The Cover: There’s nothing quite like dogs romping in snow, as they are on Gayle Kabaker’s cover. Visit her website here.
1. Liz Montague makes her debut in the issue. Ms. Montague is the fourth cartoonist to debut this year, and the twenty-eighth new cartoonist brought in since Emma Allen became the magazine’s cartoon editor in May of 2017.
2. There are two — count ’em, two — desert island drawings in this issue. One by Tom Chitty, and the other by Pia Guerra (it appears on the Caption Contest page).
3. Applause Applause: Lars Kenseth’s couple in previews (p.53) and Farley Katz’s undersized load (p.67).
The Talk Of The Town Masthead:
Rea Irvin’s iconic Talk masthead is still a-missin’ — read about it here.
Until it returns, if it ever does (perish the thought!), here’s what it looks like:
Today’s Daily Cartoon
Today’s Daily cartoon, weather-related, is by JAK. Mr. Katzenstein began contributing to The New Yorker in 2014.
From Playing On Air, March 1, 2019, The Second Annual James Stevenson Prize For Comedic Short Plays. All the info here.
Mr. Stevenson’s 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 NYer artists. Nine years later he was hired a full-time ideaman, 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 The Life, Loves and Laughs of Frank Modell, is essential.
Suite of Maira Kalman’s Work at Park Avenue Art Show
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.
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.
Karl Stevens At the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
* Mr. Abbott suggests in his shout out that Saxon “never actually wrote any of his own material” — I believe he’s thinking of George Price, who is the only New Yorker cartoonist, other than Helen Hokinson, who relied solely on provided ideas.
And here’s Charles Saxon’s entry on the Spill‘s A-Z:
Charles Saxon Born in Brooklyn, Nov 13, 1920, died in Stamford, Conn., Dec 6, 1988. NYer work: 1943 – 1991 (2 drawings published posthumously). Key collection: One Man’s Fancy ( Dodd, Mead, 1977).
Back in 2009 when I was hunting around for information on Ms. Shermund (in connection with writing my biography of Peter Arno), I visited a library in upstate New York (Kingston, to be exact) that had a decent collection of The New York Times on microfilm. Looking through a file cabinet of materials I spotted a notation that indicated there was no microfilm for the Times at a certain point because the paper had been on strike. Barbara Shermund’s death was within that period (The New Yorker hadn’t mentioned her passing either, but In that case it was understandable — her work hadn’t appeared in the magazine for thirty-four years). In an attempt to fill in a missing piece, I took a stab at writing an obit for Ms. Shermund and posted it on the Spill:
Revisiting Barbara Shermund
Barbara Shermund, who died in early September, 1978, had the
misfortune of passing away during a newspaper strike that affected the
paper of record, The New York Times. An extensive search has
turned up just one obituary for her, a four sentence notice that ran in a
newspaper covering the New Jersey coastal town (Sea Bright) where she
lived for a number of years toward the end of her life.
For someone who contributed hundreds of cartoons and eight covers to The New YorkerMagazine, then went on to become a mainstay at Esquire, four sentences seems a bit slight. Here then is another notice, a little late, and a little longer.
Born in San Francisco in 1899 to artistic parents (her father was an
architect), Ms. Shermund studied at The California School of Fine Arts
before heading east, at the age of twenty-six, to New York. She told Colliers
that her initial visit east became permanent “after she had eaten up
her return fare.” In June of that very year, she made her debut at the
four month old New Yorker with a cover of a young woman
sporting a hip hairdo, eyes closed, resting her arm over a railing,
against a black sky peppered with stars. In a year’s time her cartoons,
many if not most of which were written by her, were appearing in nearly
every issue of the magazine.
Her style had a sway to it that fit the times. Her subjects, executed
in pen and ink and wash, were often hip young women, just a bit jaded –
the sort that famously inhabited F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise. She once offered up this brief glimpse into her private life, saying she liked “fancy dancing and dogs.”
Liza Donnelly, author of Funny Ladies: The New Yorker’s Greatest Women Cartoonists and their Cartoons, had this to say about Ms. Shermund:
“Barbara Shermund was one of the more prolific cartoonists of the early New Yorker.
Her breezy drawing style and humor reflected the new attitudes of urban
women in the twenties and thirties, and she can be considered one of
the early feminist cartoonists. The New Yorker sought to appeal
to both men and women with its humor, and Shermund, along with other
women cartoonists of the magazine, were ground breakers in that regard,
creating cartoons from a woman’s perspective that could be enjoyed by
all. Her cartoons were irreverent, sassy, and a true reflection of her
Shermund traveled widely – Donnelly wrote of her that “she was
something of a wanderer, living with friends in the city and the upstate
town of Woodstock [NY], never really having a set address.” Eventually
she settled down in Sea Bright, New Jersey, a barrier beach town, just
about an hour’s drive from New York.
The last of her five hundred and ninety-seven drawings in The New Yorker appeared September 16, 1944; her last cover appeared August 5, 1944. Although her relationship with The New Yorker fizzled in the mid 1940s, she participated in an Irving Penn group photo of eighteen New Yorker
cartoonists ( it ran in the August 1947 issue of Vogue). Ms. Shermund,
dressed in dark clothing and wearing a great wide brimmed hat, stares
directly at the camera. Sitting directly in front of her is George
Price, and Steinberg; overhead, reclining on a platform is Charles
Addams. Off to Ms. Shermund’s right is Helen Hokinson, looking just a
The discs accompanying The Complete New Yorker allow one to see all of Barbara Shermund’s work in their natural habitat. Nine of her drawings appear in the The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker, and of course all of her work can be seen on the discs accompanying the book.
Here’s Ms. Shermund’s entry on the Spill‘s A-Z:
Barbara Shermund Born, San Francisco. 1899. Studied at The California School of Fine Arts. Died, 1978, New Jersey. New Yorker work: June 13, 1925 thru September 16, 1944. 8 covers and 599 cartoons. Shermund’s later. post-New Yorker work was featured in Esquire. (See Liza Donnelly’s book, Funny Ladies — a history of The New Yorker’s women cartoonists — for more on Shermund’s life and work)