Personal History: Work Wall

I’ve always worked at home, sometimes in a dedicated corner of the living room, sometimes using the arm of any old comfortable chair as a desk. But for many years I worked in a converted 6′ x 8′ laundry room. My desk faced a wall, part of which is shown above.  One day, after about twenty years of working in front of that wall, I felt I needed open space, and so I picked up my Rapidograph and a small stack of bond paper, then walked fifteen feet or so into our living room and set up shop at a table with no wall in front of me.

I left my old work area completely intact — a stack of bond paper still rests in its usual place —  and every so often I return to work there (I’m working there now).  What you see above is fragment of the wall above my desk. The collection of cartoons has always been a kind of rotating mini-gallery. There are a lot of New Yorker materials on the shelves (mixed in with childhood train set buildings, metal toys, art made by my kids, etc., etc.).  Just for fun, I’ve provided a key to anything New Yorker-related (and a few not)

1.  Joe Dator New Yorker original drawing. Published February 28, 2011.

2.  Stan Hunt original drawing.  Publishing history unknown. The fellow on the porch swing is saying to the woman: “Darling, your eyes are like dark limpid pools! …What’s the matter, aren’t you getting enough sleep?”  Mr. Hunt contributed to The New Yorker from 1956 though 1990.

3. Charlie Hankin original drawing. Unpublished. The sign on the lawn reads “Beware of Clam”

4. George Booth original. Titled Dog, Chair, and Chicken. Unpublished. Mr. Booth drew this in The New Yorker‘s cartoon department a few years ago while being filmed. Luckily, Liza Donnelly was also there being filmed.  Mr. Booth generously handed the drawing to her when filming wrapped. 

5. E.B. White’s The Lady Is Cold.  His first book. This became the subject of an Ink Spill piece.

6. Batman Giant No. 182.  In the late 1960s,  when my family moved from one end of town to the other end, only two comic books of my vast comic book collection made the transition (sad, I know). This is one of them.

7. The New Yorker Album.  Published in 1928 by Doubleday, Doran & Co. The very first New Yorker cartoon album.

8. A Rox Chast letter from the pre-personal computer days, probably late 1980s. In this New Yorker cartoon crowd, exchanged letters were usually illustrated.  I’m especially fond of this one because of the White Castle drawing at the very top (it’s possible my White Castle coffee mug made an impression on her).

9. We’ll Show You The Town. A 1934 promotional book from The New Yorker‘s business  department. You can see a little more about this if you go to the From the Attic section of the Spill and scroll down.

10. What! No Pie Charts?  An undated promotional book from The New Yorker‘s business department. Profusely illustrated by Julien de Miskey. As the copy refers to the magazine’s original address as 25 West 45th Street, we can safely assume this was published pre mid-1930s.

11. The American Mercury. August 1948.  Up on the shelf because of the great cover of the magazine’s founder and first editor, Harold Ross along with a re-drawn (i.e., non Rea Irvin) Eustace Tilley. The cover story “Ross Of The New Yorker” by Allen Churchill is a good read.

12. Curtain Calls of 1926. From the title page:

In which a few choice rare bits that have occasionally appeared in the pages of The New Yorker repeat themselves.

This is a lovely little book spotlighted on the Spill in July of 2013. Rea Irvin did the Tilley drawing on the cover.

13. Batman In Detective Comics Vol. 1 (Abbeville Press 1993).  Covering the first 25 years.  Vol. 2 is sitting right behind it. 

14. A Thurber Garland. Published by Hamish Hamilton in 1955.

15. The Making Of A Magazine. Undated. A promotional booklet collecting some, but not all of Corey Ford’s pieces. Drawings by Johan Bull.   Link here for more info.

16. James Thurber’s New York Times obit, dated November 3, 1961. The headline reads: James Thurber Is Dead At 66; Writer Was Also A Comic Artist . I’ll say!    Read more here on the Spill’s morgue.

***unnumbered, appearing just below #6’s Batman Giant, and the toy helicopter, is Otto Soglow’s Little King pull toy.  You can see it close up in the From the Attic section.

 

Happy 89th Gahan Wilson!; A Soglow Scarf On Attempted Bloggery; A Q&A Of Interest: Julia Wertz; Pictures At An Exhibition: Booth, Gross, Harris, Roth, Blechman, & More

A Most Happy Birthday to Gahan Wilson, born on this day in 1930.

Mr. Wilson began contributing to The New Yorker in 1977. Link here to his website.

As well as The New Yorker, Mr. Wilson’s work is closely associated with The National Lampoon and Playboy.

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A Soglow Scarf On Attempted Bloggery

Stephen Nadler’s Attempted Bloggery continues its look at cartoon-covered accessories. Today it’s a circus themed scarf by the one and only Otto Soglow. Mr. Soglow began contributing to The New Yorker in 1925. He is fondly remembered for his creation, The Little King.

Here’s Otto Soglow’s entry on the Spill’s A-Z:

Otto Soglow (pictured above) Born, Yorkville, NY, December 23, 1900. Died in NYC, April 1975. New Yorker work: 1925 -1974.Key collections: Pretty Pictures ( Farrar & Rinehart, 1931) and for fans of Soglow’s Little King; The Little King (Farrar & Rinehart, 1933) and The Little King ( John Martin’s House, Inc., 1945). The latter Little King is an illustrated storybook. Cartoon Monarch / Otto Soglow & The Little King (IDW, 2012) is an excellent compendium.

Above: Soglow’s 1933 collection, The Little King

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A Q&A of Interest: Julia Wertz

Above: Ms. Wertz’s celebrated book.

From Julia Wertz’s website, this fun Q&A. Ms. Wertz began contributing to The New Yorker in 2015.

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Pictures At An Exhibition From Mike Lynch and Jane Mattimoe

L-R: Jane Mattimoe, George Booth, Felipe Galindo, Sidney Harris, and Andrea Arroyo

Jane Mattimoe attended the Mort Gerberg exhibit this past week. She’s posted a bunch of photos on her site. You can see them here.

Mike Lynch also attended and posted a number of pix on his website. Here’s one I particularly like:

Two titans of the cartoon world: Arnold Roth and R.O. Blechman, with their spouses, Caroline and Moisha

Firsts: Thurber’s First New Yorker Drawings

When you think of James Thurber’s drawings you probably think of one or two or three of his classics.  But before any of his cartoons appeared in the magazine (his first cartoon appeared in the issue of January 31, 1931), he illustrated and wrote something he called Our Pet Department.  It was, from the very first, intended to be a series; the first installment (shown above) appeared in the magazine’s fifth anniversary issue, February 22, 1930.  What’s fascinating (to me) is that the piece contains two elements that would go on to be forever associated with Thurber’s art: a dog, and a seal. 

It’s unclear when the two camps formed over whether Thurber’s art was or wasn’t art. Was it when the illustrations began appearing, or was it nearly a year later when the cartoons started turning up. Thurber’s simple line certainly wasn’t a shock. A trio of single line artists were already established at the magazine by the time Thurber’s first drawings appeared: Gardner Rea, Otto Soglow, and Gluyas Williams.  But it appeared that no little effort went into their finished pieces.

Thurber’s drawings seemed as casual as the effort he claimed to have put into them; their initial appearances in the New Yorker seemed to have dropped like graphic boulders in a placid pond. Thurber’s New Yorker colleague Wolcott Gibbs wrote (this from the Book-of-the-Month Club News, February, 1945):

“…for a good many years [Thurber’s drawings] were regarded by the rest of the staff, with the exception of E.B. White, as a hell of a way to waste good copy paper, since his usual output at a sitting was twenty or more, not to mention those he drew on the walls.”   

 New Yorker history books tell us that White was instrumental in bringing Thurber’s art to the world’s attention.  In 1962, a year after Thurber’s death, White told Thurber biographer, Harrison Kinney that “I think his art surpasses his writing” and “his drawing has a touch of genius.”

 

 

 

 

  

The Monday Tilley Watch: the New Yorker Issue of July 23, 2018

Back to a single issue, but not for long. Just one more single week issue before we have another double: dated August 6 & 13. Ah summertime.

This is the first issue of The New Yorker in 23 years without Tom Bachtell’s Talk of The Town illustrations. The illustrations are handled this week by Joao Fazenda. His work, at least going by the illustrations in this issue, seem in the vicinity of the school of Bachtell.  Otto Soglow’s terrific drawings remain, as they have for quite some time, sort of alternating between the modern contributor’s work.

From the Dept. of Just Sayin’ :

18  illustrations this week. Three of those full page, and an additional illustration that is a page-and-a-half.

14 cartoons, none full page.

The Cartoons:

Good sizing/placement of the cartoons this week, with just one drawing that, to my eyes, could’ve used a bit more breathing room (i.e., run larger): Ed Steed’s very nice bees in cars cartoon. Perhaps it reads better in the print version (I’m seeing the digital issue, both on a laptop and a tablet).

Of note in the issue: a Glen Baxter drawing! Even better: it’s a Glen Baxter cowboy drawing! If the Spill gave out best of the issue awards like the fellas do over on Cartoon Companion, Mr. Baxter’s would be pinned with a ribbon.

Irvin Talk Update: 

Rea Irvin’s iconic masthead for The Talk of The Town is still missing (a re-drawn version replaced it. Yes, a re-drawn version.  Read about that here). This is what the original looks like:

And that’s that, til next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Joke: Rea Irvin’s April 1947 Cover

The cover above has always been a favorite. The first time I came across it I thought I’d stumbled upon a printing error. But no, it’s yet another gift from Rea Irvin, cover artist, designer (as in his designs for the magazine’s masthead, as well as his adapted development of the typeface), cartoonist, “art supervisor” (his unofficial or official designation at the New Yorker). 

The rest of the issue is a lot of fun too. An Addams so-called “Addams Family” drawing (“We’ve had part of this floor finished off for Uncle Eimer”); a Richard Taylor strip that runs across the bottom of two pages; a half-page Hokinson “lunch club ladies” cartoon; a Sam Cobean shadow play drawing; a page and-a-half Steinberg spread under the heading “Berlin” and so much more (other cartoonists in the issue: Otto Soglow, Alan Dunn, Barney Tobey, Robert Day, Whitney Darrow, Jr., Alain, and Leonard Dove). Typical of the era, the cartoons dominated the pages, as if the text was secondary to the art.