Cartoons Holding “A Mirror Up to the War Effort”: The New Yorker War Album… & More

The New Yorker War Album, published in 1942, was the very first themed Album of the magazine’s cartoons. Peter Arno’s cover from the issue of February 28, 1942 was selected as the cover.  As so often the case for the Album series an Arno drawing led off the collection (“Of course if they don’t bomb Sutton Place, I’m going to look like a damn fool.”)

There is no introduction to the work — only the flap copy shown below. “Spot” artists (Susanne Suba being an example) are credited along with the cartoonists.

The back cover, mostly a green field, has a small Alan Dunn caption-less drawing floating in the center:

The War Album follows in line with all the previous Albums in size, quality of layout, and of course, quality of drawings.  The bottom line with these Albums: if you see one, buy it.

Below, a spread with a Roberta MacDonald multi-panel across the top, a Barbara Shermund drawing lower left and a Perry Barlow lower right.

Along with the War Album the New Yorker produced a number of special publications during the war:

The Pony Editions.

These were smaller versions of the magazine, 6″ x 9″, given free to servicemen and servicewomen. These were not exact duplicates of the regular editions of the magazine — they carried no advertising and editorial content was juggled. One striking difference: the back cover was a full page cartoon (as shown above). According to Thomas Kunkel in his Ross biography Genius In Disguise, these editions began appearing in September of 1943 and were discontinued shortly after the end of the war.

The New Yorker War Cartoons.

Paperback, and, like the Pony Editions, 6″ x 9″.  Published in 1945, with an introduction by E.J. Kahn, Jr.. Cartoons with Talk pieces throughout.

The New Yorker Cartoons with The Talk of the Town

Also published in 1945 (and also 6″ x 9″)  Hardcover and softcover editions. An introduction by Russell Maloney.

I like Mr. Maloney’s introduction so much I’m showing a portion below (the whole piece can be found here):

Armed Services Editions.

Judging by the list of available titles provided at the end of each edition there were close to a thousand titles issued during the war (a wide variety, from Mark Twain to Thackeray).  I don’t have a complete list so I’m in the dark about which New Yorker-related  titles were issued other the one shown here, The Thurber Carnival, The New Yorker’s Baedeker, The New Yorker Profiles, and Thurber’s Let Your Mind Alone. (If anyone knows of more please let me know).  These special publications were very small: 3 3/4″ x 5 1/2″ — small enough to fit in a soldier’s pocket.  There was a Bill Maudlin Armed Services title published (it’s #822, Up Front). Technically, he was a New Yorker cartoonist with one drawing published,  April 1, 1950.  But that appeared five years after Up Front was published in 1945.  Splitting hairs, I know.  

 

 

 

Russell Maloney on New Yorker Cartoons: “In The New Yorker the Pictures Do Not Illustrate the Jokes; They ARE the Jokes”

 

Here’s Russell Maloney’s Introduction to a 1945 special publication, The New Yorker Cartoons with The Talk of The Town  / Special Edition for the Armed Forces.* If you’re wondering who Russell Maloney is or was, and why he would be writing an Introduction to an anthology of New Yorker cartoons, here’s a link to an Ink Spill piece that connects the dots.

Interesting that even in 1945, twenty years after The New Yorker began publishing, the magazine was still explaining how its cartoons differed from the old “he/she cartoons” popular in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.  Even more interesting (and illuminating!) is Maloney’s precision take on the gamut of New Yorker cartoons appearing in the magazine’s first twenty years, from the timely (“they were funny once… but they wouldn’t be now”) to the evergreens (“aimed above rather than below the neck”). After all these years that mix (to use a Tina Brown-ism) remains the same right up to the latest issue of The New Yorker which includes a cartoon about binge-watching, as well as a cartoon depicting a pole vaulting knight.

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*According to a label glued on to the last page, the original edition of this anthology was “produced under wartime conditions at the request of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps and delivered gratis to our Armed Forces overseas.”  This particular edition is in hardcover, “made available in The United States and to civilians for the first time.”

 

 

Donnelly’s Olympic Tweet Drawings; Paul Karasik’s Winning 12 Panel Pitch; Maloney’s 1st New Yorker Cartoon Idea Sale

liza-olympics-roundup-01Liza Donnelly, who has been live Tweet drawing the Olympics, continues on tonight.  The New Yorker‘s “Sporting Scene” is showcasing her work here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And.. Karasik Wins

Karasik 2

Paul Karasik (left) who has been contributing his cartoons to The New Yorker since 1999 has the winning 12 Panel Pitch for Slate Read all about it/ see it here.

Link here to his blog, Rules to Vivere ByLink here to his Wikipedia entry.

 

 

 

And…More Maloney

Back in March of 2013, I wrote a piece about Russell Maloney and his connection to The New Yorker‘s cartoons.  Since then I’ve acquired a copy of Maloney’s 1945 collection, It’s Still Maloney (cover by Richard Taylor, re-posted here.  The March scan wasn’t very good).

Maloney

In Maloney’s preface (“Author! Author!”) he tells us he will he provide a running commentary through the book — a nice touch —  and he also lets us in on his introduction to The New Yorker. He first sold the magazine an anecdote in “the dreadful summer of 1932” (for ten dollars), and then that same year:

One of the Boston newspapers informed me that The New Yorker artists did not always think up their own ideas for pictures, that the management paid outsiders for suggestions.  I sent in an account of a situation I thought would make a good Helen Hokinson picture — a lady librarian handing over a book to a patron with the admonishment, “Now don’t take this too literally, it’s symbolism” — and got paid for that: seven dollars.

 

And here’s the Hokinson drawing, caption by Maloney, published in The New Yorker,  January  7, 1933.

Hokinson:Maloney 1:7:33

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extra reading: Here’s Richard Taylor’s entry on Ink Spill‘s “New Yorker Cartoonists A-Z”:

 

Richard Taylor  (self portrait above from Meet the Artist) Born in Fort William, Ontario, Sept. 18, 1902. Died in 1970. NYer 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.”

 

 

Book of Interest: E.B. White on Dogs

ebwhiteondogs-197x300There are a number of New Yorker alum who had much to do with the magazine’s art, but are not generally thought of as New Yorker artists.  E.B. White is perhaps the most famous of the lot, although he did venture big time into the magazine’s art department with the publication of his one and only cover (below) published April 23, 1932:

ebwhite_newyorker-1

 

 

 

 

White is also remembered as author of one of the most popular cartoon captions of the magazine’s earlier days. It appeared beneath Carl Rose’s  drawing in the December 8, 1928 New Yorker:spinach

“It’s broccoli, dear.”

“I say it’s spinach, and I say the hell with it.”

 

The original caption, below, as submitted by Rose himself provided the framework for White’s sterling re-working. Rose’s original caption:

“Mother, if I eat my spinach, may I have some chocolate pudding?”

“No, dear, there isn’t any chocolate pudding today.”

“Well, the, the hell with the spinach.”

 

White, along with Russell Maloney, were considered by Rose the two best gagmen on the planet. All of this brings me to the book pictured at the top of this post, published earlier this year.  It’s edited by White’s granddaughter, Martha White (who also updated and revised the 2006 edition of the wonderful Letters of E.B. White).   E.B. White & dogs — a combination sure to amuse you through the winter months.

 

further reading… 

Click here for a piece about Martha White at a recent reading.

Click here to visit Martha White’s website.

Author’s Progress Report: Thomas Vinciguerra on his Cast of Characters: Wolcott Gibbs, E.B. White, James Thurber, and the Golden Age of the New Yorker

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(above: foreground: Fritz Foord, Wolcott Gibbs, Frank Case (owner of the Algonquin Hotel) and Dorothy Parker. Standing, left to right: Alan Campbell, St. Clair McKelway, Russell Maloney and James Thurber.

 

An Ink Spill Exclusive:

Wolcott Gibbs and Co. in Upcoming Group Portrait

There’ve been a handful of New Yorker-centered books in recent years that have caused the house lights here to blink in excitement and anticipation.  The Linda Davis biography of Charles Addams, James Stevenson’s lovely book on Frank Modell, and Deirde Bair’s biography of Saul Steinberg.  Now another is added to that short list.  Last August, Publisher’s Weekly announced that W.W. Norton would be publishing Cast of Characters: Wolcott Gibbs, E.B. White, James Thurber and the Golden Age of The New Yorker, by Thomas Vinciguerra in the spring of 2015, coinciding with the magazine’s 90th anniversary. Since then, little has been heard from Vinciguerra. But some delicate arm-twisting elicited an update and overview from the harried author.

 

“After months of plowing through The New Yorker records at the main branch of the New York Public Library, I can safely say that I should be able to wrap up my primary digging there by the end of the summer,” Vinciguerra says. “I’ll soon be off to a few other archival collections and conducting some interviews. But happily, I’ve been working on this book in one form or another for so long that much of my research is already done.”

Thereby hangs a tale. In the fall of 2005 Vinciguerra began investigating the life of Gibbs (1902-1958), who in more than 30 years at The New Yorker contributed countless comic sketches, parodies, profiles, short stories, “Talk” and “Comment” pieces and, notably, a pungent theatre column for approximately two decades. “I was appalled that this incredibly productive, versatile, indispensable contributor had been largely forgotten to history,” he recalls. “But for five years, nobody wanted a biography about him. Their attitude was, ‘Wolcott Gibbs? Who’s he?’ Then, in 2010 I got lucky. Bloomsbury had published A Reporter at Wit’s End, a collection of the journalism of Gibbs’s colleague and friend St. Clair McKelway, and I found they were looking to do a follow-up. So in 2011 they came out with my anthology Backward Ran Sentences: The Best of Wolcott Gibbs From The New Yorker.

Backward Ran Sentences (its title derives from the famous 1936 Gibbs profile of Henry Luce, which spoofed many aspects of Time magazine, notably its weirdly inverted narrative structure) was a minor success and reawakened some interest in Gibbs. Jonathan Yardley of The Washington Post named it one of his best books of the year and even Time declaimed puckishly, “Forward run to this Wolcott Gibbs anthology.” Still, there was no interest in a full-length account of Gibbs’s life.

“Finally,” says Vinciguerra, “I got in touch with my old friend John Glusman, editor-in-chief at Norton. He suggested a book about Gibbs and his circle, shamelessly playing up The New Yorker angle and such giants as White and Thurber, to elicit as much interest as possible. Proceeding from the principle that half a loaf is better than you know what, I gratefully accepted.”

The volume will be neither a history of The New Yorker nor a conventional biography, but rather a group portrait of a certain collection of writers, editors, artists, entertainers and other personalities placed against the backdrop of the magazine, with Gibbs as a focal point. “The best comparison I can make is to Poets in Their Youth,” Vinciguerra says, “in which Eileen Simpson chronicled the lives and times of a whole bunch of interconnected persons—Robert Lowell, Jean Stafford, R.P. Blackmur, Delmore Schwartz, Randall Jarrell—with her husband, John Berryman, as a connecting link.”

It’s an unconventional approach, and Vinciguerra is finding that he has his work cut out for him. “This is unlike anything I’ve done before,” says the author, a founding editor of The Week magazine and a contributor to various sections of The New York Times for almost 20 years. “And I’m afraid that I’m going to disappoint some people. When Brendan Gill came out with a new edition of Here at The New Yorker, he explained that the book wasn’t an official account of life at the magazine; it was an account of his life at the magazine. Similarly, Cast of Characters will concern itself almost exclusively with Gibbs and the people who were part of his orbit.

“Fortunately, Gibbs wasn’t merely a writer but a major New Yorker editor as well. And unlike White and Thurber, with whom he was always mentioned in the same breath, he never formally left the staff. So he was absolutely an ongoing, sometimes omniscient, presence. At the same time, there were many big names that weren’t in his crowd. You’re not really going to see anything here about folks like Joe Mitchell, Jean Stafford, Dorothy Parker, Richard Rovere, Saul Steinberg, or S.J. Perelman. A.J. Liebling, Robert Benchley and Peter Arno, among others, will enter only fleetingly.

“At the same time, there will be new information about hitherto elusive figures who Gibbs did interact with, like St. Clair McKelway, Russell Maloney, Gus Lobrano, John Mosher, Hobie Weekes, and Freddie Packard. It goes without saying that along with White and Thurber, Harold Ross and Katharine White will loom large. So, too, will Gibbs’s close friends Charles Addams and John O’Hara, and his literary enemy Alexander Woollcott. And I’m paying special attention to the two worlds that Gibbs really made his own—Broadway and Fire Island.

“I’m tempted to spill even more, but I do have a deadline.”

 

Some links of interest:

From newyorker.com, October 11, 2011, an interview with Jon Michaud of The New Yorker: “Q&A: Thomas Vinciguerra on Wolcott Gibbs”

From The Committee Room, December 12, 2012, this interview:  “TCR Recommends — “Backward Ran Sentences: The Best of Wolcott Gibbs by Thomas Vinciguerra”

From The Washington Post, December 9, 2011, “Year-end Picks”

From Time, October 25, 2011, “Backward Ran Sentences: The Best of Wolcott Gibbs from The New Yorker”

And…

Mr. Vinciguerra has been kind enough to pass along to this address examples of some of the treasure he has discovered while digging through the New Yorker’s archives in the New York Public Library.  From what I’ve been seeing, there is no doubt “Cast of Characters” will be in a league with “Genius in Disguise”  Thomas Kunkel’s spectacular biography of Harold Ross.  Come 2015, we are in for a treat.