of The New Yorker by Lee Lorenz.  There is universal agreement among The New Yorker’s writers and artists that Irvin’s part in shaping the magazine’s art was invaluable.

 

Beyond his role as consultant, Irvin was a prolific cover artist and cartoonist, contributing nearly two hundred covers and a bit over 250 cartoons to the magazine. If you happen to have The Complete Book of Covers from The New Yorker (Knopf, 1989) you have the luxury of paging through the years and locating each and every Irvin cover — not at all difficult once you’re accustomed to his style.

 

It has been noted in numerous places, including Irvin’s New York Times obit (May 29, 1972) that once Harold Ross passed away in December of 1951, Irvin “feuded” with the magazine. Lee Lorenz, among others, has written that when William Shawn officially succeeded Ross in January of 1952, one of the first things Shawn did was encourage Irvin to retire (Shawn also undid Ross’s famous roomful of editors going over the week’s art.  Under Shawn, the art meeting became a duet: Shawn plus James Geraghty, and later, once Geraghty retired, Shawn plus Lorenz).  I suppose something could be made of the fact that the end of Irvin’s cartoon contributions coincides with the year of Ross’s death, but it’s not all that tidy a coincidence (the last Irvin cartoon was published February 10, 1951; Harold Ross died December 6, 1951). Irvin’s covers, however, continued on for another six years.  From 1952 (the beginning of the Shawn era) through 1958 (when Irvin’s last New Yorker cover appeared) there were five    a remarkable drop considering he had 20 covers in the last six years of Ross’s editorship.

 

Irvin’s final non-Eustace Tilley New Yorker cover appeared midway through the sleepy summer month of July, sandwiched between a July 4th cover by Abe Birnbaum and a beautiful Ilonka Karasz cover of tourists in a cathedral. The image, of a golfer and his caddy searching for a lost ball, was another New Yorker cover “moment” – one of so many great moments Irvin gave us over the years.

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See more of Irvin’s art at
The New Yorker‘s Cartoon Bank