Friday, September 30, 2022

Maurice Sendak: Hansel and Gretel Poster

Engelbert Humperdinck's opera "Hansel and Gretel" was first performed in 1893 and has become a perennial favorite of the Christmas season. The Houston Grand Opera put on an English-language production in the fall of 1997. The stage sets were designed by illustrator Maurice Sendak, who previously had worked on the HGO's production of "The Magic Flute" (1981). A poster for the production, signed by the artist, is currently available on AbeBooks.

Maurice Sendak
AbeBooks listing accessed September 24, 2022

Note:  For more information on Maurice Sendak at the opera, read here.


Thursday, September 29, 2022

Helen E. Hokinson: Radio Days

These days the news is relentless. Many of us use our televisions,  computers, and mobile phones to keep ourselves updated throughout the day.

During World War II, Americans had an urgent need to keep up with the news as well. Moving images of war were available in the cinemas through newsreels. Detailed print articles abounded in a wide variety of newspapers. But for the latest breaking news, there was nothing as immediate as radio. Commentators over the air waves like Gabriel Heatter became familiar names even before the war:

"Gabriel Heatter sounded an ominous note as I rounded a curve."
George Price
The New Yorker, July 6, 1940, p. 21

Weekly magazines like The New Yorker were an excellent source of news too. They could analyze the events of the week in great depth while providing perspective and thoughtful writing. The New Yorker in particular, with its talented stable of artists, could also take a step back and comment on how we consumed the various news media, as with the George Price drawing above.

The issue of November 14, 1942, is another case in point. A spot drawing in the movie listings highlights the experience of watching newsreels:

Spot drawing
Victor de Pauw
The New Yorker, November 14, 1942, p. 8

While Saul Steinberg offers a humorous insight into newsstand behavior:

Saul Steinberg
The New Yorker, November 14, 1942, p. 11

"There's good news tonight." The familiar voice of Gabriel Heatter, again, brought news of World War II to American families sitting by the radio. Before the war, George Price may have had him sounding "an ominous note," but Heatter's wartime broadcast was known for its hope and optimism. That brought him popularity, although it brought him some jibes as well. Helen E. Hokinson's cartoon in the issue shows how her matrons related to the radio personality as if he were a personal acquaintance:

"Gabriel Heatter was every bit as surprised as I was."
Helen E. Hokinson
The New Yorker, November 14, 1942, p. 13

With V-E Day and Germany's surrender, Hokinson has occasion to return once again to the famous broadcaster. Her original cartoon art for The New Yorker was sold at auction just yesterday:

"Isn't it all wonderful! I'm so happy for Gabriel Heatter."
Helen E. Hokinson
Original art
The New Yorker, 
May 5, 1945, p. 19

The paper has significant foxing.

"Isn't it all wonderful! I'm so happy for Gabriel Heatter."
Helen E. Hokinson
Framed original art
The New Yorker, 
May 5, 1945, p. 19

Helen E. Hokinson's signature

Typed caption

Helen E. Hokinson
Hill Auction Gallery listing accessed September 27, 2022 after the first absentee bid was placed

The hammer price:

"Isn't it all wonderful! I'm so happy for Gabriel Heatter."
Helen E. Hokinson
Framed original art
The New Yorker, May 5, 1945, p. 19
A spot drawing and a cartoon by Helen E. Hokinson
V-E Day (May 8, 1945) commentary by Gabriel Heatter

An illustration by Ludwig Bemelmans and a cartoon by George Price

A spot drawing by Victor de Pauw and an advertisement for Yardley

An advertisement for B. Altman, the famous banner by Rea Irvin, and a cartoon by Saul Steinberg

A spot drawing by Susanne Suba and a cartoon by Helen E. Hokinson

Note:  It's hard for me to look at original art by Helen E. Hokinson and not want to write a little something about it. It's especially great when the art tells a story. Feel free to send images of your original Hokinson art to share, perhaps, with the world.

And, while we're at it, I don't mind original art by Ludwig Bemelmans either:

Now, about those spots...

I can't make out the signature on the twins playing piano four hands spot illustration. Can any reader make it out?

Susanne Suba's spot is an interesting example of social realism not typical of the magazine. Feel free to send examples of her original art.
Victor de Pauw is one of my favorite spot illustrators. I'd love to see more of his work too.


Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Charles Saxon: The Tennis Pro

"Mr. Gemini batted endless balls to me while he chatted with friends." Those words identify an original drawing by Charles Saxon as some sort of story illustration. A male tennis instructor conducts a lesson while being distracted by an attentive trio of female players standing on the court behind him. The original art is toned and there is a patch over the face of the harried young beginner chasing down those balls batted by the pro. The eBay seller, who was apparently close to Saxon, states that the drawing had been submitted to The New Yorker. I have been unable to ascertain any publication history. The framed illustration sold for an undisclosed best offer.

"Mr. Gemini batted endless balls to me while he chatted with friends."

Charles Saxon
eBay listing ended May 20, 2022

Charles Saxon
eBay item description

Charles Saxon
eBay bid history
Sold for a best offer

Note:  While it was still available, this piece was noted by Michael Maslin on Ink Spill here, as were others.

I would like to hear from anyone who knows whether this drawing was published and, if so, where. Those in possession of other original artwork by Charles Saxon are invited to share it here on the old blog.


Tuesday, September 27, 2022

E. Simms Campbell: Cutie Coiffure

E. Simms Campbell's single panel cartoon Cuties was syndicated by King Features. An original cartoon panel from 1963 has just been listed on AbeBooks. One Cutie is reading in bed while another comes home from a date. The gag is only mildly suggestive, as befits a cartoon intended for a family newspaper.

"What a marvelous coiffure! Who rumpled it for you?"
E. Simms Campbell
Original art
Cuties, July 25, 1963

E. Simms Campbell
AbeBooks listing accessed September 23, 2022

February 20, 2023 Update:  Why not recycle a good caption? Campbell first used it in 1959:

"What a marvelous coiffure! Who rumpled it for you?"
E. Simms Campbell
Cuties, August 12, 1959
The Bridgeport Telegram, page 21


Monday, September 26, 2022

My Entry in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #820

It's time to analyze The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #820 from the issue of September 26, 2022. My insightful caption is shown below. The drawing is by Paul Karasik.


I'm not crazy about these captions:
"Aunt Mildred!"
"That's another Steadman."
"My interpretation? You have a fixation with spatter."
"Your sessions sap the lifeblood from me."
"Jackson Pollack. No, Sam Francis."
"I confess. I read your office notes."
"I just don't appreciate your office notes."

October 7, 2022 Update:  The Finalists

October 11, 2022 Update:  I voted for the caption from Palo Alto.

October 18, 2022 Update:  The Winner