The Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue Of December 3, 2018; Peter Kuper & Ricky Jay

Confused by this week’s cover?  Feel like you saw it before? Well if you were reading The New Yorker in 1927, you did see it before. 

 Below: the cover as published this week, and how it originally appeared. The 2018 cover seems to have been ever-so-slightly cropped along the left and right edges, with the artist’s signature moved closer to the red tail lights (but hey, the magazine is not the same size as it was in 1927, so…).

If you have the Complete Book Of Covers From The New Yorker you’ll notice that the thumbnail cover shown has a blue sky, with a dark to light gradation as it nears the horizon. Without the original issue in hand, it’s difficult to know which 1927 version is truer (and even then, original print covers can differ in quality, cropping and coloring).

A small miracle: it looks as if the original type face from 1927 has been retained (but the 2018 date and price are in the modernized type-face).

This is an unusual issue of the New Yorker —  its very first “Archival Issue”…there have been nods to the past before, with cartoons and covers re-run inside the magazine, but never an issue dedicated to the past.  It is not, of course, the first time the magazine has reprinted a cover as a cover.  The cover of the very first New Yorker, featuring Rea Irvin’s Eustace Tilley, was brought back, uninterrupted, for 67 years and then made some curtain calls (you can read more about that here).

The cartoons

Here are the cartoonists appearing in this special issue (A Roz Chast full page appears where the caption contest usually appears):

From the Department of Does Size Matter, I’m showing a few of the cartoons in this issue, and how they originally appeared in the magazine. Regular Spill readers may have picked up on how much importance I place on the size of the magazine’s cartoons and how they sit on the page.  Looking through this new special issue it was immediately apparent that some of the archival drawings were being run much smaller than they originally appeared. This is an excellent opportunity to compare/contrast. It’s not always the case that a cartoon run bigger is better.  Sometimes a cartoon that’s been run big really amplifies its graphic issues. But that’s not the case for any of these fabulous drawings shown below.

The first cartoon in the magazine is by Mary Petty.  On the left is the cartoon as run in this 2018 issue. On the right is how it appeared in the issue of March 12, 1932.

 

Next up, a Charles Addams classic, with the 2018 appearance on the left and on the right, its original appearance in the issue of October 29, 1960.

Below, a beauty from James Stevenson.  The 2018 appearance on the left, and the original appearance in the issue of August 16, 1976.

Below: a beautiful Nancy Fay drawing. On the left as seen in this new issue.  On the right its original appearance in the issue of October 20, 1928.

Finally, a drawing by the master, Peter Arno. The odds favor any Arno drawing run as a full page in the New Yorker, and so it was with this classic (caption by the late great idea man, Herb Valen).

The 2018 appearance on the left and the original appearance in the issue of May 10, 1947 (the 2018 credit line mistakenly attributes the drawing to the June 10, 1947 issue).

Bookkeeping: Inaccurate New Yorkery-factoids pop-up like turkey timers when I see them. This following passage in the new issue’s Comment, “The City Of Dreams” popped-up:

: ”

The trouble is that James Thurber did not make his debut (with a short piece, “Villanelle Of Horatio Street”) until the issue of February 26, 1927.  His drawings didn’t begin appearing until January of 1931 (January 31, 1931. The caption: “Take a good look at these fellows, Tony, so you’ll remember ’em next time.”)

I admit that when I heard there was to be an archival issue of the magazine I first thought of Rea Irvin’s Talk masthead.  If ever there was a moment to return it to its natural habitat, this would be it.  But, alas, it’s still a-missin’. Here’s what it looks like (and here’s where you can read more about it):

 

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Peter Kuper & Ricky Jay

From PBS, January 21, 2015, “Comic: Waiting For Ricky Jay, by Peter Kuper”

From The New York Times, Nov. 25, 2018,  “Ricky Jay , Gifted Magician, Actor and Author, is Dead at 70”

First Look: The New Yorker Encyclopedia Of Cartoons

A review copy of the slip-cased two volume New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons has landed here at the Spill. After sitting with it a day I’ve some initial thoughts:

The very first impression, before the shrink wrap was removed, was how heavy the set is ( 14.9 pounds).  An earlier tome, 2004’s Complete New Yorker Cartoons of The New Yorker  weighed in at 7 pounds. Of course, there are two volumes, so we’re back to about 7 pounds per volume. I found the books themselves attractive: the design, the binding, the paper quality, typography.  Once a volume is set down on a flat surface, it opens well, affording a pleasant thumbing through experience. 

The placement of cartoons is two per page (but not exclusively — there are times a drawing is full page, or takes up more than 50% of a page).  Chapter headings are each letter of the alphabet. On those introductory chapter pages, printed on a red base, a full page drawing appears. A nice touch: each drawing’s original publication date is noted.  Occasionally there is what is called a “commentary” (an example: “Banana Peels”). These are unsigned, but a blanket credit, for assisting in the writing is given in the introduction to cartoonists Emily Flake, Pat Byrnes, Tom Toro, Paul Karasik, and the New Yorker’s Assistant Cartoon Editor, Colin Stokes [full disclosure: I was asked to audition for the opportunity to write a number of these commentaries. I declined after learning my efforts, if used, would appear uncredited]. I’ve yet to read these commentaries, so I won’t comment on them, other than to say I wish each was signed, or co-signed.

On to the content of the book itself. The New Yorker has a long history of issuing themed pamphlets (for advertising purposes) and themed anthologies. The New Yorker War Album (published in 1942) was the first themed anthology. The next was The New Yorker Album of Art and Artists (published in 1970). The New Yorker Book of Cat Cartoons, published in 1991, was the first of many themed anthologies issued in a square format. The theme of this new anthology are cartoon themes themselves, from Accounting to Zorro.

As a cartoonist, I’ve always found themed collections amusing additions to the classic anthologies that began with The New Yorker Album, published in 1928, and continued through to the aforementioned 2004 Complete Cartoons. The classic anthologies are the next best thing to seeing the cartoons in their natural habitat: the New Yorker magazine itself. Mr. Remnick has this to say in his foreword:

A caution to the reader: The usual way to come across New Yorker cartoons is in the magazine or, more recently, on newyorker.com and on social media. There’s something distinctive, maybe even perverse, about the experience of glancing away from a long piece about, say, a particularly dusty province in the Middle East to drink quietly from the oasis of a good cartoon. 

 Leafing through an issue of The New Yorker affords the reader the joy of complete surprise when coming upon a new cartoon. The reader has, at first glance,  no clue as to what the drawing will deliver.  I often mention Peter Arno’s definition of a good cartoon — that is, one that delivers a one-two punch.  The reader looks at the drawing and then, the second punch: reading the caption. If the drawing is successful, the second punch really delivers. In themed anthologies the reader is already  somewhat informed. For instance, in the New Yorker Book of Dogs, you already know that the next cartoon, and the next, and the next, and so on, will concern dogs. The element of complete surprise is gone. But of course, if you are looking through the New Yorker Book Of Dogs, that’s what you want: cartoons about dogs. In the classic anthologies the reader is still afforded complete surprise: you have zero idea what the next page will bring. You may, of course, immediately recognize a favorite drawing first published in an issue of the magazine, but that’s akin to rounding a corner and running into an old friend. What I’m getting at here is that if you’re a person who enjoys some advance notice of what you’re in for, then this encyclopedia, with some 3000 categorized cartoons (in 300 categories) spread out over two volumes, is for you. 

 The contributing cartoonists are listed on Indexes found in each volume. Jack Ziegler’s work is most represented (103 drawings), followed by the encyclopedia’s editor (88).  Some of the cartoon gods of the magazine’s golden age are well represented (James Stevenson, for example, with 55 cartoons), while others less so (Mary Petty is represented by one cartoon, Helen Hokinson, the magazine’s marquee cartoonist, along with Peter Arno, for nearly forty years, is represented by five). To be clear, this encyclopedia is not advertised as some sort of all-encompassing anthology celebrating the magazine’s 93 year history.  Let’s hope the New Yorker has just that kind of collection in mind for its 100th anniversary in 2025.

The cartoons in this heavyweight encyclopedia, some gold, some silver, speak for themselves. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exhibit of Interest: Mary Petty; Article of Interest: New Yorker Cover Artist John Cuneo; The Tilley Watch Online; And Even More E. Simms Campbell

Exhibit of Interest: Mary Petty

 What fun! 30 Mary Petty watercolors on exhibit at the Huntsville (Alabama) Museum of Art:  The Life and Art of Mary Petty.

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Article of Interest: New Yorker Cover Artist John Cuneo

From HV1, April 11, 2018, “Dancing Bears and John Cuneo’s Portable Therapy” — this good read about the fascinating Mr. Cuneo.

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The Tilley Watch Online: April 9-13

The week’s Daily Cartoons were courtesy of: Peter Kuper (Trump’s cabinet), Ellis Rosen (politics: Michael Cohen), Kim Warp ( Facebook), Brendan Loper (politics: Trump-related), and Paul Noth (taxes)

On Daily Shouts, contributing the New Yorker cartoonists were Maddie Dai, Kim Warp, and Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell

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

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And Even More E. Simms Campbell on Attempted Bloggery

As the world turns, let’s not forget that Stephen Nadler continues his E. Simms Campbell fest on his wonderful blog.  So much to see there (here).

Here’s Mr. Campbell’s entry on the A-Z:

E. Simms Campbell (photo above) Born, 1906. Died, 1971. NYer work: 1932 -1942. Key collections: Cuties in Arms (1943) – the earliest published collection of cartoons by an African-American cartoonist); More Cuties in Arms (also 1943); and Chorus of Cuties (1953)

 

 

50 Years Ago This Week: Peter Arno’s Last New Yorker Cartoon

Every so often the Spill likes to take a look at the last cartoon published by one of the magazine’s artists. This week it’s a drawing by Peter Arno — the cartoonist the New Yorker‘s Roger Angell called “the magazine’s first genius.”  I won’t go on and on here about why Arno is one of the magazine’s greatest — some say the greatest of the magazine’s artists, but if you want more on the subject there is a biography of him floating around (forgive me for lifting the bolded passage below from the aforementioned biography). 

(Above: Arno’s drawing as it appeared in the issue)

Sometime in the fall of 1967, Arno finished working on a full-page drawing of Pan blowing on his pipes as he frolicked through a glade.  In the forefront of the picture is a young, well-endowed woman, who says to him, “Oh, grow up!”  Brendan Gill [in his wonderful book, Here At The New Yorker] described the drawing this way:

“…in content and composition it was a characteristic piece of work…the drawing is a matter of some forty or fifty bold strokes of black against white, bound together by a gray wash; it has been built up as solidly as a fortress, though built in fun, and its dominant note is one of youthful zest.  Nobody could ever tell that it was the work of an aging man, let alone a dying one.”

“Oh, grow up!” wasn’t the last Arno published by the New Yorker.  His last cover appeared the following June, and the magazine has, from time-to-time brought out one of his older covers or drawings. But it was certainly the last published in his lifetime. The drawing appeared in the anniversary issue, dated February 24th, 1968. It would’ve been out on the newsstands a week earlier, the week of February 18.  Arno died on February 22. 

If you have access to the New Yorker‘s digital edition or happen to have a print copy, it’s certainly worth a visit to this issue — it’s a gem.  Rea Irvin’s Eustace Tilley is, of course, on the cover (and Mr. Irvin’s classic masthead for the Talk of The Town is in its place). The issue’s cartoons are by some of the greatest names on the magazine’s roster of artists (the magazine had a history of making sure the anniversary issue was loaded up with a good number of its big guns. In my Arno research I came across a note to Arno from the New Yorker‘s founder and first editor, Harold Ross expressing concern he (Ross) did not have a Arno drawing available for the upcoming anniversary issue). 

In this issue you’ll find terrific cartoons by Robert Weber, Alan Dunn, George Price, James Stevenson, William Steig, Steinberg, Richard Decker, Warren Miller, Frank Modell, Syd Hoff, Charles Addams, Whitney Darrow, Jr., Lee Lorenz, Mischa Richter, and Barney Tobey. (At this particular time the magazine’s stable of cartoonists was all male. Mary Petty’s piece appeared in 1966, and Nurit Karlin’s work did not begin appearing until 1974).

Next week, the Spill will return with its usual Monday Tilley Watch.   

 

The “Brightest and Most Malicious Drawings”: The Third New Yorker Album

An appropriate cover this New Year’s Eve as we trudge into 2018. 

By the time the Third New Yorker Album hit the shelves in 1930, the party that was the roaring twenties was over. What you see in the book are drawings from the tail end of the roar: night clubs, good times, frivolity…you know, like that.  The cover, by Peter Arno, originally appeared on the New Yorker‘s ninth issue following the stock market crash. It was Arno’s second album cover in a row, and the second time one of his full page drawings led off an album (the first time was the first album).

The Foreward, credited to The New Yorker, is full of interesting tidbits, considering the magazine was just five years old:

It is true that the working conditions of artist’s improve from year to year, and that artists get better as they get older. All of the New Yorker artists are now old. Two of them are in their late thirties, when the creative impulse either atrophies or turns a bright green…

...fifty years hence these albums will be looked at by adults as they are now looked at by children: gravely and with a wide-eyed wonder, slowly absorbing the physical details, ironical aspects, and fragmentary emotions of a past age. This is probably the true purpose of these albums. as far as they have any purpose other than adding to the artists’ royalties.

I’m not so sure about the “working conditions for artists improving from year to year” but these early albums do show certain artists getting “better” over time, whether it’s Barney Tobey, or Otto Soglow, or Alan Dunn. But maybe “getting better” isn’t right– maybe “transforming” is more accurate. From this album to the next and the next, certain styles solidify, the drawing becomes more confident, the caption writing improves; some styles change completely. And then there are those artists who are as good in this Third Album  as they will ever be.  Reginald Marsh’s work is spectacular, as is Helen Hokinson’s, Rea Irvin’s, Gluyas Williams’, and John Held’s. Arno is still in his earlier phase, as is Garrett Price, Mary Petty, and a number of others. It’s fun seeing this earlier work, knowing what’s to come — and it’s fun watching it develop from album to album.

On the back cover, this drawing by Garrett Price:

This was the second album of New Yorker cartoons I acquired (it was a gift) back in my late teenage years when I was paying a lot more attention to studying New Yorker cartoons than studying whatever one is supposed to be studying in school. This Third Album was my New Yorker cartoon primer, along with the 1925-1975 Album, the Thurber Carnival , and the highly inspirational contemporaneous cartoons in the weekly issues.

  Here’s the copy on the Third Album‘s inside front flap, and the inside back flap:

— Happy New Year to all!