Peter Arno, The New Yorker’s Great High Bar Artist, Born 116 Years Ago Today

(Above: Television actress, Joan Sinclair and Arno, the summer of ’49, at Joan Braun’s Palace Bar in Manhattan. Photograph by Stanley Kubrick)

Peter Arno, the great New Yorker cartoonist (some would argue the greatest — I did), was born on this day 116 years ago. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone living a life like Arno’s in today’s New Yorker cartoonistsphere. Nor will you find anyone drawing like him — and that’s perfectly fine, and exactly as it should be. New Yorker cartoonists bring their own voice to their work. What Arno gave us, in his forty-three years at the magazine, was his voice, and a high bar as expressed in his eleven hundred cartoons and ninety-nine covers. That high bar is what he left those of us at the magazine who carry on daily bringing pen and ink to paper, or stylus to tablet.

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch, The New Yorker “Cartoon Takeover” Issue Of December 30, 2019

The Cover: The “Cartoon Takeover” theme begins on Robert Sikoryak’s cover as cartoon characters whitewash text. Read a Q&A with the cover artist here.

The Cartoonists:

The Cartoons:

Right off the bat, it should be noted that this issue is unlike the “Cartoon Issue” once produced this time of the year beginning in 1997; that series ended after a fifteen year run. It is also unlike the “Best Cartoons Of The Year” series begun in 2011, and ended five years later. This Cartoon Takeover is unlike those in that it contains a ton of archival material (the issue carries the descriptive “A Semi-Archival Issue” on the Table of Contents). While elements from the Cartoon Issues, and Best Of series are here: the graphic spreads for instance, and a profile of a cartoonist — the old tropes features thankfully haven’t resurfaced. This Takeover is a new and welcome creature, with a pulse I associate with the very oldest issues of The New Yorker.  As befits the issue’s theme, The New Yorker‘s cartoon editor, Emma Allen, has taken over Talk’s “Comments” section, leading us into the action.

As you see from the number of cartoonists listed above, this new issue is packed with cartoons from a wide swath of the New Yorker‘s history, with work by such luminaries as Helen Hokinson, Barbara Shermund, James Thurber, William Steig, Gahan Wilson, and Steinberg represented. Nice to see Peter Arno’s ultra-famous, “Well, back to the old drawing board” included! Many cartoons from the archives are here as “favorites” selected by cartoonists and non-cartoonists. Free standing cartoons — what you normally see in every issue of The New Yorker — are also from the archives. I was very happy to see one of my favorite semi-modern cartoons included: Joe Duffy’s meta Care to join me in panel #3? (originally published, October 31, 2011).

Not whitewashed over by cartoon characters is a personal favorite John Updike piece (originally published in 1997) on his cartoonist roots, and terrif archival pieces, including two by two late-greats, Veronica Geng and Dorothy Parker. It’s an issue of a little something, and often a lot of something, for just about everyone who loves New Yorker cartoons.

The Rea Irvin Masthead Watch: Normally on the Monday Tilley Watch I woefully acknowledge another issue gone by without the return of Rea Irvin’s iconic masthead.  Since the Spring of 2017, a redrawn version has stood awkwardly in its place. This special Cartoon Takeover issue thankfully replaces the redraw with an Ed Steed take on the Irvin masthead. Mr. Steed’s playfulness is a refreshing delight, incorporating, to my eye, some Steigian/Steinberg elements.

With next week’s issue of The New Yorker the first of 2020, this would be the perfect opportunity to use Mr.Steed’s comic break as the moment to bring back Mr. Irvin’s classic masthead — and really now, why not bring it back?

Below, Mr. Irvin’s beautiful, now moth-balled masthead, and Mr. Steed’s fun take below it.

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.

 

 

Weekend Spill: 64 Works By Steinberg Go To Long Island Museum; The Tilley Watch Online; Meet The Artist (1943): Alan Dunn; Liza Donnelly Speaks on Drawing For Change; Upcoming Swann Auction Loaded With New Yorker Art

64 Steinberg Works To Long Island Museum

From ArtNews, November 15, 2019, “Parrish Art Museum Acquires 64 Works By Famed Cartoonist Saul Steinberg” 

Mr. Steinberg’s entry on the Spill’s A-Z:

Saul Steinberg Born, June 15, 1914, Ramnic-Sarat, Rumania. Died in 1999. New Yorker work: 1941 – (The New Yorker publishes his work posthumously). Steinberg is one of the giants of The New Yorker.  Go here to visit the saulsteinbergfoundation where you’ll find  much essential information and examples of his work.

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An end of the week listing of New Yorker artists who contributed to the Daily Cartoon and/or Daily Shouts, November 11-15, 2019.

The Daily Cartoon: Kim Warp, Emily Flake, Ellis Rosen, Elisabeth McNair, Christopher Weyant.

Daily Shouts: Teresa Burns Parkhurst, Liana Finck (another in her Dear Pepper series), Tim Hamilton.

…and Barry Blitt’s Kvetchbook.

See all of the above and more here.

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Liza Donnelly Speaks On Drawing For Change

From Elon University, November 15, 2019, “Cartoonist Liza Donnelly offers look at using visual humor to affect change” — a piece on Ms. Donnelly’s recent talk at the university.

Ms. Donnelly began contributing to The New Yorker in 1982. Visit her website here.

 

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Meet The Artist (1943): Alan Dunn

One of a number of self portraits of New Yorker artists included in the catalog Meet The Artist, published in 1943 by the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum.

Alan Dunn’s entry on the Spill‘s A-Z:

Alan Dunn Born in Belmar, New Jersey, August 11, 1900, died in New York City, 1975. New Yorker work: 1926 – 1974 Key collections: Rejections (Knopf, 1931), Who’s Paying For This Cab? (Simon & Schuster, 1945), A Portfolio of Social Cartoons ( Simon & Schuster, 1968). One of the most published New Yorker cartoonists (1,906 cartoons) , Mr. Dunn was married to Mary Petty — together they lived and worked at 12 East 88th Street, where, according to the NYTs, Alan worked “seated in a small chair at a card table, drawing in charcoal and grease pencil.”

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Upcoming Swann Auction Abounds With New Yorker Art

The December 10th Swann Illustration Auction catalog is now available online and, as usual, there is a New Yorker section loaded with original pieces.  This particular offering includes a large number of contemporary contributors as well as work by such Golden Age luminaries as Peter Arno, Charles Saxon, Charles Addams, and Steinberg.

See it all here.

Happy bidding!

More Gahan Wilson; A Peter Arno Rarity From The Bloom Vault; Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon; Humor Mag Of Interest: American Bystander #12; Today’s Daily Shouts…By Amy Kurzweil; Preview Of Interest on Salon: Shannon Wheeler’s “Mueller Report”

More Gahan Wilson

From 27East.com, October 24, 2019, “Cartoonist Gahan Wilson Is Looking To Find His Way”  — this piece by Annette Hinkle on one of the modern masters of the form.

…and this Chicago Sun-Times column from Neil Steinberg, October 24, 2019, “‘Lucky to be alive’ — morbid cartoonist faces dementia”

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A Peter Arno Rarity From The Bloom Vault

The illustrator Tom Bloom is surely one of our cartoon world’s great collectors.  Some years back  I naively thought I’d found most everything New Yorker cartoon-related that could be found. Then Mr. Bloom began sending me scans of items in his collection. It was as if someone had just opened the door to a New Yorker materials filled annex the size of Macy’s.

He’s been kind enough over the years to share some of the more obscure pieces from his collection with the Spill.  Here’s another: a four page promotional brochure for Peter Arno’s first book,Whoops Dearie!, published in 1927 by Simon & Schuster.* If you read my bio of Arno you might remember how important the Whoops Sisters were to the resuscitation of The  New Yorker in its infancy. I’d never seen this brochure until yesterday (and this after nearly 20 years of making it my business to find Arno material).

*While Arno provided the drawings for the book it was actually written by Philip Wylie. Much more on him and his place in The New Yorker‘s early years can be found in the Arno biography.

Here’s Arno’s entry on the Spill‘s A-Z:

Peter Arno (Photo source: Look, 1938) Born Curtis Arnoux Peters, Jr., January 8, 1904, New York City. Died February 22, 1968, Port Chester, NY. New Yorker work: 1925 -1968. Key collection: Ladies & Gentlemen (Simon & Schuster, 1951) The Foreword is by Arno.

 

 

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Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon

Barging Republicans, by Ellis Rosen, who has been contributing to The New Yorker since 2016.  Visit his website here.

 

 

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Humor Mag Of Interest: American Bystander #12

American Bystander #12 just arrived at the Spill. Not sure how often I’ve said this, but here goes again: if you love cartoons, especially those we associate with New Yorker artists, you’ll find  bushels-full in the Bystander. Three cheers for Michael Gerber, the Bystander‘s editor and publisher.

Here are the New Yorker contributors found in this latest issue:  Joe Ciardiello (the issue’s cover artist), Edward Sorel, Tom Chitty, P.S. Mueller, Rich Sparks, Lars Kenseth, Lila Ash, Roz Chast, John Cuneo, Mort Gerberg, Barry Blitt, George Booth, Joe Dator, Nick Downes, Bob Eckstein, Emily Flake, David Ostow, Jeremy Nguyen, Sara Lautman, Farley Katz, John Jonik, and Sam Gross.

Link here to subscribe.

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Today’s Daily Shouts…By Amy Kurzweil

“A Subway Tableau” by Amy Kurzweil, who has been contributing to The New Yorker since 2016. Visit her website here.

 

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Preview Of Interest From Salon: Wheeler’s “Mueller Report”

From Salon, “Exclusive: ‘Mueller Report’ Graphic Novel Sneak Preview From New Yorker Cartoonist Shannon Wheeler”

— and…there’s a Q&A with Mr. Wheeler within the piece.