Today’s Daily Cartoon & Daily Shouts Cartoonist; Recalling A New Yorker Giant: Charles Saxon

A Hamburglar cartoon by Farley Katz, who began contributing to The New Yorker in 2007. Mr. Katz has also contributed today’s Daily Shouts.

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Recalling A New Yorker Giant: Charles Saxon

Over this past weekend a number of visiting colleagues paused to look at a Charles Saxon original drawing that hangs on a wall here at Spill headquarters. The Saxon drawing is displayed because it amuses and inspires (the same goes for the several dozen others also on our walls by various New Yorker artists past and present; the earliest drawing, by Alice Harvey, was published October of 1925, the most recent, by Ed Steed, was published in April of 2019). Saxon’s drawings have long been considered a high bar by his peers — a reminder of how elegant (a word used by one of the visitors) cartoon art can be (I’ve always felt Thurber’s drawings to be another kind of high bar).

Looking closely at the originals in the Spill‘s archives, I see no under -drawing, no pencil marks. The work, in grease pencil(?), appears to be in the school of — as Edward Sorel would describe it — direct drawing.  The lines seem effortless, energetic, lovely, and of course, humorous; it’s an immediately identifiable style. As with so many of his contemporaries, including Robert Weber, Lee Lorenz, James Stevenson and Frank Modell, there’s a joy to the work.

Saxon’s world, both New Yorker covers and cartoons, published from the mid 1940s through the late 1980s, will forever be linked to Connecticut country club country, where he lived (Mr. Saxon, along with his colleague William Hamilton, had that upper-crusty world down). The New Yorker readership from that social strata apparently loved seeing themselves poked and prodded, just as they loved what Peter Arno had done with them and to them in the magazine’s earlier decades. 

Right: a Saxon New Yorker cover: effortless, energetic, humorous

I was fortunate enough to meet Saxon in February of 1986, when New Yorker cover artist Roxie Munro threw a small post-New Yorker anniversary party. Trudging downtown from the Pierre Hotel to Ms. Munro’s mid-town apartment on lower Park Avenue, I was one of the first to arrive. Walking into the living room I found a short man, in dark suit and tie, standing with his back against a living room wall. I introduced myself, not knowing who I was about to shake hands with. I had always imagined Saxon as quite tall — a powerhouse figure. In truth, he was perhaps a half-foot shorter than me. He was also remarkably soft spoken, and extremely polite. I’d always expected that he’d have one of those personalities that would roll right over me. It was quite a nice gift, to able to have perhaps fifteen minutes with this cartoon god, all to myself. 

 

Photo: Charles Saxon, center, with The New Yorker‘s Art Editor, James Geraghty at the magazine’s offices, 25 West 43rd Street, New York City, c.1960s.  Photo courtesy of Sarah Geraghty Herndon.

Book: Oh, happy, happy, happy!  The earliest Saxon collection, published in 1960 by Golden Press.

 

 

 

 

 

Beginning To Take It Personally: The New Yorker Cartoon Album 1975- 1985

The other day I wrote about the New Yorker Anniversary album: 1925-1975.  Following up on that, here’s a little something about the Album that immediately followed it, The New Yorker Cartoon Album 1975- 1985.  In the entire run of Albums, this one would have to rank #1 in understated covers. A bit of trivia (or maybe it’s not so trivial): this is just the second time an Album title referred to the magazine’s drawings as “cartoons” —  (the first was 1958’s New Yorker Album of Sports & Games: Cartoons of Three Decades. Non-purists might argue that the special issue Armed Services New Yorker War Cartoons with The Talk of the Town, published in 1945 was the first instance, but it was not an Album, nor was it, as you see in the title, purely cartoons).

Of note: 1975-1985 is the first Album since the early 1930s not designed by Carmine Peppe.  The design and layout is credited to a trio of New Yorker staffers: John Murphy, Bernard McAteer, and Joseph Carroll (who succeeded Mr. Peppe as head of the make-up department. Mr. Carroll was also a published New Yorker cartoonist, with one drawing, in the issue of January 16, 1984. That one and only appearance qualified him as a member of the Spill‘s One Club).

Of further note: this was the last Album published during William Shawn’s long tenure as editor of the New Yorker. It was published the year The New Yorker‘s ownership changed hands from the original owners, the Fleischmann family, to the Newhouse family. Mr. Shawn, who was appointed editor in 1952, was replaced in 1987 by Robert Gottlieb.

 

Admittedly, I have affection for this Album out of some self-interest: it was the first that included my work.  But it also included, for the first time in an Album, work by the wave I came in with — that included, among others, cartoonists such as Mick Stevens, Thomas Cheney, Peter Steiner, Richard Cline, Leo Cullum, Roz Chast, and Liza Donnelly. 

Truly exciting were the number of established cartoonists we kids found ourselves in the company of. To be included in this volume (and later Albums) with them was, and still is somewhat unbelievable. 

As with previous Albums, the cartoon choices are excellent.  The Album begins with an exquisite Robert Weber full page drawing (full page in the Album, and run as a full page in the magazine in the issue of July 2, 1984)…

…and ends with a classic Charles Addams drawing (a fellow is installing yet another of many locks — and bolts — on his door. At his feet is a semi-circle made by an active saw blade coming up through the floor). In between these two cartoon gems is an accurate reflection of the state of the magazine’s cartoon world in that decade.  As with previous Albums, the balance of work placement and selection is superior. There’s enough work by Booth, Steinberg, Koren, Saxon, Steig, George Price, Addams, Stevenson, Levin, Modell, Lorenz, both Martins (Henry, and Charles) to please anybody, but also well-represented are the large number of artists who flourished just out of range of the spotlight. 

Along with the publication of the Album was a touring exhibit of work.  I wrote about this Album and that exhibit a year ago, but in a slightly different context. You can see that earlier post here

 There was no official album a decade later (instead we were gifted Lee Lorenz’s Art of The New Yorker), and ten years after that was the The New Yorker 75th Cartoon Collection, which bears a cover opposite the understated cover of the 1975-1985 album.   

Spinach, Part 2 with Shanahan, Steiner, and Weber

As anyone who follows cartoon art knows, nearly everything and anything is fair game, including other cartoons. The famous Carl Rose “spinach” cartoon from the December 8, 1928 New Yorker  (shown above) that was yesterday’s subject here (well, more precisely, its caption origin was the subject) spawned a number of later cartoons.  Danny Shanahan gets the credit for causing me to think about casting around the Cartoon Bank site, using search words/terms like “spinach”  “broccoli” and “the hell with it”  — here are three takes by three masters of the art of cartooning:

Danny Shanahan’s from the February 28, 2005 New Yorker:

Peter Steiner’s from the July 24, 2000 New Yorker:

 

Robert Weber’s take, the February 21, 1994 New Yorker:

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue of June 18, 1984

As mentioned here last week, it’s double issue time again. We’re halfway though it now ; only a week til the new issue (dated June 18, 2018) appears online early Monday morning. Just for fun I thought I’d go back to another June 18th issue — the one from 1984. 

Here’s the cover, by Susan Davis, who contributed fifteen covers to the magazine from 1983 – 1992.

 

And here are the cartoonists in that issue:

A number of New Yorker cartoon gods in that lineup. And, as you might expect, some cartoonists  contributing to the magazine then who still contribute now. On the downside, a number of colleagues who’ve passed on: George Price, James Stevenson, William Steig, Stan Hunt, J. B. Handelsman, Steinberg, Bernie Schoenbaum, Frank Modell, Barney Tobey, Ed Arno, Mischa Richter, Ed Fisher, Eldon Dedini, and Robert Weber.

A quick tour through the issue: Ed Frascino has a very funny cartoon name-checking Indiana Jones; Lee Lorenz ( the art editor at the time) puts the word “glitz” to excellent use; a half page George Price cartoon centered on the Year of the Rat; a beautiful full page Saxon drawing about the Museum of Modern Art; a four part Stevenson spread across two pages. He animates television antenna; a titled Steig: “Eastbound Traffic.” Great drawing!;  Stan Hunt’s drawing is one of those cartoons that could’ve run anytime in the previous thirty years (previous to 1984, that is) — a boiler plate kind of cartoon; “Bud” Handelsman gives us a heaven-based piece; a Roz Chast drawing split into four boxes. It could’ve run this year; an Ed Koren drawing that just is so like butter — drawing and caption;  Steinberg provides an illustration for a Profile piece by E.J. Kahn, Jr.; opposite Steinberg is a Bernie Schoenbaum cocktail party drawing — a scenario employed by nearly every cartoonist back then; a Frank Modell drawing with his signature people — love his grumpy husband; an Arnie Levin caterpillar/butterfly drawing — that that loose Levin line is so great; a Barney Tobey drawing set in another favorite situation: the boardroom; a great Warren Miller drawing:

 Following Mr. Miller’s cartoon is an Ed Arno drawing — that fine controlled line of his! Immediately identifiable; a Mischa Richter dog at a desk drawing; Ed Fisher gives us a weather bureau drawing with lots of fun detail; Eldon Dedini’s cartoon of two guys at a bar with a caption that could run today:Everything’s a trap if you’re not careful.”;  next up, a cartoon that made me laugh out loud, by the great cartoonist, Robert Weber:

Next, a beautiful Sempe drawing (is there any other kind?); and last, a Sidney Harris restaurant drawing. Mr. Harris’s style is his and his alone: an angular line that appears to almost spin out of control, but never does.

So, there it is. A cartoon feast in mid-June, thirty-four years ago. 

 

     

The Tilley Watch: The New Yorker Issue of May 7, 2018

A Sempe cover! And a bonus: a lengthier Cover Story than of late, with several photos (including one of Sempe and Ed Koren astride bicycles in NYC). Nice. Very nice.

On a run through this new issue the number of illustrations and photos seemed even weightier than the past few issues (and that’s really saying something). It’s likely due to Zadie Smith’s profile of photographer, Deana Lawson.  As the profile is of a photographer, using photographs makes sense.  Although, Brendan Gill’s New Yorker profile of the pioneer of celebrity photography, Jerome Zerbe included no photographs. Ah, but that was then (1973), this is forty-five years later.  Three cartoons (from William O’Brian, Stan Hunt and  Dean Vietor) and a hand drawn illustration by Silverman of Mr. Zerbe did appear within the pages of Mr. Gill’s piece. In true New Yorker tradition, the cartoons were unrelated to the content of the Zerbe profile.

A casual run-down of illustrations/photographs in this latest issue:

The usual close to full page photo on the Goings On About Town lead page.

3 full page illustrations

10 illustrations of various sizes.

Nearly 8 pages of photographs within the Lawson Profile 

Looking at that 1973 issue (June 9, 1973 to be exact) I was blown away by the number of cartoons it contained and the space they were allowed on the page. The only illustration was Mr. Silverman’s portrait of Mr. Zerbe (we’re not counting the “spot” drawings which are in a category unto them seIves). In other words: cartoons ruled. 

Below is a screen shot of pages 27-33 from that 1973 issue. Six cartoons in seven pages (cartoons by Warren Miller, Frank Modell, James Stevenson, George Price, William Hamilton, and Mischa Richter).

Two pages following Mr. Richter’s cartoon, this beauty by John Norment:

On the very next page following Mr. Norment’s drawing, this terrific multi-panel drawing by George Booth:

Following Mr. Booth’s piece are nine more cartoons by these cartoonists: Henry Martin, the aforementioned drawings by William O’Brian, Stan Hunt and Dean Vietor; Charles Barsotti, Robert Weber, Ton Smits, James Stevenson’s second in the issue, and Warren Miller’s second in the issue. Each is allowed generous space on the page. Oh, and Charles Saxon did the cover!

For a look at every cartoon in this latest issue I direct your attention to the Cartoon Companion blog. The bloggers “Max” and “Simon” (not their real names) go drawing by drawing, rating each along the way.  Look for the post covering this new issue either late this coming Thursday or Friday. I’m not always in agreement with the CC guys’ ratings, but anytime anyone is talking about New Yorker cartoons, I try my best to pay attention. 

ps: One year later, and Rea Irvin’s classic masthead still is a-missing. 

This is what it looks like: