Syd Hoff Exhibit out west; Marcella Hazan changed David Sipress’s Life









Ink Spill has learned from the niece of the late great Syd Hoff that the exhibit “Syd Hoff: The Man, the Magic and the Mystery” is opening this coming October 7th in Newport Beach, California.  Details here.  Link to the  Syd Hoff website here.

From the press release:


Newport Beach, CA (September 18, 2013) – The Newport Beach Public Library will showcase the works of legendary cartoonist and children’s book author Syd Hoff in a special exhibit at the Central Library, 1000 Avocado Avenue, opening October 7 through November 3.  The exhibit is free and open to the public during library hours, MondayThursday, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday, noon- 5 p.m.

The special exhibit, “Syd Hoff, the Man, the Magic and the Mystery,” focuses on the life and career of Syd Hoff who was the illustrator and author of over 110 books, most with special emphasis on the early reader. The exhibit includes a variety of art panels comprised of original illustrations, cartoons and family photos.  In addition, the exhibit will also feature several items from Mr. Hoff’s personal collection of memorabilia.

While best known for his beloved 1958 children’s classic “Danny and the Dinosaur,” which sold millions of copies, Syd Hoff’s body of work includes over 570 cartoons featured in “The New Yorker” magazine, that crossed not only the generational gap, but socioeconomic and gender lines, as well.  The exhibit celebrates contributions that Hoff has made as one of the great humorists of the twentieth century.

The month-long exhibit is on loan to the library courtesy of exhibit curator, Carol Edmonston, who is Syd Hoff’s niece and is passionate about preserving the legacy of her late uncle.

In addition to the exhibit, Children’s Services at the Newport Beach Public Library is hosting a “Syd Hoff Family Storytime” on Saturday, October 19 at 10:30 a.m. in the Children’s Room at the Central Library.  Carol Edmonston will be on hand to share stories of her uncle and a special guest will make an appearance that is sure to entertain young “Danny and the Dinosaur” fans.  Children will also be able to work on crafts inspired by the art of Syd Hoff.



From, September 30th, 2013, “Marcella Hazan Changed My Life”David Sipress on the great chef.

Benchley’s “Walter Mitty”; Hoff’s “Laugh It Off”

Benchley:This Isimages










From a 1944 CBS Radio Broadcast of a series, “This Is My Best” here’s an audio clip (not the full performance –just 19 minutes) of Robert Benchley performing James Thurber’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (Link courtesy of David Pomerantz)




Hoff:Laff It Off






From the blog,  Daily Ink , August 28, 2013, “Ask the Archivist: ‘Laugh It Off'” — this post on Syd Hoff.

BBC: Bert & Ernie New Yorker Cover & The Power of Cartoons: Bob Mankoff on Favorite Cartoons, Pt.2; Book of Interest: American Cornball

BBC Bert:Ernie








From BBC News Magazine, July 19, 2013, “A Point of View: Bert, Ernie and the power of cartoons”












From New Yorker Cartoon Editor, Bob Mankoff’s blog, here’s part 2 of his look into favorite cartoons.  This time Mr. Mankoff begins to roll out favorites as suggested by visitors to the site.  Work shown includes cartoons by George Price, Peter Arno, Shel Silverstein (whose work never appeared in The New Yorker), and Charles Addams.











Now here’s a book worth waiting for: American Cornball: A Laffopedic Guide to the Formerly Funny (Harper, 2014) by Christopher Miller.  Originally slated to be out now, it’s been rescheduled for February of next year.  I asked Mr. Miller to describe the book:


It is an encyclopedia of old humor, with roughly 200 entries on things that used to strike people as funny–things like anvils, back-seat drivers, castor oil, dish-washing husbands, efficiency experts, flappers, gold diggers, hangovers, icemen, just-marrieds, kissing booths, ladies’ clubs, mothers-in-law, next-door neighbors, old maids, pie fights, rolling pins, stenographers, traveling salesmen, ulcers, women drivers, and yes men.

The focus is American humor in the first 2/3 of the 20th century, as expressed in books, movies, cartoons, comic strips, sit-coms, radio programs, etc. I talk a lot about New Yorker cartoonists like Charles Addams (especially in the entry on Spouse-Killing), Helen Hokinson (Ladies’ Clubs), Peter Arno (Gold diggers), and Richard Taylor (Drunks and Drunkenness).


Note: Mr. Miller has a Facebook page devoted to the book, with a number of images posted, including work by Charles Addams, Syd Hoff, and Sam Cobean



Syd Hoff’s Online Exhibition

Hoff's 1st NYer '31


A website dedicated to the late great Syd Hoff now has a 19 panel online slide show, “Syd Hoff…the Man, the Magic & the Mystery.”   Mr.Hoff’s niece, who created the website,  writes to Ink Spill that “the exhibit includes a variety of original images, text panels and family photos…the exhibit has also been created as a traveling exhibit for libraries, museums and cultural centers. The inaugural showing will be held in S. CA at the Newport Beach Library in early fall.”

Syd Hoff’s first drawing (to the left) appeared in the August 1, 1931 issue of  The New Yorker.  He went on to contribute 571 more, with his last in January 27, 1975.  In the meantime he found great success as a children’s book author. Mr. Hoff passed away in  May of 1994. He was 92.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Roth

Philip Roth, who celebrates his 80th birthday today, was first published in The New Yorker the issue of March 14, 1959, with his story, “Defender of the Faith” causing an immediate stir (see the upcoming PBS American Masters profile “Philip Roth: Unmasked”  for, among so many other things,  Mr. Roth’s recollection of buying, opening up, reading and rereading his story in this particular issue — jokingly(?) saying he even read it “upside down”).


The issue featured a cover by the wonderful Abe Birnbaum, who contributed nine cartoons and nearly a hundred and fifty covers to The New Yorker.  His New York Times obit (June 20, 1966) contains this quote by Mr. Birnbaum: “Nothing is ugly. Everything is what it is.”


Brendan Gill reprinted the robin cover in his book,  Here At The New Yorker, writing of it:


“Nobody was satisfied with the ‘rough’ of this giant robin as it was first seen at the weekly art meeting. At the time, the background consisted merely of landscape. Geraghty [the New Yorker’s Art Editor from 1939 thru 1973] suggested the addition of birdwatchers. That simple change changed everything.”


When Philip Roth read, reread, and read his first New Yorker story upside down, he ran across cartoons by the following cartoonists — a roster that’s just about as good a snapshot of The New Yorker cartoon universe late 1950s as any:

William O’Brian, Frank Modell, Robert Kraus, Saul Steinberg, Everett Opie, Barney Tobey, William Steig, Ed Fisher, Robert Day (whose cartoon appeared on the first page of Roth’s story), James Stevenson, Otto Soglow, Syd Hoff, Whitney Darrow, Jr., Charles Saxon, Anatol Kovarsky, Dana Fradon, Eldon Dedini,  and Lee Lorenz