The Wednesday Watch: Meet The Artist (1943): Rea Irvin; Event Of Interest: Jeremy Nguyen; A Case For Pencils Spotlights Robert Leighton’s Tools Of The Trade; Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon

Meet The Artist (1943): Rea Irvin

The last 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.

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

Rea Irvin  *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.

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Event Of Interest: Jeremy Nguyen

From Meetup.com, “Jeremy Nguyen: The Cartoon Life” –presented by The Comic Arts Workshop.

Mr. Nguyen began contributing to The New Yorker in 2017. Visit his website here.

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A Case For Pencils Spotlights Robert Leighton’s Tools Of The Trade

From A Case For Pencils, December 3, 2019, “Robert Leighton” — another entry in Jane Mattimoe’s wonderful series of posts looking at the tools of the trade used by various New Yorker artists.

Robert Leighton began contributing to The New Yorker in 2002. Visit his website here.

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Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon

Raking & shoveling by Paul Karasik, who has been contributing to The New Yorker since 1999.

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.

New Yorker Cartoonists Remember Gahan Wilson; The Monday Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue Of December 2, 2019; Library Of Congress Interview With Thurber Expert, Michael Rosen; Meet The Artist (1943): William Gropper; The Tilley Watch Online, November 18-22, 2019

New Yorker Cartoonists Remember Gahan Wilson

The  New Yorker cartoonist community is quite small. Our numbers are great enough to field a softball team, but not enough to fill your average sized auditorium.  Whether we knew Gahan well, or very little, or not at all, we know his work, and feel the loss of one of our family.

What follows are a number of Gahan’s colleagues sharing their thoughts on the man and his work.

Edward Koren: Whenever a unique visionary and talented  and irreplaceable artist like Gahan leaves us, we are further diminished in assessing our own lives through his eyes and ears. He was one of the masters of our curious art form, and we all learned from him, as a benchmark of imagination, to follow the example of his path when we showed up at our own work each day .

Christopher Weyant: For my generation of cartoonists, Gahan was our Charles Addams. His dark, macabre, parallel universe seemed much more interesting than the one I occupied growing up in New Jersey. His artistic talent was breathtaking. As a kid, I first discovered Gahan’s cartoons in National Lampoon, and later, Playboy and the New Yorker. Although Gahan is known for his one-panel gags, I was a huge fan of his cartoon strip, “Nuts” that ran in the Lampoon. Growing up, my family moved often. Through all of the moves, one of the few things I held onto was a notebook in which I had pasted all of my favorite cartoons – “Nuts” being my favorite. In that strip, Gahan had somehow captured what it felt like to see the world through a kid’s eyes, or at least, how it looked to me. It had an irreverence and honesty that made me want to be a cartoonist. Years later, getting to know him was a true thrill and we talked about those strips and how much they meant to me. Gahan said that he was that boy in the strip, and joked, “but aren’t we all?” He’ll be missed.

Ellis Rosen: I never met him but I loved his work so much. In 2015 when I decided to draw cartoons I went through all the NYer cartoonists I could find and studied them.  Wilson was the first one I got hooked on. I even foolishly tried to draw like him before quickly realizing that was impossible. I have tons of drawings attempting (and failing) to be as wonderfully textured, studied, playful, and as devious as his were.  In a field full of distinctive voices his must be the most unique.

Robert Leighton: Long before I knew of Gahan’s single-panel work in The New Yorker, let alone Playboy, I loved his endlessly varied work in National Lampoon. In 1973 I encountered “Strange Beliefs of Children,” one of the many pieces he wrote and illustrated for that magazine. I can still remember (no, reverse that—I cannot forget) his illustration for the belief that “Swinging over the bar is to be avoided at all costs for it will turn the swinger inside out.” Think a pink mass of flesh, with ribs and eyeballs, still in the shape of a child, sitting on a playground swing and still clutching the chains with inside-out hands.

Gahan frequently, and masterfully, drew on his inner child. In my few conversations with him, I saw that he’d never lost a childlike awe of the world; even his macabre observations didn’t seem to come from the eyes of a jaded adult but rather reflected a kid’s shock that life is indeed nasty, brutish, and short.

For me, his masterpiece was the sustained comic strip for the Lampoon, “Nuts.” Gahan honestly depicted the way the world confounds and disappoints when you’re a powerless kid: seeing a 3-D movie that’s scarier than you anticipated, visiting a surgical supply store, getting the gift of a pet chameleon that’s dead in the morning. Just like its ostensible model, “Peanuts,” the adults were always off-screen; you never saw them (except their gnarled fingers and unless they were dead).

In 2003 Gahan spoke to Comic Book Artist magazine about how he mined his own life experiences to write Nuts. “The Great Joke in life,” he said, “is that there are no secrets; we all share a common experience.”

He was one of my very favorites. So long, Gahan Wilson.

Joe Dator: The impossibly great cartoonist Gahan Wilson left us last week. Long before I ever ventured into the New Yorker, I grew up reading his cartoons in Playboy and the National Lampoon. I met Gahan many times at the New Yorker’s old Times Square office, and he was always very kind to me, regarding me as a peer, though he was a towering giant. One time I was coming out of the cartoon editor’s office after a particularly good meeting, and, seeing Gahan was waiting to go after me, I said “Good luck.” As if he needed any of that from me!

Peter Kuper: I can’t begin to express the impact Gahan’s work had on me. My mind exploded the first time I saw his art in a collection from Playboy — long before I was legally allowed to get the magazine. Playboy published it, but the cover image was the opposite of sexy (and the woman at the drugstore counter allowed me to buy it without embarrassment). It was a soldier standing in the middle of an apocalyptic battlefield, with the caption, “I think I won!”

Images like this formed my idea of what a gag cartoon could be. Chas Addams on LSD! He brought a unique vision to everything he drew. His work got in my blood stream and changed my world view. I return to his books again and again to be reminded of the possibilities of this form: humor with a gut punch. Horror that brings peels of laughter.

I feel honored to have crossed paths with him and more honored that he acquiesced to write the introduction to my book Speechless back in 2000. He is a giant of cartooning and may his beanstalk ever grow in all of us.

 

Ken Krimstein: Before I moved back to the Chicago area from New York City, I used to run into Gahan in the waiting room at The New Yorker. When I told him I was moving to Evanston he would recount stories of his childhood there, and his days at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, seeing Basil Rathbone almost fly off the “L” train, and more. I reached out to Lisa Wainwright, then head of the School of Art Institute where I was teaching, and suggested they give Gahan an honorary degree. She was more than thrilled. When I asked Gahan if he’d be interested, he said, “I love honors,” or something like that. Anyhow, a few months later, there he was, on the stage at Millennium Park, dressed in full regalia — cap and gown —  as the President of the School, Walter Massey, placed a gigantic medallion around his neck and shook his hand. Gahan then turned to the audience, grabbed one end of the silk ribbon holding the medallion and hoisted it over his right shoulder, canting his head to the left, lolling out his tongue, bulging his eyes, and transforming a solemn moment into a priceless Gahan gag. The crowd loved it. 

Liza Donnelly: Gahan and I would run into each other from time to time in the offices of The New Yorker. He was a sweet gentleman — our interactions were lovely; I always enjoyed talking to him. Gahan did not seem totally at ease with chit-chat, but he was good at it, peppering what he said with humorous anecdotes and oddities. We would laugh at the absurdity of it all. Once for a public event, I was tasked with putting together and moderating a panel of cartoonists, and I invited Gahan to be on the panel. He clearly loved cartooning, as witnessed by the stories he told.  While in one sense it’s clear that Gahan’s work is uniquely Gahan, I never ever saw in him any of the macabre one often sees in his cartoons. In the actual person that I knew I only experienced kindness.

Mick Stevens: I only met the man once or twice, but I’ve been seeing his work since I was a baby cartoonist. He and his work were very lovable and inspiring.

Felipe Galindo: I first saw Gahan’s cartoons in my native Mexico, when I was a teenager. I found a book of his cartoons for Playboy and what struck me was that they were not about sex or women, but rather they featured ordinary characters whose lives had taken a surreal or ghoulish turn.
After I moved to New York, I met Gahan at The New Yorker cartoonists lounge while we waited to show our cartoons to the editor. He was gentle, smart and kind, always with a smile on his face.
We developed a “weekly” friendship and shared stories at our cartoonist lunch at Pergola’s.
Once, he invited me to an exhibit of German art from the Weimar era at the Metropolitan Museum; we both loved art and had a great conversation while contemplating the paintings.
Years later, he kindly wrote a quote to be published in my cartoon book, I will always treasure his generosity.
His work was sweet and grim, his cartoons and illustrations were always fun and fresh, and his captions were almost poetic. His National Lampoon’s Nuts strip was a gem.
A priceless piece of advice he gave me (and I guess many others) was to be patient. Cartooning is like fishing he said, let small ideas go, and focus on catching the big ones.
Gracias y adiós, amigo Gahan!

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The Cover: An arty cover.  Here’s a Q&A with Kadir Nelson, the artist.

The Cartoonists:

The Cartoons: you can see a slideshow of the latest cartoons here (scroll down a bit).

Noted: the lead cartoon is by Gahan Wilson, his passing mentioned on the Contributors page.

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The Tis A Pity Department:

The above classic design by Rea Irvin disappeared in the Spring of 2017, replaced by…gasp!… a redraw.  Read about it here

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Library Of Congress Interview Of Interest: Thurber Expert, Michael Rosen

From The Library of Congress, November 22, 2019,  “‘Humor At First Sight’ as James Thurber’s Art is celebrated for his 125th birthday”

— this interview with Michael Rosen, who has edited a number of Thurber-centric books including the latest, A Mile and A Half of Lines: The Art Of James Thurber Thurber *

*full disclosure: both my wife, Liza Donnelly, and I contributed to the book.

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Meet The Artist (1943): William Gropper

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.

Mr. Gropper’s entry on the Spill‘s A-Z. The small red top-hatted icon beside his bolded name indicates that  Mr. Gropper is a member of the Spill‘s One Club, meaning he had but one cartoon published in The New Yorker during his lifetime:

William Gropper (Self portrait from The Business of Cartooning, 1939) Born, December 3, 1897, NYC. Died, January 6, 1977, Manhasset, NY. 1 drawing, April 11, 1942. Quote:”I owe a great deal to the east side of New York. I was hit on the head with a rock in a gangfight…that’s how I became an artist.” [Quote from catalogue, Meet the Artist, 1943]. For a brief bio of Gropper “the workingman’s protector” visit: http://specialcollections.wichita.edu/

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The Tilley Watch Online, November 18-22, 2019

A delayed end of week listing of New Yorker artists who contributed to newyorker.com, including The Daily Cartoon and/or Daily Shouts

The Daily Cartoon: J.A.K., Brendan Loper, Lila Ash, Sara Lautman, and Robert Leighton.

Daily Shouts: Julia Wertz, Jeremy Nguyen, Emily Flake (with Marissa Maciel), and Olivia de Recat (with Julia Edelman).

All of the above, and more, can be found here.

Barry Blitt’s Kvetchbook.

and a Postscript: The Beautifully Macabre Cartoons Of Gahan Wilson.

 

Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon; Today’s Daily Shouts Cartoonist; Meet The Artist (1943): Reginald Marsh

Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon

Sara Lautman’s Boomer. Ms. Lautman has been contributing to The New Yorker since 2016.  Visit her website here.

 

 

 

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Today’s Daily Shouts

“Small Wins At The Grocery Store” by Jeremy Nguyen.  Mr. Nguyen has been contributing to The New Yorker since 2017. Visit his website here.

 

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Meet The Artist (1943): Reginald Marsh

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.

Mr. Marsh’s entry on the Spill‘s A-Z:

Reginald Marsh  Born in Paris, March 14, 1898, died in 1954: New Yorker work: 1925 -1944. More information: http://www.dcmooregallery.com/artists/reginald-marsh

Amy Hwang On “Asian Babies: Work From Asian New Yorker Cartoonists”

Here’s The New Yorker cartoonist Amy Hwang writing about the current Pearl River Mart Gallery exhibit: “Asian Babies: Work From Asian New Yorker Cartoonists”

When I started drawing cartoons for The New Yorker in 2010, I did not think much of the fact that I was possibly the only cartoonist of Asian* descent contributing at the time. It was hard enough to get into the magazine, so I was mainly focused on staying in it by consistently sending in cartoon batches hoping that more would sell. Eventually, I realized I was an anomaly. Being the only Asian New Yorker cartoonist contributing at that time, I felt pressure to keep producing cartoons as if I was an endangered species.

My cartoons are not explicitly “Asian” in topic or style, and without seeing my surname at the bottom corner of my drawings, most people probably wouldn’t think that I am Asian-American at all. I decided from the beginning to sign my cartoons legibly with my full name so that anyone seeing them would surmise that I was both female and Asian, both of which are underrepresented groups among cartoonists. I did this in hopes that there might be some recognition of that fact even if it was subconscious. I also did this so my friends wouldn’t ask me which cartoons were mine. But they still did.

Asian Babies
Jeremy Nguyen, Christine Mi, Amy Hwang, Suerynn Lee, and Joanne Kwong (President of Pearl River Mart) are shown L to R.

Nearly ten years later, there are now several New Yorker cartoonists of Asian descent currently contributing to the magazine. Many, like myself, are based in the United States: Colin Tom, Jeremy Nguyen, Christine Mi, Suerynn Lee, and Evan Lian. Alice Cheng and Hartley Lin are in Canada, and Maddie Dai is a Kiwi living in England. All of them seem young to me. Or rather, I feel old next to them. But I am still caught off guard when any of them will mention my work as if it has been around forever. The passage of time is funny that way. I was well into adulthood when my first cartoon was printed in the magazine, but many of them were practically kids.

Jeremy Nguyen approached me a little over a year ago to curate Asian Babies with him. He had the idea to have a group show featuring New Yorker cartoonists of Asian descent, and the Pearl River Mart Gallery was the perfect venue for our small group. The exhibition developed organically. When we started planning, we had about five cartoonists. In late 2018 and into 2019, four more had their first cartoons printed in The New Yorker, so we added them. There is no way of knowing if we included every cartoonist of Asian descent in the show, but we tried our best by looking at everyone’s surnames which certainly isn’t 100 percent foolproof.

Jeremy Nguyen, Nicolette Leung Renz (granddaughter of Monroe Leung – with her baby), Amy Hwang are shown L to R.

One month before the show was slated to open, Jeremy came across the name Monroe Leung. He was listed with other cartoonists who had had only one cartoon published in The New Yorker. His cartoon was published in 1949. Jeremy was able to contact Monroe’s daughter Corinne Leung Katow with the help of cartoonist Michael Maslin, and we secured permission to include Monroe’s New Yorker cartoon and other works of his in our show. I think people will be as surprised as we were when they discover his works among the others. In my view, he was years ahead of his time.

©Monroe Leung, The Sun

Monroe passed away in 2004, several years before my first cartoon was printed in The New Yorker. And while he may have been the only New Yorker cartoonist of Asian descent in his lifetime, I take comfort in knowing he is no longer alone today.

*Asian in this article refers to East Asian and Southeast Asian

— By Amy Hwang

Asian Babies: Works from Asian New Yorker Artists
Pearl River Mart Gallery
395 Broadway, NYC
Open every day, 10 a.m. to 7:20 p.m. Free and open to the public.

Note: this piece originally appeared on a commercial site. It appears here through the kind permission of Ms. Hwang.