Thurber Thursday: The Thurber Carnival Original Broadway Cast Soundtrack; Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon

When I first began collecting just about anything with Thurber’s name and/or drawings, coming across the above vinyl album was a big big deal. Not just because it’s a very fun “objet d’Thurber,” but the design delivers more than your typical soundtrack album: when you open the gatefold sleeve you find Thurber’s The Last Flower in its entirety.

The inner front and inner back covers are also well-designed.  If you’re a Thurber fan, you get your money’s worth.

The soundtrack, released in 1960, came out of the successful Broadway review, which came out of Thurber’s successful book, originally published in 1945.

The Last Flower  was published in 1939. According to Thurber’s second wife, Helen, it was her husband’s favorite of his own books (and E.B. White’s favorite Thurber book). Thurber famously claimed to have “finished” The Last Flower in an hour, following dinner at The Algonquin, adding “it took some three hours of course, to ink these drawings in.”*

 

Around here, in Spill headquarters, The Thurber Carnival (book) is referred to as “The Bible.” If I had to be marooned on a desert island, this is the book I’d want with me.

Here’s James 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/

*According to Thurber’s second wife….and “It took some three hours…” From Harrison Kinney’s James Thurber: His Life And Times, p. 737.

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David Sipress on what one royal likes.

Mr. Sipress has been contributing to The New Yorker since 1998.

 

 

 

Thurber Thursday: Of Thurber & Columbustown, And Thurber’s “Passport” To A Speakeasy; Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon…And Today’s Daily Shouts Cartoonist

Here’s a favorite Thurber booklet, Of Thurber & Columbustown, described within as  “recollections of Columbus people who had known Thurber.” I purchased it at The Thurber House in Columbus in February of 1987 (on my first of two visits there). According to the Colophon, it was published in the summer of 1984 in an edition of 600. Rosemary O. Joyce, an oral historian, curated and wrote the material, and conducted the interviews. The fab Michael Rosen (who recently produced and edited A Mile And A Half Of Lines: The Art Of James Thurber) designed and produced it. The Foreword is by Thurber’s daughter, Rosemary Thurber.

The booklet’s 36 pages contain photos, a Thurber drawing or two, and, of course those “recollections.” One of my favorite pieces is this 1933 Thurber speakeasy “passport” handed to a fellow named Whit Dillon, who was one of Thurber’s Ohio State University fraternity brothers. Mr. Dillon talks about acquiring the passport:

“And those were the days of Prohibition. In the evenings, the four of us, and occasionally Jim, would go to dinner at the Algonquin and then to one of the speakeasies. In fact, one of the things I remember most about Jim, was that he knew every speakeasy in New York…one night he couldn’t go with us, so he left me this note — his autograph, the dog — to take to a speakeasy he’d told us about, whose name was apparently Tony.” 

Tony, was most likely Tony Soma, proprietor of Tony’s.

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Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon

From Tom Toro: it’s sort of a beautiful day.

Mr. Toro began contributing to The New Yorker in 2010. Visit his website here

 

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Today’s Daily Shouts Cartoonist

From Gabrielle Bell: “I Got A Cat”

Visit her website here.

 

 

 

Thurber Thursday: When Thurber’s Dr. Millmoss Returned To The New Yorker Via Danny Shanahan

I’m on record as believing Thurber’s “What have you done with Dr. Millmoss?” is a perfect drawing.  It appeared in The New Yorker,  July 14, 1934, but we didn’t get any kind of closure on Millmoss until February of 1991 when he turned up at a Returns counter in a Danny Shanahan cartoon. Two more Shanahan Thurberesque drawings over the next two years provided further glimpses of Millmoss’s world.

The Spill recently asked Mr. Shanahan about to talk about his Thurber Millmoss trio, and if the originals were, as I remembered, out in Columbus.

“I always loved the Thurber Millmoss cartoon, one of my all-time favorites. It was approaching the Christmas holiday, and gift cartoons were in my head (as were “return” cartoons). I came up with the Thurber tribute, the “return” of Millmoss, but didn’t know if it would fly with Lee [The New Yorker’s art editor, Lee Lorenz]. He loved it, The New Yorker ran it, so not long after I decided to keep it going. I came up with the second idea; once again, Lee loved it but thought it was too soon, and that maybe it would work better in The New Yorker’s anniversary issue. That’s where it ran, and the following year, as the next anniversary issue approached, I thought I should take a stab at wrapping up the whole saga. It worked out well, except for a handful of readers who thought I was trying to steal Thurber’s characters. The magazine got a few angry letters. And, yes, the originals were donated to The Thurber House, where they are on permanent display.”

Danny Shanahan began contributing to The New Yorker in 1988. His Thurber trio appeared in the following issues of the magazine:

“Dr. Millmoss!” February 25, 1991

“Do you have an appointment?”  February 24, 1992

“Good show, Mitty!” April 12, 1993

 

 

Thurber Thursday: Personal History — The Thurber Article That Caused Me To Fly

Thurber Thursday: Personal History — The Thurber Article That Caused Me To Fly

When I ran across the above small article in early 1987, I was in my mid 30s, and had yet to step foot in an airplane. I drove anywhere I needed to go outside of the New York/Metropolitan area.  At the time the furthest south I’d traveled was Washington, D.C., the furthest north, Montreal; the furthest east: Eastport, Maine; the furthest west, Altoona, Pennsylvania (and that was by accident — I got lost taking a friend to State College, Pa).

But the idea of traveling to Ohio by car seemed, well, exhausting, so I agreed to fly to Columbus with fellow New Yorker cartoonist & Thurber fanatic (and soon to be wife), Liza Donnelly.  We booked a room at the Great Southern Hotel, where Thurber’s 92 celebratory drawings were hung, and flew out to Columbus in late February. Did I enjoy the flight? No. I can’t even go on a see-saw without experiencing “issues,” so being in a plane wasn’t fun. But what we found in Columbus was worth the anxiety of being up in the air.

The morning we arrived in Columbus we immediately headed over to The Thurber House. It wasn’t open yet, so Liza and I took pictures of each other on the front steps. We were standing on the porch of the house where the bed fell and the ghost got in… unbelievable.

We later toured the house, using this swell guide:

What can I say?  Being in the house was, for Thurber obsessives, probably comparable (if, say, you’re a Beatlemaniac) to traveling to Abbey Road and walking on the famous crosswalk.

Of our short stay at the Great Southern Hotel (shown left), I don’t remember our room, or even the hotel itself (other than it was enormous).

What I do remember was walking the hallways lined with original Thurber drawings. I can’t remember focusing on any one drawing while there  — the submersion was overwhelming. Luckily, the organizers provided a catalog of all the work shown.

So, yes, the flight was worth it (I would’ve preferred driving back home though). Other than flying home to New York from Columbus, the next time I flew was five years later… back to Columbus for this event at the Thurber House:

 

 

 

 

Thurber Thursday: Personal History… “To Catch A Book”

Back in late 2014, the cartoonist Mike Lynch kindly asked me if I’d like to contribute something to his publication, Raconteur, “a collection of true stories written and illustrated by cartoonists who usually specialize in other formats.”

My first (and only) thought was to put down on paper a graphic report of a nutty Thurber-centric non-event in my college life. The four page ( 100% guaranteed factual) piece ran in the Spring 2015 Ranconteur.  Seems like now’s a good time and place to let “To Catch A Book” surface again.