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

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