The Weekend Spill: Happy 125th James Thurber!; Three New Yorkers; New Cast Album For Arno’s 1930’s Musical “The New Yorkers”; The Tilley Watch Online, The Week Of December 2-6, 2019

Happy 125th James Thurber!

Anyone who follows the Spill knows that James Thurber is a mighty big deal around here. I’ve written numerous times over the years how seeing his drawing, “What have you done with Dr. Millmoss?” changed everything for me. Today marks the 125th anniversary of Thurber’s birth.  Michael Rosen’s recently published A Mile and a Half of Lines: The Art of James Thurber is an excellent book to throw yourself into today, or any day.

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Three New Yorkers

The three issues above unexpectedly arrived in the mail the other day, courtesy of a friend.  I immediately shoved my stack of drawing paper to the side and dove into the magazines. When I look through older copies of The New Yorker I focus on the art (so many cartoons to see, so little time).

So, what do these three issues have in common besides being three issues of The New Yorker and all published in the early 60s? Each has at least one drawing by Frank Modell, James Stevenson, and Dana Fradon. That trio, in their time, along with perhaps ten other cartoonists, anchored hundreds, if not thousands of issues of The New Yorker.

When I arrived at The New Yorker in the late 1970s, Messrs. Modell, Fradon, and Stevenson had already been contributing for decades, with Frank Modell the most veteran of the bunch, having begun at The New Yorker during the mid-1940s.  As I was beginning my New Yorker education by studying back issues of the magazine I was astounded to discover how long these artists had already been at the magazine. Even more astounding: there were cartoonists who’d been at The New Yorker even longer, and were still contributing — such greats as Al Ross, who began contributing in 1937, Whitney Darrow, Jr. (1933), George Price (1929), and William Steig (1930).

I was lucky enough to meet and get to know (if only a little) most of the cartoonists mentioned above. Of the three exceptions: Steig, Darrow, and Price, I communicated via a few letters with Steig — Whitney Darrow turned an idea of mine into a New Yorker drawing. I regret not walking over and meeting Whitney Darrow, and George Price at the only once-in-a-lifetime  opportunities I had with each. I’ve written before of the magazine’s artists family tree — the generations overlapping at the magazine. Just a few weeks ago I met several New Yorker cartoonists who’ve just started their careers in the past couple of years — one in just the past six months. Picking up almost any issue of the magazine, from the earliest years to the most recent is an instant reminder of the connectivity.

From the Spill‘s A-Z, the Modell, Fradon, and Stevenson entries:

Frank Modell ( photograph taken early 1990s) Born, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 6, 1917. Died, May 27, 2016, Guilford, Connecticut. New Yorker work: 1946 – 1997. Mr. Modell began his New Yorker career as assistant to the Art Editor, James Geraghty. He soon began contributing his cartoons (and cartoon ideas for others), with his first drawing appearing July 20, 1946. Besides his work for The New Yorker, he was a children’s book author and an actor (he appeared, most notably, in Woody Allen’s 1980 film, Stardust Memories). Key collection: Stop Trying To Cheer Me Up! (Dodd, Mead, 1978).

Dana Fradon (photo: 1978). Born, Chicago, Illinois, 1922. Died, October 3, 2019, Woodstock, NY.  Studied at the Art Institute of Chicago prior to service in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. Following his service, he attended the Art Students League of New York, New Yorker work: May 1, 1948 – April 21, 2003. Collection: Insincerely Yours (Scribners, 1978) To read Ink Spill’s 2013 interview with Mr. Fradon, “Harold Ross’s Last Cartoonist” link here.

 

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 recent book, published in 2013, The Life, Loves and Laughs of Frank Modell, is essential. “Stevenson Lost and Found,” a documentary film by Sally Williams, was released in 2019.

— The cover artists for The New Yorkers  shown at the top of this post: l-r: Robert Kraus, Garrett Price, and Arthur Getz

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New Cast Album For Cole Porter’s (and Peter Arno’s) 1930 Musical, The New Yorkers

From Broadway World, December 6th, 2019, “The New Cast Album of ‘The New Yorkers,’ the 1930 Cole Porter Musical, is Available today”

If you want to read a lot more about “The New Yorkers” I modestly suggest my Arno biography, specifically Chapter Seven:  Up Broadway and Down.

Above left: The cover of the new cast recording. To the right “The New Yorkers” original 1930 program, with art by Peter Arno.

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The Tilley Watch Online, The Week Of December 2-6, 2019

An end of the week listing of New Yorker artists who’ve contributed to newyorker.com

The Daily Cartoon: David Ostow, Tom Toro, Paul Karasik, Ali Solomon, Jon Adams.

Daily Shouts: Julia Wertz, Olivia de Recat.

…and Barry Blitt’s Kvetchbook.

To see all of the above, and much more, link here.

 

 

Video Of Interest: The “Sesame Street” Edition Of The New Yorker Caption Contest; Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon; Today’s Daily Shouts Cartoonist

Video Of Interest: The “Sesame Street” Edition of The New Yorker Caption Contest

Here’s 7 1/2 minutes of fun: several of Sesame Street’s beloved characters give The New Yorker‘s caption contest a go.

Cartoons shown in order of their appearance are by: David Borchart, Joe Dator, Tom Cheney, Ellis Rosen, Harry Bliss, Mick Stevens, Amy Hwang, P.C. Vey, and yours truly.

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Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon

Happy (?) holidays, by Tom Toro.  Mr. Toro has been contributing to The New Yorker since 2010. Visit his website here.

 

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Today’s Daily Shouts Cartoonist

“Horoscopes As Unintelligible Words” by Olivia de Recat, who has been contributing to The New Yorker since 2018.  Visit her website here.

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.

 

The Monday Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue Of November 25, 2019; Today’s Daily Cartoon & Daily Shouts Cartoonists

The Cover: It’s the Food Issue and it’s the Thanksgiving issue, so surprise: a turkey. You can read a Q&A with the cover artist here.

The Cartoonists:

The Cartoons… random comments on a few of the cartoons in this issue:

…Mick Stevens delivers a fab caveman drawing (it’s on page 69).  Beautiful drawing with a great caption.

…another fine drawing/caption from Bruce Eric Kaplan (p.50).

…a full page color “Sketchbook” by Kendra Allenby, as well as drawings by Amy Kurzweil and Lonnie Millsap reflect the issue’s food theme (and, for good measure, a drink drawing by Ellie Black).

…a Thanksgiving drawing by one of The New Yorker‘s Cartoon Gods, Gahan Wilson.

… a fun evergreen caption by Frank Cotham.

…I wonder how many of you will turn T.S. McCoy’s drawing (p.72) upside down.

The Rea Irvin Missing Talk Masthead Watch:

Sadly still missing from The New Yorker (but you can see it directly below). Read about it here.

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Meet The Artist (1943): Richard Taylor

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.

Richard Taylor’s entry on the Spill‘s A-Z:

Richard Taylor Born in Fort William, Ontario, Sept. 18, 1902. Died in 1970. New Yorker work: 1935 -1967. Collections: The Better Taylors ( Random House, 1944, and a reprint edition by World Publishing, 1945), Richard Taylor’s Wrong Bag (Simon & Schuster, 1961). Taylor also authored Introduction to Cartooning (Watson -Guptill, 1947). From Taylor’s introduction: the “book is not intended to be a ‘course in cartooning’…instead, it attempts to outline a plan of study — something to be kept at the elbow to steer by.”

Below, the great photo of Richard Taylor from his book Introduction To Cartooning.

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Today’s Daily Cartoon & Daily Shouts Cartoonists

Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon: Robert Leighton on government officials. Mr. Leighton began contributing to The New Yorker in 2002. Visit his website here.

Today’s Daily Shouts: “Dating Material: Stalking Your Ex Throughout History”  by Julia Edelman & Olivia de Recat.  Ms. de Recat has been contributing to The New Yorker (print magazine) since 2018. Visit her website here. Ms. Edelman is a writer who has contributed Daily Shouts pieces illustrated by New Yorker artists.

 

The Weekend Spill: Donnelly & Thurber’s Influence; A Thurber Event At The Society Of Illustrators; The Tilley Watch Online; Interview Of Interest: Seth; Chris Ware In Conversation With Chip Kidd

Donnelly & Thurber’s Influence

From The Cleveland Plain Dealer (cleveland.com), September 1, 2019, “James Thurber continues to influence today’s cartoonists”  — this piece by Marilyn Greenwald

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A Thurber Anniversary Event At The Society Of Illustrators

From The Society Of Illustrators, this notice of a Thurber event this coming October. Coinciding with the 125th birthday celebration publication of Collected Fables and A Mile And A Half Of Lines: The Art Of James Thurber and the extensive exhibit of Thurber art in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

The evening, hosted by Michael Rosen (author, editor, illustrator, and  founding director of The Thurber House) will include long-time New Yorker contributors, Danny Shanahan, Liza Donnelly, and yours truly.

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A week end round up of New Yorker artists who’ve contributed to the Daily Cartoon and/or Daily Shouts

The Daily Cartoon: Trevor Spaulding, Teresa Burns Parkhurst, Emily Flake, David Sipress, and Tim Hamilton.

Daily Shouts: Liana Finck (another in her “Dear Pepper” series), Ali Fitzgerald, Olivia de Recat (with Julia Edelman),

…And: Barry Blitt’s Kvetchbook returned; cover artist Jenny Kroik contributed a piece, “New York: En Espanol” to The Culture Desk.

You can see all of the above and more here.

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Interview Of Interest: Seth

From The Comics Beat, August 30, 2019, Alex Dueben interviews New Yorker cover artist, Seth.  Read it here.

Seth (real name: Gregory Gallant) began contributing to The New Yorker in 2002.

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Chris Ware In Conversation With Chip Kidd, Sept. 25th

Designer Chip Kidd sits down with Chis Ware on September 25th in Oak Park, Illinois to discuss Mr. Ware’s soon-to-be-released graphic novel, Rusty Brown (Pantheon) . All the details here.

Mr. Ware began contributing to The New Yorker in 1999.