Wednesday, February 19, 2014

George Price Rolls His Own

Original artwork for an early George Price cartoon mocks one man's obsessive attempt to avoid the cigarette tax. He's rolling his own tobacco but making a mess of it, and thereby putting his emotional well-being on the line. The women are drawn with upright posture and sober expressions; their concern is evident. In contrast, the man is not upright in posture but leaning in toward his obsession; his clothes are disheveled, his demeanor is agitated, and even his newly-minted cigarettes are grotesquely misshapen.

George Price, "He may save the cigarette tax, but he's heading for a nervous breakdown."

Price's composition serves the gag extremely well. We are observing this scene from above, which gives us an excellent view of the chaos on the tabletop. The vanishing point is high and to the right, providing strong diagonals from the upper right into the area where the comedy is taking place. The standing woman's folded arms and the seated woman's extended arm form lines from the vanishing point toward the frustrated man. Probably no other artist would include a second lamp, this one unplugged, and a pile of books on the unused chairs. Note how the lines of this tapered lampshade, the tablecloth, and the topmost books all direct the eye back toward the seated man. Also note, however, that the standing woman directs her gaze not toward her husband but back towards her companion. Therefore, in reading the reactions, we go from the wife to the visitor to the husband to the cigarettes, making a sort of Z or zigzag. And that, my friends, is how a master composes a cartoon.,-george-331-c-jx456uy62p

Note:  Additional George Price posts may be seen here.


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