Sunday, April 15, 2018

Esquire Cartoon Window Signs, 1935-1937

Magazine covers are designed to sell magazines; that's clearly their job. Window signs produced for Esquire in the 1930s used a different promotional tack, taking advantage of the popular, full-page, color cartoons that appeared abundantly in each issue. Up to two such small posters or window signs were produced for issues of the monthly magazine in the mid to late 1930s to promote newsstand sales. The editors selected only one or two of the color cartoons from each issue for use on these signs, giving an indication of which particular artists and cartoons they thought could best promote their magazine. It was a strategy that might well have given Esquire a competitive advantage against those magazines which ran only black and white cartoons.

An Abner Dean gag selected for this purpose in October 1935 seems an unlikely candidate for this sort of display. The old joke is about a father's fecundity, but the setting is somewhat morbid. Dean's work was often odd, to say the least. (A more traditional handling of this sort of gag may be seen in the first Dorothy McKay Esquire cartoon here.)
"Mama, what kind of a man was Daddy?"
Abner Dean
Window Sign/Poster for Esquire, October 1935

Rodney deSarro's lustful old lady may anticipate Buck Brown's later Granny cartoons that were to appear in Playboy.
"But lady, when I knocked on your door, I only
asked for a dime[.]"

Rodney deSarro
Window Sign/Poster for Esquire, February 1936

Another gag by deSarro depicts a cruise ship's staff nervously trying to reclaim a stateroom after the cruise has ended. The gag appears to be cropped for use on this window sign, cutting off the artist's signature.
"Do you think, sir, we might tell them, sir,
that the cruise is over?"

Rodney deSarro
Window Sign/Poster for Esquire, April 1936

A Dorothy McKay gag takes us to the waiting room of a maternity ward where we get to watch a stunned new father drop his hat. This time it is McKay's turn to have her signature unceremoniously cropped. 
"Well, Mr. Hotchkiss! I guess you hit
the jackpot this time!"

Dorothy McKay
Window Sign/Poster for Esquire, April 1936

Shh! An uncaptioned cartoon by E. Simms Campbell depicts the ship's captain engaged in some clandestine work.
E. Simms Campbell
Window Sign/Poster for Esquire, May 1936

Rodney deSarro's captain on shore leave has found a novel use for a hula skirt. The oval format works well on the window sign and preempts any attempt at cropping.
"She loves me—she loves me not!"
Rodney deSarro
Window Sign/Poster for Esquire, June 1936

The "Harem Girls" cartoons by E. Simms Campbell were popular from the very first issue of the magazine. Men trying to make a go at a relationship with a woman must have been amused at the sultan's excesses.
"Make it ten!"
E. Simms Campbell
Window Sign/Poster for Esquire, July 1936

In another Abner Dean gag, a sailor on a life raft has some second thoughts.
"Sometimes I almost wish I'd rescued that blonde
instead of the Harvard Classics!"

Abner Dean
Window Sign/Poster for Esquire, July 1936

Another of Campbell's "Harem Girls" gags bears a striking similarity to the one in yesterday's post.
"I'll be away for two weeks—sort of look
after things while I'm gone[.]"

E. Simms Campbell
Window Sign/Poster for Esquire, August 1936

Gilbert Bundy's young lady exercises her due diligence...
"Oh!  Yes I'll be here[,] Mr. Van Gates—I'm
reading the most interesting book[.]"

Gilbert Bundy
Window Sign/Poster for Esquire, September 1936

...While Barbara Shermund's old man sees no need to be hasty.
"Of course I love you—but there's such a difference in our ages—we ought
to wait a few years[.]"

Barbara Shermund
Window Sign/Poster for Esquire, July 1937

Note:  That's it for now. I'd love to hear from anyone with other examples of these window signs featuring vintage Esquire cartoons. Examples of original artwork by any of these artists are always welcome here as well.


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