Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Look at the New Yorker's Eleventh Issue: May 2, 1925

Margaret Schloeman would create only two covers for the New Yorker, both of them outstanding. The first appears right here in the spring of 1925 but the second won't be published until 1931. Nevertheless Schloeman qualifies as the magazine's second female cover artist—the first is Ilonka Karasz, of course.

With this cover printed in only two colors for the sake of economy, the white of the paper becomes a crucial component of the design. There are a number of interesting things going on here. New York City's impossible traffic is indicated simply by showing two cars diverging at unlikely angles, perhaps to pass on either side of the slow-moving bus. The double-decker bus is tilted, which creates interest and tension while introducing diagonals in the composition. That tilt to the right also increases the upward sweep of the handrails to the staircase and it creates a cozy corner below the magazine logo in which there is a scene of starlit bliss. The magazine logo is mostly in white; only the initials N and Y are in green, which is a very unusual arrangement and serves to balance the subtle splash of green in the woman's scarf. In the midst of all this stands the conductor in his uniform, a solitary figure on duty in the doorway. He may or may not be aware of how brightly the star is shining this night on the couple above.

Margaret Schloeman
The New Yorker, May 2, 1925 

Ralph Barton's name hasn't been among the editorial advisors since the issue of April 11, and he hasn't had a theatre drawing in the magazine since the issue of April 4. Has there been some sort of problem?
"The Talk of the Town"

Puppy love:

Reginald Marsh's elaborate spreads have been a fixture of "The Talk of the Town" section, but change is in the air and this week it's Eldon Kelley who shows us around the clubs.
Club Lido
Eldon Kelley

Deems Taylor is, like New Yorker editor Harold Ross, a member of the esteemed Algonquin Round Table. He has been commissioned by the Met to write an as yet unnamed new opera. Today we know it is to be entitled "The King's Henchman," it will have a libretto by Edna St. Vincent Millay, and it will receive its first performance in 1927. It will later pass into obscurity.

"O Caesar, great wert thou!"
From "The King's Henchman," Act 1
Music by Deems Taylor
Libretto by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Lawrence Tibbett as Eadgar, King of England
The Philadelphia Orchestra
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus
Leopold Stokowski, Conductor

Lawrence Tibbett as Eadgar in Deems Taylor's "The King's Henchman"

New in town:

Over the course of its first ten issues, the New Yorker published at least two corrections. Here is the first of two corrections to appear in this issue alone.

Keep this under your hat! Cartoonist Alfred Frueh reveals a new religious brand of teetotaling "speakeasy." Note the insensitive sign language gag.
The Liberal Modernists Open Their Own Speakeasy
Alfred Frueh

Florida for sale...
Eldon Kelley[?], "The New Conquistadores"

Has the plight of the dieter changed much over the last ninety years?
"Metropolitan Monotypes" by Baird Leonard

The saga of U.S. mail delivery.
"The Mail Must Go Through"
Alfred Frueh

Ralph Barton has been absent from the theatre page for a few weeks now. Fortunately there's no shortage of artists who can draw French maids.
"Great Moments from the Drama"
W. E. Hill

The New Yorker pans Shaw.
"The Theatre"

The second correction to grace this issue concerns last week's review of "The Mikado."
"The Theatre" Correction

Curtain call:

This week's Profile is of Sam Drebbin, "The Fighting Jew." Because Drebbin has just died as the result of a medication error, this piece is illustrated with a (not very Jewish) angel rather than the usual portrait.

The unsigned illustration is in a style reminiscent of Rockwell Kent.

Sam Drebbin fought in several wars, but that's not what killed him.

A caricature from the "Music" page:
Ernest Newman
Miguel Covarrubias

Today Deems Taylor is remembered more for his appearance in "Fantasia" than for his musical compositions, but in his day his music was well-received.

Play ball!

The capsule reviews in the "Goings On" section continue to be rewritten, with the result that this page remains fresh and timely. How many of these long-forgotten productions would you give anything to be able to see today?
"Goings On"

A fine artist passes away...
In memoriam
John Singer Sargent
Born 1856—Died 1925

"There is a great sameness about these negro shows and few individual performances stand out in your memory." It's all very ho-hum. The type of racial caricature shown here is commonplace in the 1920's and doesn't raise any red flags at the New Yorker. Neither does the ongoing proliferation of performers in blackface, which will still be very mainstream when "The Jazz Singer" is released in 1927.
Charles Baskerville
Club Alabam
"When Nights Are Bold"

In the center column, the New Yorker quips that a new statue of Balto to be placed in Central Park will paradoxically guarantee obscurity for the famed sled dog. Ninety years later, both the statue and the dog remain popular.
"Of All Things"

Balto, Central Park

Party time, gentlemen! How can the ladies keep away?
The Annual Banquet
Hans Stengel

Gather ye rosebuds and subscriptions...

After hours...
Ladies of the Evening
Paul Reilly

Just take a look at this! The final cartoon of the May 2 issue is by Gardner Rea, whose New Yorker work to date has been in the old-fashioned style of magazines like Judge and Punch. It may not have been expected then that a Rea gag would be the one to demolish the very foundation of the 19th century dialogue cartoon. Yet here is an absolutely extraordinary gag cartoon, against all odds. This is one of those rare cartoons that knows it's a cartoon, that flouts the moribund conventions of the cartoon, and that proclaims a new era is somehow coming. It is set up conventionally to have two speakers, yet only one person speaks and really that's the whole point. The New Yorker now has all but laid the dialogue caption to rest. The he/she gag cartoon is dead. What on earth is going to replace it? Do the editors even know? Stay tuned...

              Old Gentleman:  Dear, dear, I
      suppose the child has a wise crack to
      spring and I should ask him what
      he's crying about!

Gardner Rea

This bit has run in all eleven issues now:
"The Optimist"

Perhaps this column explains the absence of John Held, Jr. from the last couple of issues of the magazine.
Weston, Conn.
By John Held, Jr.

For all you geography buffs, Syosset is a fine Long Island town whose name no doubt evokes the epitome of style.

Give my regards...

It is now some two weeks since F. Scoott Fitzgerald published the The Great Gatsby. It has yet to be reviewed in the magazine, old sport, but while waiting Conan Doyle fans might enjoy this:
From "Books"
Critic and Algonquin frequenter Alexander Woollcott writes some copy for an advertiser.

"Endorsed by leading professors of mouth hygiene..." Ah, the academic life!

Note:  Leading professors might also like to see the tenth issue of the New Yorker dated April 25, 1925.


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