While browsing New Yorker cartoonist/cartoon info online yesterday I came across this enticing entry:
“Ink Slingers,” an exhibition of cartoon drawings from the collection of New Yorker cartoonist, and Cornish resident, Harry Bliss, is on view at Philip Read Memorial Library in Plainfield. The show, which includes original drawings by cartoonists and illustrators, is on view through June.
I contacted Mr. Bliss
for more information on the exhibit and was delighted and grateful that he agreed to send, via photographs and text, the entire exhibit to the Spill.
Below are Mr. Bliss’s photos of the pieces as they are hung (it’s a wonderful extra touch that you can make out his image reflected in a few of the pieces) as well as his accompanying text for each piece. I’m showing the entire exhibit here, with New Yorker
cartoonists work first, and then work by George McManus (“Bringing Up Father”), Bill Peet, Milton Caniff, Russell Myers, and Walt Kelly.
This is a New Yorker cartoon by Charles Addams. Addams was a student at the University of Pennsylvania for a brief time, though my friend Ed Koren would argue this point (Ed Koren is wrong). Addams studied architecture at Penn and that’s why he was so good at delineating all of the details in the Addams family home. When I was a child growing up in upstate New York I would pour over Charles Addams cartoons and I especially loved all those details – so lush and the drawing was skillful and had such personality. This particular cartoon is an early Addams, probably 1937 or earlier and he hadn’t invented his Addams family characters yet, but the attention to detail is still there. The caption is: “I think we need to make a few changes at the training table.” Addams didn’t write most of his gags, he employed gag writers, very common back then. Charles Addams is the reason I began working for The New Yorker.
This is a color sketch for a proposed cover for The New Yorker by Garrett Price, a fantastic cover artist and cartoonist who did nearly 100 covers for The New Yorker over the years. Here we see people on a bus, probably tourists, looking out at the United Nations. In the far right corner you can see all the flags… Stylistically, this is uncharacteristic of Price’s work, but I love the unorthodox application of paint, Van Gogh-like swirls and all. This is a fine example of what we cover artists have to send in when we pitch covers for the New Yorker. Sometimes they’re not as finished as this, in a rush, black and white, but mostly they are finished like this, in full color so our non visual editors really get the idea.
I love this illustration. It’s by Robert Grossman. It’s all airbrush and it’s a portrait of Howard Hughes. Robert Grossman was one of the greatest cartoonist of the 20th century. He was a master of caricature and airbrush and his work spilled out onto the pages of Ramparts, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, and every other left-leaning magazine you can think of. He did album covers for The Grateful Dead, The Who and countless more…and of course, the movie poster for the hilarious film Airplane. Google him!
This is by my dear friend and Vermont cartoonists Ed Koren. Ed has been a cartoonist for The New Yorker magazine since the late 1960s and I am proud to call him my friend. I grew up enjoying his furry characters in the pages of The New Yorker magazine when they arrived at our home. A few years after we had met, in the early 2000’s, I was struggling a bit, finding it hard coming up with ideas. Ed gave me a wonderful piece of advice that I will never forget, He said ‘just draw’. Seems so simple, but it really works. The organic process of sitting down, putting pen to paper and watching the line move about on the surface will inevitably morph into something…and before you know it, your creativity is off and running!
This is an original by a wonderful New Yorker cartoonist who passed away a few years ago, Leo Cullum. Leo got his start at The New Yorker in the early 70s, I think. I have always loved the expression of deadpan on his characters. There is a sardonic visual mirth hidden in those eyes – typical of many of the 1980s New Yorker cartoons.
This is one of my cartoons that ran in The New Yorker a few years back. It’s done in black ink and graphite on acid free sketchbook paper. I have many therapy-based cartoons. Why? For so many reasons, too many to list here. If I were to list the reasons, you would feel like my therapist and then I would have to pay you.
This is the title page for a story that I did for my cover editor at The New Yorker, Francoise Mouly and her husband, the cartoonist, Art Spiegelman. They had published a series of oversized picture books entitled Little Lit: Comics for Kids, and asked me to contribute a story. All of the stories in the first volume are based on folktales and I chose ‘The Baker’s Daughter and Irish folk tale about a selfish girl who pays for her lack of empathy. The experience of working with Art Spiegelman was one I will never forget. I spent two days in his studio breaking down this story into panels and pages…Comics. Everything Art had communicated to me back then I still employ in the work I do today.
Bringing Up Father:
This strip is by George McManus and he is one of the greatest comic strip artists of the 20th century. I have three of his strips in my collection, one of them is a Sunday and is absolutely gorgeous. There’s no mistaking McManus‘s style, his use of texture and steady black line work along with perfectly placed blacks makes him unique amongst all cartoonists working at this time.
Bill Peet was a remarkable children’s book artist, writer and also a Disney animator who wrote 101 Dalmatians for the film. I had always loved Bill Pete’s books, marveled at his expressive/gestural drawings and his use of colored pencil, really a gifted colorist and a wonderful draftsperson. I had communicated with Bill In 1999 and we sent a few letters back-and-forth. Then, one day I opened my mail to find this wonderful little sketch that he gave to me. He tried to write a little note on it, but his wife let me know that he just didn’t have it in him to finish, he was very old and did not have a steady hand.
This comic strip is by the great Milton Caniff. It’s a Terry and the Pirates daily strip, done in black ink with a brush. This is typical of Caniff’s work throughout the run of this particular comic strip, which was immensely popular. Caniff, along with Will Eisner often employed cinematic techniques in their work, using different perspectives, POVs, and dramatic lighting to get a specific effect.
One of the nice things about being a syndicated cartoonist is that often times I get the opportunity to trade original art with another cartoonist I admire. In this case, I traded an original drawing of mine for this wonderful large panel of Broom Hilda by Russell Myers. I grew up loving Broom Hilda as a kid, all those terrific Sunday strips in the Comics section of The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle newspaper. I always knew I needed to have an original in my collection and Russell was kind enough to trade with me.
This is a graphite drawing done by my uncle Harry back in the 1970s. My uncle was a fantastic artist and quite successful in and around Rochester New York. He and my father and my other uncles (too many artists!) opened a graphic design studio in Rochester (Studio 5 Graphics) – working for Kodak, French‘s, Xerox and other businesses back in the day when ad agencies outsourced design work. As much as I loved my uncles work, I felt he was too heavily influenced by the work of one of his heroes, Andrew Wyeth. Once, on a book tour, I had the chance to meet Andrew and Betsy Wyeth in 2008, spent 2 1/2 hours at their home in Chadds Ford Pennsylvania in front of a massive stone fireplace, laughing and talking about art and life. Andy was genuinely charmed by the crude sincerity of some of my cartoon drawings…I’ll never forget this.
This gorgeous Sunday original Pogo page is by Walt Kelly, arguably one of the greatest cartoonists of all time. He’s a cartoonists cartoonist. I don’t know any cartoonist who doesn’t marvel at Kelly’s brush work. Even more remarkable is all of the hand-lettering, all done by Kelly. Who can forget Pogo’s great line spoken as he looks out at his polluted swamp, “I have met the enemy, and he is us.” Sobering words that still resonate.
For further information on the exhibit, visit the library website here.
Again, my thanks to Harry Bliss for allowing us to take the tour.