Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Peter Arno: Where There's a Will..., Part 3

In 1942, Peter Arno confronted an interesting problem. He had either come up with or been assigned a gag cartoon for the New Yorker that involved the reading of a will to disappointed relatives. He had already handled this scenario in 1939. At least some of his readers and editors would be familiar with the previous cartoon. How was he to handle this?

Peter Arno, The New Yorker, December 2, 1939, page 23

Peter Arno, The New Yorker,  May 16, 1942, page 14

Arno chose to make the new cartoon distinctly different. Aside from removing the dog which is the object of the 1939 gag, there are quite a few ways he made the 1942 drawing into something quite new and unique:

1. He expanded the panel size from about two-thirds of a page to a full page.

2. He reversed the general layout, putting the family on the left and the lawyer on the right.

3. He changed the setting from a sunlit drawing room to a dark study with each of the faces starkly illuminated.

4. He minimized the mourning garb.

5. He changed the reaction of the family from anger and loathing to shock and surprise.

6. He changed the perspective from two-point to one-point, and therefore drew more of the faces in profile.

7. He changed the decor from art deco to neoclassical.

8. He gave the attorney a briefcase, a pair of spectacles, and a nice head of hair.

In summary, Arno had many tools at his disposal, and in this case he used a variety of them to make two similar gag cartoon concepts look and feel completely different.

Note:  What makes a cartoon work? I've discussed composition here only a few times, but Peter Arno really brings it out in me. Click on the aqua link to see the relevant posts.

Does the will really say that? You bet it does.

Am I running out of Arno posts? Probably. When will they end? I'm not sure. I've been saying a week or two more for about six weeks now. Is there anything you can do to help? Why, yes. This blog is in desperate need of more Arno:  correspondence, photos, original art. Check your attic. People who frequent classy places like Harry's Bar or 21 might want to sneak a few high-res photos of the art. But please don't get yourself thrown out or anything. I'm not worth it.


No comments:

Post a Comment