Wednesday, March 21, 2018

E. Simms Campbell: Elephant Caravan

A 1957 cartoon by E. Simms Campbell published in Esquire shows his popular "Harem Girls" teasing the reader with their casual nudity and languid inactivity. Campbell excels at ambitious compositions like this. The grand arch frames the scene and delineates the sunlit, brightly-colored outdoors from the shadowed interior with its earth tones. The two raised arms and the elephant's raised trunk work together against the sky and link the foreground to the middle ground with parallel undulations. Where these cartoons often seem weakest is in delivering the humor. The caption is subservient to the illustration, servicing it without adding any real punch of its own. One wonders whether the Esquire reader minded—or even noticed.

"I hate to ask him over for a week-end. He always overdoes it!"
E. Simms Campbell

Esquire, 1957

Note:  Not to make a big production of it, but Attempted Bloggery is in the midst of surveying the work of cartoonist E. Simms Campbell (1906-1971). There's a lot of Campbell art out there—original art and published rarities. Readers can make my day by sending high-resolution scans or photographs of the work of E. Simms Campbell. I'll try to get as much of it out there as I can. Make way for Prince Ali!

In what issue of Esquire was this cartoon originally published? If you know, please send word by elephant.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Ronald Searle: The Interloper

Everyone welcomes the spring, right? Ronald Searle's The Interloper suggests that some of us would rather not have to deal with it, or indeed with nature. The extraordinary original artwork for the cover of Graphis 169 was sold on eBay around 2009 for $4000, and subsequently by a private dealer. Long ago Searle's agent John Locke told me that The New Yorker had rejected this as a cover.

Ronald Searle
The Interloper
Original art
Graphis 169, 1973

Ronald Searle
The Interloper
169, 1973

Note:  Happy spring, at least according to the calendar! Attempted Bloggery is always looking for submissions of published and unpublished original book and magazine illustrations by Ronald Searle. 

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Ronald Searle



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Monday, March 19, 2018

My Entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #608

Sing along with my entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #608 for March 19, 2018. The drawing is by Drew Dernavich.

"We're looking for airy and light, not hot and steamy."

These captions were out of tune:
"Play something hot."
"Hot and steamy may not be the right message."
"That's not the pipe organ upgrade I meant."

Note:  Last week cartoonist Christopher Weyant took to heart John Donne's line "Death, thou shalt die." My caption be not proud. Attend my memorial service for Contest #607.

Play along in the archives with Drew Dernavich.

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Sunday, March 18, 2018

E. Simms Campbell: Unfinished Business

A postcard-sized black and white glossy photograph of a cartoon by E. Simms Campbell was found, we are told by an eBay seller, in a seaman's 1936-1937 photo album. The cartoon was likely published in Esquire roughly in this time period, although whether the original cartoon is in black and white or in color is difficult to say.

A pipe-smoking bohemian artist is seen clutching his paintbrushes and talking to a friend. An unfinished female nude sits prominently on his easel. A fairly bland and uninspired caption explains the situation. Today the startled reaction of the friend seems more than a bit overdone.

The composition can be understood as a triangle with the three heads forming the vertices. The painter's extended arm and the model's torso help to define the sides of the triangle. Each head directs the eye to the one clockwise from it. There are additional strong diagonal lines from the legs and the pipe smoke which provide a counter to the flat rectangular painting seen head-on. The one-point perspective directs the eye upwards.

"That's as far as I got, when we had an argument and she left[.]"
E. Simms Campbell
Esquire, c. 1935-1937

Note:  Now to add the finishing touches! Attempted Bloggery continues its revue of the work of prolific cartoonist E. Simms Campbell (1906-1971). Motivated readers—that's you—can assist incurable bloggers—that's me—by providing high-resolution scans or photographs of outstanding original Campbell art or perhaps of obscure published cartoons such as this one. 

In what issue was this originally published? If you know, pipe up.

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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Chuck Miller: Green Reminder

Here's a timely, last-minute reminder provided via some original Playboy cartoon art by Chuck Miller published in the February 1962 issue. As a public service, Attempted Bloggery would like to remind its readers not to go out there without wearing the requisite green on St. Patrick's Day.

Chuck Miller
"My Lord! If it wasn't for me you'd all go out half dressed!"

Original art
Playboy, February 1962, page 122

Chuck Miller
Christie's Sale 2367, The Year of the Rabbit:  The Playboy Collection, Lot 31

New York, December 8, 2010
By the way, did you notice how difficult it is to render the foreshortening of the housekeeper's arm when it is extended directly at the viewer? I thought not.

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St. Patrick's Day

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Friday, March 16, 2018

Seven Out of Time

The December 1941 issue of Esquire features a portfolio of cartoons featuring temporally-displaced historical figures entitled Seven Out of Time. The collection is described as "a portfolio of modern prints by contemporary artists, portraying seven historical characters who, for one reason, or another, knew what it was all about." Make of that what you will. The description of these cartoons as "a portfolio of modern prints" seems an affectation. The seven cartoons feature the historical figures Lady Godiva, Henry the VIII, Madame du Barry (mistress of Louis XV), Lucretia Borgia, Nero, Falstaff, and Benvenuto Cellini. Each is a deliberate anachronism. The cartoonists are Barbara Shermund, Howard Baer, Marcel Vertes, Rodney deSarro, E. Simms Campbell, Dorothy McKay, and William Pachner.

Seven Out of Time is presented as an eight-page feature with a cover page illustrated by Esquire art director Tony Palazzo. He is presumably responsible too for the festive border frame around each cartoon. The drawings all seem to be in black and white, with some flat colors added during the printing process.

Seven Out of Time
Esquire, December 1941
Tony Palazzo

Barbara Shermund leads off the group with Lady Godiva showing off her Christmas spirit. The caption spoken by one of three oblivious men refers to Christmas dolls as "gadgets," some fairly sloppy writing.
"These Christmas dolls are the cutest gadgets[.]"
Lady Godiva

Barbara Shermund

Howard Baer's cartoon of Henry VIII seems a bit off the mark. We think it's proper to have a king use the royal we. And is that a shoeshine stool?
"A place after my own heart[.]"
Henry VIII

Howard Baer

Marcel Vertes's cartoon of Madame du Barry is nicely-drawn, but the caption again is inexcusably weak. Do these cartoons share a gag writer?
"That was no lady—that was DuBarry[.]"
Du Barry

Marcel Vertès

Cartoonist Rodney deSarro brings Lucretia Borgia to Hollywood.

E. Simms Campbell's Nero knows how to crank up the temperature. 

Zombies were all the rage at the Hurricane Bar at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Limiting the number of drinks any one patron could buy only enhanced their appeal. Shakespeare's Falstaff—the only fictional figure in this supposedly historical group—seems to appreciate the concoction. Dorothy McKay draws a mean bar scene, but the gag itself is surprisingly weak.
"Zounds, that's a nice light ale[.]"

Dorothy McKay

As with the others, William Pachner's drawing of Cellini is ill-served by the caption.
"It's art, Benny, but will it sell?"
Benvenuto Cellini

William Pachner

Note:  Zounds! Attempted Bloggery is in the midst of surveying the work of cartoonist E. Simms Campbell (1906-1971). Readers may contribute high-resolution scans or photographs of either original art or obscure printed works by any of these artists.

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Howard Baer

E. Simms Campbell

Dorothy McKay

Barbara Shermund


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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

E. Simms Campbell: A Foolish Expenditure?

One of groundbreaking African-American cartoonist E. Simms Campbell's color pages from the January 1941 issue of Esquire depicts a black boy and girl contemplating a jewelry store's window display. The gag is possibly inspired by the Our Gang series of film shorts. The use of dialect is meant to come across as endearing and innocent. The cartoon is meant to be less funny than cute, and once again shows Campbell's incredible range.

"Don't you think it's kinda foolish t' spend a quarter for a diamond ring ef we
gonna keep our engagement a secret?"

E. Simms Campbell
Esquire, January 1941, page 130

Note:  Stay engaged! While Attempted Bloggery continues to examine the work of cartoonist E. Simms Campbell (1906-1971), readers can assist by providing high-resolution scans or photographs of outstanding original Campbell art or perhaps of forgotten published works such as this.


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

E. Simms Campbell and Jean-Gabriel Domergue in Esquire, August 1939

E. Simms Campbell takes a break from his usual cartoons of attractive women and instead tries to get inside the mind of a dog who has been left alone in the house. This dog's-eye view makes for a nice enough drawing, but one wishes the resulting gag were a bit less obvious.
"I'll give them 'til nine-thirty—if they aren't here then, I break training!"
E. Simms Campbell
Esquire, August 1939, page 54

On the other side of the page, the magazine features the work of Jean-Gabriel Domergue, whose favorite subject is very much the same as Esquire's favorite subject.
Domergue, Dreamer of Fair Women on Canvas
Jean-Gabriel Domergue
Esquire, August 1939, page 53

Note:  Good girl! Attempted Bloggery is surveying the work of cartoonist E. Simms Campbell (1906-1971). Readers can assist by providing high-resolution scans or photographs of hidden-away original Campbell art or of other obscure published works, even including more from this issue of Esquire.

This page of printed cartoons is available on eBay at the time of this post.


Monday, March 12, 2018

My Entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #607

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to read my entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #607 for March 12, 2018. The drawing is by Christopher Weyant.

"In your eulogy, don't mention his deadpan sense of humor."

Note:  Last week, cartoonist Benjamin Schwartz
hitchhiked the friendly skies. My caption was never cleared for takeoff. Have your boarding passes ready for Contest #606.

Visit my previous blog posts about cartoonist Christopher Weyant in the morgue.

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Sunday, March 11, 2018

License Plate for a Mutts Fan

Yesh indeed.

New York State license plate

Mutts by Patrick McDonnell featuring Mooch
May 20, 2010

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License Plates


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