Friday, March 16, 2018

Seven Out of Time

The December 1941 issue of Esquire features a portfolio of cartoons featuring temporally-displaced historical figures entitled Seven Out of Time. The collection is described as "a portfolio of modern prints by contemporary artists, portraying seven historical characters who, for one reason, or another, knew what it was all about." Make of that what you will. The description of these cartoons as "a portfolio of modern prints" seems an affectation. The seven cartoons feature the historical figures Lady Godiva, Henry the VIII, Madame du Barry (mistress of Louis XV), Lucretia Borgia, Nero, Falstaff, and Benvenuto Cellini. Each is a deliberate anachronism. The cartoonists are Barbara Shermund, Howard Baer, Marcel Vertès, Rodney deSarro, E. Simms Campbell, Dorothy McKay, and William Pachner.

Seven Out of Time is presented as an eight-page feature with a cover page illustrated by Esquire art director Tony Palazzo. He is presumably responsible too for the festive border frame around each cartoon. The drawings all seem to be in black and white, with some flat colors added during the printing process.

Seven Out of Time
Esquire, December 1941
Tony Palazzo

Barbara Shermund leads off the group with Lady Godiva showing off her Christmas spirit. The captionspoken by one of three men oblivious to her riderefers to Christmas dolls as "gadgets," some fairly sloppy writing.
"These Christmas dolls are the cutest gadgets[.]"
Lady Godiva

Barbara Shermund

Howard Baer's cartoon of Henry VIII seems a bit off the mark. We think it's proper to have a king use the royal we. And is that a shoeshine stool?
"A place after my own heart[.]"
Henry VIII

Howard Baer

Marcel Vertes's drawing of Madame du Barry is nicely-drawn, but the caption again is inexcusably weak. Do these cartoons share a gag writer? (March 24, 2018 Update:  Twitter user Richard Serkey points out that Cole Porter's "Du Barry was a Lady" opened on Broadway in 1939 and this caption is a play on the title. So perhaps the caption isn't as weak as I suggested.)
"That was no lady—that was DuBarry[.]"
Du Barry

Marcel Vertès

Cartoonist Rodney deSarro brings Lucretia Borgia to Hollywood.

E. Simms Campbell's Nero knows how to crank up the temperature. 

Zombies were all the rage at the Hurricane Bar at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Limiting the number of drinks any one patron could buy only enhanced their appeal. Shakespeare's Falstaff—the only fictional figure in this supposedly historical group—seems to appreciate the concoction. Dorothy McKay draws a mean bar scene, but the gag itself is surprisingly weak.
"Zounds, that's a nice light ale[.]"

Dorothy McKay

As with the others, William Pachner's drawing of Cellini is ill-served by the caption.
"It's art, Benny, but will it sell?"
Benvenuto Cellini

William Pachner

Note:  Zounds! Attempted Bloggery is in the midst of surveying the work of cartoonist E. Simms Campbell (1906-1971). Readers may contribute high-resolution scans or photographs of either original art or obscure printed works by Campbell or indeed any of these artists.

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives

Howard Baer

E. Simms Campbell

Dorothy McKay

Barbara Shermund


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