A New Yorker State Of Mind: James Thurber’s Art Debuts In The New Yorker; Two New Yorker Cartoonists Cover Cold Comfort Farm; Karl Stevens at The Gardner Museum; Today’s New Yorker Daily Cartoonist: Barry Blitt

The must-read blog, A New Yorker State of Mind on the debut of Thurber art in The New Yorker.  Read here.

… And as the subject is Thurber New Yorker firsts, here are others:

Thurber’s New Yorker debut, in the issue of February 26, 1927: two pieces of verse.  The first,  Villanelle Of Horatio Street, Manhattan (19 lines, signed James Grover Thurber); the second, Street Song (10 lines, signed J .G. T.)

Thurber’s first cartoon appeared  in the issue of January 3, 1931, “Take a good look at these fellows, Tony, so you’ll remember ’em next time.” 

Thurber’s first cover: February 29, 1936.

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Covering Cold Comfort Farm: Saxon & Chast

Two New Yorker cartoonists on the cover of the same title: how often does that happen? I’ve never seen it before (if anyone can come up with another duo please forward*).  In this case we see Charles Saxon’s art on the cover of Stella Gibbons Cold Comfort Farm, published in 1964, and on the right, Roz Chast’s cover art in 2006.

*Stephen Nadler of Attempted Bloggery has brought to my attention my own piece concerning three New Yorker artists (Addams, Steig, and Modell) covering Brendan Gill’s Here At The New Yorker.

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Karl Stevens At the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

From artnet.com, February 27, 2019, “Botticelli’s Beauties Meet Contemporary Cartoons at The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum — See Works From the Show Here” — this piece on newbie New Yorker cartoonist Karl Stevens’ work at the above mentioned museum. Mr. Stevens first New Yorker cartoon appeared in the issue of  January 21, 2019.  Link here for more of his work.

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Today’s Daily Cartoon

Today’s Daily cartoon, Trumpish, of course, is by Barry Blitt. Mr. Blitt began contributing to the New Yorker in 1994. Link here to his website.

Thurber’s My Life And Hard Times: The Chinese Edition; More Price On Attempted Bloggery; Looking Closely At The New Yorker Issue Of January 4, 1930 On A New Yorker State Of Mind

Guess I’ll add this to my wish list: the Chinese edition of Thurber’s My Life and Hard Times, originally published by Harper & Brothers in 1933. The Chinese edition, published in December of 2018, uses Thurber’s drawing of Bolenciecwcz, the main character from chapter eight’s University Days (the drawing as it appears within the book is full page and carries the caption, Bolenciecwcz was trying to think).  The Chinese edition cover drawing has been altered with the addition of what looks to be a red flower.

You see on the cover a mention of the 1960 Tony Awards. The play, A Thurber Carnival won a special award that year. Thurber himself accepted. See it on Youtube, beginning at the 22:36 mark as Eddie Albert brings on Thurber’s dear friend, Elliot Nugent, to introduce Thurber.

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More Price On Attempted Bloggery

Attempted Bloggery celebrates its 2800th post with a look at a George Price drawing auctioned for a song. See it here.

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Looking Closely At The New Yorker Issue Of January 4, 1930

Another go-to site, A New Yorker State of Mind digs deep into the issue of January 4, 1930. The spectacular cover by the spectacular Rea Irvin. Read it all here.



Still Buying Thurber

Yesterday was the 124th anniversary of the birth of humorist, cartoonist par excellence, James Thurber. Next year there’ll be at least two new books celebrating the 125th anniversary.  Can’t wait!

Prepping for next year, and perhaps celebrating this anniversary I recently bought a Thurber book that I already own, but with a different dust cover, and by a different publisher.  I’d never seen this edition until this week, and was immediately taken by it.  The Thurber man in white line on a blue field is strikingly beautiful. As you see above, the book (published in 1950) combines My Life and Hard Times with The Owl in the Attic.

I have each title as its own book, but also a 1930s Blue Ribbon version that duplicates the above two-fer. The Blue Ribbon edition has yet another cover:

The new addition to the Spill’s library brings the number of Hamish Hamilton Thurber titles here to four.  The other three: Thurber’s Dogs, A Thurber Garland, and The Years With Ross. I believe there’s now a Hamish Hamilton Thurber collection underway. Yippy!

If you’re interested in books about Thurber as well as by Thurber here’s “About Thurber” a Spill post from April of last year.

My my my, there certainly are a lot of books about my cartoonist hero,  James Thurber. I thought it would be fun to show the ones in the Spill‘s library, but ran into two more while checking online for any current titles I’d missed ( #11, listed below, is out just this month…are there even more? Let me know). Three of the books below have been indispensable to me: Burton Bernstein’s biography,  Bowden’s bibliography, and Harrison Kinney’s massive biography.  I bought Mr. Bernstein’s biography while in college along with Brendan Gill’s Here At the New Yorker.  Those two books (along with The Thurber Carnival) were my rocket fuel to Manhattan and to the pages of the New Yorker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(pictured at the top of the post: a Thurber eraser)

 

1. James Morsberger.  James Thurber. Twaynes United States Authors Series, 1964.

2. Edwin T. Bowden.  James Thurber: A Bibliography. Ohio State University Press,  1968.

3. Richard C. Tobias. The Art of James Thurber. Ohio University Press, 1969.

4. Charles S. Holmes.  The Clocks of Columbus. Athenium, 1972.

5. Burton Bernstein. Thurber.  Dodd, Mead, 1975.

6. Robert Emmet Long.  James Thurber.  Continuum, 1988.

7. Thomas Fensch (Ed.). Conversations With James Thurber. University Press of Mississippi, 1989.

8. Neil A. Grauer.  Remember Laughter: A Life of James Thurber. University of Nebraska Press, 1994.

9. Harrison Kinney.  James Thurber: His Life and Times. Henry Holt, 1995.

10. Alan Vanneman.  James Thurber: A Readers Guide. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015.

11. Bob Hunter.  Thurberville. Trillium, 2017.

Flying For Thurber: Personal History

For a couple of reasons — fear and economics — but mostly fear,  I made it into my early 30s without ever getting on an airplane, without ever traveling anywhere outside of the New York Metro area (with one exception: a car ride to Montreal: pretty much a straight shot up and back on the New York Thruway).  But in December of 1986, a small article (In Parade perhaps?) caused me to get on an airplane for the very first time: James Thurber’s hometown of Columbus, Ohio was throwing him a 92nd birthday bash.

After the reading the article (shown above) I remember stepping away from my work desk and reading the clipping to my fiancee (and fellow New Yorker cartoonist) Liza Donnelly, who was working at her desk about twenty feet away. Her immediate response to the piece: “Let’s go!”   Mention Thurber in our household and life’s placed on pause; Thurber’s our cartoon god.  We made our way to the New Yorker and we made our way to each other through his work (our first date was to see a Thurber original up for auction — the drawing of the moose with loose antlers that appeared in The Pet Department).

  This birthday bash in Columbus, with 92 original Thurber drawings on display, was simply too good to pass up. Not only would we be able to see all of those originals, we’d visit the Thurber House, where he lived during his college years. The home, on 77 Jefferson Avenue, inspired some of his most famous short stories, including “The Night the Bed Fell”  — one of my very favorites. Other than Cornwall, Connecticut, where Thurber lived out his life, and The New Yorker itself, the Thurber house is basically Thurber Central.

We booked a room in The Great Southern Hotel in downtown Columbus — where Thurber’s drawings were displayed.  Bonus: it was also where Thurber’s mother and brother lived for some time.  We overcame the crimps in our dream trip:  my “problem” with flying, and Liza’s recently fractured sesamoid bone. She’d be on crutches in Ohio.  I like to think Thurber would’ve liked that we had dual issues to contend with.

I made the flying issue simple, willing myself to believe that getting to Thurberville was more important than the perceived risk (i.e., death).  And so we flew out west (Liza had flown many many times, so no biggie for her).  The trip was uneventful as I suspect most flights are. I do remember feeling woozy once we deplaned, as if my legs couldn’t support me.  I suppose I couldn’t believe we made it.  My first impression of Columbus was that it had the widest Main Street I’d ever seen in my life. I spent perhaps too much time wondering why it was so wide (and to this day I still wonder). Liza being on crutches was unfortunate as everything seemed like a long walk away.  We taxied everywhere. 

For us, staying in The Great Southern Hotel was like kids locked in a candy store.  Thurber’s drawings  weren’t isolated in a gallery — amazingly, they lined the hallway walls. The only Thurber original we’d seen previously (the one being auctioned on our first date) was small –no bigger than a sheet of typing paper. Here in Columbus, many were that size as well, but some were  enormous (Hunter, Princess, and Swain, according to the brochure, measures 89.1″ x  114.5″). Thurbers greeted us whenever we left our room, and whenever we returned. 

We soon made our way via taxi to The Thurber House, arriving before it opened for the day.  That allowed us time to take photos of each other on the steps. 

It was a strange feeling touring the home (visitors are allowed to roam freely). I’m guessing that thousands of visitors have tested the keys of Thurber’s typewriter, which (back then anyway) sat on a mantel. It’s irresistible (despite, if my memory is correct, the little sign requesting not to touch the typewriter).

Finally being someplace you’ve heard of and read about (even a fictionalized account) can be disappointing. Not here. Perhaps the Thurberness of our adult lives had prepared us for this immersion.

The flight was worth it.

Postscript: It’s worth noting that the second trip I ever took that involved flying was back to Columbus, seven years later to be part of an exhibition of cartoons at the Thurber House. Good Show! included Liza, Danny Shanahan, Roz Chast and myself.  We were all assigned rooms in Thurber’s House.  Liza and I got the attic.

 

— The Monday Tilley Watch will return next week. The latest issue of The New Yorker is a double issue.  Its contents were covered in last week’s Monday Tilley Watch.