James Thurber, Cartoon Critic; William Steig Drawings At Auction; Meet The Artist (1943): Gluyas Williams

James Thurber, Cartoon Critic

On a recent search through Thurber biographies in the Spill library I happened upon a Thurber letter I’d forgotten about. Written to Harold Ross, and dated October 20, 1941, it appears in the mother ship of all Thurber biographies, Harrison Kinney’s twelve hundred and thirty-eight page Thurber: His Life And Times (Henry Holt, 1995).

Thurber, unhappy his ideas supplied for the artist, Mary Petty have been rejected, takes issue with five drawings in the current issue — the issue of October 18, 1941.  After Thurber reminds Ross that this letter is not his first complaint (all Thurber quotes in this post are bolded):

You already have filed away for your autobiography some 50 or 100 blasphemous notes from me on what is the matter with the magazine.

he goes on to say:

The really great New Yorker drawings have had to do with people sitting in chairs, lying on the beach, or walking along the street.  The easy answer the art meeting always gives to the dearth of ideas like the ones I am trying to describe is that they are hard to get or that nobody sends them in anymore. It seems to me that the principle reason for this is that the artists take their cue from the type of drawing which they see constantly published in the magazine.

Here are those first three drawings, by Richard Decker, Alan Dunn, and Ned Hilton. (Mr. Decker’s caption, difficult to read in the scan, is: “Where have you been. Your plane crashed half an hour ago.”)

Thurber writes of these drawings:

Years ago I wrote a story for The New Yorker in which a woman who tried to put together a cream separator suddenly snarled at those who were looking at her and said, “Why doesn’t somebody take this god damned thing away from me?”  I want to help take the cream separators, parachutes, fire extinguishers, paint brushes and tomahawks away from four-fifths of the characters that appear in the The New Yorker idea drawings…

Thurber goes on to talk about two other drawings in the issue. Here’s Thurber on this drawing by  Leonard Dove:

It must have been six years ago you told me drawings about psychoanalysts were terribly out of date. The next week I turned in one in which the analyst says, “A moment ago, Mrs. Ridgway, you said that everybody you looked at seemed to be a rabbit. Now just what did you mean by that?”* …But you can’t publish a drawing about an analyst and a woman with the caption, “Your only trouble is, Mrs. Markham, that you’re so horribly normal.” This is one of the oldest, tritest, and most often repeated lines in the world.

And then Thurber moved on to this Chon Day drawing:

…this is such an extravagant distortion of reality, it is so far removed from what any salesman would ever say, that to be successful it has to be fantastic. But since the situation is not fantastic, it ends up simply being a bad gag…No sales man ever said to any housewife what you have him saying in the cartoon I am talking about. That is a gag man’s idea.

*Thurber didn’t quite get his own caption right. The actual caption: “You said just a moment ago that everybody you look at seems to be a rabbit.  Now just what do you mean by that, Mrs. Sprague?” It appeared in The New Yorker February 13, 1937.

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William Steig Drawings At Auction

The other day it was noted here that the Swann Galleries will auction New Yorker work December 10th. Yesterday a Spill visitor sent me this listing of Steig drawings to be auctioned December 5th by Bonhams. Some beautiful work by one of The New Yorker‘s Cartoon Gods!

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Meet The Artist (1943): Gluyas Williams

Speaking of NYer Cartoon Gods, here’s a self portrait of Gluyas Williams from the 1943 catalog published by the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum.

…and here’s Mr. Williams’s entry on the Spill‘s A-Z:

Gluyas Williams (above left undated; right: 1 975) Born, San Francisco, 1888. Died, Boston, Mass., 1982. One of the pillars of Harold Ross’s stable of artists, and one of Ross’s favorite cartoonists. His beautiful full page drawings were a regular feature in the magazine. Mr. Williams illustrated a number of Robert Benchley’s collections, providing the cover art as well as illustrations. New Yorker work: March 13, 1926 – Aug 25, 1951. Key collections: The Gluyas Williams Book ( Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1929), The Gluyas Williams Gallery (Harper, 1956). Website: http://www.gluyaswilliams.com/

 

 

 

Late Notice: A Launch Party Tonight With Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell Live-Drawing; Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon; The Monday Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue Of November 18, 2019; Some Thoughts After Seeing The Documentary Film, “Stevenson Lost And Found”

Late Notice: A Launch Party Tonight With Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell Live-Drawing

From the Facebook Invite:

Come celebrate the release of Sarah Dooley’s new book ‘Are You My Uber?’ which is a parody of the P.D. Eastman classic ‘Are You My Mother?’ Listen to comedians Sydnee Washington, Eva Victor, Larry Owens, Pat Regan, Marcia Belsky, Gabe Gonzalez, and Taylor Ortega tell hilarious stories of wild cab experiences while Hilary Campbell, the book’s illustrator, does live drawings.

Ms. Campbell began contributing to The New Yorker in 2017. Visit her website here.

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Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon

A leafy Daily from Chris Weyant, who began contributing to The New Yorker in 1998. Visit his website here.

 

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The Cover: I see leaves. The fifth cover (below right) by Brigit Schossow.  Read a Q&A with her here.

There’ve been a lot, a whole lot, of leafy New Yorker covers, but this current one by Ms. Schossow  brought to mind (courtesy of a helpful New Yorker colleague) the beauty below left by the magazine’s former art & cartoon editor, Lee Lorenz.

 

The Cartoonists:

The Cartoons:

A scattering of thoughts about just a few of the cartoons in this issue:

P.C. Vey’s bear and couple in the woods (on page 33) made my day.

Something totally unexpected cartoon-wise is usually always good, and so it was coming upon a Jack Ziegler cartoon. Especially nice that the drawing is set in one of his favorite cartoon scenarios: a bar.

A fun Pete Mueller drawing (p.27).  Two Mueller drawings in two issues. Yay!

Ellis Rosen’s friend’s shower (p.56) is different. Like the choices of warm/cold and cold/warm.

Needed a ten second Googled refresher course with Liana Finck’s drawing (p. 60).  Not so much what her drawing means, but the meme’s origin (just curious, y’know).

The Rea Irvin Talk Masthead Watch:

Am hoping to open the issue one day and see Mr. Irvin’s iconic design has returned. No dice this week. For now, there’s that re-draw. Read about the classic Irvin Talk masthead here.

Here’s the real deal:

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Some Thoughts After Seeing The James Stevenson Documentary Film, Stevenson Lost And Found

A few random thoughts after attending last night’s premiere of Sally Williams’ fab documentary film, Stevenson Lost And Found.  There are are so many moments in the film — too many to go into here — that cartoonists and people who love New Yorker cartoons will treasure.

One instance I found particularly fascinating: the animated sequence showing what might go through cartoonists brains as they sit down and begin the day’s work. We’re shown a series of cartoons covering a wide variety of subject matter. It is, for this cartoonist, a relatable experience, as the mind careens through unlimited places every morning.

Another instance: in some eye-popping sequences we’re shown images of Mr. Stevenson’s children’s books lined-up, as well as Mr. Stevenson’s New Yorker  black scrap books (shown above) kept in the magazine’s library. These books contain every single signed New Yorker contribution by Stevenson, whether it’s his writing or drawing (including covers of course).*  Most of The New Yorker’s nearly 650 cartoonists (from 1925- present) have not had their work collected in one scrap book, let alone five. **

At the screening, I was lucky enough to be seated next to the legendary artist, Edward Sorel. During one of the sequences in the film where we are grasping the enormous amount of work Stevenson did (both published and unpublished) Mr. Sorel leaned over and said to me, “Do you feel as much like an underachiever as I do?”

In a perfect cartoon world, there’d be films such as Lost And Found for a number of the magazine’s artists. It’s heartening that there is already a Thurber film out there, and an Addams documentary in the works, as well as a film about George Booth.  But how about a Steinberg documentary, and one about Steig***?  I can dream, can’t I.  For now, we are quite fortunate to have this gem on Stevenson showing on the big screen. Go see.

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* I say “signed” because The New Yorker  did not and does not scrap book cartoon ideas handled by other artists. Mr. Stevenson, early in his New Yorker career, wrote a large number of captions for some of the magazine’s artists (read about his “secret job” here).

**Artists (and writers) without an enormous amount of work are scrap booked in alphabetically  cataloged books, along with other contributors.

***A short video accompanied the Steig exhibit that ran at The Norman Rockwell exhibit.

There is a 20 minute film about Edward Sorel available here.

A 40 minute Eldon Dedini film here, 

And a short film about C.E.M. (Charles E. Martin) here.

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch, The New Yorker Issue Of September 30, 2019

The Cover: Christoph Niemann returns for the Technology Issue.  Read Francoise Mouly’s Q&A with him about his cover.

The Cartoonists & Cartoons:

Electronically flipping through this new issue (appropriately enough for the Technology Issue) I was happy that the cartoons just kept-a-comin’; there are seventeen of them to be exact. All of them are placed well (i.e., they have plenty of breathing room, and sit well on the page).

Here are random thoughts about some of the cartoons in the new issue…

Joe Dator’s laundromat drawing (page 50): When asked why The New Yorker didn’t run color cartoons*, The New Yorker‘s founder and first editor, Harold Ross reportedly said, “What’s so funny about red?”  What he didn’t say was,“What’s so funny about beet red?”  Mr. Dators’ drawing, incorporating beet red, is hilarious.

I hovered over Victoria Roberts’ campers and bear drawing (p.46), enjoying the drawing itself. We’re used to seeing many of Ms. Roberts drawings set indoors — it’s fun to see her drawing of a tent, and a bear (or a man in a bear suit).

Jason Patterson’s ice cream trucks heading south for the winter  (p. 25) is also fun to linger on. Its concept seems out of the Jack Ziegler school of zany.  Such a good drawing.

Also of note, graphically, and otherwise-ly: Ellie Black’s little red riding hood drawing (p.78)…and Maggie Mull’s Beautiful Mind-ish drawing on page 70; nice to see it stretched out on the page.

Shannon Wheeler’s broccoli opera drawing on page 77.  Its execution is reminiscent of some of William Steig’s middle period work (check out Steig’s 1942 collection, The Lonely Ones).

And of note in a different department: the magazine’s assistant cartoon editor, Colin Stokes’ Shouts & Murmurs piece,“Running With Scissors” (p.33).

The Rea Irvin Talk Masthead Watch: Mr. Irvin’s classic masthead drawing (below) has yet to return.  Hope springs eternal here on The Spill. Read about it here.

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*There were two color cartoons in Ross’s era, very early on in the magazine’s life; both appeared in the issue of December 12, 1925. A full page by Ralph Barton, and a double page spread by Rea Irvin. Mr. Barton did not use red in his drawing, Mr. Irvin did.

 

 

The Monday Tilley Watch, The New Yorker (Double) Issue Of August 5 & 12, 2019; Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon

The Cover: Lotsa ice cream on Olimpia Zagnoli’s second New Yorker cover. I’m immediately reminded of any number of early Vogue covers.  Read the Cover Story here.

The Cartoonists:

…a newbie: Lisa Rothstein is the 22nd new cartoonist added to the magazine’s stable this year, and the 48th new cartoonist added since cartoon editor Emma Allen’s tenure began in May 2017.

The Cartoons: quite the surprise seeing a cartoon (on p.61) by the late great Jack Ziegler.  It got me to wondering if perhaps The New Yorker might set up a special online section for the contributors who left us with a lot of work still in the bank (or, as originally designated, “on the bank” — that is,  work bought, but not yet published). When William Steig passed away there was a rumor that hundreds of his drawings (and some covers) were still on the bank. One wonders about the on the bank work of Charles Barsotti, as well as Mr. Ziegler, Leo Cullum, and Michael Crawford, to name but a few dear departed colleagues. Wouldn’t it be great to see this work gathered online.  

Also of interest in this double issue: a cartoon by the one-and-only Sam Gross, who celebrates his 50th year at The New Yorker in August. His first New Yorker drawing appeared in the issue of August 23, 1969 (the Spill will further note the occasion on August 23, 2019).

Speaking of Jack Ziegler, Ed Steed’s squid drawing (p. 37) calls to mind Mr. Ziegler’s classic squid drawing from the issue of September 16, 1996 (it was also used as the cover drawing, and title of Ziegler’s 2004 food cartoon anthology). A quick search for squid cartoons in the Cartoon Bank’s database brought up just two other squid drawings: this one by Danny Shanahan, and this one by Farley Katz).

Also of note:

… J.A.K.’s drawing (p.21) — my fave Jason Adam Katzenstein drawing of all time (so far)

…Chris Ware’s 8 page “Mr. Ware” (he talks about it here).

… Sizing of drawings this issue: most seem right on the money (examples: Sam Gross’s, Zach Kanin’s, Roz Chast’s, Lars Kenseth’s).

…:A goodly number of non-human centric drawings this issue: cockroaches (McNair), the aforementioned squid by Mr. Steed, a bull (McNamee), a parrot (Gross), a blender (Chast), hugging dogs (Rothstein), rocks (Hwang), shishto peppers (Kenseth).

Rea Irvin: Mr. Irvin’s iconic Talk masthead (it appeared for 92 years) disappeared in the Spring of 2017 (read about it here) — replaced by — gasp! — a redraw (not redrawn by Mr. Irvin, who passed away in 1972). Will the original ever return? Here it is until then:

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Today’s Daily Cartoonist & Cartoon

Brendan Loper, who began contributing to The New Yorker in 2016, on opinions/films.

 

 

 

 

George Booth’s New Yorker Golden Anniversary!

Let us raise our cartoon glasses and toast to the great New Yorker artist, George Booth. His very first New Yorker drawing appeared in the issue dated this day in 1969. His most recent drawing appeared in the magazine’s issue of June 10, 2019. My math tells me that he has now been contributing to The New Yorker for half a century.

I’ve always felt that Mr. Booth’s arrival at The New Yorker  was part of a transitional moment for the magazine’s art, helping it move from its mid-1950s Eisenhower-ish slumber to the excitement right around the bend in the late 1960s and 1970s. In the decade Mr. Booth’s work appeared, The New Yorker had lost two of its giants: James Thurber in 1961, and Peter Arno in 1968. Tremendous losses, but also a decade of tremendous gain for the magazine when the art editor, James Geraghty brought in a number of artists who would also become giants in their field: Edward Koren in 1962, Charles Barsotti, Sam Gross, and George Booth in 1969.  How fortunate we are that three of these artists continue showering us with their work right up to today (Charles Barsotti passed away five years ago this week).

By the time I was making a serious effort to get into The New Yorker in the mid 1970s (my work rejected a mountain of times by Mr. Geraghty), Booth, Koren, Barsotti and Gross had already been added to the New Yorker’s  Mt. Rushmore of cartoonists; their work impossibly inspiring. I felt (and still feel) about Booth’s drawings as I felt about work by Thurber and Hokinson and Steig and Saxon, and Peter Arno and Steinberg (and many more): it cannot get any better than this.

(above: A Booth New Yorker cartoon from the issue of March 25, 1991)

As with so many, if not all of the New Yorker great artists, there is an education for aspiring cartoonists, and published cartoonists as well, in every single one of their drawings. Even this morning looking through Booth’s work, I find my electrical cartoon current even buzzier than usual. There’s beauty and excitement in Booth’s art, and of course, there’s that signature Boothian barrel of fun.

For those wanting more of his work, Omnibooth is a great place to dive in.  Find Lee Lorenz’s The Essential George Booth (Workman Publishing Company, 1998) and you’ll be treated to a mini-bio of Booth as well as samples of pre-New Yorker work. There is also his classic 1975 collection, Think Good Thoughts About A Pussycat (Dodd, Mead & Co.).

And very luckily for us all, Nathan Fitch’s documentary film on Booth, Drawing Life  is well on its way.

I  leave you with a small sample of Mr. Booth’s cover work, and with hearty applause for George Booth — a fine person, and an exceptional artist.

 

Note: Here’s what Fred Taraba of Taraba Illustration Art had to say about the Skittish Dog drawing shown at the head of this post: Not published, rather a version of one of Booth’s most recognized cartoons. The published version appeared in The New Yorker on August 15th, 1977. A third version appears in the book, Omnibooth: The Best of George Booth.