Frank Modell’s Brendan Gill; Today’s Daily Cartoonist: Christopher Weyant; More Steinberg

Frank Modell’s Brendan Gill

I came away from a recent visit to my favorite (used) book store, Rodgers Book Barn in Hillsdale, New York with the brochure handed out at Brendan Gill’s memorial back in 1998 (see the details of the tribute below). I’m indebted to one of my book store haunting friends, Mark Burns for digging the brochure out of a box of ephemera and placing it right in front of my face (for the record, my other co-haunters were Danny Shanahan and John Cuneo). Frank Modell’s drawing of an exuberant Brendan Gill was new to me, and an obvious must-have, must-buy. 

For more on Mr. Gill, I highly recommend his oft-reprinted Here At The New Yorker (the William Heinemann 1990 edition shown below)And for more on Mr. Modell there’s his collection Stop Trying To Cheer Me Up! as well as James Stevenson’s terrific The Life, Loves and Laughs of Frank Modell.

Further Reading: An earlier Spill piece on cartoonists and Rodgers Book Barn.

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Today’s Daily Cartoonist/Cartoon

The lack of White House press briefings has been in the news. Chris Weyant comments via castle cartoon.  Mr. Weyant has been contributing to The New Yorker since 1998. Visit his website here.

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More Steinberg

From The Brooklyn Rail, “Saul Steinberg: Untitled” 

Comments on the Steinberg exhibit currently showing at Totah (til April 28th — hurry!)

 

 

James Stevenson Theater Prize Returns; Maira Kalman’s Work at Armory; I’m Emily Flake; Thurber’s Airedale, Muggs; Today’s New Yorker Daily Cartoonist: Ivan Ehlers

From Playing On Air, March 1, 2019, The Second Annual James Stevenson Prize For Comedic Short Plays. All the info here.

Mr. Stevenson’s entry on the Spill‘s A-Z:

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 The Life, Loves and Laughs of Frank Modell, is essential.

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Suite of Maira Kalman’s Work at Park Avenue Art Show

From artnet, March 1, 2019, Six Dazzling Works at the ADAA’s Art Show, From Maira Kalman’s Gertrude Stein Portraits to Art Made Out of Saran Wrap” 

Ms. Kalman began contributing to The New Yorker in 1995. Link here to her website.

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I’m Emily Flake

From Offspring, February 25, 2019, “I’m New Yorker Cartoonist Emily Flake, And This Is How I Parent”

Ms. Flake began contributing to The New Yorker in 2008.  Link here to her website.

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Thurber’s Airedale

I may have posted this piece on Thurber’s airedale, Muggs once before a long while back,  but I can’t resist posting again.  Here’s the piece.

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Today’s Daily Cartoon

Today’s Daily cartoon is by Ivan Ehlers (the subject is… ta-da! Trump).

The Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue Of December 3, 2018; Peter Kuper & Ricky Jay

Confused by this week’s cover?  Feel like you saw it before? Well if you were reading The New Yorker in 1927, you did see it before. 

 Below: the cover as published this week, and how it originally appeared. The 2018 cover seems to have been ever-so-slightly cropped along the left and right edges, with the artist’s signature moved closer to the red tail lights (but hey, the magazine is not the same size as it was in 1927, so…).

If you have the Complete Book Of Covers From The New Yorker you’ll notice that the thumbnail cover shown has a blue sky, with a dark to light gradation as it nears the horizon. Without the original issue in hand, it’s difficult to know which 1927 version is truer (and even then, original print covers can differ in quality, cropping and coloring).

A small miracle: it looks as if the original type face from 1927 has been retained (but the 2018 date and price are in the modernized type-face).

This is an unusual issue of the New Yorker —  its very first “Archival Issue”…there have been nods to the past before, with cartoons and covers re-run inside the magazine, but never an issue dedicated to the past.  It is not, of course, the first time the magazine has reprinted a cover as a cover.  The cover of the very first New Yorker, featuring Rea Irvin’s Eustace Tilley, was brought back, uninterrupted, for 67 years and then made some curtain calls (you can read more about that here).

The cartoons

Here are the cartoonists appearing in this special issue (A Roz Chast full page appears where the caption contest usually appears):

From the Department of Does Size Matter, I’m showing a few of the cartoons in this issue, and how they originally appeared in the magazine. Regular Spill readers may have picked up on how much importance I place on the size of the magazine’s cartoons and how they sit on the page.  Looking through this new special issue it was immediately apparent that some of the archival drawings were being run much smaller than they originally appeared. This is an excellent opportunity to compare/contrast. It’s not always the case that a cartoon run bigger is better.  Sometimes a cartoon that’s been run big really amplifies its graphic issues. But that’s not the case for any of these fabulous drawings shown below.

The first cartoon in the magazine is by Mary Petty.  On the left is the cartoon as run in this 2018 issue. On the right is how it appeared in the issue of March 12, 1932.

 

Next up, a Charles Addams classic, with the 2018 appearance on the left and on the right, its original appearance in the issue of October 29, 1960.

Below, a beauty from James Stevenson.  The 2018 appearance on the left, and the original appearance in the issue of August 16, 1976.

Below: a beautiful Nancy Fay drawing. On the left as seen in this new issue.  On the right its original appearance in the issue of October 20, 1928.

Finally, a drawing by the master, Peter Arno. The odds favor any Arno drawing run as a full page in the New Yorker, and so it was with this classic (caption by the late great idea man, Herb Valen).

The 2018 appearance on the left and the original appearance in the issue of May 10, 1947 (the 2018 credit line mistakenly attributes the drawing to the June 10, 1947 issue).

Bookkeeping: Inaccurate New Yorkery-factoids pop-up like turkey timers when I see them. This following passage in the new issue’s Comment, “The City Of Dreams” popped-up:

: ”

The trouble is that James Thurber did not make his debut (with a short piece, “Villanelle Of Horatio Street”) until the issue of February 26, 1927.  His drawings didn’t begin appearing until January of 1931 (January 31, 1931. The caption: “Take a good look at these fellows, Tony, so you’ll remember ’em next time.”)

I admit that when I heard there was to be an archival issue of the magazine I first thought of Rea Irvin’s Talk masthead.  If ever there was a moment to return it to its natural habitat, this would be it.  But, alas, it’s still a-missin’. Here’s what it looks like (and here’s where you can read more about it):

 

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Peter Kuper & Ricky Jay

From PBS, January 21, 2015, “Comic: Waiting For Ricky Jay, by Peter Kuper”

From The New York Times, Nov. 25, 2018,  “Ricky Jay , Gifted Magician, Actor and Author, is Dead at 70”

The Tilley Watch

Last week in this spot I noted and silently wondered about the latest issue of The New Yorker (dated October 29) barely touching on Halloween (other than a witches and broomstick drawing by Seth Fleishman).  This week’s issue, dated November 5, solves the mystery with its trick-or-treating Trumpian cover. I think we’ve now seen enough of him on the cover to expect a New Yorker Book of Trump Covers. I believe his first appearance was on the double issue of Dec. 28, 1992/Jan. 4, 1993. Artist: Robert Risko. 

New Yorker history aficionados will note that what’s inside that issue (produced during Tina Brown’s era as editor) is of great interest: a lengthy piece, “Remembering Mr. Shawn: friends and colleagues recall the years with Shawn” — it’s essential reading, and includes photographs of Shawn taken by James Stevenson. 

Sidenote: the 1992/1993 issue contains the work of 35 cartoonists  It also contains an Artist’s Notebook by Benoit van Innes (full page, color), An Artist At Large spread by Philip Burke (4 1/4 pages, color), another Artist At Large, with Ronald Searle (a full page), an Artist’s Sketchbook by Gerald Scarfe (3 1/2 pages, color), a full page cartoon by Roz Chast and a color column by Danny Shanahan. Most of the single panel cartoons were placed in a space greater than a quarter page, with many running a half-page. There are 22 illustrations, with three full page. One of the things you’ll hear from colleagues who worked at The New Yorker during Tina Brown’s era (I was one of them) was that she knew how to throw a great party (and she did).  I’d like to expand that to: …and she knew how to throw a great graphic party

And now back to the future…

This new issue contains the work of 11 cartoonists (a bump up from last week’s ten) and 21 illustrations ( 6 1/2 pages of those are full pages). Of the 11 cartoons, one, by the wonderful Victoria Roberts, could be said to be nearly exclusively a Halloween drawing. There is another drawing — it features a ghost — but as it’s a telling scary stories around a campfire scenario, it could’ve been published at other times during the year. 

For the record, here are the contributing cartoonists in this issue:

I believe — but could well be mistaken — that the last on the list, Sarah Ransohoff, is making her New Yorker cartoonist debut in this issue. People who know better: please advise if this is incorrect. If this is correct, then Ms. Ransohoff is the 7th new cartoonist this year and the 19th cartoonist overall to be brought in under the cartoon editorship of Emma Allen since she took over in May of 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Look: The New Yorker Encyclopedia Of Cartoons

A review copy of the slip-cased two volume New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons has landed here at the Spill. After sitting with it a day I’ve some initial thoughts:

The very first impression, before the shrink wrap was removed, was how heavy the set is ( 14.9 pounds).  An earlier tome, 2004’s Complete New Yorker Cartoons of The New Yorker  weighed in at 7 pounds. Of course, there are two volumes, so we’re back to about 7 pounds per volume. I found the books themselves attractive: the design, the binding, the paper quality, typography.  Once a volume is set down on a flat surface, it opens well, affording a pleasant thumbing through experience. 

The placement of cartoons is two per page (but not exclusively — there are times a drawing is full page, or takes up more than 50% of a page).  Chapter headings are each letter of the alphabet. On those introductory chapter pages, printed on a red base, a full page drawing appears. A nice touch: each drawing’s original publication date is noted.  Occasionally there is what is called a “commentary” (an example: “Banana Peels”). These are unsigned, but a blanket credit, for assisting in the writing is given in the introduction to cartoonists Emily Flake, Pat Byrnes, Tom Toro, Paul Karasik, and the New Yorker’s Assistant Cartoon Editor, Colin Stokes [full disclosure: I was asked to audition for the opportunity to write a number of these commentaries. I declined after learning my efforts, if used, would appear uncredited]. I’ve yet to read these commentaries, so I won’t comment on them, other than to say I wish each was signed, or co-signed.

On to the content of the book itself. The New Yorker has a long history of issuing themed pamphlets (for advertising purposes) and themed anthologies. The New Yorker War Album (published in 1942) was the first themed anthology. The next was The New Yorker Album of Art and Artists (published in 1970). The New Yorker Book of Cat Cartoons, published in 1991, was the first of many themed anthologies issued in a square format. The theme of this new anthology are cartoon themes themselves, from Accounting to Zorro.

As a cartoonist, I’ve always found themed collections amusing additions to the classic anthologies that began with The New Yorker Album, published in 1928, and continued through to the aforementioned 2004 Complete Cartoons. The classic anthologies are the next best thing to seeing the cartoons in their natural habitat: the New Yorker magazine itself. Mr. Remnick has this to say in his foreword:

A caution to the reader: The usual way to come across New Yorker cartoons is in the magazine or, more recently, on newyorker.com and on social media. There’s something distinctive, maybe even perverse, about the experience of glancing away from a long piece about, say, a particularly dusty province in the Middle East to drink quietly from the oasis of a good cartoon. 

 Leafing through an issue of The New Yorker affords the reader the joy of complete surprise when coming upon a new cartoon. The reader has, at first glance,  no clue as to what the drawing will deliver.  I often mention Peter Arno’s definition of a good cartoon — that is, one that delivers a one-two punch.  The reader looks at the drawing and then, the second punch: reading the caption. If the drawing is successful, the second punch really delivers. In themed anthologies the reader is already  somewhat informed. For instance, in the New Yorker Book of Dogs, you already know that the next cartoon, and the next, and the next, and so on, will concern dogs. The element of complete surprise is gone. But of course, if you are looking through the New Yorker Book Of Dogs, that’s what you want: cartoons about dogs. In the classic anthologies the reader is still afforded complete surprise: you have zero idea what the next page will bring. You may, of course, immediately recognize a favorite drawing first published in an issue of the magazine, but that’s akin to rounding a corner and running into an old friend. What I’m getting at here is that if you’re a person who enjoys some advance notice of what you’re in for, then this encyclopedia, with some 3000 categorized cartoons (in 300 categories) spread out over two volumes, is for you. 

 The contributing cartoonists are listed on Indexes found in each volume. Jack Ziegler’s work is most represented (103 drawings), followed by the encyclopedia’s editor (88).  Some of the cartoon gods of the magazine’s golden age are well represented (James Stevenson, for example, with 55 cartoons), while others less so (Mary Petty is represented by one cartoon, Helen Hokinson, the magazine’s marquee cartoonist, along with Peter Arno, for nearly forty years, is represented by five). To be clear, this encyclopedia is not advertised as some sort of all-encompassing anthology celebrating the magazine’s 93 year history.  Let’s hope the New Yorker has just that kind of collection in mind for its 100th anniversary in 2025.

The cartoons in this heavyweight encyclopedia, some gold, some silver, speak for themselves.