Thursday, December 31, 2020

Walt Disney Studios: "Ye Olden Days" Animation Drawing

A vintage animation drawing shows wandering minstrel Mickey Mouse, having won the hand of Princess Minnie, being carried aloft on his donkey at the victorious conclusion of Walt Disney's "Ye Olden Days" (1933). The prince who Mickey must defeat in combat is Goofy, then still called Dippy Dawg. Silly Symphonies were produced in color starting in 1932 with "Flowers and Trees," but Mickey Mouse was popular enough that his cartoons could remain in black and white until 1935 with "The Band Concert." Still, that doesn't mean a little color couldn't be added to an animation drawing every now and then.

Walt Disney Studios
RR Auction January 9, 2020

Film still at 8:00

"Ye Olden Days" (1933)
Walt Disney


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Mary Gibson: New Year Spoilsport

It seems odd that Mary Gibson's lively New Year's Eve cartoon for the Saturday Evening Post was published in the issue of October 31, 1953, a full two months ahead of the holiday. Still, there's no mistaking the spirited celebration or the dour mood of the husband who refuses to have anything to do with it.

"Go ahead, be a spoil-sport! Don't throw your paper streamer!"
Mary Gibson
The Saturday Evening Post, October 31, 1953

Scan by Dick Buchanan

The basic idea here of a husband unwilling to join the festivities and cheer in the New Year would be revisited two years (and two months) later by William Steig in the pages of The New Yorker. Compared with the complexity of the Gibson cartoon, Steig gives us a simpler, linear array of seated partygoers and an even grumpier husband. The caption is mercifully shorter and punchier without the burden of those unnecessary exclamation points. His cartoon is remembered to this day by cartoon cognoscenti as a classic.

"Either cheer up or take off the hat."
William Steig
The New Yorker, December 31, 1955, page 28

Cartoon by William Steig and advertisement by DuPont

Note:  Dick Buchanan has come through once again with a high-quality scan of a long-forgotten gag from his legendary cartoon clip files. Dick specializes in rescuing thousands upon thousands of vintage cartoons from obscurity. He contributes regularly to Mike Lynch Cartoons, most recently a post entitled "From the Dick Buchanan Files: Gag Cartoon Clichés Part 10 1949 - 1966." That's right, part 10, with links to parts 1 through 9! And while we're keeping score, this is Dick's 58th contribution to Attempted Bloggery. Thanks so much, Dick!

This post marks Mary Gibson's first appearance on this blog. Michael Maslin's Ink Spill reports that she had a total of eight cartoons published in The New Yorker, all between 1943 and 1950. This means that the vast majority of her work was published elsewhere. Personally, I would be interested in posting some the artist's original cartoons and published rarities.


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Ronald Searle: The Zoodiac Wheel

Ronald Searle's Zoodiac was published in 1977. The reader is treated to two full color animal illustrations for each sign of the zodiac, and then some. An original drawing for the frontispiece showing Capricorn the goat bearing the zodiac wheel was listed by Henry Sotheran, Ltd, in 2016 for 2995 GBP. It was sold only recently.

Ronald Searle

Ronald Searle
AbeBooks listing as of October 24, 2016
The dollar amount corresponds to 2995 GBP

Note:  It's Ronald Searle's centenary through his birthday on March 3. Your horoscope says to help celebrate it by sending scans of original Searle artwork to the unassuming proprietor of this blog.


Monday, December 28, 2020

The Ronald Searle Calendar: 1959

The Ronald Searle Calendar for 1959 collects some of the English cartoonist's popular gags from the 1950s and doles out two each month. The calendar's cover reuses the illustration on the dust jacket for Merry England, etc. (1956), but this time without any red ink. At least one drawing of St. Trinian's schoolgirls is included. The drawings are reproduced in two tones, black and shades of blue. The item is uncommon today which is surprising as it must have been difficult to throw away when 1960 came around.

The Ronald Searle Calendar:  1959
eBay listing ended November 27, 2020

The Ronald Searle Calendar:  1959
eBay item description


Sunday, December 27, 2020

Gorey Endings: A Calendar for 1979 Signed Broadside

Anyone who thinks a new year and with it a new calendar are all about new beginnings should consider Gorey Endings: A Calendar for 1979. The calendar's cover, as depicted here on a promotional broadside, looks as if it must have taken Edward Gorey a couple of weeks to crosshatch. Listed on AbeBooks in June at $150, the price of the signed sheet has since been reduced to $75. Is that a Gorey ending or a Gorey beginning?

Gorey Endings
AbeBooks Listing Accessed Jun16, 2020


Saturday, December 26, 2020

George Price: Sharpening the Skates

When was the last time you had the blades of your ice skates sharpened? Did your service have that personal touch? George Price shows how the professionals do it in this original New Yorker cartoon art from February 23, 1946.
George Price
Original art
The New Yorker, February 23, 1946, page 38

George Price
Original art
The New Yorker, February 23, 1946, page 38





George Price's signature


Detail of verso

George Price
eBay listing ended June 25, 2020

George Price
eBay item description

Best offer accepted
[End of eBay listing]

George Price
The New Yorker, February 23, 1946, page 38

George Price
Original art
The New Yorker, February 23, 1946, page 38

Cartoon by George Price and an advertisement for Yuban coffee

Note:  Have I mentioned that your original cartoon art by George Price can also appear on this blog if you send me a good scan or two? I didn't think so.


Friday, December 25, 2020

Mick Stevens: Caveman Redux

Go through the online archive of any New Yorker cartoonist and you'll very likely be impressed by the myriad inventive scenarios and compositions. The variety is simply stunning. It's a surprisingly rare thing when a cartoon closely resembles an earlier one by the same artist, but it does happen. This week, while reading the Cartoon Issue, I felt a spark of recognition. A caveman gag by Mick Stevens put a nice contemporary spin on an old phrase. But at the same time, it made me wonder somewhat incongruously: had I seen it before?

All dressed up and nowhere to go
Mick Stevens
The New Yorker, December 28, 2020, page 25

Well, of course I had not. But what I had seen five years ago was another caveman cartoon by Mick Stevens, one that was just as at home in pre-pandemic times as this week's cartoon is today. Still, it was close enough that I had to check. Sometimes you just have to see them side by side.

Mick Stevens
The New Yorker, December 21, 2015, page 38


Thursday, December 24, 2020

Charles Addams and Harry Bliss: Fanning the Flames

In the cover for this year’s Cartoon Issue, Harry Bliss pays homage to Charles Addams, whose macabre work routinely appeared in The New Yorker, and whose most famous creation, the Addams Family, has spurred countless adaptations.
Françoise Mouly

And how exactly does one pay homage to Charles Addams? The inspiration for cover artist Harry Bliss is actually a particular Addams cartoon published in The New Yorker on December 27, 1952, that year's Christmas issue.
"The little dears! They still believe in Santa Claus."
Charles Addams
The New Yorker, December 27, 1952, page 23

You might recognize some or all of the characters here, but in the years before the 1964 "Addams Family" TV series they were as yet unnamed. Addams's mastery is everywhere in evidence. The primary light source is the fireplace which indicates the main action while the secondary light source behind the sliding doors illuminates the speaker—let's call him Gomez—and two others (no names, please) who are observing the action from a distance. Addams's two-point perspective creates a formidable three dimensional architectural space incorporating many macabre elements. If one were to look at the drawing alone, the atmosphere would be striking but the actions of the children—let's call them Pugsley and Wednesday—might not have a clear purpose. The caption would then serve to totally confound one's expectations. If, on the other hand, one could somehow ignore the drawing and instead read the benign-sounding caption first, it then would be the drawing that would totally subvert the meaning of the words. Either way, it's a treat even sixty-eight years later to see all the workings of a cartoon come together so flawlessly. 

Harry Bliss's cover illustration for this week's issue of The New Yorker is meant to mark both Christmas as well as the New Year. It is also meant to comment on this unique moment in our political history and in the pandemic. It seeks to do all this with a design based on the Addams Family cartoon of December 27, 1952.

Harry Bliss
The New Yorker, December 28, 2020

So, the central satirical idea here, Donald Trump burning his old tax returns with the assistance of his servile, perspiring lawyer Rudy Giuliani, seems almost trivial in relation to the omnipresent political peril in Washington during this most irregular transition. The secondary theme, that of an elderly 2020 being replaced by an infant 2021 in a mask, and which gives this cover the title "In with the New," refers simultaneously to the New Year, to the transition, and to the pandemic. The political figures and the New Year figures don't seem to belong together in that room. Perhaps that garish hanging COVID-19 light fixture is supposed to be a unifying element here. (Compare it with the fine gothic lamp Addams furnished.) There's more, including QAnon conspirators and more rodents than you typically see on a New Yorker cover. In short, there are too many things going on here and while they are in some way interrelated, it's a lot to take in at once and, for me at least, there's no synergy.

And we've seen some of it before. This is the fourth cover published by The New Yorker this year to feature Donald Trump, the tenth to include at least one face mask, the second with a large image of the coronavirus, and the second in a row with a lit fireplace. For what it's worth, it is the first cover with QAnon.

"Greetings, Friends! [1952]" by Frank Sullivan, cartoon by Charles Addams

Note:  This Halloween, I posted Joel Jacobus's Charles Addams scrapbook, which included a clipping of the fireplace cartoon. I wonder whether Harry Bliss might have stolen a glimpse at this blog around then. Of course, there are many other places he could have come across the cartoon—in Homebodies (1954), for example—but still I do wonder whether I've had some ever-so-slight sway over the content of a New Yorker cover.

Scrapbook image

This Addams cartoon has been quite influential over the years, it seems. The blog Long Forgotten argues quite plausibly that the drawing influenced the design of the ballroom in Disney's Haunted Mansion attraction. Check it out here.


Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The Cartoon Collections Caption Contest #107

It's time to make sense of the Cartoon Collections Caption Contest #107. The drawing is by E. S. Glenn. My three captions are below. Go ahead, count 'em.

"As a rule, I disapprove of deconstructing dumpsters."
"What the hell is conceptual dining anyway?"
"Why does everyone laugh when I say I hate non sequiturs?"
"I was hoping they'd assign me lighter fare."
"I could just dribble, but I don't want to look ridiculous."
"Aren't you dying to see the mystery dish?"
"I say we should have left all this in the lost-and-found."

January 10, 2021 Update:  The Winner