Sunday, October 4, 2015

Hand Drawn Jokes Signed by Matthew Diffee

When Matthew Diffee graciously asked me what animal I'd like him to draw in my copy of Hand Drawn Jokes for Smart Attractive People, I naturally went with a dog. After all, I already own books with a Diffee duck and a Diffee porcupine.
Matthew Diffee, Hand Drawn Jokes for Smart Attractive People, 2015

Signed and inscribed by Matthew Diffee with a drawing of a dog

So how big do you like your book announcements?
Diffee's Book Announcement

 Diffee's Big Book Announcement

Note:  If you look through all my posts on Matthew Diffee, you're bound to come across the duck and the porcupine. Eventually.

Signed books with original drawings are favorite objects around here. Or do I mean subjects?

Sure there's a lot more to see about dogs, but any blog can do that.

Do you have other animals from the Diffee zoo? You can share them here.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Edna Eicke's Red Maple Tree in Westport

One of the great things about attending "Cover Story:  The New Yorker in Westport" last year was the local perspective of the exhibition. The Westport Historical Society assembled an impressive array of New Yorker covers created by seventeen area artists. The curators were able to point out some of the familiar scenes depicted on those covers. For example, the show included a photograph of a local red maple tree some seven decades after it was the subject of a New Yorker cover by Edna Eicke. One can hardly recognize it.

Now the Westport Historical Society is once again visiting this rich subject matter. The new show, "Talk of the Town," features sixteen photographs by Michael Goss showing the Westport area today. These images are displayed alongside corresponding New Yorker covers. It opened September 25 and will run through October 26. I hope the elegant red maple tree is again included.

Lawrence S. Untemeyer, The Red Maple Tree
Exhibited in "Cover Story:  The New Yorker in Westport" from January 26 to July 5, 2014
The Westport Historical Society

Edna Eicke, The New Yorker, October 18, 1952

Note:  I reported on "Cover Story:  The New Yorker in Westport" back in 2014.

You can also see my post about Edna Eicke's cover featuring the Lobster Inn in Southampton. What was she doing there?


My Entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #491

Here is my entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #491 for September 28, 2015. The drawing is by Michael Maslin.

"Ordinarily he doesn't come out of the maze."

A caption I didn't use:
"We just missed our chance to sell."

Note:  Last week, Paul Noth held confession in an MRI. My caption was blameless. See the results of Contest #490 and receive absolution.

Dive in to my collected blog posts about Michael Maslin.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Classic animation from the 1930's is the inspiration behind the forthcoming Cuphead video game for Xbox. From the appearance of the trailer, the story is established in black-and-white, while the gameplay is a series of boss battles in color. As the title cards state, Cuphead and Mugman gamble with the devil and lose. They then attempt to repay their debt in a series of run and gun boss battles. The animation is drawn by hand and the backgrounds are hand-painted, giving the game a look reminiscent of the cartoon shorts of some independent animation studios of the 1930's. That intensity of effort should make it more visually-interesting than the a great many of the video games already out there. Cuphead is due out in 2016.

Cuphead E3 2015 Trailer for Xbox One

 Cuphead and Mugman gambled with the Devil...
...and lost!!!


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Al Hirschfeld: Covering H. L. Mencken

Late in 2002, the New Yorker published a dizzying color illustration of author H. L. Mencken by Al Hirschfeld. It seems to be an older Hirschfeld by several decades. Given the absence of hidden Ninas, it probably predates the birth of Hirschfeld's daughter Nina in 1945.

Al Hirschfeld, H. L. Mencken
The New Yorker, December 9, 2002, p. 131

Note:  This evening, September 29, 2015 at 6:30, there will be a panel discussion entitled "The Hirschfeld Century Speaks" at the Art Students League in Manhattan.

Have you seen "The Hirschfeld Century" at the New-York Historical Society? It's a stunning exhibition, and it closes on October 12. Try not to miss it.

Al Hirschfeld's caricatures have made several appearances on this blog.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Al Hirschfeld and the Vicious Circle

In 1951, Margaret Case Harriman, the daughter of the Hotel Algonquin's Frank Case, published The Vicious Circle:  The Story of the Algonquin Round Table. The Algonquin's celebrated wits were illustrated by the great Al Hirschfeld. These scans from the book were taken by Stephen Kroninger.
Al Hirschfeld, The Vicious Circle:  The Story of the Algonquin Round Table, 1951 by Margaret Case Harriman, front cover

Host Frank Case is illustrated over a copy of the dinner menu at the Algonquin.
Frank Case

It's a man's world, but Dorothy Parker has found a way in.
Dorothy Parker

An unusual double portrait:
George S. Kaufman, Edna Ferber

Heywood Bround takes his work home with him.
Heywood Broun

There are two sides to Alexander Woollcott.
Alexander Woollcott

Columnist F. P. A. writes "The Conning Tower."
Franklin P. Adams

Bob Benchley in the spring...
Robert Benchley

The New Yorker's editor Harold Ross (as we saw here yesterday)...
Harold Ross

Robert Sherwood, Irving Berlin, Marc Connelly

Progressive but understated:
Ruth Hale, Jane Grant

Dog lover:
Robert Frank. Author photo of Margaret Case Harriman and Topper.
The Vicious Circle: The Story of the Algonquin Round Table, 1951, back cover

Note:  Once again, all artwork from The Vicious Circle is © by the Al Hirschfeld Foundation. My thanks to Stephen Kroninger for permission to use his scans of the book. Tomorrow evening, September 29 at 6:30, he will participate in a panel discussion entitled "The Hirschfeld Century Speaks" at the Art Students League in Manhattan. Joining him on the panel will be Ken Fallin, Drew Friedman, and Bill Jacklin, while David Leopold, the Creative Director of the Al Hirschfeld Foundation, will be the moderator.

Have you seen "The Hirschfeld Century" at the New-York Historical Society? It's a stunning exhibition, but it will close October 12. Don't miss it.

Follow the aqua links to more of my Attempted Bloggery posts about the Algonquin Round Table including host Frank Case and members Franklin P. Adams, Irving Berlin, Robert Benchley, Heywood Broun, Marc Connelly, Edna Ferber, George S. Kaufman, Dorothy Parker, Harold Ross, and Alexander Woollcott. There's also more in the archives about author Margaret Case Harriman and of course illustrator Al Hirschfeld.

Let's not forget back cover portrait photographer Robert Frank.

My table at the Algonquin? It's in the boiler room.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Rea Irvin and Al Hirschfeld: Harold Ross as Eustace Tilley

Eustace Tilley is the observant dandy who acts as mascot for the New Yorker. He first appeared on the cover of the New Yorker's first issue and he received his euphonious name during the magazine's first year. It was Rea Irvin, the magazine's first art editor, who illustrated that cover. Until fairly recently it has been reproduced more or less annually on the anniversary issue. Eustace Tilley also appears on the magazine's masthead every week and he makes occasional appearances in other illustrations as needed.
Rea Irvin, The New Yorker, February 21, 1925

Harold Ross founded the magazine with Raoul Fleischmann and served as its editor. It was probably only a matter of time before someone portrayed him as Eustace Tilley. A period photo of the young Harold Ross shows his remarkable shock of hair brushed skyward.
Harold Ross, 1926. The photo is apparently reversed.

Harold Ross as Eustace Tilley? The idea is straightforward enough. It isn't such a great stretch for an illustrator to depict the New Yorker's founding editor Harold Ross as the foppish Eustace Tilley. The first to do this was Irvin himself. The occasion was a parody issue of the magazine dated November 6, 1926, Ross's birthday. It was circulated in-house at the New Yorker as a gift for Ross.

Rea Irvin, under the joking pseudonym Penaninksky, depicts Ross in profile, adopting Eustace Tilley's characteristic perceptive pose. Ross is shown in silhouette because this one-off had to be printed cheaply in black-and-white. The top hat may be Tilley's but the spiky hair clearly belongs to Ross only. Ross was a chain-smoker and thus a cigarette dangles from his lip. He still wears Tilley's nineteenth century waistcoat but his snazzy shirt and tie belong to the Jazz Age. The delicate butterfly of the classic magazine cover is replaced by the not-so-delicate form of Alexander Woollcott as a fedora-clad spider.
Rea Irvin, The New Yorker in-house parody, November 6, 1926

A photograph shows the dapper Alexander Woollcott's fondness for hats. He doesn't look at all like a spider, does he?
Alexander Woollcott

Margaret Case Harriman's The Vicious Circle:  The Story of the Algonquin Round Table was published in 1951, a quarter-century later. When illustrator Al Hirschfeld chose to depict the Round Table's Harold Ross in the guise of Eustace Tilley, he was very likely unaware of Rea Irvin's earlier illustration, which had been circulated only within the New Yorker's offices. Ross of course was older now: his head was rounder, he wore glasses, and his once gravity-defying hair was slicked down.
Harold Ross

Hirschfeld depicts Ross with a wheat straw in his mouth, something of an out-of-town rube in high society finery. He is not the first to note Ross's relatively unsophisticated manners which stand in marked contrast to his high social standing at the classy magazine.
Al Hirschfeld "+ R. I.," Harold Ross from The Vicious Circle:  The Story of the Algonquin Round Table, 1951

The book's dustcover reproduces Hirschfeld's caricatures of (left to right, top to bottom) Heywood Broun, Robert Benchley, Harold Ross, Robert Sherwood, Irving Berlin, Marc Connelly, Dorothy Parker, and Alexander Woollcott.
Al Hirschfeld, The Vicious Circle:  The Story of the Algonquin Round Table, 1951 by Margaret Case Harriman

More recently, Thomas Kunkel's biography of Harold Ross uses Rea Irvin's caricature of Ross as Tilley on its cover.
Rea Irvin, Genius in Disguise:  Harold Ross of The New Yorker, 1995, by Thomas Kunkel

Note:  Artwork from The Vicious Circle is © The Al Hirschfeld Foundation. My thanks to Stephen Kroninger for permission to use his scans of the book. On Tuesday he will participate in a panel discussion entitled "The Hirschfeld Century Speaks" at the Art Students League in Manhattan. Joining him will be Ken Fallin, Drew Friedman, and Bill Jacklin, while David Leopold, the Creative Director of the Al Hirschfeld Foundation, will be moderating. I'll be there in the audience if I can get out of work early enough, which is another way of saying I probably won't be there. Say hi to me anyway.

Have you seen "The Hirschfeld Century" at the New-York Historical Society? It's a stunning show, but it's only there through October 12. Don't miss it.

The scan of the New Yorker's rare parody issue is taken from Magazine History:  A Collector's Blog by Steven Lomazow, M.D. He's that rarity: a doctor interested in scarce printed memorabilia! Who ever heard of such a thing?

Follow the links to more Attempted Bloggery posts about Harold Ross, Alexander Woollcott, Eustace Tilley, Rea Irvin, and Al Hirschfeld.

You might also care to look at Michael Maslin's Ink Spill post on Ross & Tilley.

See how Hirschfeld altered a photo of Harold Ross in Life magazine and got himself banned from the New Yorker for almost six decades. (Thanks again to Stephen Kroninger!)

Please contact me if you have other images of Harold Ross as Eustace Tilley. In particular, I believe there's a 1980's-era photographic illustration by Ellen Page Wilson along these lines.

I'd also love to hear from anyone with interior scans or photos of the New Yorker's rare self-parody issue.


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Lucy and the Baseball

The New York Yankees Pin of the Month for July features Lucy from Peanuts. It seems she's having a little trouble keeping the ball in her glove. That shouldn't affect the game, should it?

New York Yankees July 2015 Pin of the Month

Note:  Good news! The blog archives contain more posts about pins, about baseball, and about Peanuts. 


My Entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #490

Here is my Entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #490 for September 21, 2015. The drawing is by Paul Noth.

"Do I have your undivided attention?"

I didn't submit this one:
"Get it off your chest."

September 28, 2015 Update:  The Finalists

Note:  Last week Drew Dernavich gave us a six-car pileup. My caption was a wreck in its own right. See the unreconstructed results of Contest #489.

There's more on cartoonist Paul Noth in the archives and it deserves your blessing.


Friday, September 25, 2015

Tree Removal on Nassau Street

Summer provides a brief window for colleges and universities to spruce up their campuses. Here two large trees near the entrance to Princeton University on Nassau Street come down.

The limbs have already been removed on June 20, 2015
"X" marks the spot, June 20, 2015
Tree stump, August 29, 2015

Note:  See more posts about Princeton University.