Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Buford Tune on the Cover of Jokes, 1933

While we're on the subject of cartoonist Buford Tune...

Karen Green, the Curator for Comics and Cartoons at Columbia University, has reminded me of one of her finds from the cover-a-day project she started back in 2015. For one full year, she documented the covers of different magazine titles in the Steven Boss humor magazine collection. The one-hundred twenty-sixth entry in this project was Jokes, Volume 1, Number 1, dating from 1933. Ms. Green writes, "This is the only issue of this title in the Steven Boss humor magazine collection, at Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library, and appears to be the only issue in any library at all. The cover illustration is by Buford Tune, who would create the strip Dotty Dripple eleven years later."

Tune's cover art, rendered in linear black-and-white, more closely resembles a daily comic strip panel than a gag cartoon such as those he did for College Humor and other magazines in that it is meant to be reproduced without any intermediate shading. The cover gag, such as it is, depicts nothing more elaborate than the relating of a joke; in this case the "buzz" is passed along from a comically short gentlemen to a comically tall one about four times his height. Parts of the taller man's wardrobe which are in black correspond to those like parts of the shorter man's wardrobe in white, and vice versa, down even to the hat bands.

The cover's text is clearly a not-very-inventive riff on the New York Times's slogan "All the News That's Fit to Print" first used by publisher Adolph Ochs in 1896 and a daily feature of the newspaper's front page pretty much ever since. In addition, eager readers are promised they can "Be the life of the party" and "Say the bright thing at the right time," assurances that if nothing else indicate that the joke-writing will be disappointing.
Buford Tune, Jokes, Vol 1, No. 1, 1933

Note:  Additional cartoon art, published and otherwise, by the well-named Buford Tune, is eagerly sought after here.

It seems the only library anywhere in which you can look up this issue of Jokes is the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University. It's in the Steven Boss humor magazine collection, home to some 5,600 magazines including this rarity. I'd love to have a look at it someday—after all, it's never too late to become the life of the party. In the meantime, thanks go to Curator for Comics and Cartoons Karen Green for photographing the cover and now passing it along here, thus doing the bright thing at the right time.

The entire cover-a-day project may be seen on tumblr.

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Buford Tune

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Buford Tune in College Humor, September 1937

Buford Tune (1906-1989) is best known as the creator of "Dotty Dripple," a comic strip which ran from 1944 to 1974 and resembled Chic Young's "Blondie." Two single-panel cartoons by Tune appear in the September 1937 issue of College Humor magazine. Both these cartoons derive their humor by confirming readers' suspicions about how powerful men take advantage of attractive women. In this world view, the behavior of both the casting director and the physician are governed by their libidos and answer to no professional code of conduct.

"Mr. Epworth is ready for your audition now!"
Buford Tune, College Humor, Vol. 6, No. 1, September 1937, page 40

"Isn't this a rather unusual prescription, doctor?"
Buford Tune, College Humor, Vol. 6, No. 1, September 1937, page 61

Note:  This Tune's got talent. Attempted Bloggery would like to show further examples of his published single-panel cartoons. Original cartoon art by Buford Tune. would be welcome too, of course.

Some biographical information on Tune can be found on Kees Kousemaker's Comiclopedia.

According to his capsule biography of the New Yorker cartoonist on Michael Maslin's Ink Spill, Tune is a member of the One Club for his single cartoon published in the issue of October 10, 1936.

This issue of College Humor is in the Steven Boss humor magazine collection at Columbia University where I photographed it. The Rare Book & Manuscript Library is home to some 5,600 humor magazines, more than anyone could ever hope to read, let alone photograph or blog about. Curator for Comics and Cartoons Karen Green can guide anyone to relevant parts of the collection. Don't get too far ahead of me now.

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Buford Tune

College Humor

I hope we’ve passed the audition.


Monday, May 29, 2017

My Entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #571

Caption ho! Thar blows me entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #571 for May 29, 2017. The drawing is by Charle Hankin.

"Welcome to Sunken Donuts!"

And some throwaway captions:
"Not large. We call it Venti."
"Alas, I had dropped the treasure chest overboard."

June 12, 2017 Update:  The Finalists

June 19, 2017 Update:  I voted for the second caption.

June 25, 2017 Update:  Winning Caption

Note: Last week, cartoonist Robert Leighton fed the birds in the park. My caption wasn't worth tuppence. See why Contest #570 could launch a Hitchcock revival.

I may not know much about Charlie Hankin, but I know he's not an anchor baby.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

William Von Riegen and the Third Reich

Many cartoonists did their patriotic duty during the Second World War by mocking the Fascists. A cartoon by William Von Riegen from the war years shows him to be a reasonable caricaturist in addition to his skills with figures, gesture, shading, and uniforms. The publication history is unknown and the caption, unfortunately, has been lost under the glue, but it may or may not contain the name Adolf. Given all this uncertainty, the sale price of $13 at Heritage in 2008 is not all that surprising.

William Von Riegen, "[?]"

Heritage Item Description, December 28, 2008

William Von Riegen, "[?]"

Note:  Does anyone know when and where this was published, or what the caption is? Speak up, please.

This concludes our little survey of the art of William Von Riegen for now. I'm always interested in original artwork, primary source material, and published work new to the internet.


Saturday, May 27, 2017

William Von Riegen in College Humor, April 1938

In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish'd dove;
In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.
—Alfred, Lord Tennyson
"Locksley Hall"

Spring is in the air once again in April of 1938. College Humor magazine cartoons by William Von Riegen lightly turn to thoughts of love. Of course, the lover can't be just anybody...
"But, dad—I tell you she's different."
William Von Riegen, College Humor, Vol. 7, No. 4, April 1938, page 33

The women are getting frisky as well. This cartoon is published without a signature, but that might be the loop of Von Riegen's R just discernible in the lower left corner.

"Wait a minute, lady—I'm only the butler."
William Von Riegen [?], College Humor, Vol. 7, No. 4, April 1938, page 34

The cartoonist's depiction of what goes on in the workplace would be absolutely deplorable—if it weren't at least partly true. This line is meant by the boss (and maybe by the editors) to be cute, but it's clear from the secretary's face that the attention is unwanted and even menacing as well.

"Take a kiss, Miss Spencer."
William Von Riegen, College Humor, Vol. 7, No. 4, April 1938, page 39

Note:  The April 1938 number of College Humor shown here is a part of the Steven Boss humor magazine collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University. My thanks to librarian Karen Green, the Curator for Comics and Cartoons at Columbia, for helping me to track down this and other issues.

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William Von Riegen

College Humor


Friday, May 26, 2017

William Von Riegen in College Humor, February 1938

In the uncomplicated world view of College Humor magazine back in the winter of 1938, Mr. Strinch and Mr. Blair are the generic names of successful men who quite naturally find themselves on the receiving end of the attentions of young women. After all, why wouldn't they be? The reader doesn't even need to see Mr. Strinch; it's enough to get an eyeful of his barely-dressed girlfriend. She may be lounging about informally, but she still addresses him formally ... as Mr. Strinch. The joke is that the young woman's mother knows she and Mr. Strinch are going to a show but she's ignorant of their level of intimacy, something that we can glean from her lack of proper evening wear. Still, it's strictly a physical intimacy, and that's probably just fine with the collegiate crowd. But maybe it shouldn't be.

Mr. Blair, on the other hand, owner and chief executive of the family industry, seems somewhat befuddled by his secretary's willingness to offer her services after five o'clock for time-and-a-half. Depression or no, both the women in these cartoons seem to have greatly undervalued themselves.

The artist for both drawings is William Von Riegen, who has drawn the fully-clothed woman more alluringly.

"Mother says to bring me home right after the show, Mr. Strinch."
William Von Riegen, College Humor, Volume 7, No. 2, February 1938, page 23

"Do I get time and a half if I stay after five o'clock, Mr. Blair?"
William Von Riegen, College Humor, Volume 7, No. 2, February 1938, page 35

Note:  This copy of College Humor is part of the Steven Boss humor magazine collection at Columbia University. I went into the Rare Book & Manuscript Library more than a year ago looking for Peter Arno cartoons and I came away with a lot more than I bargained for. Librarian Karen Green, the Curator for Comics and Cartoons at Columbia, oversees the collection of some 5,600 humor magazines. Word is she does a lot of other things too.

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William Von Riegen

College Humor


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Blog Post No. 2200: Peter Arno Drawings from the Estate of Frank Modell

Cartoonist Frank Modell (1917-2016) started working at the New Yorker around 1946 as an assistant to James Geraghty, the art editor. Geraghty, among his many responsibilities, personally handled cartoonist Peter Arno, the magazine's most talented and most temperamental cartoonist. A number of unpublished Arno originals now have come to light from Mr. Modell's estate. He had in his possession at least one cover rough and at least five cartoon roughs plus one published drawing. Most of these predate Mr. Modell's time at the magazine. A few lack captions. A few have been carelessly folded and sustained considerable paper loss. While some of these conceivably could have been gifts from Mr. Arno, most of these might very well have been forgotten scraps left carelessly about the office which no one wanted and which Mr. Modell had the foresight to grab and take home before they were lost forever.

Four such cartoon roughs were offered for sale in March by Lotus International Auctions LLC. The lot went unsold. Two other drawings from the Modell estate are now in the collection of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum at Ohio State.

We'd better have a look at everything. Let's start with the Lotus auction:

It's never a good idea to lead with a blurry image.

"Now stop and think a minute—did I bite you?"
Peter Arno
Preliminary cartoon art
 The New Yorker, July 5, 1930

Condition aside, it's not bad, but Arno was not satisfied with this image. He went on to lower the vantage point to a dog's eye view in the published version of "Now stop and think a minute—did I bite you?" This lower camera angle gives us a more wide-angle view of the scene with the vertical lines diverging exaggeratedly toward the top. Arno also has repositioned the assailant so that his back is now toward us and we can appreciate the sheer power of his windup. The cartoonish stances seen in the rough have been eliminated and we now have a far less awkward and far more dramatic scene. The two principle figures veer away from each other in a V which exaggerates the diverging lines of the background. Their arms serve as counterweights, transforming the V of the figures into an M. The contrast of light and dark is more pronounced. Thus a gag cartoon that was already worthy of publication in just about any magazine in America was reworked by Arno into something substantially more effective.
Peter Arno
The New Yorker, July 5, 1930, page 14


The next piece started out as a promising Peter Arno gag, but as we'll see it didn't end up that way:
"And what, may I inquire, were you doing in my house?"
Peter Arno
Preliminary New Yorker cartoon art, c. 1949

"And what, may I inquire, were you doing in my house?"
Peter Arno
Preliminary New Yorker cartoon art, c. 1949

"And what, may I inquire, were you doing in my house?"
Peter Arno
Caption to preliminary New Yorker cartoon art, c. 1949

By the time of publication in the May 7, 1949 issue, this gag was reassigned to the very capable Sam Cobean, but this is problematic. The idea is clearly better suited to Arno's talents and very well may have been written expressly for him—in fact, it reads to this day like a classic Peter Arno gag. So why on earth give it away to another artist, however adept, who simply can't make the most of it? Arno's treatment of the irate husband is palpably funnier than Cobean's ever could hope to be, and while Arno's composition still needs some fine-tuning (note, for example, the impossible angle of the husband's foot), the finished cartoon should have been an instant sensation. Perhaps an explanation, in part, is that instead of working out the problems in this drawing, Arno had to work on the famous sizzling platter cartoon for publication in this very issue, and certainly no one else could have taken on that assignment. It seems likely that James Geraghty was charged with assigning, and sometimes reassigning, ideas from the gag writers to the New Yorker's stable of talented artists, a task which may not always have been so enviable.
Sam Cobean
The New Yorker, May 7, 1949, page 37

Sam Cobean's gag is long forgotten. Arno's contribution to the same issue is a revered classic that provided the title for his 1949 collection Peter Arno's Sizzling Platter:
Peter Arno
The New Yorker, May 7, 1949, page 35

Another unpublished Arno cartoon from the 1920s has suffered every indignity: tearing, creasing, paper loss, and caption loss. Usually the two Whoops Sisters are engaged in a bit of cheeky, low-comedy dialogue but, uncharacteristically, only one sister is present here. Still, there might still be two speakers. My guess is that the first speaker would be the man with the cane who would say something very proper along the lines of "I say, my good fellow, you've gone and splashed that fine lady!" That would be followed by a very saucy reply from the lone Whoops Sister beginning, inevitably, with "Whoops! ..." Note how Arno uses the perspective lines and the cane to lead our eyes to the poor, bespattered Whoops Sister.
["Whoops!... ?"]
Peter Arno
Unpublished Whoops Sister New Yorker gag, c. 1920's


Peter Arno's signature

A final unpublished gag of a hunting party and, it would seem, a car valet looks to be press-ready. It too comes to us missing its caption.
Peter Arno
Unpublished New Yorker gag, c. 1930's

September 19, 2021 Update:  It turns out Arno completely reworked this gag before publication in The New Yorker:

"Trapshooting? I thought you said crapshooting!"
Peter Arno
The New Yorker, April 30, 1932, page 14
Image added September 19, 2021
[End of September 19, 2021 update]

Peter Arno's signature

Peter Arno

Lotus International Auctions, LLC Item Description

The Modell estate went to the considerable expense of framing the above four pieces under Museum Glass. The artwork was likely too fragile to be sold otherwise, but opening the bidding at $2,000 was asking a lot for pieces in such sorry condition. Two other works from the estate were donated to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. Here's how the museum went about cataloguing them:

Peter Arno
Franklyn B. Modell Collection of Cartoon Art
The Ohio State University
Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

Peter Arno
Franklyn B. Modell Collection of Cartoon Art
The Ohio State University
Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

Both drawings are dated 1939 by the Billy Ireland, but they're obviously much earlier, let's say 1926-1929. The shower drawing is related to a series of "Why, Auntie" drawings Arno did, none of which are as funny as he seems to have thought they were and none of which appeared in the New Yorker. The idea is to present a scene in which "Auntie" is surprised naked by her nephew in a compromising situation he is too young to understand. Arno's knowing reader could at once take in the nephew's innocence, Auntie's embarrassment, and the erotic fun inherent in the situation—not a bad formula, really, except that it does involve depicting an underage child exposed to something of a salacious nature to make its point. This drawing is apparently unpublished, but it evolved some forty years later into Arno's Lady in the Shower drawing, which was intended by the artist to be a worthy companion to his madcap Man in the Shower drawing, although really it was never in the same league. The notion that Arno couldn't let go of this singular awkward idea over his entire adult life is one that is perhaps best left unanalyzed.
Variation on the "Why, Auntie" drawings and an early precursor to the Lady in the Shower drawing

"Why Auntie—what big eyes you have!"
Peter Arno's Parade (New York:  Horace Liveright, 1929)
Peter Arno's Favorites (New York:  Blue Ribbon Books, 1932)

"Why, auntie! You've got your hat on. Are you going out?"
Peter Arno's Hullabaloo (New York:  Horace Liveright, 1930)
Peter Arno's Favorites (New York:  Blue Ribbon Books, 1932)

"What the hell goes on here, Auntie?"
Peter Arno's For Members Only (New York:  Simon and Schuster, 1935)

Lady in the Shower (New York:  Simon and Schuster, 1967)

Now it's time we move on from a woman being surprised in the shower to...a woman being surprised in the bathtub. It seems this is the only one of Frank Modell's Arno drawings actually to be published, but it appeared in a cartoon collection of his and certainly not in the New Yorker. The Billy Ireland dutifully lists the subjects of this drawing as sexual harassment, sexual lust, and voyeurism, but unfortunately it's the interracial aspect of this voyeurism that Arno found especially funny here. He was amused, it would seem, by Asian men lusting after white women. Along these lines, a New Yorker cover of his from 1928 shows an Asian servant silently contemplating a modern sculpture depicting a voluptuous, nude— and white—woman.
"Hi, Kid, whatchya doin'?"
Peter Arno
Original art
Peter Arno's Parade (New York:  Horace Liveright, 1929)
"Hi, Kid, whatchya doin'?"
Peter Arno's Parade (New York:  Horace Liveright, 1929)

Peter Arno
The New Yorker, December 8, 1928

Note:  Well, that's all for now, but it doesn't have to end here. Readers are asked to contribute their own insights that will further help to place these six drawings by Peter Arno from the estate of Frank Modell in their proper historical context.

Open the floodgates! Are there other drawings in the New Yorker's history worked up by one artist and subsequently assigned to another? Readers are invited to share specific examples of different artists' approaches to a single idea drawing prior to publication in the magazine.

A trove of Peter Arno's work is hidden away out there in private collections. Send in scans or photos of what you've got and let's see what we can figure out together.

Frank Modell also owned a preliminary New Yorker cover by Peter Arno. That one was discussed earlier on the blog here.

Want to know more? Peter Arno:  The Mad, Mad World of The New Yorker's Greatest Cartoonist is Michael Maslin's fascinating biography of the artist published in 2016. It's available on Amazon here.

The Attempted Bloggery Centennial Posts
Blog Post No. 100
Blog Post No. 200:  A Shaggy Dog Story

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Peter Arno

Frank Modell

Sam Cobean

James Geraghty

Preliminary New Yorker Cartoon Art

Original Book Illustration Art

Unpublished art

What the hell goes on here?


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

William Von RIegen in College Humor, September 1937

Two cartoons by William Von Riegen appear in the College Humor number from September 1937. Each cartoon has a woman speaker. The first young woman is insecure in her golfing skills, but she still manages to drive a double entendre:
"Do you really like my form?"
William Von Riegen,
 College Humor, Vol. 6, No. 1, September 1937

The second young woman is more confident in her skills:
"Plaza 6-8881."
William Von Riegen,
 College Humor, Vol. 6, No. 1, September 1937

Note:  This isn't my copy of College Humor. It is a part of the Steven Boss humor magazine collection at Columbia University. You too can read it and even photograph it in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library. The library staff doesn't even make you wear gloves. Karen Green, Curator for Comics and Cartoons at Columbia, can guide you to any and all of the 5,600 humor magazines in the collection. It shouldn't take you more than a few years to get through them.

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William Von Riegen

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Attempted Bloggery's Index in Fine Form

Tomorrow, we'll take a break from William Von Riegen for blog post no. 2200, if I counted right.