Saturday, February 28, 2015

Ronald Searle: Sunday Afternoon (1982)

It's Sunday afternoon and even the pets are bored in this colorful 1982 drawing by Ronald Searle.

Ronald Searle, Sunday Afternoon, 1982

Christie's South Kensington, December 14, 2005

Note:  Come see what else this blog has to say about Ronald Searle.


My Entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #463

Here is my entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #463 for February 16, 2015. The drawing is by Michael Maslin.

"I reckon it's suppertime back at the ranch."

Along the way, I considered a few other captions as well:
"Now wait for my signal."
"We make our move at low tide."
"Now look what you've done!"

March 2, 2015 Update:  The Finalists

March 16, 2015 Update:  Winning Caption

Note:  In last week's contest, John Klossner drew an anachronistic caveman. My caption was way too clubby. See the uncivilized outcome of Contest #462.

Michael Maslin's work has been seen on this blog from time to time.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Saul Steinberg: The 1969 Calendar

Hallmark's final calendar by Saul Steinberg was published in 1969. This copy did not find a buyer after three weeks on eBay.

Saul Steinberg, 1969 Hallmark Calendar

Saul Steinberg, May1969

Saul Steinberg, 1969 Hallmark Calendar

Saul Steinberg, 1969 Hallmark Calendar

EBay Listing Ended February 20, 2015

Note:  There's more here to see by Saul Steinberg.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Saul Steinberg: The 1960 Calendar

Saul Steinberg's first calendar for Hallmark was published in 1960. A rare copy showed up on eBay and was sold for $100 last week after two previous weeks of failing to attract any bids. I have it on good authority that the seller immediately rescinded the sale, feeling this first calendar was worth considerably more and had been erroneously underpriced. Some days, eBay's terms of service don't seem to count for much.

Saul Steinberg, 1960 Hallmark Calendar
Saul Steinberg, January 1960

Saul Steinberg, 1960 Hallmark Calendar
Saul Steinberg, September 1960
Saul Steinberg, November 1960
EBay Listing Ended February 20, 2015

EBay Item Description

Note:  There's usually a lot to say about the art of Saul Steinberg.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Saul Steinberg: The American Sketchbook

Fourteen drawings were published in The American Sketchbook, Saul Steinberg's stunning color calendar for 1968. Steinberg started publishing calendars with Hallmark in 1960. Prior to this, he had created greeting cards for the company. The calendars were published through 1969. Today, Steinberg's calendars seem to be fairly hard to come by.

The first two photos below came from an eBay sale a while back. The final four are from  a Japanese bookseller.

Saul Steinberg, The American Sketchbook, 1968

Saul Steinberg, The American Sketchbook, glimpsing pages for February and March 1968

Saul Steinberg, The American Sketchbook, 1968

Saul Steinberg, The American Sketchbook, January 1968

Saul Steinberg, The American Sketchbook, May 1968

Saul Steinberg, The American Sketchbook, December 1968

Note:  Other blog posts about Saul Steinberg are included here at no extra charge.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Look at the New Yorker's First Issue

Ninety years ago, if you had picked up that first issue of the New Yorker on your neighborhood newsstand, you would have seen very little advertising and not all that much editorial content. Nevertheless, today's readers of the magazine will recognize that some familiar elements were there from the very beginning. Let's have a look.

Rea Irvin, The New Yorker, February 21, 1925
The dandy who we now call Eustace Tilley was conceived not solely as a cover illustration but also as a recurring figure on the masthead, a mascot of  sorts for the new magazine watching over its editorial content through his monocle. His quill pen, another extremely retro element, is hardly necessary in the presence of that excellent crop of advisory editors. It was quite impressive of Harold Ross to put this team together for his first issue. Many of the names are still instantly familiar to us ninety years later!
Rea Irvin, Of All Things, page 1

The first cartoon in a magazine that would come to be known for its outstanding cartoons is by Alfred Frueh. It takes place on the subway--or is it the El?
Alfred Frueh, Co-operation
The Talk of the Town section was present from the beginning, but it soon was to replace Of All Things in the leading position.
Rea Irvin, The Talk of the Town

The fledgling magazine was working hard to convey a light tone. Here is some timely humor pulled from the headlines of February 1925. Those who have seen "Balto" will be acquainted with the story, but not with this little-known sequel.

The New Yorker's first spot drawing is quite lively too.
Spot drawing

Could there be any doubt what corner of the world would be this magazine's primary focus?
"The Story of Manhattankind."
Illustration by Herb Roth.

Surprise!  The second cartoon is also by Alfred Frueh.
Alfred Frueh, The Tower of Pisa in a Nervous Household

The magazine's first Profile featured Maestro Giulio Gotti-Casazza of the Metropolitan Opera.
Profile of Giulio Gatti-Casazza.
Illustration by Miguel Covarrubias.

Cartoons of the era typically presented bits of dialogue. The first speaker would set up the joke and the second would deliver the punchline. It's a bit of work to read and, as in this case, there's often not much of a payoff.
Gardner Rea, "What's th' drunk's name, Reilly?"
"Dunno, serjeant.  He claims he's a unidentified body!"

Ralph Barton's mock-recapitulation of the theatre season supposes that censorship is imminent.
Ralph Barton, Synopsis of the Preceding Chapters

Rea Irvin, The Theatre

The artist responsible for the caricature Flor de Pince Nez, Alfred Leete, was unknown even to the New Yorker's archivists until 2013. An auction house in Devon offered the original watercolor in July of 2012 and erroneously identified the artist as Arthur T. Tansley. The auction estimate was 25-45 GBP, but what might it have been if the true publication history had been known?
Alfred Leete, Flor de Pince Nez
Alfred Leete, Flor de Pince-Nez / Absence of Mind

Detail of Flor de Pince-Nez / Absence of Mind

The modern single-speaker caption did already exist with the New Yorker's first issue. Still, there was room for improvement.
Oscar Howard, "I don't know what I shall do, Amelia, when I think of you alone in Paris."

Clearly the magazine intended to engage in social commentary:
Wallace Morgan, The Bread Line

In Our Midst header
Among the lightheaded social notes in this section, we find this note on Don Marquis, author of archy and mehitabel (newspaper columns to be collected in book form in 1927), among many other things:
Image added March 9, 2015

Then there is cartoonist Al Frueh, who appeared twice in this issue, shown attaining new heights.
Image added March 9, 2015

And even Broadway composer Jerome Kern gets a sideways mention.
Image added March 9, 2015

Ethel Plummer's cartoon does more than hint at the revolution in attitudes towards sex taking place in the Jazz Age:
Ethel Plummer, Uncle:  "Poor girls, so few get their wages!"
Flapper:  "So few get their sin, darn it!"

Today Fritz Kreisler remains a towering figure in the pantheon of the world's great violinists.
Einar Narman, Fritz Kreisler

Art header
Goings On soon became Goings On About Town. It was to be moved to the front of the magazine preceding the editorial content. Here, a carnival barker:
Rea Irvin, Goings On

The first subscription offer is quite humorous. A year's subscription costs five dollars.
Subscription offer

Presumably these little subject drawings were by Rea Irvin. Hear ye! Hear ye!
Books header

Are you cosmopolitan enough to know where to get your old corsets rejuvenated? Well, now you are.
Where to Shop

Note:  What luck! I have other blog posts about Rea Irvin and Miguel Covarrubias. You also might be able to learn a bit about what's been going on for the last ninety years at The New Yorker.