Wednesday, March 21, 2018

E. Simms Campbell: Elephant Caravan

A 1957 cartoon by E. Simms Campbell published in Esquire shows his popular "Harem Girls" teasing the reader with their casual nudity and languid inactivity. Campbell excels at ambitious compositions like this. The grand arch frames the scene and delineates the sunlit, brightly-colored outdoors from the shadowed interior with its earth tones. The two raised arms and the elephant's raised trunk work together against the sky and link the foreground to the middle ground with parallel undulations. Where these cartoons often seem weakest is in delivering the humor. The caption is subservient to the illustration, servicing it without adding any real punch of its own. One wonders whether the Esquire reader minded—or even noticed.

"I hate to ask him over for a week-end. He always overdoes it!"
E. Simms Campbell

Esquire, 1957

Note:  Not to make a big production of it, but Attempted Bloggery is in the midst of surveying the work of cartoonist E. Simms Campbell (1906-1971). There's a lot of Campbell art out there—original art and published rarities. Readers can make my day by sending high-resolution scans or photographs of the work of E. Simms Campbell. I'll try to get as much of it out there as I can. Make way for Prince Ali!

In what issue of Esquire was this cartoon originally published? If you know, please send word by elephant.

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E. Simms Campbell


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