Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Ringing in the New Year with George Booth, Gahan Wilson, and Robert Weber

Scans of three vintage New Year cartoons come to us courtesy of Dick Buchanan's Cartoon Clip Files. Each of the three cartoonists represented here was eventually to become a major New Yorker contributor, but at the time these were published George Booth and Gahan Wilson were still years away from having their first cartoons accepted by the magazine. Robert Weber, though, had been in the New Yorker for a couple of years at the time the cartoon of his shown here was published.

Dick writes that George Booth's silhouette art was published as a "spot drawing which appeared on the last page of the magazine. This page included jokes, humorous verse (what ever happened to that?) and two cartoons. Booth did these spots for, I think, 3 years—1953 to 1955. Long ago I posted all 12 from 1953 [at] Mike Lynch [Cartoons]. Have yet to uncover enough from 1954 & 1955."

George Booth
The American Legion Magazine
January 1954, page 64
Scan by Dick Buchanan

Dick has posted the following Gahan Wilson cartoon to Mike Lynch Cartoons not once but twice now. Still, it's worth a third look to point out just how unconventional Wilson's approach was. The key here is to take special note of the date of publication and then the year of the calendars. Who else would even think of this?
Gahan Wilson
Collier's, January 7, 1955

Scan by Dick Buchanan

Finally, Robert Weber's cartoon has the look of a gag created specifically for the New Yorker but very likely rejected by the magazine, perhaps because the gag is just a little bit forced. Anyway, in this era cartoons were published in a great many venues and cartoonists could peddle their rejects to other downstream magazines and those magazines that were selective enough and paid enough could give their readers humor very nearly on a par with that in the New Yorker. It was what we today would call a win-win for both the cartoonists and for the magazines. To quote the nostalgic Dick Buchanan, "Whatever happened to that?"
Robert Weber
Look, December 31, 1963, page 41

Scan by Dick Buchanan

Note:  Boy, that Dick Buchanan sure knows his way around a scanner! This is Dick's fifty-first contribution to Attempted Bloggery. One more and I'll finally be playing with a full deck. Dick, of course, maintains the matchless Dick Buchanan Cartoon Clip Files. He also regularly contributes to Mike Lynch Cartoons, most recently a post entitled "From the Dick Buchanan Files: All In Fun: Gag Cartoons 1949 - 1968." Me, I just can't double up on colons in a post title like that.

By the way, you can find George Booth's aforementioned 1953 silhouette gags at "1953 George Booth Drawings for American Legion Magazine." It's all there in black and white.

As mentioned above, the Gahan Wilson calendar cartoon appeared twice, both in "Dick Buchanan's Cartoon Files: Gahan Wilson: Early Gag Cartoons 1954 - 1964" and in "Gahan WIlson 1930 - 2019."

Monday, December 30, 2019

Peter Arno: Faces in the Window

New Yorker cartoonist Peter Arno (1904-1968) occasionally repurposed a published gag idea for a different market. He didn't exactly copy himself, but he might on occasion revisit a very similar scenario. I got to thinking about this earlier in the month when I saw a New Yorker original of his on display at Swann Galleries a few days before the December 10 Illustration Art sale.
"Pretend you don't notice them."
Peter Arno
Framed original art
The New Yorker, March 10, 1934, page 18

This gag is indeed a curiosity. First off, why are there two Peeping Toms? Wouldn't one be the more typical number? Two raises the ante. Why is this couple attracting a crowd? Well, we know it isn't because of the speaker, Arno's Timid Man. And why has Arno obscured the man's partner with the bed canopy? This means the voyeurs can see the hidden figure but we can't, a tantalizing state of affairs that leaves much to our imagination and allows for at least a possibility or two. Is his partner, as we might reasonably expect, one of Arno's typical voluptuous bombshells? That certainly would explain what all the fuss is about and I believe that is Arno's intention. But, to go out on a precarious limb, could his partner perhaps be a man? That would not be in any way typical for Arno, but the unconventional composition itself leaves just enough room for such a suggestion.

Now let's look at the published New Yorker cartoon alongside a related bit of mischief from College Humor:

"Pretend you don't notice them."
Peter Arno
The New Yorker, March 10, 1934, page 18

"Your husband, Eleanor, what sort of a looking man is he?"
Peter Arno
Nicholls Gallery contact sheet of original art
College Humor, c. mid-1930s

The College Humor cartoon, on the other hand, doesn't try to leave anything to the imagination. I don't know the exact date it was published, but it seems to come roughly from the same time period and to be related at least somewhat to the New Yorker cartoon. My belief is that the New Yorker's cartoon came first, but it doesn't necessarily have to be so. Now the New Yorker's audience was a sophisticated and urbane crowd and they loved Arno's witty and suggestive gags. The College Humor gag seems a bit less nuanced, aimed at the younger unattached man eager to seek his pleasure at any and every opportunity. One suspects College Humor's readers must have loved Arno's work every bit as much as the New Yorker's readers did.

The listing from Swann Galleries includes the technical information and the sales result:
"Pretend you don't notice them."
Peter Arno
Matted original art
The New Yorker, March 10, 1934, page 18

"Pretend you don't notice them."
Peter Arno
Original art
The New Yorker, March 10, 1934, page 18

Peter Arno
Swann Galleries

[End of Swann Galleries Listing]

Cartoons by Peter Arno and William Steig
"Pretend you don't notice them."
Peter Arno
Framed original art
The New Yorker, March 10, 1934, page 18

Note:  My several posts on Peter Arno's appearances in College Humor may be eyeballed collectively here. You'll see just a few other examples of themes Arno used in both the New Yorker and College Humor. I am always eager to learn more about his non-New Yorker published gag cartoons including his original art from College Humor. Naturally, I would love to know which issue of the magazine contained "Your husband, Eleanor, what sort of a looking man is he?" I would also like to track down other College Humor Arno gags that have yet to appear on this blog. Can you help, Kind Reader?

Here's looking at you, kid.


Sunday, December 29, 2019

The Sultan of Sweet: 1945 Pepsi-Cola Calendar by Otto Soglow

Seventy-five years ago, New Yorker cartoonist Otto Soglow (1900-1975) illustrated Pepsi-Cola's calendar for the year 1945. In that year, like 2020, New Year's Day fell on a Wednesday. Unlike 2020, 1945 was not a leap year. So you can use this calendar in 2020, but only until February 29. After that, all the 2020 calendars should be deeply discounted.
Otto Soglow
1945 Pepsi-Cola calendar


Saturday, December 28, 2019

Mystery Fan: 1943 Pepsi-Cola Calendar by Whitney Darrow, Jr.

Who doesn't love a good mystery? New Yorker cartoonist Whitney Darrow, Jr. (1909-1999), illustrates Pepsi-Cola's promotional calendar for 1943 with a cola-loving Mystery Fan. The image was reused as late as 1945 in newspaper advertising. A little escapist reading during wartime never hurt.
Mystery Fan
Whitney Darrow, Jr.
1943 Pepsi-Cola calendar

Mystery Fan
Whitney Darrow, Jr.
1945 Pepsi-Cola newspaper ad


Friday, December 27, 2019

Ronald Searle: A New Year's Letter to Jean Ellsmoor

December 27, 1961. Ronald Searle, newly-fled to Paris, writes to his London secretary Jean Ellsmoor. How common could it have been then for a busy illustrator to type letters to his secretary? Searle sent her many; the mail seems to have been their primary mode of long-distance communication. Quite a bit of Searle's correspondence with Ellsmoor is still available from Chris Beetles Gallery to which it was consigned a few years ago, circa 2011. This letter indicates Ellsmoor is still handling Searle's transactions with John Locke, his American agent. The cartoonist also stops to wonder how he can possibly do any more of his Imaginary Portraits series for Punch. Finally, he adds festive New Year's greetings in his distinctive decorative lettering because he has a "second intention" besides business, because he can't abide leaving any portion of the paper blank, and because he is Ronald Searle.



Thursday, December 26, 2019

Constantin Alajálov in the Style of Henri Matisse

A colorful female nude painted by Constantin Alajálov (1900-1987) is slated to be sold at auction on Monday by Zikorn Arts in New York. It belonged to jazz drummer Teddy Sommer (1924-2017). The auction house, which has held the work for over a year, speculates that it is a preparatory study for a magazine cover or illustration, but I don't see the need for all that. For me, I think it is sufficient to state that this work is a figure study which is executed in the manner of Henri Matisse. It depicts a nude woman wearing a necklace who is posed against a patterned wallpaper background.

Constantin Alajálov
Zikorn Arts Auction Listing Accessed December 25, 2019

Constantin Alajálov
Zikorn Arts Auction Listing Accessed December 25, 2019

Zikorn Arts has been offering the work since 2018, initially estimating it at $1,500-$3,000. 

Teddy Sommer

December 31, 2019 Update:  No sale.

Note:  There could easily be more to the story of this work. Perhaps it is copied from a specific Matisse. Perhaps, despite my doubts, it is an actual published illustration, or a study for one. Please comment if you can shed more light on this work.


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Jillian Somers's Copy of Snoopy and the Red Baron

Jillian Somers's copy of Snoopy and the Red Baron (1966) is handily the nicest copy of the book to appear on this blog—there have been only two, after all—and perhaps the nicest copy to appear on any blog. The author, Charles M. Schulz, added a superb sketch of Snoopy in his World War I Flying Ace gear. The $2,800 asking price might seem as high-flying as a Sopwith Camel, but this copy sold in less than two months' time and at this time of year there's really little point in arguing with that kind of success. Unless, of course, you're the Red Baron.

Charles M. Schulz
AbeBooks Listing Retrieved October 12, 2019

"Snoopy's Christmas" (1967)
The Royal Guardsmen


Monday, December 23, 2019

My Entry in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #691

Pull over in your pullover and enjoy my entry in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #691 for the issue of December 23, 2019. The drawing is by Paul Karasik. Just don't call it ugly.
"I warned you they'd all want one."

January 6, 2020 Update:  The Finalists

January 13, 2020 Update:
  I voted with Minneapolis, but I give an honorable mention to Philadelphia for having a caption a little bit similar to mine.

January 20, 2020 Update:
  The Winner

Note:  In last week's Caption Contest, cartoonist Michael Maslin
 demonstrated the astrodynamics of an elevator. Blast off into Contest #690.

Quick Links to the Attempted Bloggery Archives

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Julian Lennon's Copy of The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics

I have long been intrigued by The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics (1969) edited by rock illustrator Alan Aldridge. I recall in high school being entranced by at least some of its commissioned illustrations of Beatles lyrics. I was surprised yesterday to come across Julian Lennon's copy of the book on eBay with a Christmas inscription from his father John Lennon, and, as if that weren't enough, an original sketch. The book, which the eBay seller appraises at a value of $100,000, is offered for sale with a Buy It Now price of $49,000 or alternatively the Make Offer option. Still, it's by no means a happy holiday thought that Julian was willing to part with this book from his father.

John Lennon
eBay Listing Retrieved December 21, 2019

John Lennon
eBay Item Description


Saturday, December 21, 2019

Karl Haendel: New Yorker Cartoon Drawing #27

In 2007 artist Karl Haendel appropriated his twenty-seventh New Yorker cartoon, mining the work of cartoonist David Sipress for at least the second time. A 2004 work, New Yorker Cartoon Drawing #9, appropriated Sipress's "Bad dog" drawing. As with other drawings in the series, Haendel makes large graphite renderings of published New Yorker cartoon images. His process may or may not involve a light box or a projector; these renderings do not appear to be done freehand.

This drawing is one of five framed pieces that make up the Mazel Tov group. The phrase is Yiddish meaning good luck or congratulations. The Jewish theme suggested by the title may also apply to the inclusion of the lyrics to Bob Dylan's "Jokerman." The grouping was offered for sale at Sotheby's in 2013 where it apparently did not find a buyer:
Karl Haendel
Mazel Tov Group (2006-2007)
Sotheby's 2013

The work currently resides at the Henry Art Gallery of the University of Washington, Seattle.  The artist's installation view from a 2019 exhibition is notable for placing the New Yorker drawing and the Dylan lyrics well below eye level.
Karl Haendel
Mazel Tov Group (2006-2007)
Installation View, Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington

Joe Milutis's commentary on the grouping articulates the "multiple themes" to be discovered here:

The museum's commentary doesn't even mention cartoonist David Sipress; it speaks only of "a Jewish-American themed cartoon from The New Yorker." That's odd because Haendel does nothing to hide the identify of the cartoonist; the signature is copied directly from his source material. The cartoon was first published in December of 2006 so Handel no doubt selected it when it was quite fresh.
David Sipress
The New Yorker, December 4, 2006, page 68
Karl Haendel
New Yorker Cartoon Drawing #27 (2007)

Cartoon by David Sipress
Could there be some autobiographical element to Haendel's appropriation of this cartoon mixing the Jewish and Christian holiday traditions? Haendel didn't meet Emily Mast until 2009, which was two years after he completed the Mazel Tov Group. His wedding ceremony in 2011 was performed by a friend of the bride in "a ceremony that included Jewish traditions."

Karl Haendel
Sotheby's New York Contemporary Art, March 7, 2013

Bob Dylan
From Infidels (1983)

February 5, 2020 Update:  David Sipress writes of this piece for NewYorker.com's Culture Desk in a piece called "Stop, Thief! My Cartoon Gets Appropriated." His essay was posted yesterday and it marks the first time this blog is mentioned on the New Yorker's website—it's literally parenthetical: "(According to the cartoon-related Web site Attempted Bloggery, to date Haendel has appropriated at least twenty-seven New Yorker cartoons.)" Let's just hope I've been fact checked on this.