Saturday, October 3, 2020

Blog Post No. 3400: The 1942 Navy Relief Show Program

On Tuesday, March 10, 1942, three months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Navy Relief Show was staged at Madison Square Garden. Navy illustrator McClelland Barclay created the art for the promotional poster.

The model's hands seem rather diminutive, but the planned entertainment was big.
"Writers and movie stars gather at New York’s Stork Club, March 8, 1942, as they prepare for a World War II Navy Relief Show, two days away, at Madison Square Garden. From left are: columnist Walter Winchell, Myrna Loy, Loretta Young, John Garfield, Janet Gaynor and Quentin Reynolds, author and war correspondent." 
(AP Photo/Matty Zimmermann)

The program from the event, above, remains listed on Amazon although no copies are currently available. The listing's description nevertheless provides a good overview of the entertainment:

he day after the show, the Times reported on its success:

Fortunately for us, Joel Jacobus, longtime chronicler and cataloguer of Charles Addams
memorabilia, has a copy of the program. Cartoons, many with wartime or maritime themes, are featured throughout the program. One classic is by Addams himself but there is also work by a number of prominent contributors to The New Yorker including Peter Arno, Alan Dunn, and James Thurber. Some of these cartoons were first published in The New Yorker, but many apparently were not. These cartoons may or may not have come from a traveling exhibition "Cartoons Against the Axis" organized by the Art Students League. The Arno cartoon was definitely a part of this exhibition, but has it been published elsewhere? Where I could, I have attempted to document the publication history, if any, of the cartoons.

The Navy Relief Show 1942 program:

McClelland Barclay

The program's cover image is Barclay's illustration Sailor Loading Fixed Ammunition (1942). The painting was also used to illustrate a 1942 recruiting poster, below. Barclay, who worked on his art at sea, was lost in 1943 when his warship was hit by a torpedo fired from a Japanese submarine. His body was never recovered.
McClelland Barclay

The credits:
Navy Relief Society Show
Madison Square Garden, March 10, 1942

Among the contributors of drawings, cartoonist Sydney (Syd) Hoff's name is misspelled.

The drawings:

Farmer of Japan Planting Rice
Richard Decker

"I got my mother on board, sir—she can do this much better than I can."
Otto Soglow

"For God's sake, hurry, lady—here comes the keel of another!"
Alan Dunn

"He writes that he loves me, but they censor most of the verbs!"
Jaro Fabry

"Why is this Goddam thing hurting me so?"
James Thurber

This may have been this Thurber cartoon's second appearance in print. Bowden lists a drawing with the same caption published in Life magazine in 1940, but does not note it being here.
Bowden, Edwin T. James Thurber:  A Bibliography. Ohio State University Press, 1968, p. 190

"I still wanna join!"
Syd Hoff

Alan Dunn

"Dutch registry, sir, says he can't stop—sailing under a curse."
Charles Addams
First published in The New Yorker, September 20, 1941, page 25

The New Yorker caption has a period after sir, which seems preferable.

"O. K., boys—let go the scrap-iron!"
Peter Arno

Exhibited "Cartoons Against the Axis," The Art Students League, February 17, 1942. The show traveled nationally including the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Collection of the 8 Henderson Place Foundation

Clayton Knight

Alan Dunn

Alan Dunn

Alan Dunn

"Suspicious whale off starboard, Sir!"
Robert Day

Constantin Alajálov
First published in The New Yorker, January 31, 1942, page 9

"The Captain thinks it would be nice to have them boiled in their jackets tonight."
Richard Taylor
First published in The New Yorker, February 24, 1940, page 21

Roger Duvoisin

"Have you no code, man!"
James Thurber
First published in The New Yorker, January 22, 1938, page 13

This cartoon was originally published in The
New Yorker in 1938 not with an exclamation point but with a question mark, which is correct, of course. Still, it's interesting that the exclamation point in the Navy Relief Show program is printed in Thurber's own hand.

Thurber's cartoon was later collected in Men, Women and Dogs (1943) and posthumously included in Vintage Thurber (1963) and Thurber & Company (1966), as well as Thurber on Crime (1991).

"You can walk on it in three hours—"
Alan Dunn

Garrett Price

"Specifications of the U.S.S. North Carolina include nine 16-inch guns, twenty 6-inch secondary battery and a twelve-flavor soda fountain—"
Alan Dunn

"They say that she's been disappointed in love."
William Steig

Roger Duvoisin

Roger Duvoisin has drawn a battleship rigged with two radio masts just as Alan Dunn did on page 77 of the program. Could they both have drawn the same ship while it was berthed in New York harbor?

"Whatever has become of the Socialist Party?"
James Thurber
First published in The New Yorker, October 30, 1937, page 20

The captions are not identical. I think The New Yorker's caption packs a little more punch.

Cartoons by James Thurber and Helen E. Hokinson

Note:  My thanks to Joel Jacobus for finding this rarity. All of the photographs of the program are his. This is Joel's ninth contribution to this blog.

I would like to hear from anyone with further information on the publication history of these drawings as well as their current whereabouts. Are they held by the Art Students League? Are they with the 8 Henderson Place Foundation? Or are they perhaps in private hands?

Could someone please correct the year of the You Gotta Go Barclay poster on Wikipedia? It should be 1942.

The Attempted Bloggery Centennial Posts

Blog Post No. 100
Blog Post No. 200:  A Shaggy Dog Story



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