Book Of Interest: Margaret Case Harriman’s The Vicious Circle: The Story Of The Algonquin Round Table; It’s Oscar Day!

There are a good number of places to read about the beginnings of The New Yorker by people who were there at the beginning. Jane Grant’s Ross, The New Yorker And Me is one (Ms. Grant was married to Harold Ross during the birth of the magazine), and then there’s Corey Ford’s The Time Of Laughter (mentioned here not long ago).

The Vicious Circle by Margaret Case Harriman (published in 1951 by Rinehart)) is another gem. Ms. Harriman’s middle name might look familiar to anyone who’s read Frank Case’s Tales Of A Wayward Inn, published in 1938. Mr. Case (Ms. Harriman’s father) owned the Algonquin Hotel during the time the Roundtable played its part helping spawn The New Yorker.

The fabulous cover is by the late great (non-New Yorker artist) Al Hirschfeld. Back in 2015 Stephen Nadler’s Attempted Bloggery posted illustrations from the book (see them here). I used the cover for my own purposes here on the Spill some time back to head the Posted Notes section:

If you have The Vicious Circle in hand and want to head right into the New Yorker material, go to The Birth Of The New Yorker on page 171. One of my favorite paragraphs concerns this description of the magazine’s founder and first editor, Harold Ross, at the art meeting:

Ross’s searchlight gaze is equally busy on the drawings that go into the magazine. At art meetings he will stare gloomily at a drawing and mutter, “Who’s talking?” This means the picture will go back to the artist to have the speaker’s mouth opened wider. Or he will twist his long body around to peer at the perspective of another cartoon from every angle, and then inquire plaintively, “Where am I supposed to be?” No detail of The New Yorker is too minute to escape his deep attention, and any flaw personally afflicts him, because his standard is perfection. As Russell Maloney once wrote of him, “perfection, in the mind of Harold Ross, is not a goal or an ideal, but something that belongs to him, like his watch or his hat.

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It’s Oscar Day!

Follow Liza Donnelly on Twitter @Lizadonnelly as she draws live on the Red Carpet.

Here’s a photo of her taken yesterday as she checked-out red carpet preparations (and of course drew the preparations) for tonight’s big show.


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.