The Forever Fun Work By Nurit Karlin, Dana Fradon, and Gahan Wilson

2019 was an unusually rough year in the loss column for New Yorker cartoonists. We lost Nurit Karlin in April, Dana Fradon in October, and then Gahan Wilson in November.  Although we miss them, and mourn them, we have thousands of their cartoons at hand in anthologies, collections, and online.  A wonderful thing happened this morning when I began looking once again at Nurit’s, Dana’s and Gahan’s drawings in New Yorker anthologies: their work gave me a cartoonist jump-start into the new year — a fun boost as 2020 begins.

Ms. Karlin, the lone female cartoonist at the magazine during her first four years at the magazine, reinvigorated the school of Thurber:  simple clean lines delighting as much as a Reginald Marsh double-page extravaganza. Ms. Karlin found humor without captions — in my book a most difficult way to define one’s cartoon world.  She moved the captionless tradition into modern times; a  corner of the cartoonist’s universe notably practiced  by Sam Cobean and Otto Soglow in the magazine’s earlier years.

Dana Fradon, 97 at the time of his passing, was our last cartoonist link to the Harold Ross era. Mr. Fradon had excellent recall of the generations of New Yorker contributors he encountered during his more than half a century contributing his organically funny drawings. Good humor and high-bar artistry stayed with him throughout. Mr. Fradon, along with a number of his contemporaries, excelled at inverted tip-of-the-iceberg drawings: the point he wanted to make was just below the surface.

Gahan Wilson, affectionately and accurately dubbed the Wizard Of Weird, was the child who loved to draw monsters who grew up to be the adult who drew monsters. It was Mr. Wilson’s genuine love of that frightening world, and his gifted exploration of it throughout his life that caused us to cherish him and his work.

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch, The New Yorker “Cartoon Takeover” Issue Of December 30, 2019

The Cover: The “Cartoon Takeover” theme begins on Robert Sikoryak’s cover as cartoon characters whitewash text. Read a Q&A with the cover artist here.

The Cartoonists:

The Cartoons:

Right off the bat, it should be noted that this issue is unlike the “Cartoon Issue” once produced this time of the year beginning in 1997; that series ended after a fifteen year run. It is also unlike the “Best Cartoons Of The Year” series begun in 2011, and ended five years later. This Cartoon Takeover is unlike those in that it contains a ton of archival material (the issue carries the descriptive “A Semi-Archival Issue” on the Table of Contents). While elements from the Cartoon Issues, and Best Of series are here: the graphic spreads for instance, and a profile of a cartoonist — the old tropes features thankfully haven’t resurfaced. This Takeover is a new and welcome creature, with a pulse I associate with the very oldest issues of The New Yorker.  As befits the issue’s theme, The New Yorker‘s cartoon editor, Emma Allen, has taken over Talk’s “Comments” section, leading us into the action.

As you see from the number of cartoonists listed above, this new issue is packed with cartoons from a wide swath of the New Yorker‘s history, with work by such luminaries as Helen Hokinson, Barbara Shermund, James Thurber, William Steig, Gahan Wilson, and Steinberg represented. Nice to see Peter Arno’s ultra-famous, “Well, back to the old drawing board” included! Many cartoons from the archives are here as “favorites” selected by cartoonists and non-cartoonists. Free standing cartoons — what you normally see in every issue of The New Yorker — are also from the archives. I was very happy to see one of my favorite semi-modern cartoons included: Joe Duffy’s meta Care to join me in panel #3? (originally published, October 31, 2011).

Not whitewashed over by cartoon characters is a personal favorite John Updike piece (originally published in 1997) on his cartoonist roots, and terrif archival pieces, including two by two late-greats, Veronica Geng and Dorothy Parker. It’s an issue of a little something, and often a lot of something, for just about everyone who loves New Yorker cartoons.

The Rea Irvin Masthead Watch: Normally on the Monday Tilley Watch I woefully acknowledge another issue gone by without the return of Rea Irvin’s iconic masthead.  Since the Spring of 2017, a redrawn version has stood awkwardly in its place. This special Cartoon Takeover issue thankfully replaces the redraw with an Ed Steed take on the Irvin masthead. Mr. Steed’s playfulness is a refreshing delight, incorporating, to my eye, some Steigian/Steinberg elements.

With next week’s issue of The New Yorker the first of 2020, this would be the perfect opportunity to use Mr.Steed’s comic break as the moment to bring back Mr. Irvin’s classic masthead — and really now, why not bring it back?

Below, Mr. Irvin’s beautiful, now moth-balled masthead, and Mr. Steed’s fun take below it.

NewYorker.com Upgrades Its Digital Magazine

Newyorker.com Upgrades Its Digital Magazine

Not too many days ago — a week? two weeks? — I opened up The New Yorker‘s digital edition to find a number of things (features) had changed. The initial page has new icon features (if that’s what they’re called) on the upper right. By clicking on the three horizontal bars to the far right you’ll see the page shown immediately below show up. It allows you to look at thumbnail scans of the pages of the magazine, like so:

This is a big improvement over the previous thumbnails — they were too small (on my laptop anyway). Now you can clearly see the text and the graphics.

If you click on the magnifying glass on the tool bar you’ll go the archive search page shown below (you can search either the magazine’s entire archive, or just the selected issue — your call). That’s no different than the earlier design. The new archive search page looks different than the previous archive search page — you’re shown the matching results — but it acts nearly the same as the old one.

Here’s where I’m hoping they go another step further the next time there’s an upgrade. If I type in (as I’ve done) “Thurber” in the search box, a seemingly random list of Thurber’s appearances in the magazine’s entire history shows up. You see above the first two results: the first is from Dec. 07, 1957, and the second is from Oct. 29, 1979. What’s frustrating — and what was frustrating in the earlier incarnation of the search feature — is that there is no way to choose to view results in absolute chronological order. You can click on the year by year offerings (under the “Filters” option shown in the screen grab directly above), but even within those results, what comes up is not chronological. You are still left to sift through the results, ignoring the more contemporary results included.  An absolute chronological feature that would show each contributor’s appearances in the order they were published would be a most helpful feature to add to the site. Not being a technical person, I’m not sure the technology is there for that kind of precision result, but as The Beach Boys once sang, “Wouldn’t it be nice?”

 

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.

 

 

James Stevenson Documentary Film “Lost And Found” Draws New Yorker Cartoonists; The Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon (Yesterday’s &Today’s); Meet The Artist (1943): James Thurber; New Yorker Cartoons In Augmented Reality

James Stevenson Documentary Film,”Lost And Found” Draws New Yorker Cartoonists

A special screening of “Stevenson Lost And Found,” a wonderful documentary film about the late great New Yorker artist and writer, attracted  a number of cartoonists last week to the Made In New York Media Center.

Here’s the crowd, post-screening, along with the late Mr. Stevenson’s wife, Josie Merck, (who is also one of the film’s executive producers), along with the film’s director and producer, Sally Williams.

Front row, left to right: Mort Gerberg, Sofia Warren, Jason Adam Katzenstein, Jeremy Nguyen, Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell, Sam Gross, Cerise Zelenetz, unidentified, Josie Merck, Sally Williams, Liza Donnelly.

Back row, left to right:  Jason Chatfield, Heather Loase, Ellis Rosen, Johnny DiNapoli, Kendra Allenby, Bishakh Som, Tim Hamilton, Nick Downes, Andy Dubbin, Robert Leighton, Michael Maslin

And here’s James Stevenson’e 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 New Yorker artists. Nine years later he was hired a full-time idea man, 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.

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The Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon (Yesterday’s & Today’s)

To bag or not to bag, by Lila Ash. Ms. Ash began contributing to The New Yorker in 2018.

Teresa Burns Parkhurst on the work days before Thanksgiving. Ms. Parkhurst began contributing to The New Yorker in 2017.

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Meet The Cartoonist (1943): James Thurber

Another in a series of self portraits of New Yorker artists included in the Meet The Artist catalog published by the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in 1943

Thurber’s entry on the Spill‘s A-Z:

James Thurber  Born, Columbus, Ohio, December 8, 1894. Died 1961, New York City. New Yorker work: 1927 -1961, with several pieces run posthumously.  According to the New Yorker’s legendary editor, William Shawn, “In the early days, a small company of writers, artists, and editors — E.B. White, James Thurber, Peter Arno, and Katharine White among them — did more to make the magazine what it is than can be measured.”  

Key cartoon collection: The Seal in the Bedroom and Other Predicaments (Harper & Bros., 1932). Key anthology (writings & drawings): The Thurber Carnival (Harper & Row, 1945). There have been a number of Thurber biographies. Burton Bernstein’s Thurber (Dodd, Mead, 1975) and Harrison Kinney’s James Thurber: His Life and Times (Henry Holt & Co., 1995)  are essential. A short bio appears on the Thurber House website: http://www.thurberhouse.org/about-james-thurber/

And for a lot more Thurber, go here.

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New Yorker Cartoons In Augmented Reality

Read all about it here, and see the video! (that’s The New Yorker‘s assistant cartoon editor, Colin Stokes — who wrote the script for the video — being Heimliched in the background by actress, Madeline Wise.